For most visitors to the largest conurbation in Germany, the question “Where to go in the Ruhr?” consists of two parts: “Where should I stay in the Ruhr?” and “Which sights should I see?”. This article aims to help answer these two important holiday planning questions.
The Ruhr area is large. From Duisburg in the west to Hamm in the east, the distance is almost 100 kilometres. If you only have a few days as a tourist in the Ruhr area, you should think about what you want to see beforehand and choose your accommodation accordingly.
Our tip: Brewery tour through Düsseldorf with free beer (Altbier): More info and online booking
In which city should I stay as a tourist in the Ruhr area?
If you want to visit the Ruhr region by public transport, you should definitely choose a hotel with good connections to the S-Bahn and U-Bahn. If you have to take a bus for half an hour to the nearest main station in the morning, you will lose a lot of time. Hotels near a large main station are therefore ideal. The best connections are at the large main stations in Essen and Bochum. Gelsenkirchen has slightly fewer connections, but is not a bad choice either. Dortmund is a very good choice if you are a tourist and want to visit the eastern part of the Ruhr, Duisburg is a good choice for the western part.
Which city is best depends on what you want to see. The three central cities in the Ruhr region form a triangle. These are Essen, Bochum and Gelsenkirchen. Essen and Bochum have the best connections to the S-Bahn. Essen’s city centre is very attractive, with many sights nearby. In addition, Essen has the largest pedestrian zone in the city directly opposite the main railway station.
For tourists in the Ruhr area, we would therefore suggest Essen city centre as the ideal place to stay. The distance to other cities in the Ruhr area is somewhat shorter on average due to the central location in the Pott. The city has a lot to offer. There are some good hotels in Essen. The prices for accommodation are not too high.
If you stay a little longer in the Ruhr area, you can also change accommodation after a while. For example, you can stay a few days in a hotel in Essen and a few days in Dortmund.
Which sights should I see?
Of course, everyone has their own wishes and ideas. Here is a brief overview of the absolute highlights in the Ruhr region:
Industrial monuments: Some of the former industrial plants and the like in the Ruhr region are now listed monuments or are even UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen, the Landscape Park in Duisburg and the Gasometer in Oberhausen are very frequently visited.
Museums: Here, the large mining museum in Bochum and the famous Folkwang art museum in Essen are often mentioned first.
Football: This sport is the most important in the Ruhr region. Guided tours of the stadium in Schalke and guided tours of the stadium in Dortmund can be a highlight of a holiday in the Ruhr region for any football fan. A new super attraction in the Ruhr region is the German Football Museum directly opposite Dortmund’s main railway station.
Zoos: The Zoom Zoo in Gelsenkirchen is one of the best and most modern zoos in Europe. Another large and well-known zoo is in Duisburg.
City parks: Two are particularly well known for former federal horticultural shows and the like: the Grugapark in Essen and the Westfalenpark in Dortmund.
Old towns and settlements: The best-known historic miners’ settlement is Margarethenhöhe in Essen. Hattingen in the southern Ruhr area has a very beautiful old town.
Other places of interest: A must-see is the Villa Hügel in Essen, the most famous residential building in Germany. The Krupp family once lived here.
How do I get from the hotel to the sights?
All the sights described above are easily accessible by public transport.
The 15 or so tourist attractions mentioned above are near railway stations or stops of rail-bound transport (S-Bahn, U-Bahn or tram).
All of them can be reached from Essen main station with a maximum of one change (likewise from Bochum main station). During the day, you can get to the top sights from Essen main station in less than an hour, and to most of them even much faster.