A couple of weeks back, I was feeling very restless because I hadn't flown cross-country in a while, and so I went onto my #1 flight search engine site, Skyscanner, to book some cheap flights out to, well, literally anywhere. And weirdly enough, a little German town called Dusseldorf came up, offering flights for only £15 each each way, and I just couldn't refuse (despite not knowing a single thing about the town). Honestly, I thought it'd just be full of museums and art galleries - but it turned out to be so much more. Due to the fact that I'm still only 17, and this is the first international trip I'd taken without a family member, I had a strict budget to stick to - £150. Now I knew that this budget could be pretty difficult to stick to, with hotel rooms and food out, but I managed to do so, simply by asking around and figuring out how I could save the pennies. As it turns out, it's easy to get a 5* German experience.. if you know where to look.
Uni-Klinken was a place we ended up in by accident, but was filled with the most gorgeous buildings
The view from the Altstadt was one of my favourites, as it had such a simple, yet gorgeous, skyline
Ti Amo was a big cafe duplex with amazing food at insanely cheap prices
The hotel room - £60
Initially, I knew that the most expensive thing would be the hotel room, as I would be staying in a fairly large German town with plenty of tourists for the season. So naturally, I turned to Booking.com, because they don't sacrifice quality for the price. It took a while to find somewhere central and of a good reputation whilst still staying within my budget, but I managed to do so. I found a lovely place called the NH, which turned out to be very big and clean, with things like a sauna and gym inbuilt to the place, and the most excellent reception service. In total, it cost £120 for two people for three nights, which honestly is so insanely cheap, you would probably pay more for a hostel. The reason it was so cheap of course, was because not only did I choose a good site to book it on, but I also booked waaaay in advance, so the rooms probably hadn't even started selling for that date yet.
Flights - £30
I already briefly mentioned the flights and the fact that their cheapness was the reason I went to Germany in the first place, but I didn't mention why they were so cheap. It was because not only did I book at the prime time for flights to Dusseldorf (a little research with your chosen flight company will likely give you information on the best time to book), but I also chose one of the least reputable companies to fly with - Ryanair. Now I'm sure you've all heard the horror stories about the tiny planes and added charges, but honestly, if you research beforehand you can save all that hassle. For example, I only realised after researching the company that you have to check in via the app before you fly, otherwise they will charge you extra at the gates. Also, I managed to avoid extra fees by going economy class and not buying any extra baggage allowance, because one bag was enough for me for three nights. Saying this though, it is true about the lack of legroom (sorry to my tall friends) - but for an hour's flight, that didn't bother me all too much.
Added expenses - £23
This includes food, drink, trips out, and magnets, with the majority of the cost being taken up by lots of little things like Kinder Eggs, ice cream and waffles, because frankly, I wasn't missing out on any German food.
Ti Amo was a place we found on our second day, which we thought to be just a little cafe. As it turned out though, it opened into a giant duplex with a cinema inside, and yet held the most reasonable prices. The above image, for example, shows what £3 could buy, I'm not kidding. In total, the whole meal came to £12, including three courses, a bottle of still water (be careful - sparkling is default and gross) and a decent tip, which is insane - especially for such a big town. Also, for my fellow vegetarians, I'm glad to say that there was a huge amount of vegetarian cuisine on offer, which was a big relief for me.
Once we arrived in Dusseldorf, a friend called Emily recommended that we try a Bretzel (big German preztel), and I'm so glad that I did because it was insanely delicious. We found that food was incredibly cheap out there, like you could get a big oven-baked pizza for £3, or a big vat of pasta for even less. My favourite places, however, were the Fritten Piet, a small shop that sold sausages and fries, and Pia Eis, an ice-cream shop that we went back to everyday because 1, it was incrediblydelicious, 2, it was very cheap (£1.50), and 3, the lovely blonde German lady gave me a bowl-worth of ice-cream each time. Also, the wafer cones were to die for.
The Rhine Tower, situated upon the river, was the best thing I spent money on (other than a giant marzipan rabbit at a place called Heinemann), as for £7.50 you could go up the 600ft to the top, and overlook the town. My friend and I went just as the sun was setting, and it was amazing. We had a 360 view that looked all the way out to Cologne, with music playing from the bar and the sky slowly turning pink. Also, can you see the circular glass at the top of the tower? Well that's where I leant all the way back on the glass, feeling like I was going to fall through and dive to my death. It was both terrifying and brilliant at the same time.
Free (but awesome) things to do in Dusseldorf
As it turns out, Dusseldorf is just crammed with things to do - and all for free! Some of my favourite things were;
Walking down the Promenade, between the Rhine River and Altstadt, was one of my favourite things to do, as there was an abundance of beautiful things to look at. During our last night, we stopped for a Coke on the Promenade by the river, and I pretty much felt like Shirley Valentine sipping my drink as the sun set in a stunning country.
The little no-name museum, featured in the above photograph on the right, is a museum with German-only captions, all about the Rhine River and the local life through the ages. I say that this was free, but as we went at 'Happy Hour', we got in for absolutely nothing at all, although this won't be the case if you go at, say 9am instead of 4pm.
The marina and the Neue Zollhof and Gehry buildings are probably the most famous parts of architecture in the whole town - even my companion studied them during an art course! When walking down to the famous Rhine Tower, we happened to stumble upon them, and whilst they're not something I would have gone out of my way to see, I still found them super cool and I'm glad that I did see them.
A small town church we came across up by Nordpark was one of the many cheap views we got in the North, which was although lovely in some parts, was quite spooky in others (point and serve)
The Japanese Gardens, featured in Nordpark, is honestly the most adorable thing that I saw in perhaps the whole of Dusseldorf. It was lovely there, and if you wander up far enough, you come to a little waterfall which I explored enough to find myself standing at the top - now one of my favourite places in Dusseldorf. It was on my list of things to see in Germany, and I'm so glad I did because we spent hours there, walking and soaking up the sun.
The Rhine River was undoubtly my favourite thing in Dusseldorf, and we went back everyday. The above photo was taken just before the sun set, and the sky was bursting with heavy clouds, creating the most dystopian-looking scene. Each day we went back, the area would have something new to offer - maybe a pink sky, maybe hoards of boats, maybe kids sitting around playing loud music, but frankly, I just loved sitting by the river and looking out to the town.
The Altstadt (old town) was another place we went to every day, as it was filled with shops and things to see, and was most beautiful when the twilight hours dawned. Around here is where we met the two lovely Malaysian locals who showed us around and gave us a bunch of advice on Dusseldorf.
Along with the above mentioned places, there were also some pretty cool things to see at Sudpark and Konigsallee and the Hofgarten, which we passed through on our travels but didn't really stop at. Also, we found places like Synagogs (note: we may have accidentally gate crashed a Jewish funeral service) and mini art galleries which were all pretty awesome and showed some stunning things.
In-country travel - £35
The third most expensive thing turned out to be travel - via coaches, trams, buses and trains, but again, I managed to save precious euros on that. As I briefly mentioned earlier, on our first night in Dusseldorf, my friend and I met two Malaysian students studying in Germany, who were super friendly and offered to take us around. They turned out to be brilliant, by advising places to eat, things to see, and of course, how to save on travel. They said that the best way to travel around is by trams, and boy were they right. They also said that as we were travelling as a pair, we could get a paired ticket rather than a bunch of singles, saving us euros every time we travelled. However, the morning we left we had to get a coach, which was £15 each (the same as a single flight) and veryirritating, as it was slower than a tram would be, and yet our only form of transportation to the airport. Because of this, I would recommend trains and trams as a main form of travel, and you can save even on those if you're part of a group, or a student, or anything of the like. Also, bear in mind that a percentage of this cost was spent on my companion who conveniently forgot their wallet at times when we were getting the more expensive methods of travel.
Some of the most famous parts of Dusseldorf are in this shot - the Rhine River, Rhine Tower, Neue Zollhof and the Gehry buildings
The view from the Rhine Tower, which was beautiful, was also pretty damn scary if you leant all the way across the glass
Walking down the Promenade was one of my favourite things to do
In total, the whole trip cost around £148, which is slightly incredible for almost four full days in one of the most well-known German cities, staying in a wonderful hotel, flying cross-country, and experiencing some pretty awesome food. I've passed on some of my best tips to navigating the budget-side of this town, and so I hope that this post has given y'all some good ideas on how to take a cheap-as-chips trip to Dusseldorf, Germany - if it has, let me know below!
And remember, in Dusseldorf beer is cheaper than water!
-- This post is completely unsponsored and all opinions voiced are my own. Likewise, all the photographs are mine. Prices mentioned above are for one (and a half) person --