Dortmund Travel Guide

Modern architecture in Dortmund Germany
Photo by joergkessler1967 on Pixabay // CC0


Dortmund is a major city in Western Germany. However, outside the world of sports, it’s not as well-known as places like Berlin. The reason is simple – you won’t find as many historic attractions nearby. On top of this, Dortmund is an industrial city, which limits its appeal.

Nonetheless, there is plenty to see and do in Dortmund. From unconventional museums to an awesome food & beverage culture, this place will surprise you.

Top Attractions

Dortmund is a blue-collar city. So, it’s not surprising that its attractions revolve its industrial heritage. First, check out the LWL Industrial Museum. At first sight, you would never expect it to be a former colliery. And yet, its constructors built these structures in the Gothic Revival and Art Nouveau styles.

This coal mine shut down in the 1960s. Thankfully, though, the state moved quickly to preserve this historic site. Today, it shows visitors what it was like to mine for coal in the early 20th century. When you have finished checking out all its old machines, have lunch in the on-site restaurant.

Delve further into blue-collar lives at the DASA Working World Exhibition. In this museum, you’ll learn about work throughout history. This place is great for teenagers, as it allows them to explore their interests.

The one downfall of DASA – its lack of English captions. Not many displays have an English translation. So, take along a German friend. Otherwise, have Google Translate at the ready.

Dortmund doesn’t totally lack historic attractions. Nearby, you’ll be able to visit Hohensyburg Castle. Today, it lies in ruins. But, back in the time of Charlemagne, it was an important hillside fort. Westphalian Saxons originally occupied the fort, but the Franks seized it during the Saxon Wars.

It remained standing until the 13th century when Count Eberhard I’s forces destroyed the fort. Today, two keeps and several walls remain. Be careful as you explore, as this structure has become unstable.

And, during the holidays, don’t miss the Dortmund Christmas Market. This event is one of the largest in Germany with over 300 stalls. It also has the tallest Christmas tree, which stands about 45 metres high.

Other Attractions

Dortmund is crazy about football, or soccer. So, it makes sense that you would find the German Football Museum here. After the 2006 World Cup in Germany, FIFA used the profits to fund the construction of this institution.

Through its exhibits, you’ll learn about the dominance of this national program. Over its history, Germany has won the World Cup four times, and European Championships three times. If you’re into sports, give this place a couple of hours.

After spending a few hours learning about football, why not take in a live game? Join the locals in cheering on Borussia Dortmund at Signal Iduna Park. At full capacity, this stadium hold over 80,000 loud, passionate Dortmunders.

And if you don’t have money for a seat? Buy a standing room ticket – on the Yellow Wall, you’ll join 24,000 football-mad spectators. However, if you plan to do an Instagram Live from here, we have bad news. Borussia Dortmund cuts the WiFi signal during play so that fans will pay attention to the action.

Travelling as a family? Make time in your travel schedule for a trip to the Dortmund Zoo. While it’s home to 1,500 animals representing 230 species, there is a theme to this attraction. For the most part, this zoo focuses on conserving the animals of South America. Highlights include the giant anteater and giant otters.

Aside from this theme, you’ll also find crowd favourites like lions and rhinos. In particular, they have a baby rhino that visitors can’t get enough of. This attraction can get busy on weekends, so visit during the week, when the kids are in school.

If you need to recuperate from running around Dortmund, spend some quality time in Westfalenpark. Spanning over 170 acres, it’s one of the largest inner-city parks in Europe.

What To Eat

Dortmund is in the heart of Westphalia. As such, there’s plenty of delicious German food & beverage to try. Start by sampling a Dortmunder Pils. In a city that loves its beer, this pilsener is its most famous export. Marketed under the brand DAB, it has a crisp taste, with only mild hints of malt & hops.

If you’ve brought your appetite to Dortmund, be sure to have some Pfefferpotthast. This meat stew dates back to the 14th century, when cooks made it for the first time in Dortmund. In September, they even have a festival dedicated specifically to this dish. It typically contains beef, onions, and various vegetables. A good local cook will season this dish with allspice, cloves, bay leaves, and juniper. If you’re visiting during a cooler season, you’ll be able to find this meal easily.

End your meal with some Westfalische Quarkspeise. Your restaurant will serve this trifle in a glass. Inside, you’ll find sweet pumpernickel bread, whipped cream, cherries, and quark flavoured with rum. It’s an experience nobody with a sweet tooth will want to miss.

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