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Basic information

  • Area: 280.4 km² (108.3 sq mi)
  • Calling Code: +4940
  • Currency: Euro (€) (EUR)
  • Population (EST): 581,308
  • Official language: German
  • Time Zone: CET (UTC+1)

Dortmund – Overview

Dortmund is a German city located in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), a state in the far west of the country. It lies some 310 miles (500 km) west of the capital city of Berlin, and is the 7th largest city in Germany, covering a space of 280km2 with a population of 600 000 people. A former coal and steel powerhouse, it was the target for heavy attack during World War II. Renovation of the city after bombing prompted its reshaping. This lay the foundations for Dortmund to become the cultural hotspot it is today. The Ruhr River flows around the south edge of the now green city, and the small river Emscher flows through the central municipality. The rejuvenated Dortmund-Ems Canal terminates in Dortmund Port, which is the largest canal port in Germany, and links the city to the North Sea.

Dortmund was seen as the beer brewing capital of Germany from the 19th century, galvanising the wheels in the former ‘city of steel’. Historically a city of heavy industry, today Dortmund is a vibrant hub of music and culture, heavy industry substituted for technological science and industry. Indeed, the Ruhr area was voted the Culture Capital of Europe for 2010. Its nightlife is vast and varied, with some exceptional & traditional breweries to visit and ales to enjoy. With such a brewing history, it’s no wonder Dortmund has some of the best clubs and bars in the country.

Dortmund is now also known as a ‘green metropolis’, with cultivation and environmental programmes lifting the natural features from a century of a heavy industrial past. Nearly half of the municipality now consists of woodlands, parks and waterways, and numerous places to relax, including zoos, rosariums and lakes.

Dining in Dortmund is a treat, with a choice of restaurants serving world foods as well as traditional dishes. There are plenty of snacks to compliment the range of beers available. A favourite is the ‘Salzkuchen’, a bagel like roll, with mincemeat and onions! And, of course there is a selection of hearty German sausage, available to eat in most typical Bierhäuser (beer halls).

The climate is mild and temperate with warm summers and noticeably cooler winters. Pleasant summer temperatures approach 25°C, particularly during the hottest months of July and August. These months are also some of the wettest. Into autumn, the daytime temperatures drop to around 13°C, though rainfall stays light. Temperatures in January average around 3ºC, though can dip below zero. The weather is great for exploring the city, never too hot or too cold to venture out and get lost amongst the streets of the old town.

Sleeping options are broad in range. There are hostels at around €17, to standard accommodation with recognisable brands such as Ibis. For those with more expensive tastes, 4 and 5 star grand hotels are not hard to come across. The bright and cheery Dortmund Tourist Board can help you with any queries such as booking accommodation or tours, and give advice on possible excursions around the area. Find them on Königswall 18a, on the north side of the road that rings the city.