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Die Externsteine im Teutoburger Wald, Bild: curcum / shutterstock

Holidays in North Rhine-Westphalia – Experiences in abundance

North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populous state in Germany and therefore inspires its visitors with holiday experiences in abundance. The state offers the perfect mix of vibrant cities and dreamy nature, which are a good basis for a relaxing and eventful holiday.

Are you looking for a varied stay where there is a lot to discover? Then North Rhine-Westphalia is the right place for you. Immerse yourself in the Rhenish joie de vivre and enjoy the culinary specialties served to you by cheerful innkeepers.

The State of Cities – Adventure Big City

Cologne, Rhine & Cologne Cathedral
View over the Rhine to Cologne Cathedral, Image: ESB Professional / shutterstock

Great cities await you in NRW – Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund, Essen, Bonn, Duisburg and Oberhausen are definitely worth a visit. If you love shopping, you will find your Mecca in the shopping streets of the cities and in the Centro Oberhausen shopping centre. If you like it elegant, you can visit Düsseldorf’s Königsallee – affectionately called “Kö” by the people of Düsseldorf – and watch all kinds of luxury cars and rich people shopping there. From a cultural point of view, the Ruhr area has a lot to offer, as most of the colliery sites from Duisburg onwards have been redesigned as museums, exhibition or event venues and provide a great insight into the industrial past of mining.

Are you looking forward to delicious food and iconic drinks? Then you should visit Cologne and Düsseldorf in particular and treat yourself to a Rhenish Sauerbraten together with a delicious Altbier or Kölsch in rustic breweries. For night owls, the “longest bar in the world”, Düsseldorf’s old town with the legendary Bolker Straße, and in Cologne the Kölner Ringe – a lively pub and trendy district in the middle of the city centre await you.

Bochum also inspires its visitors with the “Bermuda Triangle”, a collection of restaurants, cafés and bars, which is also home to what is said to be the best currywurst stand in the Ruhr area.

If your hotel is located in one of the vibrant cities and you are still hungry or thirsty late at night, you can enjoy the “Büdchen” or “Trinkhallen” – kiosks that offer all kinds of snacks and drinks until midnight (in North Rhine-Westphalia, the purchase of alcoholic beverages is also allowed after 10:00 p.m.).

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Düsseldorf Rhine
View of the banks of the Rhine in Düsseldorf, Image: Romas_Photo / shutterstock

If you want to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the city centres, you can do so in Bonn, Cologne, Düsseldorf and Duisburg directly on the banks of the Rhine, as the Rhine meanders through these cities and offers downright picturesque opportunities to unwind by the water. There are many beaches and Rhine promenades as well as cafes directly on the banks of the Rhine (e.g. the Düsseldorf casemates). Just ask locals for tips – the cheerful Rhinelanders are generally very open-minded and happy to help visitors.

Breathtaking nature – worthwhile hinterland

A holiday in North Rhine-Westphalia is also extremely attractive from a scenic point of view. Apart from the beautiful banks of the Rhine, holidaymakers will find a perfect holiday environment in the rural areas of the state. For example, there is the region of the Lower Rhine, north of Düsseldorf, which invites you to extensive hiking and cycling tours with its dreamy villages and flat meadows and fields. Sun-yellow rapeseed fields, historically interesting villages (e.g. the Sigfried town of Xanten) and healthy, fresh air will accompany you. The proximity to Holland is noticeable by the fact that most of the paths are flat and the place names seem slightly Dutch – in one or the other café you will even be served poffertjes (Dutch mini pancakes).

Winterberg im Winteer
Winterberg in winter, Image: jedamus / shutterstock

You can also find relaxation in the midst of nature in the Sauerland, which is located in eastern Westphalia and inspires its visitors with a Black Forest feeling. Here you can hike to your heart’s content and relax in cosy nature hotels. In winter, skiing and tobogganing areas around the village of Winterberg await snow lovers.
Last but not least, there is the Bergisches Land – you certainly know the Krombacher advertising with the breathtaking nature around a small island in the water of a lake?
You can marvel at these, only a few kilometres from Cologne, at the Wiehltalsperre in the Bergisches Land. In addition to the vantage point on the Krombacher Island, the extensive nature area also offers fantastic picnic areas, numerous hiking opportunities and a special biodiversity, as over 160 bird species live here. With a bit of luck, you can spot and observe Canada geese, cormorants, great egrets and other endangered species.

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Events & fun – there is always something to experience

If you want to have fun and experience a lot on your holiday, you will also have a great stay in North Rhine-Westphalia. Because nowhere else is the density of events and events as high as here. A wide variety of open-air events await you, such as the Parookaville Festival in Weeze on the Lower Rhine, the Bochum music festival “Bochum Total” at the Bermuda Triangle and the Juicy Beats Festival in the Westfalen Park in Dortmund. In the same park, the Festival of Lights also takes place in summer, where visitors can look forward to breathtaking shows, lots of lights, music and a fireworks display. Dortmund is also known for the legendary Mayday, which traditionally takes place every year on the city’s exhibition grounds and attracts music fans from all over Europe.

In Cologne, the Cologne Lights (also a festival of lights with ships on the Rhine) and well-known musicals await you.

Typical for North Rhine-Westphalia are also the local fairs, where both children and adults get their money’s worth. With numerous rides and marquees, for example, the Düsseldorf Rhine Fair and the Cranger Kirmes in Herne are the largest in the country. If the fairs and shooting festivals of the regions are not enough for you, you can look forward to other attractions such as the ski hall in Neuss or the Aqualand in Cologne. Here you can let off steam in the snow or water all year round.

Accommodation and infrastructure

Hotels and rooms can be found in the big cities as well as in the countryside. However, accommodation in the cities may be fully booked during trade fairs. This applies in particular to the trade fair cities of Cologne, Düsseldorf and Essen. Timely planning is the order of the day here. In the Sauerland and the Lower Rhine, family-run, authentic hotels and guesthouses await you – you can even spend the night on farms. On private providers such as AirBnB you can find apartments and individual rooms near the airport. The airport in Düsseldorf has the best connection to the city, as it only takes you a quarter of an hour to reach the city centre.

The motorway network in NRW is well developed and connects all important cities with the rural regions.