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Top 10 Best Things to Do in Essen, Germany

What is Essen Germany known for?

Old Town Kettwig via Pixabay

Bucket List: 10 Best Places to Visit in Essen, Germany

Named the Green Capital of Europe in 2017, Essen’s coal and steel city is popular with tourists for its deep history and its contribution to the arts. Some of the best things to do in Essen, Germany, vary from visiting historic old town to art museum appreciation. If you plan to visit Essen soon, we will gather some interesting things you can do.

Here are the 10 best things to do in Essen, Germany, to add up to your itinerary.

1. Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex & Ruhr Museum

Ruhr Museum by Nordenfan via Wikipedia CC
Ruhr Museum By Nordenfan – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, CC

Essen’s first coal mine and a UNESCO World Heritage Site is the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex. Established in 1847, the former massive industrial site is perfect for family visits with younger kids and those into industrial history.

Visitors can also explore the regional museum on the site, the Ruhr Museum exhibiting around 6,000 permanent exhibitions regarding coal’s evolution dating back 300 million years.

2. Museum Folkwang

Museum Folkwang by Rainer Halama via Wikipedia CC
Museum Folkwang By Rainer Halama – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, CC

Founded in 1922 with the fusion of the 1906 Essener Kunstmuseum and 1902 Folkwang Museum, the Museum Folkwang holds the largest art collection from the 19th and 20th centuries. The modern museum exhibits impressive collections of ancient to contemporary arts, photography, and 340,000 German posters.

Some of the museum’s famous collections include Armand Roulin by Vincent Van Gogh and Lise with Umbrella by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

3. Old Town Werden

Market place and former City Hall in Werden by Frank Vincentz via Wikipedia CC
Market place and former City Hall in Werden By Frank Vincentz – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, CC

A must-visit for tourist who wants to travel back in time is the 8th century Old Town Werden. The fascinating town consists of old structures, and the 13th-century Essen Abbey lies.

The Old Town Werden also has several local stores and restaurants, apart from its historical architecture. It is the perfect place to try local food and shop for Essen’s goods.

4. Red Dot Design Museum Essen

Red Dot Design Museum Essen photo via FB Page
Red Dot Design Museum Essen photo via FB Page

Also situated at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex, the Red Dot Design Museum Essen holds the largest exhibition of contemporary design worldwide. The museum exhibits around 2,000 innovative commercial products in historical architecture that pique anyone’s interest in structures.

Red Dot Design Museum Essen exhibits Award-winning products globally and a special exhibition of current international product design.

5. Old Town Kettwig

Old Town Kettwig via Pixabay
Old Town Kettwig via Pixabay

Situated in the southern part of Essen and beside the Ruhr River, the Old Town Kettwig is another well-preserved historical town from the 14th century. The charming and tranquil town consists of the traditional architecture style of Germany’s old town, timber houses, and cobblestone walkways.

Visitors can also stay for the night at Schloss Hugenpoet hotel or dine at local restaurants and cafes.

6. Grugapark

View over the center of Grugapark by Tuxyso via Wikipedia CC
View over the center of Grugapark By Tuxyso / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, CC

A green oasis situated at the heart of the city is the Grugapark. If you are looking for a place to relax and get close to nature, Grugpark is the best place to go. The park consists of a botanical garden founded in 1927, known as Botanisher Garten Grugapark, with several smaller botanical gardens inside.

In addition, the park also has a livestock farm, an exhibition of classical to modern art, and a children’s playground.

7. Essen Cathedral

Essen Cathedral by Gryffindor via Wikipedia CC
Essen Cathedral By Gryffindorderivative work: Hic et Nunc (talk)

Established in 1958, the Essen Minister, now known as the Essen Cathedral, is one of the must-visit attractions in Essen. The cathedral was a former abbey for nuns with a gothic hall church and holds a significant artwork, the Golden Madonna of Essen.

Although the church is not that massive, it is also a major tourist attraction where the Essen Cathedral Treasury lies. The chamber exhibits an important collection of Germany’s religious artworks, open to the public.

8. Old Synagogue

Interior of the Old Synagogue by BArt Van den Bosh via Wikipedia CC
Interior of the Old Synagogue By Bart Van den Bosch (Wintermute314) – Own work, CC BY 2.5, CC

A 19th-century Byzantine-style stone structure, the Old Synagogue exhibits Jewish culture and history. Situated in the city center, the Old Synagogue is one of Germany’s massive and well-preserved synagogues.

The exhibition is accessible to the public with free audio in English or German. The Old Synagogue usually holds concerts and various events about Jewish.

9. Villa Hügel

Villa Hugel by Dr G Schmitz via Wikipedia CC
Villa Hugel By Dr.G.Schmitz – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 CC

A former residence of one of the region’s long-established elites, the Villa Hügel is another must-visit tourist attraction situated beside the Ruhr River. The majestic mansion was built by Alfred Krupp from 1807 to 1873; the majestic mansion consists of a massive park and 269 rooms.

The site is open to the public, exhibiting several collections of artifacts and artworks and the 200 years of the historical background of the industrial family.

10. SEA LIFE Oberhausen

SEA LIFE Oberhausen photo via FB Page
SEA LIFE Oberhausen photo via FB Page

The SEA LIFE Oberhausen exhibits diverse marine species and houses Germany’s biggest shark nursery as the perfect place for families traveling with kids.

The facility consists of different exhibits, including the Flowstone cave housing Axolotl and Astyanax jordania, the World of Otters, Seahorses, and the Shark Nursery.


  • Dearsley, (2021), 14 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Essen, Planet Ware
  • Jessica, (2021), Top 10 Things To Do In Essen, Germany – Updated 2021, Trip 101
  • What to do in Essen – Top 18 Things to See in Essen, Travel on the brain

Essen Travel and Tour Packages

Searching for the best hotels, resorts, tour packages, and affordable flights in Essen and nearby cities? Check out our list of affordable Essen hotels and resorts via Agoda and Booking.

Want more updates about new package tours and tourist attractions in Essen, Germany, that you can add to your itinerary?

Follow #TeamOutofTown, on FacebookTwitterInstagram, Bloglovin, and Pinterest for more travel ideas.

Also read: Things You Need To Do When You’re In A New City.

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