17 Best Things to Do in Dortmund (2021)

When people plan for a trip to Germany, they intend to visit only the Capital and famous cities like Berlin, Hamburg or Munich. Granted, they have their charms and attractions. But amongst all these cities, just north of historical cities like Düsseldorf and Bonn, there lies a city in Westphalia called Dortmund.

Dortmund is the eighth-largest city in Germany. It has a population of around 500,000. It is the ideal tourist place for those who want to enjoy the views and learn about German culture in a serene city. It is not that expensive compared to other big cities, and you may even take the whole family for the ideal German experience.

Dortmund is Germany’s most important center for steel, coal, and beer. It is called the most sustainable city in Germany and has a pleasant climate. You can visit Dortmund during summer when it is humid and rainy or in the winters when it is cold but not freezing.

17. Phoenix See

Phoenix See
Phoenix See (Frank Vincentz/Wikimedia)

The Phoenix See is a manmade lake developed for an urban development project. It is the most significant development project in Germany. It has a nearly 3 kilometers long stretch and offers surreal walks on its path, cycling and jogging, and other sports activities. 

You can also go boating in the lake. There are restaurants, bakeries, and coffee shops with food kiosks where you can sit and dine for both adults and children. It also has a beer garden which is a tourist attraction for many people. The scenic view of the sunrise or sunset with ducks pedaling and fewer people’s insight makes it truly a place worth visiting. 

16. DASA

DASA
Old computers at the DASA museum (Marcin Wichary/Flickr)

DASA or DASA working world exhibition is a large museum that aspires to show the history of the working class. It provides an interactive area with captivating exhibits. Some of the exhibits display how people work in the press with modern and earlier tools of newspaper printing. It has a display of how people used traditional machinery in the earlier textiles industry. It also provides firsthand experience about constructing buildings and the hazards that come with working in construction.

It opens every day with different timings on weekdays and weekends.

15. Hohensyburg Castle

Hohensyburg Castle
Hohensyburg Castle (Riessdo/Flickr)

Hohensyburg Castle is the ruins of a castle located at a hilltop. It is one of the most prominent tourist attractions of Dortmund. It is an important historical and religious castle of Germany. In total, there are three ruins of castles on the mountain.

The Hohensyburg Castle or Syburg is a ground monument in Dortmund that testifies to the cultural history of a place. The Stone Hohensyburg is part of the Hohensyburg Castle ruins, has two erect towers which still stand today. Along with that in the church on the Syberg is believed to be built during the early 1100s. The interesting thing about the church is that it is made entirely out of wood.

It is an ideal place to visit for both adults and children. It also has a very scenic view of the natural landscape.

14. Naturmuseum Dortmund

Naturmuseum Dortmund
Naturmuseum Dortmund (Ceving/Wikipedia)

Naturmuseum Dortmund is also known by its former name, Museum fur Naturkunde. After much renovations and redesigns to the Museum, it reopened in October 2020. The Naturmuseum Dortmund is in the northern part of Dortmund. The museum building has two floors that exhibit geological minerals and fossils excavated from the Ruhr regions and Westphalia.

One of the main attractions of the Naturmuseum Dortmund is the woolly mammoth cow that has a wholly assembled skeleton. It is the only one in the whole of Germany. There are also exhibits from ancient times like the Ice Age and the origin of the solar system.

The Museum has mascots called Flo and Freddy that attract children and keeps them entertained. There is also a museum café that caters to the visitors. It is open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 am – 6 pm.

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13. St. Maria Magdalena Church

St. Maria Magdalena Church
St. Maria Magdalena Church (Die Singularität/Wikipedia)

St. Mary’s Church or Marienkirche is in the inner city of Dortmund. It serves as a Lutheran parish church of St. Marien. It was destroyed during the Second World War and rebuilt again. The inspiration of architecture is medieval art with Gothic and Romanesque styles. Earlier, the locals built the church to work as a place of jurisdiction and religious gatherings. Now, it also holds concerts for church music.

The art depicted on St. Mary’s Church displays crafts from influential medieval artists to display the life of Mother Mary. The church is outstanding because of its beauty and gothic style of architecture. It is a must-visit for people who love gothic and Romanesque-inspired medieval architecture.

12. Hoesch Museum Dortmund

Hoesch Museum Dortmund
Hoesch Museum (Kassander der Minoer/Wikipedia)

The Hoesch Museum Dortmund is a newly opened museum that showcases the steelwork history over the past 150 years with the history of Dortmund. It also showcases the social history that technology plays in Dortmund. Initially, the Museum was built around the early 1900s and used for controlling the presence and wages of the steelworks with a detention cell and a dining room.

The Museum also hosts special exhibitions to showcase the history and impact of steelwork in the lives of Germans, especially in Dortmund. Some of them were “Steel Construction from Dortmund” in 2012/13 and “Migration and Religions in the Ruhr Area. Find a new home. Trust in diversity. Live in the district” in 2019.

These events garner many domestic and international tourists and political, scientific, and religious leaders.

11. Center for International Light Art

Center for International Light Art
Center for International Light Art (Michielverbeek/Wikipedia)

Technically the Center for International Light Art is located in Unna, but it is only half an hour train ride from Dortmund. As the name suggests, it is an art museum, but it exhibits light art where light is the primary medium in art expression. In fact, the Center for International Light Art is the only Museum in the world dedicated to the presentation and collection of light art.

The Museum exhibits renowned artists of light art like James Turell, Mario Merz, and Keith Sonner. One of the main attractions is the MORELLET by Francois Morellet which he curated before his expiry. Along with the exhibition, the Museum hosts several conferences and workshops to promote light art.

The Center for International Light Art is a must-visit for those who love modern art. Although the guides explain in German, you can get an English audio guide that helps you navigate the place without hindrance. It opens only on Saturdays and Sundays.

10. Botanischer Garten Rombergpark

Rombergpark Botanical Garden
Inside the botanical garden (Frank Vincentz/Wikipedia)

The Botanischer Garten Rombergpark or the Rombergpark Botanical Garden is an extensive botanical garden that is one of the largest botanical gardens in the world. It has an impressive arboretum that has more than 4000 species of plants.

The Botanischer Garten Rombergpark has an English landscape that contains all kinds of medicinal plants. It also has one of the giant trees in Westphalia. It has lots of monuments and a terrace full of palm trees. It has ample space for more than three greenhouses that house tropical plants, succulents, camellias, and ferns.

Another place to visit is the Mahnmal Bittermark near the garden that commemorates about 250 victims of war and forced laborers by the Gestapo. The garden is open to all, every day, without any time restrictions. It is free to enter but may cost around 2 Euros for a visit to the greenhouses.

9. Brewery Museum Dortmund

 Brewery Museum Dortmund
Brewery Museum entrance (achimh/Flickr)

Germany is famous for its beer, and what better way to celebrate beer than to have a museum showcase the history, traditions, and tasting. The Brewery Museum Dortmund does precisely that. It displays how you brew beer from the people who work there. The guides explain and give you a tour of the Museum. It also lets you taste the beer they brew which is every beer lover’s favorite.

Although the official language is German for the tour, if you request at the counter, they will hand you a booklet in English subtitle, helping you not to miss any information about brewing beers.

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Many tourists positively review the hospitality of the staff. It is a family-friendly museum that can accommodate only 15 people, giving it a personal touch for people in groups.

8. St. Reinoldi Church

St. Reinoldi
St. Reinoldi (Островский Александр, Киев/Wikimedia)

St. Reinoldi or Lutheran Protestant Church of St. Reinold is a must-visit place if you visit Dortmund. It is the oldest church in Dortmund and dates back to 1250 during the Ottonian period. It has a gothic-inspired look and was damaged mainly during the Second World War. It was renovated again with similar earlier features.

St. Reinoldi is often regarded as the “Miracles of Westphalia” due to its ancient heritage and remarkable endurance. The church has an impressive set of 6 bells weighing more than 6000kg each.

People regard the place to be relatively calm and historical. The restaurants near the church also serve delicious food and drinks. Because it is in the heart of Dortmund, you can see the blend of history and modernity working harmoniously.

7. Florianturm

Florianturm
Florianturm (Riessdo/Flickr)

The Floriantum is an important landmark of Dortmund. It is also called Florian or Florian tower. Floriantum derives its name from St. Florian, who was the patron saint of gardeners. The authorities generally use it to transmit signals for television. It stands at the height of nearly 720 feet; this impressive tower served as a tourist attraction for a horticultural show in 1959.

There are two floors in the Floriantum. The lower floor is an operating room, while the upper floor is open to the public. It has a revolving restaurant. On top of it is the observation deck from where you can have an aerial view of the city.

If you intend to view the scene from the observation deck, please check the weather. On a foggy or rainy day, it may be challenging to get a view of the city. There is an entry fee of around 2 Euros per adult, and children below six years of age free to enter.

6. LWL Industrial Museum Zollern

Industrial Museum Zollern
Industrial Museum Zollern (Polybert49/Flickr)

At first look itself, the LWL Industrial Museum Zollern looks like something extraordinary. The old name of LWL Industrial Museum Zollern was called the “Castle of Work.” Local and tourists alike awe at how this magnificent building survived the bombing of the Second World War.

It is undoubtedly a feast for the eyes, especially for people who like architecture. It is an Industrial Heritage for European history. It will be a good museum for learning the industrial history of Germany.

Along with the Museum are shops like a blacksmith’s shop or a carpenter’s shop that displays how they were working during those times. You can also receive firsthand information about how people mined coal in the Ruhr regions. It opens every day except on Mondays from 10 am – 6 pm.

5. Dortmund U-Tower

Dortmund U-Tower
Dortmund U-Tower (texttheater/Flickr)

The Dortmund U-Tower or Dortmunder used to be a building for a brewery but opened as a center for the arts and creativity in May 2010. It also hosts catering and events for social events. The Dortmund U-Tower displays exhibitions related to artworks, especially from the 20th and 21st centuries. It opens for the public for research, study, and experience to learn about art, its impact on people of every age and gender.

The Dortmund U-Tower is open to all from 11 am – 6 pm on all days except Mondays. The Dortmund U-Tower is a favorite tourist destination for lovers of European art and culture. The rooftop aspires to awe every visitor with the building architecture and its multifunctional use.

You cannot miss the Dortmund U-Tower because of its four-sided U in the building’s tower.

4. German Football Museum

German Football Museum
German Football Museum (Lucas Kaufmann/Wikipedia)

The German Football Museum is the National Museum of Germany’s football. They have all kinds of exhibition objects and are a dream destination for football fans. They display exhibits like football during the World Wars, the Great Depression, women’s football, and the German national football team. There is also a 3D cinema, the German Hall of Fame, the trophy room, and a room of tactics and training about the players.

The best part about the Museum is that they play the live telecasts of their national team and the Bundesliga matches inside the Museum. It is accessible for wheelchairs and also offers guides for disabled people. They also have special discounts for families, educational groups, and students.

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The authorities opened it to the public in October 2015. The Museum is open from Wednesdays to Sundays and charges about 17 Euros per person.

3. Dortmund Zoo

Dortmund Zoo
Dortmund Zoo with one of its lions (Riessdo/Wikipedia)

Dortmund Zoo, located in the south of Dortmund, has almost 1500 animals and more than 200 species. Dortmund Zoo is the leading zoo to breed animals like the giant otter, the giant anteater, and the tamandua animal. The zoo specializes in keeping endangered animals, especially from South America. The authorities opened it in May 1953.

Dortmund Zoo covers more than 60 hectares and has separate and unique enclosures for all the animals. Some of the special pens of the animals are the Sea Lion Enclosure, Porcupine Enclosure, South American Enclosure, Penguin Enclosure, and Flamingo Enclosure. It also has a Phoenix Aviary to breed all kinds of birds and a Farm and Petting Zoo that children enjoy from 10 am – 5:30 pm and cost about 8 Euros per person. 

It is ideal for the whole family, especially children, to learn about wildlife and its conservation. It is open every day.

2. Westfalenpark

Westfalenpark
Westfalenpark (Mbdortmund/Wikipedia)

The Westfalenpark is one of the largest inner-city parks in not only Germany but the whole of Europe. It has more than 150 acres and easily identified as one of the most attractive spots for tourists. It was opened for the public in April 1984 and still operates today.
Along with its vast space, the Westfalenpark is home to the German Rosarium. It contains more than 2500 types of roses. It is also a place for many events like flea markets, parties, and festivals that attract more than a thousand attendees per year.

It is an ideal place for a family to visit and a children’s park to play in the whole day. It opens every day from 9 am – 11 pm. There is a minimal ticket fee of around 2 Euros per person.

1. Signal Iduna Park

Signal Iduna Park
Signal Iduna Park (Arne Müseler/Wikipedia)

Located in Strobelalle, Dortmund, Signal Iduna Park is one of the most popular football stadiums in Germany. It is also home to Borussia Dortmund, the German football club. If you are a football fan, the first place to visit Dortmund would be this very stadium. Its former name was Westfalen stadium, and locals may still call that name.

Signal Iduna Park has a capacity of over 80,000 people. It also has the most extended terrace for standing audiences for over 25,000 people nicknaming it as the “Yellow Wall” because of the yellow-colored seats.

Even the outdoors is remarkable, and the atmosphere inside the stadium during a football match is intense. Aside from the players, the local fans cheering for the team attract more people to this stadium. Even though the stadium is enormous, it has easy and safe exits and entrances.

Winter Bonus: Dortmund Christmas Market

Dortmunder Weihnachtsmarkt
Dortmunder Weihnachtsmarkt (Andreas Vogel/Wikipedia)

Here’s an extra place worth visiting. If you happen to visit Dortmund during December, do not miss the Dortmund Christmas Market. With over 4 million visitors each year, it is one of the biggest Christmas markets in the world. Their Christmas tree is the largest natural Christmas tree globally, with a height of more than 40 meters. 

There are more than 350 stalls in the market, each showcasing something unique. The stalls serve their specially made mulled wines, salt cakes, potato fritters, and of course, mulled beer. It also a Medieval-themed Christmas market nearby. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Dortmund

Is Dortmund in East or West Germany?

The city of Dortmund is located in Western Germany

What German state is Dortmund in?

Is Dortmund worth visiting?

Dortmund offers cultural experiences like museums and churces. If you’re into soccer, you’ll enjoy the German Soccer Museum and the largest stadium in Germany, Signal Iduna Park

What language does Dortmund speak?

German