Dusseldorf isn’t the first place that springs to mind when you think of a German city break, but this financial hub is also a centre for fashion and culture. Not to be knocked, a long weekend away in the city with the tallest digital clock in the world can rival any other European destination. Here are five ways to enjoy Dusseldorf for under €5:
Walk on by: Take a free stroll along The Rhine embankment towards the modern Media Harbour (MedienHarbour). Architecture fans will love the distinct buildings here by famous architect Frank Gehry. The unique views make a difference from many city's generic, uniform skylines and it's a lovely place to watch the boats pass by. The promenade links to Dusseldorf Old Town and is lined by cafes and bars. You will also spot the Rheinturm, the largest digital clock in the world. The 240.5 metre-high telecommunications tower has a light sculpture on its shaft which works as a clock.
Drink old beer in the Old Town: Altbier is a Dusseldorf speciality, a brown ale which is traditionally conditioned for longer than standard ale, hence the Alt (old). The sweet tasting beer is now only brewed in a few places worldwide so it's a must if you're in town. The Düsseldorfer Altstadt (Old Town) is known as 'the longest bar in the world' due to the fact that the relatively small area has over 300 pubs and clubs, with all their bars supposedly connecting together to create an unbroken boozy chain. When I was in Altstadt, during the knock out stages of the World Cup, Altbier was the most popular choice of beverage to drink/throw in the air. A pint here can vary from €1-€3.
Eat local: German food isn't everyone's favourite but delve in and you may be surprised! From sweet sushi to fried potatoes with apple sauce, the Germans do like to mix things up. Fortunately the sweet sushi was actually a sugary substance wrapped into the shape of sushi and nothing to do with raw fish. One thing I do recommend trying is reibekuchen and apfel (€3.50), the German version of a potato fritter layered with a sweet apple sauce. It was a strange taste experience and maybe not one I would try again but I'm glad I did it once.
Shop by night: Night markets are cheap! I went to one in Bilk, a central district of Dusseldorf. Entry price was €3, which enabled me to roam around five different rooms filled with second hand and vintage objects. It was a definite upgrade to the British car boot sale since, instead of people getting red faced and shouty, the atmosphere was chilled out, with some shoppers sipping homemade punch or Altbier. If you wanted to stick to your budget you could just 'window flea' or enjoy the disco room which had strobe lighting and 90s pop. But if you spot a hidden gem you can loosen the purse strings, or haggle. This gave me the opportunity to use my rather poor German - never mind that the seller gave up and spoke English because at least I tried. I left with a beautiful butterfly pocket watch although I didn't realise until later it had no battery - I blame the punch for this!
Party at Papagayo: In the centre of the city, this hosts parties five nights a week but there is free entry on selected nights. The three floored venue is always busy and each layer plays different tunes. The first floor and main floor has changing resident DJs, mainly playing house music, the second floor hides an the old-time tequila bar and the old vaulted cellar, which dates back nearly 100 years, play R’n’B and Hip Hop. With Missy Elliot’s early 2000s hits playing on the second I was happy to stay in the middle and enjoy rock bottom prices for Altbier - €1 a bottle!
Carly Hacon is the friend that will never turn down an adventure but also one with a hectic schedule and little disposable income, so she tries to enjoy destinations the best she can on a budget. Along the way she’s learnt to say yes to generous offers (but be wary of those that are too generous) and to take her share of a free, well… anything. Scrimping at the sale rack and shopping in the reduced aisle at Asda doesn’t faze her, as long as she can feed her growing appetite to travel.
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