Cologne, Düsseldorf, Europe, Germany

A Summer City Break – Exploring Düsseldorf and Cologne

A girls trip – summer in the city. Ryanair’s long list of unbeatable flight prices gave myself and my friends the freedom of choice over which city break we’d be taking. Germany was mentioned several times, great weather, culture and enough beer and clubs to keep us going. We settled for Düsseldorf knowing that Cologne was only a train ride away, giving us the flexibility to cram two German cities into one trip. The four of us myself and three friends booked a £30 flight for August. The peak of the European summer time.

The European Summer in Düsseldorf – City Break 

There’s something so exciting about the European summer time. I don’t know if you’ve felt it, but it feels kind of like the fun will never end. Whether you’re staying in a backpacker hostel, find yourself on a train with a group of inter-railers or just get chatting to some people in a bar there’s a great sense of warmth and happiness across mainland Europe in the summer time. It’s an unforgettable feeling of togetherness.
For some reason unbeknownst to me we booked the snazziest looking hotel. Slightly out from the centre but accessible by a quick cheap taxi or even cheaper sweaty tram ride. We paid a little more than we would have for a quirky hostel but the comfort and luxury of a chain hotel was pretty pleasing. We stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott. I’d describe our Düsseldorf accommodation choice as pristine and business-like with a small restaurant and bar.
Bright lights, big city – A city break to Dusseldorf, Germany
Düsseldorf is an odd choice for a city break, I agree. It’s more common  you hear about a Düsseldorf stag do thank girls city break. But in the height of summer the streets are hot and the bars and restaurants are filled with mainly German tourists. Along the river Rhine you can grab a cocktail at a bar with floors made of artificial sand, booming music and wait staff with accents from across Europe. The colourful skyline across the Rhine at night could actually convince you that you were somewhere far more sophisticated and cosmopolitan than little Düsseldorf.
Summer in the City - Düsseldorf, Germany
The bright lights of Las Vegas Dusseldorf



We actually visited the riverside promenade bars and restaurants every night. The cool air and cool beers attract large crowds of couples, families and groups of friends. There are good times in the atmosphere and you could probably close your eyes and imagine being sat at any beach resort in the whole of Europe. Music, sand, cocktails and great company. Isn’t that what a city break with your friends is about.
Summer in the City - Düsseldorf, Germany
Beach bar fun on the River Rhine
Summer in the City - Düsseldorf, Germany
Dusseldorf by night – Evenings are best spent on the banks of the Rhine
Every evening we’d leave the riverside bars and head to Düsseldorf’s Altstadt meaning Old Town to us non Germans. The Altstadt has previously been referred to as the world longest bar, the old streets of Düsseldorf’s Altstadt come alive at night with partiers spilling out on to the streets spreading good times and good vibes on to passers by. We asked locals the best places in town and one place came up more times than not, Kuhstall. So that’s exactly where we went. On short but sweet city breaks it’s always advised to ask the locals for the best spots, we made sure of this during our time in the city of Düsseldorf.
Summer in the City - Düsseldorf, Germany
Girl band on tour in Germany


Düsseldorf is small enough to walk around on foot but big enough to not feel bored. We grabbed four tickets to a tacky ‘all-you-can-drink’ river cruise which resembled something from the TV show Coach Trip, I admit we chose to participate for the drinks only. Cold, local German beers in the midday sun along the river Rhine for the price of 12 Euros is something only an idiot would say no to. If that isn’t German then I don’t know what is?
Taking the river cruise along the Rhine
Getting around Düsseldorf became simple for us and we travelled with locals and tourists alike on the frequent and efficient trams that travel to every area of Düsseldorf. We joined carriages with school kids blaring tunes from a stereo, sat next commuters and shoppers. The tram network in Düsseldorf is a savior. Certain lines even run throughout the night which saves you a lot of money on taxis. Praise you Düsseldorf tram system, an ideal feature for any budget city break.
Summer in the City - Düsseldorf, Germany
Summer in Dusseldorf, Germany
There isn’t a whole lot to Düsseldorf from a tourism perspective, I mean there’s some great old and modern architecture to see, it is Germany after all. But when it comes to famous and great landmarks, notable places to visit and museums you don’t really visit a city like Düsseldorf for that. We were there for the nightlife and the fun and we certainly had both. Saying that, the tree lined streets of German suburbia make for a great walk on a late summers afternoon.


Cologne at a glance 
Getting there: 30 min train from Düsseldorf
Train price: €5
To do: Cologne city tour and cable car ride
Must see: Cologne’s cathedral
City guides and information: Head to the tourist information centre
A day trip to Cologne 


Cologne on the other hand boasts one of the most famed cathedrals in Germany and that would just so happen to be our next stop. We grabbed a train, reasonably priced and a reasonable distance to travel to another city on short break. 30 minutes later we had arrived in Cologne in search of the famous cathedral and cable car. One of my favourite things to do during a city break is visit any other cities if possible. Cologne is the perfect distance from Düsseldorf to hit up a new city and see some additional German sights.
We spent a touristy 30 minutes marveling at the stunning cathedral. The medieval Gothic architecture towers above you and at times blocks out the sun. A real treat in the packed square with the summer sunshine hammering you.
Enjoying Cologne in the sun
I’ve since heard about a rivalry between Düsseldorf and Cologne and from the filled courtyard of the church I’d say on our visit Cologne was winning in terms of attracting tourists. We had a set plan for our short time in Cologne. Cathedral – cable car – zoo. We also managed to squeeze in a city tour that we purchased from the Tourist Information Centre right by the Cathedral square.
Tourists in Cologne, Germany


Our city tour on a bright yellow and green train took us the the start of the cable car and we endured the warmest, sweatiest cable car ride in all of history across the Rhine, over a nudist spa and over the city of Cologne. We simply couldn’t have picked a warmer August day to cram ourselves into an non ventilated cable car.


We were back grounded after our cable car from hades. As a group we decided to visit Cologne Zoo, something we had discussed throughout the trip after hearing it was one of the best in Europe. During our time at the Zoo we all felt particularly saddened for the animals stuck in boxes in the sun, just like we were in the cable car. Although we enjoyed our time at Cologne Zoo I believe we had all reached an age where watching wild animals in cages signifies something more than just a fun family day out for us. Our childhood love of Zoos had gone and was replaced with a lot of questions instead.
I have visited one Zoo since my Cologne experience and that was in Cali, Colombia. Since then I have vowed to not visit another Zoo again. I just can’t support it as a responsible adult.


For the cultural traveller stay in Cologne and take the short train ride to Düsseldorf. For the fun loving party traveller stay in Düsseldorf right by Düsseldorfs Altstadt in the midst of the madness. Enjoy the restaurant and bar scene along the Rhine and watch the hours pass you by from a bar stool. Düsseldorf is not one of Europe’s great cities but for four friends enjoying the summer and the sun Düsseldorf was enough for us.

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