10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Dortmund
Dortmund, the largest city in Westphalia, lies on the eastern edge of the Ruhr in the fertile Hellweg area. The city has long been the center of Germany's coal and steel industries, a heritage that's celebrated in a variety of excellent museums and attractions. Despite the importance of industry to the city, visitors are drawn here by its numerous open spaces and parks: half of the city is made up of wooded areas, farmland, and parks, as well as numerous waterways. Consequently, it's a very pleasant city to explore on foot, with one of the highest densities of pedestrian-friendly city squares anywhere in Germany. Dortmund is also well known for its famous football team, Borussia Dortmund. Founded in 1909, it's one of the most successful clubs in Europe and boasts the continent's biggest stadium and largest regular attendance (a new museum celebrating the team's long history is under construction).
See also: Where to Stay in Dortmund
1 St. Reinold's Church
Dominating Dortmund's cityscape is St. Reinold's Church (Reinoldikirche), its 104-meter-tall tower visible for miles around. Started in the 13th century and not completed until 1454, the church is named after Dortmund's patron saint, Reinold. A highlight of a visit is climbing the tower for its tremendous views of the city and its many green spaces. You'll also see the church's six steel bells, together weighing some 20 tons and added in 1954 during reconstruction after WWII. Other city churches of note are the 12th-century St. Mary's, home to the Marienaltar by the Dortmund master, Konrad of Soest, and the Petrikirche, built in the 14th century and famous for its beautiful altar from Antwerp, made in 1521 and boasting 633 gilded figures.
Address: Ostenhellweg 2, 44135 Dortmund
2 The Alter Markt and Altes Stadthaus
The central feature of the Old Town of Dortmund is the Alter Markt, the Old Market, a large pedestrian-friendly area that can trace its roots back to the 12th century when town merchants and tradesmen would display their wares here. It remains a popular shopping area to this day, and is home to numerous shops, boutiques, and galleries, as well as cafés and restaurants. Historical highlights of the square are its old fountain, added in 1901 as a drinking trough for animals, and the Old Civic Hall, or Altes Stadthaus, a fine Neo-Renaissance structure built in 1899. A notable feature of the building's façade is the large eagle representing the city of Dortmund. Another nearby old building worth seeing is Berswordt Hall, the Town Hall.
Address: Alter Markt, 44137 Dortmund
3 Editor's Pick The Zollern Colliery
One of eight former industrial sites now included under the umbrella of the Westphalian Industrial Museum, the Zollern Colliery is a must see in Dortmund. Along with its tall steel structures, this disused coal mine is famous for its stunning architecture, particularly the redbrick façades of its main buildings. The best of these is the Machine Hall, built in 1904 and with one of the most stunning Art Nouveau entrances in Germany. Highlights of the exhibits include details of the conditions faced by workers, as well as numerous artifacts and machinery (English language guided tours are available). Other related attractions include the Graf Wittekind Visitor's Mine on the site of three coal mines used from the 16th to 20th centuries with demonstrations of mining techniques. Also worth a visit, the Hansa Coking Plant, a still-operational facility that turns coal into coke, offers a unique insight into this fascinating process.
Address: Grubenweg 5, 44388 Dortmund
Covering 175 acres, Dortmund's Westfalenpark is one of the city's largest and most popular green spaces. The park is home to a number of attractions, including the
212-meter-high Television Tower (Fernsehturm), affectionately known to locals as Florian, and boasting a revolving restaurant at 138 meters with outstanding views of the city. Also of note is the German Rosarium, a superb display of more than 2,600 varieties of roses that can be explored along a pleasant walking trail. Westfalenpark is also where you'll find Dortmund's massive Trade Fair Center, the Ice Stadium with its ice-skating and roller-skating rinks, and the Westfalenstadion, the largest football stadium in Europe and home to Borussia Dortmund. Another nearby park of interest is Rombergpark, home to the city's Botanical Gardens and Zoo Dortmund.
Address: An der Buschmühle 3, 44139 Dortmund
About 12 kilometers south of Dortmund on a wooded crag above the Ruhr valley, the Hohensyburg, or Syburg, is an ancient castle complex dating back to the 8th century. The castle ruins seen today date from around 1100 and include two large keeps, the former living quarters, and remnants of the old wall. A more recent addition is the war memorial, added in 1930 to commemorate the fallen from WWI. A popular destination for hikers, the hill also boasts a number of other attractions of note, including the Vincketurm, a 26-meter-high tower offering superb panoramic views, and the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Memorial, built in 1902. Below the crag lies the Hengsteysee, an artificial lake formed by the construction of a dam in 1928.
Address: Hohensyburgstrasse, 44265 Dortmund
6 Dortmund U and the Depot
In addition to its industrial past, Dortmund also has a number of important attractions focusing on its rich cultural heritage. Perhaps the most important - certainly the most conspicuous - is Dortmund U, a huge former factory now transformed into a hub of artistic and creative activity. Highlights include the work of local and regional artists, along with filmmakers and photographers. The building is also home to Museum am Ostwall, a fine collection of 20th-century paintings, objets d'art, sculptures, and graphic art, as well as works by the Expressionist group, Die Brücke. Another important center for the arts is the DEPOT. In a former tram workshop, the DEPOT is home to more than 40 creative enterprises, offering a varied program of cultural activities and events, from exhibitions to movies, markets, and fairs, along with theatrical performances and workshops.
Address: Brinkhoffstrasse 4, 44137 Dortmund
7 Transport Museum and Mooskamp Station
Those with an interest in vintage vehicles won't want to miss the excellent collection of old trams at Dortmund's Local Transport Museum. Housed in Mooskamp Station, numerous old trams are included in these fascinating displays of the city's century-old transit system, the oldest of them dating back to the early 1900s. From Dortmund, these old trams headed off deep into the Rhur Valley, carrying workers to the region's mines, coke plants, and steelworks. Also of interest is the Motor Car Museum, home to a collection of fine vintage vehicles including Jaguars and Ferraris, plus displays relating to the development of Germany's auto industry.
Address: Mooskamp 23, 44359 Dortmund
8 Port Authority Building and Museum
Dortmund, on the River Emscher and close to the River Rhur, has long relied upon its waterways to transport the goods produced by its numerous industries. Along with the rivers, Dortmund marks the beginning of the Dortmund-Ems Canal, a 269-kilometer-long route to the sea that was opened in 1899 to help deal with the ever increasing production capabilities of the region. Today, a number of old buildings from the canal's heyday survive, most notably the old Port Authority Building, home to an excellent museum depicting the history of the port. Highlights include a large model of the port, a replica of a ship's bridge, as well as collections of maps and artifacts relating to the region's rich maritime history.
Address: Sunderweg 130, 44147 Dortmund
9 Haus Dellwig
Haus Dellwig, an old moated building first mentioned in city records in the 12th century, now houses a variety of exhibits relating to Dortmund's rich history. Highlights of its many exhibits include fully restored rooms, including the kitchen and various living quarters, as well as a variety of workshops, such as a cobbler's shop and bakery. Other important city museums include the Museum of Art and Culture with its exhibits outlining the history of Dortmund and its churches with displays of old furniture, gold coins, medieval and 19th-century paintings, as well as examples of 17th -and 18th-century folk art. The Natural History Museum is also worth visiting, and is notable for its collections of fossils and minerals.
Address: Dellwiger Strasse 130, 44388 Dortmund
10 Dortmund for Kids
Dortmund has many fun tourist attractions designed specifically for families. A must-see is the Adlerturm Museum. In the 14th-century Eagle Tower, this fascinating museum focuses on life during the Middle Ages, packing numerous medieval artifacts, weapons, and models into its six floors. Another attraction for kids is the Mondo Mio Children's Museum in Westfalenpark. Suitable for kids of all ages, this hands-on museum offers numerous fun distractions, from the huge globe that welcomes visitors in a variety of different languages, to fascinating displays of musical instruments, power generators, and toys made from recycled materials. Another child-friendly draw is the Wickede Giraffe Museum, a quirky little museum dedicated to the world's tallest animal. Highlights include more than 10,000 giraffes made of everything from wood to ceramics and cloth.
Address: Ostwall 51a, 44137 Dortmund
Where to Stay in Dortmund for Sightseeing
We recommend these convenient hotels in Dortmund with easy access to city center attractions:
- Novum Hotel Unique Dortmund Hauptbahnhof: 4-star hotel, convenient location, marble-clad lobby, grand staircase, comfortable rooms.
- NH Dortmund: mid-range pricing, central location, near shopping district, serene room decor.
- Dorint an den Westfalenhallen Dortmund: affordable rates, spacious rooms, great buffet breakfast, Jacuzzi.
- Mercure Hotel Dortmund Messe & Kongress: budget hotel, heated indoor pool, free parking, near soccer stadium.