When I got invited to go on a trip to Urbanana, I had no idea what place exactly I had been invited to. But ‘pop culture’ and ‘street art’ got me excited. Looking into where the trip was going more specifically, I came to understand that Urbanana is named after the banana shaped form of this region in North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. On the menu: Düsseldorf, the capital of this region. Bochum, the centre of the Ruhr. And Köln, a bubbly metropolitan. Wonder what must see’s and do’s you cannot miss when visiting this urban jungle? Let’s go…
As the capital Düsseldorf is the administrative and cultural centre of the industrial Rhine-Ruhr area. Düsseldorf is known as one of the country’s leading university towns and is an important center for art and fashion. With lots of elegant shops alongside the wide streets, a lot of museums and art galleries not much is needed to enjoy yourself in Düsseldorf. A stroll along the riverside on the Rhine Embankment Promenade will give you an idea of how both city vibes and nature come together in this wonderful place.
The Hofgarten is the oldest park in Germany and one of the biggest in the city centre. It’s a beautiful place to have a picknick, or, visit during Asphalt festival for example. We went there for a concert by Jael, and I must say I was blown away. The ambiance and environment made for a perfect evening in the park.
A visit to the NRW Forum museum is lovely for those who like photography and digital art. The Julia Stoschek collection, where the focus is time based media, is another must visit for those who love to get interactive. Videogames (both old and modern, think of AI and virtual reality) will make for an interesting adventure. Other lovely places to explore in Düsseldorf are Little Tokyo (where we had dinner at Phox, yummy!) and the Köningsallee (a large shopping avenue with loads of designer stores). Personally, we didn’t visit Schloss Benrath or the Rhine tower, but I would definitely go back for these landmarks.
In Düsseldorf we stayed at the 25hours hotel, one that I can definitely recommend. I had a bath tub on my balcony and gratefully made use of it. At the top floor of this hotel you will find a roof top terrace that overlooks the city. Even if you don’t stay at the hotel, this would be a lovely place to visit.
Only 40 minutes from Dusseldorf, one will find Bochum. Much smaller than Düsseldorf, Bochum gives off a completely different vibe than the capital. A bit more industrial and less busy, but oh so interesting to walk down town. Especially, bearing in mind that this used to be the centre of mines. Hence, a visit to the mining museum could be a great addition to a Bochum trip.
In Bochum one could also visit the Sold Out gallery like we did. Here you’ll find not only the graffiti that is used for Bochum street art, but also cool gadgets. Besides, this gallery has monthly exhibitions that would be worth attending. We also had a guided tour along some of the most beautiful street art pieces. It’s so interesting to hear the background stories of artists that made these beautiful works and interesting to hear how Sold Out gallery works together with artists and inhabitants to create murals that make an impact and add value to the neighborhoods.
We had dinner at Zum Grünen Gaul, this was delicious! During the summer their terrace is a perfect place to chill and relax. Another lovely place would be the cafe of Art Hotel Tucholsky, which is where we stayed. Oh, and don’t forget to try Spezi the typical German soda which is basically a mixture of cola and Fanta (I loved it!).
Other places to visit in Bochum: Ruhr Park, the botanical garden of Ruhr University Bochum, the Eisenbahnmuseum, Bermuda 3Eck, Zeiss Planetarium, Tippelsberg, the Art museum. Hmm, now that I am writing all of these down I see a lot of reasons why I would have to visit Bochum again.
As soon as we stepped into this bubbly city, I again, caught a completely different vibe. In a way you can immediately sense how this must be one of the more hip & young cities in Germany. Especially when you visit the Aakener Strasse, a street that never sleeps. Here you’ll find all the lovely cafes and restaurants and it’s the perfect place to have a drink before going out in one of the clubs nearby. For lunch, we went to Thai Imbiss, for dinner we went to Núria and for cocktails we visited Toddy Tapper. All of which I can totally recommend!
In Cologne, several nice festivals are hosted throughout the year, like the Ambient festival which is held in the St Aposteln church. We were told about this one during the ‘Sound of Cologne’ tour. A tour that I can definitely recommend as it tells you more about the city’s architecture, but also about their music culture and how the city has developed throughout the years. At the end of our tour we went by Kompakt, a record shop that hosts festivals and small music gatherings.
A walk down Ehrenfelt would show you the street art culture of this lively city with big and colorful murals that have meaning, some even provocative but all so interesting. I would recommend doing this tour with a guide that can tell you more about the art works.
I would definitely visit Cologne again, and then would love see and do the following: going up the Dom tower to have an amazing view over the city, take a boat ride down the Rhine, visit Cologne’s old town (very picturesque and Instagram worthy with the cute colorful houses), go to the gay pride with my besties (it is said to be one of the bests) and visit some of the interesting museums and galleries (like the Ludwig museum, the Romano-Germanic museum and the NS Documentation Center). Yup, this city has it all! From history and culture to a fun party scene.
– Visiting Düsseldorf for Dutch people is easy by train. It will take about 1,5 to 2 hours to get there. And from here it is easy to travel further to other cities in this area.
– Get a tourist card for various discounts on museums and other sights. You will find them here for: Düsseldorf, Bochum, Cologne.
– During this summer, for €9 only, one can buy a train ticket that is valid for 1 month and can be used as often as needed on all trains throughout the country (except for ICE). Such a bargain, right?!
– Note that all of these cities would also be lovely to visit during December for the lovely Christmas markets.
More information about these cities can be found here: