Awarded among the Best Destinations 2023 Essen is also awarded the title of #1 Best Destination to visit in Germany. Germany's third greenest city, Capital of Culture, European Green Capital and pulsating metropolis in the heart of the Ruhr region. Hardly any other German city stands for so many exciting contrasts.
Essen is also the world's first city to use mixed reality glasses to let visitors travel through time. The worldwide unique city tour "Essen 1887" has already been awarded with international prizes last year. Essen is the most exciting big city you may not have heard of before.
Here, urban trendy districts meet historic old towns, high culture meets street art, lush green meadows and forests meet the incomparable charm of the spoil heaps of former collieries, the UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein meets the magnificent Villa Hügel, the former family seat of the Krupp family, and a high-tech city tour that is unique in the world meets the oldest fully sculptural statue of the Virgin Mary in the world - the Golden Madonna in Essen Cathedral. Essen got it all!
Such a development as Essen has undergone over the centuries is almost unique in Germany: from a medieval settlement with a monastery for ladies of high nobility to one of the world's most important centres of the coal and steel industry to a modern metropolis in which globally active companies from the fields of administration, health, trade and services have found their home.
Explore the green south along Baldeneysee and the Ruhr valley or the urban north with its industrial culture and the old colliery settlements. Discover the city on around 260 km of cycle paths, by train or bus. In hardly any other large city you can reach so many highlights from the city centre in less than 20 minutes by car. And if you simply want to unwind, enjoy the tranquillity of the central 70-hectare Grugapark or the Baldeneysee leisure paradise with its numerous water sports activities.
Experience your very own personal contrast programme in one of Germany's most exciting metropolises. Let yourself drift and discover the diverse possibilities. First here, digitally, then in real life. Essen is looking forward to your visit!
Activities & tours
UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein
It is the only World Heritage Site in the entire Ruhr area, with a resonating power that goes far beyond it: the UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein in the north of Essen. The impressive 100-hectare area around the once "most beautiful coal mine in the world" is filled to the brim with art, culture, design and history. A popular photo motif next to the striking Doppelbock-Colliery Tower is the imposing escalator up to the Ruhr Museum, which is housed in the former coal washing plant. While the natural and cultural history of the Ruhr area is told there, the neighbouring Red Dot Design Museum scores with around 2,000 internationally awarded exhibits that make the museum the world's largest exhibition of contemporary design.
Experience the city center a new way : Mixed reality journey through time, shopping, cathedral treasure
Experience a world first in Essen! "Essen 1887" is the world's first mixed reality city tour. Using the latest technology, you mix reality with a virtual world. With mixed reality you never lose sight of your surroundings and yet at the same time you immerse yourself in a bygone era.
After this completely new experience, you can relax while shopping in the approximately 1000 shops or in the diverse gastronomy in the city centre. As in the entire city, the city centre also thrives on exciting contrasts. This is where modern metropolis meets Essen's more than thousand years of history. You can experience this in a fascinating haven of peace right in the centre of the metropolis: Essen Cathedral. The golden Madonna awaits you there, the oldest fully sculptured statue of the Virgin Mary in the world at around 1040 years old. If you want to experience even more important church treasures, visit the neighbouring cathedral treasury.
Leisure paradise Baldeneysee
In the middle of the big city and yet so far away from the noisy hustle and bustle. Baldeneysee is the leisure paradise in Essen. Whether sailing, stand-up paddling, rowing, canoeing or relaxing on the beach - everything is possible here. Around as well as on the artificial reservoir you can spend days that fly by. If you want to discover the entire lake in a relaxed way, the best way is to enjoy a round trip with the White Fleet. If you feel like it and are fit enough, you can hike the surrounding area on the 26 km long BaldeneySteig. It takes you to fabulous views, historic old towns and architectural highlights.
You want world-class art, including four works by van Gogh alone, and that with free admission? Then come to the Museum Folkwang, which is justifiably one of the most important art museums in Germany. Here, 19th-century German and French painting meets outstanding photography, and sculpture and graphic art meet world and poster art. In addition to the outstanding permanent exhibition, the museum, whose new building was designed by star architect David Chipperfield, impresses with major public and temporary exhibitions.
Germany's largest single-family home, Villa Hügel, looms high above Baldeneysee. From 1873 to 1945, the imposing villa was the home of the Krupp family of entrepreneurs. With its 269 rooms and surrounded by a 28-hectare park, it still symbolises the important age of industrialisation in Germany. If you want to immerse yourself in this era, simply pay a visit to the villa and find out about the eventful history of the family and the Krupp company, among other things, in the permanent exhibition in the "Kleines Haus". Afterwards, you can take a walk in the large park grounds.