Four cities, four stadiums, many more reasons to travel. Around the 2024 European Championship, North Rhine-Westphalia attracts with a lot of football experience, but also with currywurst and beer, mining history and world heritage, city beaches and chocolate. Short distances and direct rail connections bring the host cities close together, making city hopping easy.
Beginning in Cologne
Let’s start in the cathedral city
The people of Cologne are going for some unusual choices outside of carnival as well, especially where football is concerned. Since 1950, Hennes, a live goat, has been the mascot of the 1. FC Köln. The only thing better known than he would be the Cologne Cathedral, which brings six million visitors to the city every year and is a Unesco World Heritage.The chocolate museum right by the river Rhine is another thing ranking high on the list of attractions, offering milk and bitter
chocolate, also improved with almonds or marshmallows.
If you don't want to eat chocolate but prefer to drink beer, you can stop off at one of the traditional breweries: There, hearty waiters called Köbes serve freshly tapped Kölsch. One of them is Timo, who tells us more about beer and his special profession.
Another passion takes centre stage at Motorworld Köln: polished racing cars and trophies from the collection of a former Formula 1 world champion are on display there. In addition to the Michael Schumacher Private Collection, there are even hotel rooms with a garage.
From Cologne to Düsseldorf
About 0:30 hours by train
The journey is the reward in the North Rhine-Westphalian state capital, and it is always following the river Rhine towards the arena where Fortuna Düsseldorf is playing its home matches. The modern architecture icons in the media harbour and the NRW forum as well as the Kunstpalast in the expressionist Ehrenhof building ensemble are certainly playing in the Champions League.
Victories on the lawn can be celebrated with top-fermented Altbier, one of the beer specialities in North Rhine-Westphalia, either in an old town brewery, at the city beach, or on the terrace of the Tonhalle, with a dome still hailing from the time when the concert building used to be a planetarium.
From Düsseldorf to Gelsenkirchen
About 0:45 hours by train
As many as 130 football fields fit in to the Nordsternpark in Gelsenkirchen. A single
playing field, specifically the Glückaufkampfbahn in the Schalke quarter, is where miners turned into football world champions decades ago. Visitors can follow in their tracks on a very special guided tour through the quarter. The Rheinelbe slagheap at the city border towards Bochum is another part of mining history, where a path is spiralling up the hill to the “stairway to heaven”.
Meanwhile, Hercules is watching the busy climbers, cyclists, and hikers in the Nordsternpark. The 18-metres-tall sculpture by artist Markus Lüpertz is standing on the Nordsternturm, enjoying classical concerts as well as hard rock ones.
From Gelsenkirchen to Dortmund
About 0:30 hours by train
A Borussia football match in Germany’s largest stadium, the Signal Iduna-Park with room for 80,000 people, usually takes 90 minutes. The German Football Museum nearby at Dortmund’s main train station invites its visitors to linger for longer than that, in an exhibition that ends with a glimpse at the desired ECH cup. The roof of the Dortmunder U, a historical brewery building, or the Skywalk of the former Phoenix West blast furnace plant, affords a view that reaches almost across the entire city, which even has a “palace of labour” to offer. The brick façade and Art Nouveau portal of the Zeche Zollern colliery are some of the most
beautiful buildings that reference Dortmund’s mining history.