Short vacation in North Rhine-Westphalia
A short vacation in NRW
NRW used to be Germany's industrial superpower, but today plants and mines have become open-air museums and cultural venues. Visiting one of the numerous old industrial sites on the theme trail - the Route der Industriekultur - might be an exciting adventure for a family keen on history. For instance, the stunning Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen, which was once the largest one in the world, is visited by two million people annually. Apart from festivals and concerts all year round, you can spend time in two museums, open-air cinemas, or explore the Heritage Trail Zollverein with former miners as your guides.
Photo by Frans Berkelaar, https://www.flickr.com/photos/28169156@N03/21354109773
Another exciting exhibition and event hub nearby is the Gasometer Oberhausen. A huge 117-meter cylindrical tank, formerly used for gas storage, is nowadays used as an event hall thanks to its unparalleled acoustics. If you go up in its panoramic lift, you will be amazed by the views of the western Ruhr. The town of Oberhausen also has a beautiful castle and a large mall - Centro, which attracts visitors not only with great stores but also with a sea life aquarium and the Legoland discovery center. Oberhausen, with 19 other towns, is within the Emscher Landscape Park. The whole vast post-industrial territory has become a green recreational zone, with more than two hundred projects still underway. Cycling, hiking, excursions, and picnics are perfect activities to do here. There are many more sites to visit on the Route of Industry Culture during your short vacation to NRW, e.g., Ansa Coking Plant or Zollern Colliery in Dortmund.
A weekend trip to NRW
If you would like to undertake a traditional city trip in North Rhine-Westphalia, visit Cologne - the biggest city in the state. Cologne is a hotspot for fans of culture and museums. Thus, you will probably need a few days to discover all its treasures. The breath-taking Gothic Cologne Cathedral is Germanys most popular landmark, and you must see it with your own eyes to understand why. Stroll on the cobblestoned squares of Old Town, throw a coin and make a wish at the Heinzelmännchenbrunnen - a fountain on Am Hof, which has its own gnome story. The botanical garden and zoo nearby are a good choice for families with children. If you have plenty of time, visit the Phantasialand in Brühl - an amusement park only 20 km away. Cologne has the highest ratio of pubs per person in the country, especially along the Zülpicher Strasse, and over 70 nightclubs. So, a weekend trip with friends will definitely be fun, too.
There are other remarkable cities in NRW. Düsseldorf will impress you with its architectural cocktail of ancient and ultramodern buildings. Do some shopping in the Altstadt and have a shot or two at the longest bar in the world (a row of over three hundred bars and discos). Take a river cruise from the Rhine Embankment to see Düsseldorf from a different angle. For total relaxation, enjoy a luxury spa day in the town of Aachen, and after, walk along its beautiful medieval streets and admire the cathedral, built in the eighth century A.D. by Emperor Charlemagne. Another place worth visiting is the hometown of Beethoven - Bonn, with the scenic Poppelsdorf Palace and Bonn Minster basilica.
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