Until a few years ago, Essen was the most populous city in the Ruhr region. However, the population of the metropolis in the centre of the Revier has decreased after the decline of the coal and steel industry. Now Dortmund (586,000 inhabitants) has slightly more inhabitants than Essen (583,000 inhabitants). But Essen still has a lot to offer its residents and tourists. For visitors who want to explore the Ruhr region, Essen is ideal as a place to stay. The city is centrally located in the Ruhr region and has good and direct S-Bahn connections to all major cities in the Ruhr region and the surrounding area. Essen is the ideal location for a city break in the Ruhr region.
Our tip: Brewery tour through Düsseldorf with free beer (Altbier): More info and online booking
Shopping city Essen
Essen has the best shopping facilities of all the cities in the district. The pedestrian zone (Kettwiger Straße) begins directly opposite the main railway station. The second important shopping street is Limecker-Straße, which branches off to the left of Kettwiger Straße (named after the beautiful suburb of Kettwig).
On rainy days, the 80-store covered shopping centre City-Center (new name from 2009: Rathaus Galerie) at the central Porscheplatz is ideal for shopping. In Essen, both the prices and the quality of the goods on offer are slightly higher than in the other large city centres such as Dortmund or Duisburg.
If you walk up Kettwiger Straße from the main station about 100 metres, you come to the Lichtburg. With 1250 seats, the Lichtburg is the largest cinema in Germany. A visit to the magnificent cinema is still an experience, even if the modern competition, in Essen especially the Cinemaxx, is taking its toll on the venerable old Lichtburg. The cheapest day to visit is Tuesday – even a box seat costs only €7.50 then (simpler stalls €5). On other days, too, admission to Germany’s biggest cinema is only 2-3 euros more expensive. Reductions e.g. for families and others.
About the same height opposite the Lichtburg in Kettwiger Straße (20m to the rear) is the Grillo Theatre, a municipal theatre in neoclassical style. The Grillo mainly stages classical plays by Shakespeare or Schiller, for example. The Grillo Theatre also has a good literature bookshop.
Other sights in the vicinity
For a special kind of entertainment in the centre of Essen, visit the Variete-Theater Essen. The GOP is located directly in the pedestrian zone.
The Museum für Moderne Kunst (Museum of Modern Art) Essen, which has the beautiful name Museum Folkwang, is particularly interesting.
Directly on Kettwiger Straße, 50 metres further up, is the Minster of Essen. The Minster (also called the Cathedral) is one of the most important churches in NRW. Both the interior of the church and, for example, the cloister and the cathedral treasury are accessible.
Essen City Hall
Essen City Hall is a functional building from the late 1970s. At 106 metres high, it is the tallest city hall in Germany, but for some critics it is also the ugliest city hall in Germany. It is located in the north-eastern part of the city centre and can hardly be overlooked.
Other sights in Essen with their own pages on Ruhrgebiet-info.de
– The former home of the Krupp family
– The Old Synagogue Essen