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Besides local cities such as Bochum and Duisburg, Essen and Dortmund in the Ruhr Metropolis a few cities await to be explored in the most densely populated area of Germany. Visiting one of the large cities nearby can be rewarding, Whether travelling by car or by train, exploring is easy in the large urban spaces of the Rhine Ruhr region, a paradise for city lovers.

There are many cities to explore, drop by for some shopping or gather new impressions in the region close to Dusseldorf. This is, after all, the most densely populated area in Germany and visiting one of the large cities nearby can be quite rewarding. Whether travelling by car or by train, it is easy to discover the large urban region of the Ruhr. A thrill for city lovers are also the cities of Cologne and Bonn.


Duisburg is not an especially beautiful place but offers visitors interesting aspects. It forms the western boundary of the Ruhr region and, with almost half a million inhabitants, is fairly large. Since 2005 a major regeneration program for the city centre has been underway and general improvements have been achieved. The main shopping street known as Kings Street, Königstrasse, has been extensively rebuilt and upgraded. The bistros and restaurants in and around the impressively redeveloped harbour area are some of the best places to spend some time.


Essen can be found some twenty minutes east of Duisburg. The core city of the Ruhr Metropolis and European Capital of Culture in 2010. Essen was the powerhouse of German heavy Industry and has managed economic transition to the service sector. The city remains one of the largest in Germany and has gained a reputation for its excellent shopping facilities. Not too many historical buildings stand today but the abbey and the synagogue are two remarkable premises in the city centre.


Passing twenty-five kilometres further East from Essen and arriving in Westphalia, expats arrive in Dortmund. This eastern boundary of the Ruhr Area is a place to visit some medieval churches and the home of Borussia Dortmund, one of Germany’s most famous football clubs. The city grew dramatically during the industrial boom of coal and steel yet lost much of its charm. Its economy is rebounding.


Located between Essen and Dortmund, Bochum  is a medium-sized city that hosts the German Mining Museum, which is a rather fascinating institution about the region’s industrial past. The city’s residents are proud of their heritage straddled on the borders of Rhineland and Westphalia giving it an interesting mix of traits and characteristics. Add to that many cultures brought by immigrants from eastern and southern counties. The city is proud of it green avenues and parks.


A short journey to the west is Germany at its finest. Offering a unique blend of conspicuous consumption and beer-drinking bonhomie, Düsseldorf combines world-class shopping and cultural attractions with the down-to-earth charms of the Rhineland. The city has a thriving economy, a relatively low unemployment rate, excellent infrastructure and friendly people. The capital of the state, this city of about 600,000 doubles as Germany’s fashion capital, as well as playing host to major corporations and first-rate trade fairs. Cosmopolitan, fun loving and unabashedly chic, Düsseldorf delivers big city life on a human scale combined with small town charm.


A more serious city feeling can be found further south along river Rhine. Cologne is Germany’s fourth largest city after Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. This large and highly friendly location is just forty kilometres further away from Düsseldorf and seventy from Essen. Its most famous landmark is without doubt the Cathedral, which houses the relicts of the Three Magi and became a World Heritage site in 1996. Other sights are the twelve Romanesque churches, the Roman-Germanic Museum and the Chocolate Museum. Its great nightlife and tolerant attitudes are good reasons to drop by.


The city of Bonn is another thirty kilometres further south of Cologne. The former capital of West Germany became somewhat quieter after much of central government was moved to Berlin. A picturesque city centre and the Museum of the history of the Federal Republic of Germany still attract thousands of visitors. The international flair of the city’s past is still alive. Many international companies and NGOs have their German headquarters here. A cosmopolitan atmosphere and the feel of a prosperous, clean German city are omnipresent.

By Vincent Green, Jul 27 2021

People on horizon


Larger events that affect street life or draw larger crowds in the Ruhr Metropolis are presented in the Events Overview. These include funfairs, marathons, street fairs, music festivals and Christmas markets. Activities such as the Ruhrtriennale, Park Lights, Extra Shift and Ruhr Reggae Summer are exemplary. Photo © Ravi Sejk.

Railway platform with sky


The massive major rail operator Deutsche Bahn remains strong in Germany. North-south trains run through the Ruhr Metropolis on their way past Hamm and Dortmund, onward to Düsseldorf, Cologne, Bonn and beyond. Many also travel via nearby Wuppertal.

Written text on paper


We stand in a foreign culture finding ourselves pointing, gesticulating and hoping to be understood. Many Germans speak at least some English. However, some expats relocating to the Ruhr Metropolis may wish to carry a few basic but helpful words with them for use in awkward moments.

Stack of aluminium chairs


The service environment in Germany is extremely different to that in, say, the US or the UK. Customer experience is defined both by a mix of personal attitudes and the ability to interact with others. Also a result of social tradition and a few decades of history.

Society & Folk in Ruhr

Anyone who has experienced the hospitality offered by this society knows that the country and its folk have changed enormously over recent years. The Ruhr Metropolis is, on the whole, peaceful and its citizens are mostly generous and contented.

Lederhosen German shorts