Our travels this last week took us to the unique and colorful country of Germany! Germany has been at the top of my list for must-see places to visit in Europe. It has always just seemed like it would be such an interesting place to explore and travel to, and let me tell you… it did not disappoint in the slightest. As an American, the only previous countries I had been to before going to Germany were the UK and Mexico, so its safe to say that Germany was a complete culture shock.. but in the best way possible! Everything about going to Germany for the first time is such a new experience, from the language to the culture, everything is so different. But for me, embracing the differences of a new place is what traveling is all about.
For this first trip to Germany, my husband and I decided to get away from the tourists and have an authentic German adventure in the cities of Düsseldorf and Cologne. Düsseldorf and Cologne can both be found in the north-western part of the country. They are conveniently located within a short distance away from each other making it a nice 30 minute train ride away. The funny thing about these two cities is the fact that they have this ongoing feud between them. I’m not quite sure the cause of this hatred, but each city thinks they are better than the other one and they do not like each other one bit. We decided that we would visit both to find out for ourselves what we liked better about each city.
Our first day was spent exploring Düsseldorf. The main reason we wanted to go to Düsseldorf was for the architecture and the apparent posh-like atmosphere that we had heard so much about. Being an artsy girl myself, I have a deep love for all things to do with architecture and design, and this place was a designer’s paradise. Düsseldorf is known for having some of the most modern construction in Europe, and seeing works from the likes of the famous Frank Gehry was mind-blowing. Seriously, I have seen nothing like it in my life and I just could not get enough. In addition to the jaw-dropping design, we were also impressed by the “old town” that is home to some of the best traditional German shops, markets, and restaurants. We had outstanding meals our entire day here. Sticking with our love for Yelp, we headed to Bastian’s for a late morning brunch and IT WAS SO GOOD. I haven’t been to all of Europe, but I’m pretty sure Bastian’s has the best cheese and salami ever. If you go, do yourself a favor and head to Bastian’s for some of the best food you will ever eat! After an incredible meal we spent the rest of the Saturday shopping at the open markets and shops along the Rhine river. I really loved seeing the fresh flowers for sale, tasting the homemade candy, and taking in the smell of the meat sizzling from the nearby sausage stands. There are a lot of high-end shops in downtown Düsseldorf, but for me, the “old town” offered the kind of market shopping that I adore.
To end our day in Düsseldorf we treated ourselves to an authentic German dinner where we had Schnitzel (thin breaded pork) for the first time and man.. it was quite delicious. We then soaked up the sunset while strolling along the Rhine river for some beautiful evening views. The sunset was picture perfect that evening! And to top off an incredible day in Düsseldorf, we lastly headed to Rheinturm Tower where for just a few Euros, you can head to the very top for the ultimate panoramic view of Düsseldorf. We were really glad that we got to do this because to see an entire city lit up from above is the perfect ending to any day.
Day 2 was all about Cologne. We got up early and made our way from the Düsseldorf station on the train down to Cologne. It was really nice to get off the train and step out right into the heart of the city. The first thing that we saw getting off the train was the MASSIVE Cologne Cathedral. There are no words to describe how large this cathedral is. Cologne Cathedral is the centerpiece of the city and was our main reason for wanting to visit Cologne. I have seen many cathedrals in Europe thus far, but none have been quite as impressive as this. The most amazing part was the fact that for 3 euros per person, you can have access to explore every inch of the church. We really liked that we could explore the spooky crypts, treasure room, and climb to the very tippy top of the cathedral for stunning views. For all that was included in the price, visiting this landmark is such a steal! We ended up spending 2-3 hours here just exploring around. Make sure to climb the 500+ steps up the tower to get amazing views of the city. Your legs may feel like jello when you’re done, but it is such an adrenaline rush and so worth it. Going to the top of the tower was our favorite thing we did that day!
After a tiring yet wonderful afternoon at the cathedral, we spent time relaxing around the town square. Seeing the colorful buildings and pretty scenery made Cologne feel like the perfect laid back German town. We also enjoyed heading across the Hohenzollern Bridge to see where the city places their “locks of love” that completely cover the bridge. It was very neat to see, but my husband and I plan on saving our lock for Paris 🙂 Anyways, we really did enjoy our little afternoon spent in Cologne. We ended our time there with a classic german pretzel and waffle before making our train back to Düsseldorf.
I have to say that overall, Germany has been one of the coolest places I have ever been to. From the architecture and food in Düsseldorf, to the cathedral in Cologne, I was completely overwhelmed with how much I liked Germany. Living in London, it was such a great feeling to get away from all of the crowds of tourists. We felt like Düsseldorf and Cologne were the perfect places to get that local taste of Germany that we have been wanting. If I had to choose one city it would have to be both! Düsseldorf and Cologne were so different but they both had some incredible things to offer that makes them each worth visiting. Let the feud live on!
The Savvy Suitcase Top 3 Picks:
1. Frank Gehry Architecture. Located in Dusseldorf Hafen
2. Cologne Cathedral. Large & impressive
3. Old Town Dusseldorf. Great food & shopping
*My next post will feature our trip to Amsterdam!