In the region close to Neuss, there are many cities to explore, drop by for some shopping or gather new impressions. This is, after all, the most densely populated area in Germany and visiting one of the large cities nearby can be quite rewarding. Whether travelling by car or by train, it is easy to discover the large urban region of the Ruhr, a Mecca for city lovers and also the cities of Cologne and Bonn.
Germany at its finest; offering a unique blend of conspicuous consumption and beer-drinking bonhomie, Düsseldorf combines world-class shopping and cultural attractions with the down-to-earth charms of the Rhineland. The city has a thriving economy, a relatively low unemployment rate, excellent infrastructure and friendly people. The capital of the state, this city of about 600,000 doubles as Germany’s fashion capital, as well as playing host to major corporations and first-rate trade fairs. Cosmopolitan, fun loving and unabashedly chic, Düsseldorf delivers big city life on a human scale.
Duisburg is located just twenty minutes northeast of Dusseldorf. It is not an especially beautiful place but it forms the western boundary of the Ruhr region and with almost half a million inhabitants is fairly large. Since 2005 a major regeneration program for the city centre has been underway and general improvements have already been achieved. The main shopping street, the Königstrasse (Kings Street), has been extensively rebuilt and upgraded. The bistros and restaurants in and around the impressively redeveloped harbour area are some of the best places to spend some time.
Some twenty minutes further east from Duisburg and thirty minutes northeast of Düsseldorf can be found Essen, the core city of the Ruhr Metropolis and European Capital of Culture in 2010. Essen was the powerhouse of German heavy Industry and has managed the economic change to the service sector. The city remains one of the largest in Germany and has gained a reputation for its excellent shopping facilities. Not too many historical buildings stand today but the abbey and the synagogue are two remarkable premises in the city centre.
Passing twenty-five kilometres further East from Essen and arriving in Westphalia lays Dortmund. This eastern boundary of the Ruhr Area is a place to visit some medieval churches and the home of Borussia Dortmund, one of Germany’s most famous football clubs. The city grew dramatically during the industrial boom of coal and steel but never lost some of its small town charm.
Between Essen and Dortmund, there’s Bochum, a medium-sized city that hosts the German Mining Museum, which is a rather fascinating museum about the region’s industrial past. The city’s residents are proud of their heritage straddled on the borders of Rhineland and Westphalia giving it an interesting mix of traits and characteristics. Add to that the cultures of immigrants from eastern and southern counties.
A big city feeling can be found further along the river Rhine to the south. Cologne is Germany’s fourth largest city after Berlin, Hamburg and Munich and just forty kilometres away from Düsseldorf. Its most famous landmark is without doubt the Cathedral, which houses the relicts of the Three Magi and became a World Heritage site in 1996. Other sights are the twelve Romanesque churches, the Roman-Germanic Museum and the Chocolate Museum. Its great nightlife and tolerant attitudes are good reasons to drop by.
The city of Bonn is not too far further south of Cologne. The former capital of West Germany became somewhat quieter after much of central government was moved to Berlin. The picturesque city centre, the Museum of the history of the Federal Republic of Germany still attract thousands of visitors and the international flair of the city’s past is still alive. Many international companies and NGOs have their German headquarters here. A cosmopolitan atmosphere and the feel of a prosperous, clean German city are omnipresent.