North Rhine-Westphalia

Information and Tourism

North Rhine-Westphalia flagFor a century, North Rhine-Westphalia - usually known as NRW, was a place of heavy industry. It was a land of coal and steel that, quite literally, kept the rest of Germany well fuelled. Heavy industry might have been replaced by banking and the media in recent years, but North Rhine-Westphalia is still one of the largest urban areas in Europe. No less than 30 of Germany's biggest cities are located within its borders and almost 18 million people live here.

The largest city in the state and a convenient stop-off on many tourist itineraries is Cologne (Köln). The spires of its impressive Gothic-style cathedral rise up high above the city. A mere 509 steps need to be climbed to reach the cathedral's viewing platform and take in the panoramic views.

You won't find many fairytale castles in these parts, but you will find an above-average number of museums and galleries, as well as concert halls and theatres. There are cities like Bonn, the former German capital and birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven. There is Aachen, which also has a cultural bent, but is perhaps best known for its stunning cathedral. The state capital of Dusseldorf boasts an impressive art scene, as well as a world-famous opera house. However, North Rhine-Westphalia isn't just about high brow culture, it also happens to be the home of many popular German heavy metal bands.

It is possible to escape the frantic urban pace of life by sampling North Rhine-Westphalia's more bucolic attractions. Head eastwards for a taste of nature in the Sauerland region or northwards to the Teutoburg Forest, with its nature reserves, lush river valleys and open parkland. In days gone by, the forest was the site of a famous Roman defeat at the hands of Germanic tribes. Nowadays, visitors receive a much warmer welcome as they pedal their way along its well-organised cycle paths, taking in the delights of its spa towns.

North Rhine-Westphalia Information and Fast Facts

World Guide to Bonn, Germany
A very friendly city where people come to relax and soak up the atmosphere, Bonn is famous for many things and is actually the birthplace of German composer Beethoven. The noteworthy National Parliament buildings are located here.
World Guide to Cologne, Germany
Known in Germany as Koln and situated in close proximity to Bonn, Cologne is the largest of all the cities within the North Rhine-Westphalia area. This is a historical and rather beautiful city, with some magnificent buildings lining its Rhine River.
World Guide to Dusseldorf, Germany
The modern and energetic city that is Dusseldorf boasts much traditional character, if you look past its glamour, sparkle and gigantic trade fairs. Today, Dusseldorf is overflowing with culinary delights, top nightclubs and sights to see.