Explore modern cities speckled with medieval relics in Germany’s most populous state, which straddles the banks of the magnificent Rhine River.
The northwestern state of North Rhine-Westphalia is a low-lying and picturesque region containing some of Germany’s largest cities. From the banks of the lower Rhine River to the gorge of Porta Westfalica, the region is largely rural and interspersed with historic towns. Explore North Rhine-Westphalia to discover modern metropolitan character and go on scenic daytrips to mountainous southern retreats.
Check out the state capital, Düsseldorf, to experience this vivacious city on the banks of the Rhine-Ruhr. The capital is the region’s leader for fashion and trade. Tour its Old Town, which was almost completely destroyed during World War II and meticulously rebuilt using historic city plans. Stroll the old streets to find numerous bars, coffee shops and brew houses.
Visit the state’s largest city, Cologne (Köln), to explore one of the greatest medieval cities in the Holy Roman Empire. Magnificent Romanesque churches line the streets and the banks of the Rhine in a display that’s one of Germany’s most impressive cityscapes. In one sweep, you’ll see the Church of St. Martin, City Hall Tower, the Museum Ludwig, the Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) and the modern Hohenzollernbrücke. As well as viewing the Kölner Dom from afar, be sure to visit it as it’s the tallest Roman Catholic cathedral in the world. Consider coming to this vibrant city during its famous Kölner Karneval or the Gay Pride Festival.
Charming Bonn is nicknamed “Italy’s most northern city” and is characterized by its romantic cafés and bustling beer gardens. Visit museums dedicated to Beethoven, who was born here, and watch an orchestral performance of his cherished music.
Dortmund and Essen are two fascinating cities built on the foundations of monasteries. Watch a soccer match at the home of Borussia Dortmund FC at Westfalenstadion and visit the monumental Old Synagogue in Essen. At the end of a day’s exploring, be sure to relax with a regional beer, such as Alt or Kölsch.
Fly into major airports in Düsseldorf or Cologne or catch one of Germany’s convenient intercity trains to access North Rhine-Westphalia’s outer reaches. Public transportation is fast and efficient in the Rhine-Ruhr, but renting a car could be a better option for exploring the countryside. Visit at any time of the year to enjoy traditional cuisine, cozy beer gardens and exciting carnivals.