10 things in Essen you don’t want to miss

Last updated Nov 23, 2021
10 things to do in Essen-Germany

Essen is a great city in the middle of Europe. It often ends up in the shadow of Düsseldorf and, that’s a shame. Because Essen has so much to offer and is a great city to vacation in. We spent some time here and checked out most of the attractions that are offered. Here are our 10 things in Essen you don’t want to miss.

10 things in essen that you want to see

Like in most cities, there are a lot more than 10 things to do in Essen. However, we have listed our favorite things that we think you might want to check out and enjoy. In 2010, Essen was named the cultural capital and when being here it’s easy to understand why Essen got that title. Join us and explore some of the main highlights of Essen but, also some lesser-known places.

Essen has about 580 000 people living in the area and the city is located by the river Ruhr. The summertime is the best time to visit but, Essen has all the different seasons and autumn is also really beautiful. Down below, you have a list of 10 things in Essen that you don’t want to miss! Hope that you like it!

1. Zollverein

Zollverein in Essen

This is an old coal mine that has earned its place on the UNESCO list over World Heritage sites. You are not allowed to go down to the mine itself but, you can take a guided tour of the area and learn more about Zollvereins glory days. The mine closed in 1986 because there wasn’t any way to make a profit on the production anymore.

Today, there are several different attractions and activities on the site of the old coal mine. Several of them are also included on this list of 10 things in Essen. Zollverein is Essens largest attraction and is well worth a visit. Make sure to also check out the Portal of Industrial Heritage and the movie that is played there. Most impressive however, is the view from up here!

2. Ruhr Museum

Ruhr museum Essen

The Ruhr Museum is housed inside the Zollverein. It tells the story of the whole region and, not only about the coal mining industry. Temporary and permanent exhibitions guide you through a different world and different times. See what has been found during excavations in the area. There’s also a huge collection of rocks from all over the world here and signs that inform you what you are actually looking at.

Sculls from ancient graves and fossils are on display. Everything at the Ruhr Museum is well made and interesting. Make sure to spend some time at the museum because there’s much to see here. We both liked the mix of things and how nicely arrange they were. A visit to the museum is a must while visiting Essen, Germany.

3. Red Dot Museum

Red dot museum-Essen
Red dot museum-Essen

Also located in the same area as Zollverein, this place shows its visitors the importance of design and innovative thinking. This museum shows how great people have created some really great products that have revolutionized the world. For example, there is a whole room dedicated to Apple and its products. The best thing about this place is that you are allowed to touch most of the exhibitions.

Museums are usually to be seen and not touched. That’s not the case when it comes to the Red Dot Museum in Essen. Here, they want you to interact with the exhibition and that’s one thing that Mini really loves to do. A big plus is also that the museum is housed inside an old coking plant of the Zollverein. You can read more about our visit to the Red Dot Museum here.

4. Stroll around in Kettwig

Stroll around in Kettwig
Stroll around in Kettwig

Kettwig is a borough in Essen that you want to visit while being in Germany. This is where cute half-timbered houses are parading along the cobblestones streets. You want to come to this neighborhood just to get lost in it. Make sure to take your time, walking around and enjoying the area.

Stop by and have a coffee at one of the cafes here and grab something to eat. After that, continue to walk around and be amazed by the nice houses and narrow streets. Until 1975, Kettwig was a town of its own but today, it’s a part of Essen. Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city center by coming to spend a day or two in Kettwig.

5. Visit a fair at messe essen

Visit a fair at messe essen

Our visit to Essen actually started with a visit to SPIEL, The world’s largest board game fair. Since we both love board games, this was a perfect place for us to spend a couple of days. However, the Messe fair in Essen arranges several different fairs each year. For example, they have a camping fair at the beginning of each year. We found the board game fair and decided to visit Essen.

While being here, we also ended up falling in love with the city and stayed for several days after the game fair had ended. Even if games are not your thing, find a fair that appeals to you and plan your trip to Essen according to that. Messe Essen is not the largest one in the country but, it’s well known for being organized and good for both exhibitors and visitors of the fair.

6. Museum Folkwang

Museum Folkwang-Essen

There is a given spot on our list of 10 things in Essen you don’t want to miss for the Museum Folkwang. They have both permanent and temporary exhibitions. During our visit, there was an exhibition about dance and revolution. As a visitor, we were given headphones and the music started on its own. I had a great time – dancing around the exhibition.

Museum Folkwang is well worth a visit. It is an interesting and pretty large place that allows you to stroll around at your own pace without disturbing other visitors. Inside the museum, you’ll find art from Essen and it has been popular among visitors since it opened in 1922. The entrance to the permanent collection is free and you pay a few euros if you want to see the temporary exhibitions.

7. Grab a burger at Hans im Gluck

Grab a burger at Hans im Gluck

Hans im Gluck is a chain that has several restaurants in Germany. However, their burgers are so good and something that you really want to check out while visiting Essen. Here, you can build your own burger or order one from the menu as is. A huge thumbs up for their vegetarian and vegan options. Sure, this restaurant is more expensive than your regular burger joint but it also tastes a lot better.

We both also liked the restaurant itself and the vibes of it. If you want, you can also change your French fries to sweet potatoes fries. We can say that no matter what you’ll choose from this place – you’ll be happy. Address of Hans Im Gluck that we visited in Essen: Rüttenscheider Str 203, Essen.

8. Soul of africa museum

Soul of Africa museum-Essen

This place was one of our absolute favorites during our visit to Essen. It’s a museum that is focused on voodoo and African tribes. The owner Christoph guides you through his private collection of artifacts, skulls, and magical potions. The museum is not big but it houses lots of things and even more interesting stories. It’s fascinating, mesmerizing, and just plain awesome!

While listing 10 things in Essen that you need to check out this museum. Christoph is hoping to someday be able to show his collection in its entirety but, for now, you have to be happy with parts of his collection. We have written a post about The Soul of Africa that you might want to check out.

9. Take a walk in grugapark

Take a walk in grugapark-Essen

One of the nicest parks within a city center that we have ever been to. They charge you a couple of euros to enter the park but, it is well worth it. The park is immaculate, clean, and really nice to stroll around in. Listen to the birds sing and to the leaves tremble in the wind. It’s impressive to see a waterfall inside a park that is located in a larger city. And, coming so close to nature even if the traffic is so close by.

The botanical garden in Essen is a very nice place where you can spend several hours without getting bored. When I was visiting the SPIEL fair, Mini got bored (after several days of playing games non-stop) and took a walk inside the park. He fell in love with the place and then he made me fall in love with it too! Make sure to check out the Grugapark while visiting Essen.

10. Shop untill you drop

Limbecker Platz Essen

If you like shopping then head to Limbecker Platz, a huge shopping mall in the city center of Essen. Sure, there are several stores along Main Street in Essen as well but, it’s not that special. At Limbecker Platz, you have all the main stores mixed. Famous brands and new stores that blend well together.

It looks like a traditional American shopping mall and we love that. They are open Monday to Saturday between 10.00 and 20.00. The only downside is that they are closed on Sundays, however, most stores in Germany are, so nothing different when we think of it!

Travel information Essen

Best time to visit Essen

You can visit Essen all year round but the best time is to visit during the summer. The best months are between June and August.

Getting around in Essen

Getting around in Essen

It’s easy to get around in Essen. Trains and busses run frequently and you are always close to the city center. If you arrive by flight, you’ll land in Düsseldorf and it takes about 30 minutes to get to Essen from there. If you arrive by motorhome in Essen, you might want to read our post about traveling in Essen by motorhome.


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