Anyone can hop aboard a tourist bus and be swept around Dusseldorf, Germany. There’s a better way though, and it’ll also help even out the guilt of indulging in the fine German treats to be found throughout the city.
The humble bicycle presents a left-of-field option for German site-seeing but gives a more intimate feel to this part of the world while covering plenty of ground.
Germans have a love affair with their bikes. It’s seen in the many people going to and from work or simply out for a trundle and a stickybeak.
Driving this is the availability of hire bikes or bike sharing schemes throughout the country.
These require internet access and usually an app in order to hire them for a period of time.
Once sorted, Dusseldorf is your oyster with its mix of old world charm, sharply modern architecture, casually growing centuries old parks and oodles of eateries.
Part of the joy of exploring such a dense city by bike is the opportunity to get lost; to duck down that Altstadt (Old Town) cobblestone corridor, explore the Rheinuferpromenade along the mighty Rhein river, or cycle out to the Gartnerei & Hofladen van der Wingen strawberry farm.
This scribe ventured forth into Dusseldorf’s dappled daylight and was quickly astounded at the lack of traffic and low bustle-factor.
Turns out, this particular day was German Unification Day and therefore a public holiday, meaning the streets were quieter than usual.
Helmets appear optional but they’re probably not a bad idea considering the uncertainty when traversing international streets.
Bike sharing bikes don’t include helmets.
Maps are all well and good but here, the skyline can be your guide.
Towering over the city is perhaps its most iconic landmark, the Rheinturm (Rhein Tower).
Situated on the edge of the city centre’s southern district, thousands take the super-swift elevator (4 meters per second) up the 168m needle-like structure to enjoy the 360-degree views and café. (Although, asking for a latte will result in the “barista” pressing a button on a machine to be delivered an automatic coffee.)
The more adventurous can go up another 4.5m to indulge in QOMO, a restaurant featuring 144 seats, rotating around its own axis once every 72 minutes.
The Rheinturm is a great first stop to get an aerial visual of the city’s layout and maybe even plan, or not plan, where to head to next.
It’s worth peddling to, and through, Hofgarten, which is described as the “green lung of Dusseldorf”.
This sprawling public park stretches across nearly 28 hectares and boasts water features, statues, artwork, picnic areas and a hugely diverse arrangement of trees and plants.
Should a “deep burn” arise within the thighs, taking in a museum can provide relief.
Dusseldorf is awash with centres of history.
From the Filmmuseum featuring four levels looking at the history of the moving image, through to the Goethe-Museum with its 1000 exhibits from the life and work of the poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Eateries seem to be around every corner. The Altstadt area features ample menu choices, including plenty of traditional German beer houses.
Immersing one’s tastebuds into local delicacies could include ordering a knuckle of pork, black pudding, marinated beef or pea soup.
The more adventurous can strap themselves in for Halve Hahn, a cheese speciality with cumin and onions, eaten with a small rye roll.
The Hammer Strasse area presents other options for bistros and restaurants as well.
Perhaps a surprise for the first time visitor will be level of shopping available.
Some very big name outlets exist within Konigsallee, including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, Tiffany and Co and Burberry.
Other shopping areas such as Flingern, Bilk and Carlstadt provide plenty of options for those wanting to flex the plastic, bearing in mind that juggling multiple shopping bags while trying to ride a bike could prove tricky.
A bike allows the visitor to wind his or her way to areas behind the immediately obvious sites, including the Japanisches Viertel (Japanese quarter).
With Dsseldorf boasting one of the biggest Japanese communities in Europe, this “little Tokyo” region delights with all things Asian-inspired, including fashion, food and architecture.
Of course, there are other means of getting around this charming city but the old deadly treadly is worth considering.
Like bike-hires schemes in other countries, (again, think oBikes in Melbourne) the system goes a bit askew when bikes start to litter the landscape.
Rogue hire bikes can be seen throughout Dusseldorf, cast aside until the company does a round up or someone is in desperate need of a ride.