Six things to do to welcome in the spring


Six things to do to welcome in the spring

Fresh air and sunlight, at last!

Have you also had the feeling that the sun has been hiding away more than usual over the past few months? Well, it’s all the more welcome now. If you’ve been longing for sunlight, warmth and fresh air, then March is the time to go out and grab some. The best place to do just that is somewhere green and open. And Düsseldorf is surprisingly abundant in this respect, especially near the city centre. Thanks to the Rhine and its extensive riverbank meadows, we are blessed with a lot of green spaces, more than most other cities in fact. Here are some tips for enjoying spring to the full in Düsseldorf.

A river of crocus

When the crocuses pop up from the ground and the birds are singing, it can only mean one thing: winter is coming to an end. The ‘blue ribbon’ that runs through Rheinpark Golzheim now consists of no fewer than eleven million crocuses, creating – depending on the weather – a breathtaking carpet of blooms between February and March. A sea of blue on green grass to delight locals and tourists alike. The crocuses, the first of which were planted in 2008, are sponsored by Pro Düsseldorf, a charity whose mission is to beautify the city. The blooms start close to Theodor Heuss bridge and continue for around 2.5 kilometres like a blue ribbon, whose curved shape symbolises the waves and the course of the Rhine. That’s 2,500 metres that you can easily conquer and enjoy on foot. Tackling this route several times a week offers more than just physical rewards; it’s simply a pleasure to see how, following a tentative start, more blooms appear every day until suddenly it seems as if all the crocuses are in full flower.

Out for a run in Südpark

While most tourists will probably be familiar with the Rhine meadows, there’s a place to the south of Düsseldorf that is particularly popular with the locals. Together with neighbouring Südpark, the old Volksgarten park forms Düsseldorf’s largest green space and is a big draw for runners. So why not follow their lead and come here to walk into spring? That way, you can test drive your summer wardrobe while feeling like a genuine local. To help you find your way around the extensive park, here’s a tip for a roughly seven-kilometre loop that offers plenty of variety. Start at Zeitfeld, Klaus Rinke’s work of art featuring 24 station clocks, opposite the Volksgarten S-Bahn train station. From here, head past the boathouse through the old part of the park with its large maple and beech trees. The wide path, which is well lit in the evening, winds its way south and leads to a small farm with an organic food shop and café, before reaching a large lake with cherry trees on its eastern shore. Keep right at the Deichgraf restaurant and take the route through the former grounds of the German National Garden Show, where something is almost always in bloom. Then it’s back past the Akki arts centre and along the railway line to the starting point.

Cycle tour to Benrath Palace

If you’d rather cycle than walk, you’ll be pleased to know that the greater Düsseldorf area is largely flat. What’s more, there are some wonderful cycle routes along the Rhine, in particular. And why not combine a springtime tour with an outstanding cultural experience? We can highly recommend a visit to Benrath Palace, our baroque summer residence. This architectural gem is located in the heart of a beautiful park and houses the Museum of Garden Art. The starting point is once again Zeitfeld in Volksgarten park in Düsseldorf’s south. The beauty of this route is that it’s very varied, connecting some of Düsseldorf’s more rural districts with a city landmark, Benrath Palace. But you’ll need a reasonable level of fitness to tackle the approx. 25 kilometres, so make sure to leave yourself enough time. First, cross Volksgarten park lengthwise to the southern end, where a bridge leads over the A46. Then follow the signs to Himmelgeist, pass the botanical garden and cycle along the dyke of a canal for a short distance before turning off to Himmelgeist. The route now passes through Himmelgeist on quiet roads. At Schloss Mickeln, turn left onto Am Steinebrück and continue on Am Trippelsberg, past idyllic paddocks and a small chapel. Then follow the signposts to Benrath. It will feel more urban for a few minutes due to the four lanes of Bonner Strasse, but there’s a straight cycle path that runs parallel to this. Once you can see the Rhine up ahead, keep right and follow the river until the Schlosspark appears on your left. Enter the park and carry straight on along the symmetrical paths to the palace. How about a picnic in the park, or a slice of cake at the palace café? Maybe a visit to the kitchen garden or the Museum of Garden Art? Or maybe pop on some felt slippers and admire the palace’s architecture on a guided tour before you head back to the city centre? Whatever takes your fancy. Simply follow the instructions above in reverse to get back.

Museum Insel Hombroich

If you still feel like exploring Düsseldorf’s surrounding area after all these options close to the city, then we have a special tip for you. Just a 25 minute drive from Düsseldorf city centre, in Neuss-Holzheim, lies Hombroich Museum Island. The name is somewhat misleading, as the museum consists not of one, but of ten buildings, which the artist Erwin Heerich designed especially to showcase Karl-Heinrich Müller’s collection. And it’s only an island by name, even if it is located between two arms of the river Erft. This private museum is located on the grounds of Insel Hombroich, an early-19th century park that had long been abandoned at the time it was acquired for the museum. Showing art in parallel with nature, as favoured by Cézanne, was the plan of founder Karl-Heinrich Müller. He bought the 21 hectare conservation area in 1982 and opened the open-air museum, which features walk-in pavilions and sculptures, some of which are used as exhibition spaces, in 1987. Here, winding paths lead you through natural surroundings carefully crafted by landscape architect Bernhard Korte. If you’ve finished exploring and are feeling hungry or thirsty, you can tuck into the hearty, free buffet laid out in one of the larger buildings. And that’s not the only remarkable thing here. Just a stone’s throw away, the Langen Foundation has found a home on the grounds of the Hombroich rocket base, or to be more precise, in an exhibition building designed by the Japanese architect Tadao Andō. But what’s in the name? Well, the grounds used to be a NATO rocket base, which was closed in 1990. Karl-Heinrich Müller was also the visionary behind this project, while the Langen Foundation itself was established by patron of the arts Marianne Langen. Exhibitions have been held here across a total area of 1,300 square metres since 2004. Concrete, glass and steel, but also air, light and water – in the form of a pond – set the tone of this building, which boasts a clear structure and spectacular sight lines. Also worth a visit are the exhibition hall by Thomas Schütte next door and the teahouse by Japanese architect Terunobu Fujimori. So make sure to give yourself plenty of time.

The imperial palace in Kaiserswerth

If you just love an idyllic setting, then head to Kaiserswerth, a district of Düsseldorf with pretty cobbled streets and baroque buildings. The ruins of the 12th century imperial palace are the best-known local attraction and offer panoramic views of the Rhine and the surrounding area. As the route from Düsseldorf city centre to Kaiserswerth is very scenic, it’s perfect for a day trip by bike. The starting point is the Varieté Apollo at Rheinkniebrücke bridge. The best thing about this tour is that it follows the Rhine all the way, so you can’t really get lost. Cycle northwards along the promenade designed by Niklaus Fritschi and Benedikt Stahl on the eastern banks of the Rhine. Then follow the banks upstream, passing the old quarter and Burgplatz square with its tower, the only remaining part of Düsseldorf’s city palace. The Rheinwiesen meadows begin behind the Rhine terraces. Here, a shaded gravel path takes you under Theodor Heuss bridge, beyond which you will have asphalt under your wheels again and share the path with in-line skaters and runners. Beyond the exhibition centre, which you keep to your right, you’ll reach a dyke, where a quiet tarmac path takes you into the countryside. Although you’ll feel like you’re cycling straight ahead, you’re actually following the great sweeps of the river. You can tell by the position of the sun or of the Rhine Tower behind you, which sometimes seems to be on the left and sometimes on the right of the river. Here, in the north of the city, there are river meadows as far as the eye can see, interrupted only by the prominent pylons and cables of Flughafenbrücke bridge. Once you pass under it, your destination comes into view: Kaiserswerth and the imperial palace. Explore and climb the ruins as much as you like. And if you’re thirsty, head next door for a pit stop in the Burghof beer garden. From here, you can see the small ferry that you can board if you feel like a change and want to cycle back on the other side of the Rhine. The river always remains in sight on the way back on that side too. You’ll reach Rheinkniebrücke bridge after about 50 minutes. Once you’ve crossed it, you can enjoy a drink and a springtime sunset at the KIT Café next to the Apollo.   

Boat tour on the Rhine

Not up for physical exertion? If you’d rather consume calories than burn them, then this tip might be more up your street. Every Sunday from April to October, you can enjoy lovely views of Düsseldorf and a veritable feast on one of the river boats on the Rhine. You will be welcomed on board with a glass of sparkling wine and orange juice, before tucking into the buffet’s cold and warm dishes as the old quarter, the Rhine meadows and Oberkassel slowly pass by. The cruise starts from the mooring point on Burgplatz square on Easter Sunday, and every first and third Sunday of the month between May to October. You should aim to get there by 9.30am, as the boat departs at 10am. The breakfast cruise makes its way up and down the Rhine until 1pm, when you’re returned – hopefully full and happy – to the same spot. If you’re feeling energetic, you can go for a little stroll along the Rhine promenade from here. If you like your fish, you should go on the first Sunday of the month, when Düsseldorf’s famous fish market takes place just a stone’s throw downriver from the mooring point. Around 80 stallholders are waiting to spoil you here, with many delicatessen on offer alongside the fish and seafood. And if you’re definitely full after the cruise, there are also stalls selling flowers and craft items.

This article is supported by REACT-EU.

Title image: Düsseldorf Tourism

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