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40km (25 miles) N of Cologne (Köln), 230km (143 miles) NW of Frankfurt

Wealthy Düsseldorf, the richest city in Germany, is situated in the western North Rhine-Westphalia region. It's large, full of banks, offices and skyscrapers, but it's also refreshingly clean. Düsseldorf began as a settlement on the right bank of the Rhine, but today it's spread out on both sides -- the older part on the right, and the avant-garde, commercial, and industrial part on the left. Parks and esplanades line the riverbanks and today it's the most elegant metropolis in the Rhine Valley.

Things to Do

Wander through the Altstadt (Old Town), a thick ribbon of cobbled lanes in the center of town and admire its 1573 Gothic Rathaus (City Hall). North of the Rathaus you'll spy the 13th-century St-Lambertus Basilika (St. Lambertis Church) -- it stands out like a brilliant giant with its splendid, twisted spire. After, head east to the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen: K20, a contemporary black glass museum. Its post-WWII art includes more than 100 Paul Klee paintings.

Shopping

The Rhine Valley's most famous shopping street, Königsallee, resides in the center of town. Lined with high-end designer shops like Gucci and Chanel to make your credit card ache, it's fun to window-shop. On a slow stroll, ponder the elaborate displays of haute couture and take in the elegant, swanky feel. Don't be surprised if you pass ladies in fur coats boutique-hopping -- Düsseldorf is a magnet for fashionistas.

Entertainment & Nightlife

Nightlife centers around the Altstadt, which brims with inviting bars and historic beer taverns. The area feels like one big bar on weekends and it can get rather boisterous, but it's all in good, friendly fun. Many venues here serve Düsseldorf's signature Altbier, a dark, semisweet brew. Drop by Bräuerei Schumacher, a well-loved stalwart with exposed timber overhead and tile-decorated walls. This brewpub only serves its own beers, including Schumacher Alt, its version of the city's popular Altbier, of course.

Restaurants & Dining

Düsseldorf's most historic restaurant (notables from Napoleon to Arthur Miller allegedly once ate here) is Zum Schiffchen. Settle into the atmospheric, rustic space for belly-filling Wursts and Schnitzels, plus lighter seasonal specialties like white asparagus in May. A 180-degree turn literally awaits you at Rheinturm Top 180 Restaurant, where you can sample international fare, like rack of lamb with rosemary potatoes and salmon with lime crust, while slowly spinning atop the otherworldly Rheinturm, a silvery communication tower and Düsseldorf's tallest building.