Cambridge, where to go?

You have many reasons to visit this extraordinary university town. Cambridge has a unique vibe and will amaze you with its聽history,聽architecture, and natural beauty.

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When visiting Cambridge you can’t miss the聽colleges and it’s gardens, the riverside,聽all the green聽meadows surrounding the city and the Backs (gardens and parks line up beside the river聽behind the colleges).

Walking and cycling are the best ways to visit the city.

The town is full of cyclists, students and tourists, but still has a nice vibe and it’s far from being a big chaotic city.

The Colleges are truly amazing even if you only contemplate them from the outside.

Before your arrival, you should check on the internet if the King’s College Chapel or the聽Trinity College are hosting a concert during your visit. This is excellent way to visit both of this emblematic places (sometimes for free).

Most of the museums are free in Cambridge, if you have time you should visit them all, if not I recommend the fabulous聽Fitzwilliam Museum, the聽Kettle’s Yard and the聽Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

If you are a fan of聽Sir Isaac Newton, stop at Trinity College to see the聽famed apple tree where it was said to be the inspiration for his theory of gravity after being bopped on the head by one of the fallen fruits.聽2015-01-09 23.58.30.jpg

If the weather invites for a picnic the Botanic Gardens are a must聽or a punting session through the river Cam.

It聽is always something happening in Cambridge, so make sure you do your research and don’t miss what this city has to offer.

If you visit cambridge be prepared to fall in love with this town.

Cambridge is聽very accessible by bus or train from London.

photography 鈥撀燼ll rights reserved 鈥 Ana Rocha

馃崪聽More about聽vegan food聽in Cambridge聽馃崪

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Street art in Marseille

Street art in Marseille

In the quartier of Cour Julien and the in the聽quartier of Le Panier walls are extravagantly painted for everyone to decipher and enjoy.

Both are wonderful areas with loads of quirky stores, cafes, restaurants, bars, and colourful street art and graffiti covering most of the facades.

Make sure you have the time to explore it!

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Marseille is a real treat for street art lovers, hope you have enjoyed this small gallery.

photography 鈥撀燼ll rights reserved 鈥 Ana Rocha

 

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Marseille, the French Port

Marseille is the second largest French city on the Mediterranean and capital of Provence-Alpes-C么te d鈥橝zur聽region. Unfortunately doesn’t have the best reputation, due to high crime rates and immigration.

From my travels around France, ALL the people I meet said to be very careful in Marseille or even not to go there.

I can’t say that Marseille is very safe, I could have been lucky聽because聽fortunately, I didn’t have any problems at all as a solo female traveller.

Its great to explore the city on foot, but I also recommend you to buy a bus card because the city is quite big.

Vieux-Port (Old Port)

The Old Port is located in the heart of the city and is a very popular place. The bay is packed with boats and yacht surrounded by cafes, restaurants, bars and hotels.

It is quite busy but still picturesque, with a mish-mash of styles and influences.

Notre-Dame de La Garde聽鈥淟a Bonne M猫re鈥

The聽Notre-Dame de La Garde sits聽on the highest point in the city. The best part is to walk up the聽hill and the 360 panoramic views.

The basilica is ornamented with coloured marble, byzantine-style mosaics, and murals.

Chateau D’If Frioul

Is an incredible landmark because of The Count of Monte Cristo from Alexander Dumas. If the weather is good, you can go by boat to the island,聽from the Vieux Port (old port).

The fort is nice but to be honest not much to see, although the views are great.

La Major, Marseille Cathedral

It is a beautiful and at the same time 聽unusual roman catholic cathedral聽built in the nineteenth century in Romano-Byzantine style.

The聽Cathedral of Marseille聽stands on the western edge of the old town above the聽Quai de la Joliette.

MUCEM Museum (Museum of Civilization in Europe聽and the Mediterranean)

The MUCEM, is an iconic museum mostly because of the structure of the building. It’s really a magnificent place and a fantastic playground if you like photography! I strongly recommend a visit even if is just to contemplate the remarkable building.

You can access, to both the courtyard of J4 and the ramparts of the fort, for free. To visit the聽permanent and temporary exhibitions is 9,50鈧.

Vieille Charit茅

The Virile聽Charit茅, located in the聽heart of Marseille’s Le Panier quarterwas built as an almshouse, although the beauty of the building doesn’t really give that聽impression with its聽neoclassical central chapel and elegant arcaded courtyard.

Today聽is home to a number of cultural institutions and museums.

Fort Saint-Jean

The Fort Saint-Jean, is for me one of the best places in Marseille.聽The fort lies at the northern mouth of Vieux Port聽and was recently restored.

Its perfect for scenic strolls through its gardens, and to enjoy the views of the Mediterranean coastline.

If you go to the top of the gardens near the footbridge to MuCEM, you can see Marseille’s Cathedral, and聽admired the amazing views of Marseille and of the Mediterranean.

Natural History Museum of Marseille

The museum is inside the astonishing Palais Longchamp, which is worth a visit just to contemplate the architecture and the gardens. Not really worth to visit inside.

聽Les Docks Village

If you are into shopping聽Les Docks聽are a聽mid-19th century complex of shipping warehouses, that has been redeveloped and now includes shops, boutiques, galleries, cafes and restaurants.

The聽buildings are connected by creative courtyards. This alone can be good聽a reason to visit.

Street Art

The quartier of Cour Julien walls are extravagantly painted for everyone to decipher and enjoy.聽A wonderful area with loads of quirky stores, cafes, restaurants nice bars, and colourful street art and graffiti covering most of the facades. Make sure you have the time to explore it!

Farmers’ Market

A great place to buy fresh fruit and vegetables.IMG_7699

David’s Statue

For some reason, Marseille also has a copy of the famous David from Michelangelo, placed in the middle of a roundabout near the Prado beaches.

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photography 鈥撀燼ll rights reserved 鈥 Ana Rocha

Have you ever been to Marseille? What other places would you include here?

 

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Carcassonne, medieval France

Carcassonne is located in the southwest of France.聽Is a well known fortified Medieval town part of the聽UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The walled city is very old, founded by the Romans, and聽is the largest citadel in Europe.聽The walls of the city are 1.9 miles (3 km) long and聽have 52 massive towers.

This medieval town is a聽picturesque place, that attracts plenty of tourists, unfortunately, too many in my opinion.

Carcassonne聽was fortified by the Romans and strategically located between Toulouse and the Mediterranean sea.

I’ve visited Carcassonne聽12 years ago and really loved it, this time I felt a bit disappointed. The walled city felt more like a theme聽park than a real town where normal life takes place.

I arrived early in the morning, and the entrance was already packed with buses and excursions.

Within the walled cityall the buildings, squares, and alleyways have retained their medieval character.

La Ville聽Base

This time I have enjoyed more to walk around聽Carcassonne Town (La Ville聽Base) than the citadel. I found it quite charming and I really had a great time strolling through its streets.

From Toulouse, Carcassonne is an easy day trip and Bla Bla car works really well.

photography 鈥撀燼ll rights reserved 鈥 Ana Rocha

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Albi a beautiful town in southern France

Albi is small and relatively off-the-touristy radar town on the Tarn River in southern France,聽conveniently located about an hour northeast from Toulouse.

Despite its size, Albi is incredibly rich in history and charm.聽For me is without a doubt one of my favorite small town in France.

Albi is covered in red bricks, what gives this town a charming and distinctive aspect.聽The best way to visit Albi is by wandering around the historic聽center.聽Through the small cobblestone streets聽and alleyways near the river.

Albi聽Cathedral

The Cathedral is an聽UNESCO World Heritage Site. This place聽will take your breath-way, it’s imposingly tall and has a distinctive look for the use of brick to construct its exterior. I personally, never came across a construction of this size made of聽bricks.

This incredibly beautiful聽Gothic Cathedral is located in the middle of the lovely charming聽plaza filled with cafes,聽boulangeries,聽and other stores.

I found the interior as impressive as the exterior.

Maison du Vieil Alby

The聽Maison du Vieil Alby聽is a brick-half-timbered house covered in聽red-bricks. This house is聽one of the oldest-surviving buildings in Albi.

Coll茅giale聽Saint-Salvi

A Catholic church with a small cozy cloister, perfect stop, to have a snack or to relax.

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Palais de la Berbie

The聽Palais de la Berbie was a聽former Bishop鈥檚 Palace that serves today as an art museum dedicated to the artwork of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

The gardens behind it, are truly fantastic and the view of the Tarn River聽spectacular.

Old medieval bridge.

The special thing about the Albi bridge is that it鈥檚 also constructed with the same red brick聽from which all the buildings in the old town were made.

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From the bridge, you get a great view over the rest of Albi and the city of Madeleine which is located on the other side of the bridge. The river itself is also quite pretty.

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From the other side of town, you have聽excellent views of the cathedral and the聽the聽Pont Vieux聽along the Tarn River

March茅 Couvert

It’s a small indoor marketplace, unfortunately with no vegan options.

where to stay and how to get there

Albi is a great place to visit聽but is really small. So its better聽to base yourself in the nearby big city of Toulouse and do Albi as a聽day trip. Toulouse as plenty of accommodation choices and Albi doesn’t.

Toulouse has plenty of hostels, hotels聽as well as a range of聽AirB&Bs聽to choose from.

Blabla car works really well in France and is a great way to meet local people.

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photography 鈥撀燼ll rights reserved 鈥 Ana Rocha

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Toulouse, La Ville Rose

Toulouse聽is a charming French town that surprises with its enchanting atmosphere, and location between聽the Garonne River and the mighty Canal du Midi, plus it’s still a bit off the radar to most people.

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The聽ochre rooftops and coral-pink brick facades gave this sunny town the聽nickname 鈥La Ville Rose鈥 (the pink city).聽I found Toulouse quite romantic, perfect for a couple.

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Toulouse is an easy stop-off in the heart of the south west of France.聽Has plenty to do and see from聽ancient palaces to great聽food markets.聽Toulouse has two Unesco heritage sites, the Canal du Midi and the Basilica of St. Sernin, the biggest Romanesque building in Europe.

Toulouse is a “big small city“, where everything you may want to visit is quite close, plus the public transports are amazing, making it really聽easy to get around.

Basilique Saint-Sernin

As I mention before聽this Basilique is a Unesco heritage site, and it鈥檚 considered one of the largest remaining Romanesque buildings in Europe. 聽I found the bell-tower especially impressive, standing 64 meters above the ground.

The city is quite clean and many streets in the center are limited to pedestrians. Bikes are also everywhere. The Old Town not only is a concentration of monuments and old buildings聽but is also the place where the normal everyday life takes place.

The聽Capitole

It’s the majestic square in the聽heart of Toulouse,聽bordered by grand buildings made from Toulouse鈥檚 hallmark rose-red bricks.

The building itself is accessible to the public, and the entry is free.. Going inside is definitely worth it.

Mus茅e des Augustins

Used to be a convent, nowadays is a聽fine art museum which houses some of the works from the French school between the 15th and 18th centuries.聽The medieval cloister and garden are especially magical, surrounded by salons filled with evocative statues and sculptures.

Cath茅drale saint-茅tienne

Also know as Toulouse Cathedral, it’s a Roman Catholic church built between the 13th and 17th centuries. The cathedral is a combination of northern and southern Gothic styles.

Canal du Midi

A picturesque canal whose waters flow throughout the southwest of France until exiting into the Mediterranean Sea, perfect for a聽stroll along the River Garonne聽during a sunny day.

Pont Neuf

The聽Pont-Neuf is the oldest and also the main bridge in town, a great place to walk聽along the Garonne river. The bridge was constructed in the 1500s.

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Jardin Japonais

Located in the north of the city near the聽Compans Caffarelli. On the day I visited the聽garden, there was virtually no one there, it’s a gorgeous place, that definitely deserves a visit.

Chapelle des Carm茅lites

It’s a聽stunning聽chapel that will absolutely take your breath away. Inside this聽chapel聽is covered in fresco painting, from the wall to the ceiling. The chapel is聽covered with religious depiction of the Heavens, definitely worth a peak.

Market of Saint Aubin

The Market happens every Sunday morning聽and is run by local farmers. It’s a great place to buy organics products, vegan street food, find local artists and books.聽Although Toulouse has聽several markets this one was my favorite

The March茅 Victor Hugo, is quite big and well known for聽its gourmet stalls and restaurants but more is more suitable to non-vegans.

How to get there

Toulouse has its own airport, 20 minutes away from the city center. It also has great connections from the airport to the city.

photography 鈥撀燼ll rights reserved 鈥 Ana Rocha

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Bacharach a charming town of the Rhine Valley

Bacharach

Along the Rhine, there are plenty of charming towns that will make you聽step back in time. Bacharach is undoubtedly for me, one of the prettiest of the Rhine villages.

The last time I visited Bacharach was in February,聽and I was lucky enough to have a snow day. 聽This small German medieval town is definitely a must during any season, but you can’t deny that the snow adds a little something else.

Wondering through聽Bacharach by itself is already an amazing experience. Bacharach is a charming small town behind a 14th-century wall, with narrow cobblestone聽streets, and historic buildings聽with half-timbered mansions involved by imposing vineyards.

The Stahleck Castle marks it’s presence up from the hill, with a breathtaking view of the Rhine river.

There are several paths leading up to the castle and down to town. It can be a bit steep and slippery聽in places with the snow and the ice, but the views are worthy. The courtyard of the castle overlooks the Rhine and the valley of Lorelei.

The tiny Bacharach is easily reachable by train. The train journey stretches along the Rhine river, and the journey is simply amazing dotted with castles, vines and,聽small historical towns.

The Rhine Gorge is like something out of a fairytale with castles dotted as far as the eye can see, medieval towns, and great wine.

Personally, I recommend聽Bacharach as a day out. Because there will be more and better options for accommodation聽and food elsewhere, plus the train journey is easy, comfortable and the views a delight.

If you do decide to overnight, there are plenty of options including the castle. Yes! it’s true, they transformed the 12th聽century fortified castle into a聽hostel.

photography 鈥撀燼ll rights reserved 鈥 Ana Rocha

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Cologne travel

Cologne is mostly known for its beautiful Gothic cathedral and crazy carnival, and I was lucky enough to experience both. Cologne is also a major cultural center.

After D眉sseldorf聽I took the train down to Cologne,聽the largest city of the German Bundesland of North Rhine-Westphalia, during聽carnival time (Karneval).

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Carnival is a big deal in Germany, and the city of Cologne was聽unrecognizable when I arrived. There was a festive spirit in the air, lots of alcohol, music,聽fun, noise, crowds and thousands of people dressed up.聽Cologne’s Carnival is the biggest in Germany and聽has a long and rich history which I did not know much about, until then.

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The City of Cologne聽

Cologne is a fairly walkable city, but if you are more of a bus person, a聽single ticket costs 鈧2.80 a day pass is 鈧8.60. Cologne also has a dense network of bike routes along the Rhine.

The river runs through the heart of old town so you can also take a cruise along the river.

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Altstadt (The Old Town)

Cologne doesn’t really impress with its old town聽since聽only a tiny area of historic streets survived the聽World War II. The reman streets are聽colorful and great for a wander around.

The K枚ln’s Dom

The world-famous Gothic cathedral, is located right next to the train station,聽in the center of K枚ln, is the聽fourth-tallest in the world, and luckily聽survived the war.聽The聽construction and details are quite impressive, and I do recommend going in the morning before everyone else arrives. Visiting the cathedral is free.

The聽South Tower, is 157 meters high, with 533 steps, (4鈧) if the weather is good you have a great panoramic view all the way over and around Cologne and the Rhine river.

The Belgian Quarter

Located outside old town, is kind of a pot mixing bits and pieces of France, Belgium and Germany. Here all the street are named after cities in Belgium, like 聽Br眉sseler Platz, a beautiful scare surrounding a church.

There is a huge variety of local and international boutique shops, ethnic markets, restaurants,聽and local cafes to discover.

Ehrenfeld

It’s another area outside old town that deserves to be explored. A few years ago some well-renowned covered Ehrenfeld with聽stunning murals.

Art Museums & Street Art

Cologne has a number of excellent museums, like The Ludwig Museum with聽an impressive Pop Art collection with work from the well known Warhol and Lichtenstein, and great聽street art to be found around the city.聽 For instance, in Ehrenfeld, or聽Eigelstein, the key is to leave old town and walk around back streets, side streets and all the roads in between the main ones.

Some other museums are quite unusual, such as the German Olympic Museum聽the Chocolate Museum or the perfume museum.

If you do like museums, its best to buy the MuseumsCard聽(鈧18)

Hahnen Gate

This is one of twelve gates of the medieval city wall located in Rudolfplatz.

Skulpturen Park K枚ln聽(sculpture park)聽

It is a relaxing and interesting place that combines art and nature. Artists have been commissioned,聽to create work that interacts creatively聽with the surrounded nature. The entry is free, and the park combines permanent and temporary exhibition.

Botanical Garden

Located in the north of the city, next to the zoo. It’s a great place to visit during summer and spring. The park is very well maintained, and the entrance is free.

Flea Markets

Cologne’s streets are home to an exceptionally large number of flea markets,聽聽there you may find amazing and affordable vintage items. Even if you don’t want to buy something, it still is a聽nice place with a special atmosphere, to walk through looking at the antiques. If you are there to buy聽bargaining is a must, most of the markets also have聽food and beverage stalls.

The panorama tower, K枚ln Triangle

this impressive high-rise K枚lnTriangle offers a good 360-degree panorama view of Cologne, to go up they charge a 鈧3 fee.

Love Lock Bridge

The Hohenzollern Bridge聽or聽Love Lock Bridge聽is completely covered聽with tens of thousands of padlocks, each one engraved with names, dates or something romantic.
From Old Town, you can cross one of the numerous bridges that separate the two parts of the city. From this side, there’s a great view of old town and the Cathedral.

If you have time:

Take a train and pop into some of the many聽picturesque towns outside of Cologne along the聽Rhine.

  • Drachenfels聽has a spectacular聽castle, called the Dranchenburg Castle. 1 1/2 hours by train.
  • Aachen聽is a university-town great for history-lovers, and it is close to聽Belgium.聽1 hour by train.
  • Koblenz, is a town full of ancient history, 1.5 hour by train.
  • Mainz, its a nice little university town with a medieval center and an impressive cathedral.聽1.5 hours by train.
  • Marburg聽is picturesque medieval hill town with narrow cobbled streets and half-timbered houses.聽2.5 hours by train.

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Mainz the colourful聽city at the Rhine River

Mainz stretches along the Rhine at its confluence with the River Main.聽It’s a small university city that is more charming, beautiful and vibrant聽that the famous neighbors of Cologne and Frankfurt.聽

Mainz聽is part of one of the most scenic train rides in all of Germany, to say the least. So travel by train is mandatory. You really can’t miss it, I assure that the ride will be one of the highlights of your trip to Germany.

The train journey is along the banks of the river, its a relaxing journey that dazzles with its ruins of old fortresses, beautiful castles, small medieval towns, and countless vines. Most of the towns聽in this line are worth a visit if you have the time.

A good way to visit them is to stay in Mainz and do a return day journey to visit some of the most historic towns along the river.

Mainz

Mainz has a聽charming and inviting聽Old Town, easily explored by foot.聽The historic streets聽impress mostly with it’s聽fantastic architecture, cobbled streets, beautiful half-timbered houses, small boutiques, appealing open squares,聽restaurants, wine bars, rustic taverns and interesting museums and churches.

The聽atmospheric square, where the weekly farmers market takes place is the place where the impressive Roman Catholic church from the聽10th century is located. The beautiful聽Mainz Cathedral – Dom聽is perfectly situated in the heart of the city,聽facing the Gutenberg Museum.

This museum is one of the oldest printing museums in the world and was founded over 500 years ago. The exhibition聽is a journey through the writing and printing history.

Unlike the Dom, the Gutenberg museum is not free. The ticket is 5鈧 for adults.

From the museum when walking through聽the pedestrian street 聽鈥Augustinerstra脽e鈥 (Augustinerstrasse), you can still see some details of the magnificent cathedral. This street leads to a Roman theatre.

The St. Stephen鈥檚 Church聽It’s another church that deserves a visit, for its聽world-famous Chagall windows. They have that name because聽of the聽ethereal聽stained-glass created by the Russian-Jewish artist Marc Chagall,聽as a symbol of the Jewish鈥揅hristian reconciliation.

A walk on the promenade along the Rhine River banks is also great.

Useful tips

  • Mainz old town is聽a bit more than one kilometer from聽the train station.
  • Cycling is also an option in Mainz, you just need the install an app to use one of the many public bicycles around town.
  • Ryanair links several European airports with Frankfurt-Hahn airport, which is closer to Mainz than Frankfurt.
  • To reach the airport from the city or the city from the airport buy online a ticket from one of the low-cost bus companies. The bus is direct and takes 1.30h.
  • If you’re a fan of Carnaval you should go in February to take聽part in the traditional聽carnival聽festivities.

photography 鈥撀燼ll rights reserved 鈥 Ana Rocha

D眉sseldorf a surprising city along the River Rhine

D眉sseldorf is one of the economic centers in Germany and is located along the River Rhine. Dusseldorf is known mostly for its nightlife, 聽and prominence in the fashion industry.

Because I’m not really into nightlife neither fashion this city would not be my first choice of a German town to visit.

But destiny (and cheap flights) made me end up there, and I didn’t miss the opportunity to visit 馃檪聽I had no expectation about D眉sseldorf. It had never really crossed my mind going there, so I was kind of surprised how pretty it was, and how聽D眉sseldorf’s聽art scene was so amazing.

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Dusseldorf is very close to the famous city of Cologne聽and is the capital of the German state North Rhine-Westphalia.

>> D眉sseldorf old city center

Dusseldorf has a small charming area that is intact in the聽old city center (Altstadt), the rest of the city聽was mostly rebuilt after the war.

Passing over the Stadtgarden you can make your way into the old city and the boardwalk that runs along the Rhine River.聽

To explore the area is better by foot. Just walk聽randomly through the web of lanes. This district is known as 鈥the longest bar in the world鈥, because the small Old Town has more than 300 pubs.

In the Old City Center,聽you will not miss the聽Marktplatz square聽with the Town Hall and the equestrian statue of Elector John William II. During the Carnaval and Christmas, this place is full flow.

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The Castle Tower right on the banks of the Rhine is another important stop, as it鈥檚 the only remaining piece of the old castle that used to dominate the area.

D眉sseldorf’s biggest church is called St. Lambertuskirsch.聽It’s not the Cologne cathedral but still beautiful and quite impressive, you will recognize it for its twisted tower.

>> The Japanese quarter

Dusseldorf has the third largest Japanese community in Europe, and the Japanese culture is very present around the聽Japanese quarter,聽centered around Immermannstr.

As a tourist destination, this area lacks in charm or atmosphere but you can find here聽Japanese shops, restaurants, tea shops, travel agencies, appliance stores, grocery stores, etc.. its kind of聽a little Tokyo or Japantown.

>> The聽K枚nigsallee聽(King鈥檚 Alley)

This famous shopping street has beautiful stone walkways and a picturesque canal in the backdrop.聽It is literally a shoppers鈥 paradise, and for people like me, a place for a nice, long walk.

It’s called K枚 by the locals, and it’s a great staring point to discover the city. Where the聽K枚nigsallee Boulevard converges with the聽Hofgarten promenade, you have the sinuous聽K枚-Bogen;聽a large-scale office and retail complex. The Hofgarten promenade聽it鈥檚 a relaxing place to read a book, drink a coffee or do a picnic near the lake.

>>Rheinuferpromenade (promenade)

No matter which side of the Rhine you choose to walk through; the views are amazing.聽The Burgplaz marks the beginning of the promenade, wandering along the Rhine River from the Altstadt towards the聽Rhineturm,聽is a fantastic walkway聽,watching聽the ship’s and tourists boats up and down the river and the surrounding architecture.

Rhine Tower (Rheinturm)

The Rheinturm is a 240.5-meter high concrete telecommunications tower, 聽in the head of a modern district on the river. From the top,聽you have an overall look of Dusseldorf.

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The Japanese Garden聽is a wonderful place for meditation, despite the distance from the city center, you can easily cycle there. The聽Volksgarten is another great park perfect for a summer picnic. It has a small beer garden open during summer months.

Have you ever been to D眉sseldorf?

What did you like the most? Do you have any recommendations?

 

photography 鈥撀燼ll rights reserved 鈥 Ana Rocha

More about :

馃帀 D眉sseldorf鈥檚 Karneval

馃彊聽D眉sseldorf Art Scene & Architecture

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