Wuppertal is a lovely city in a valley. The city is built up on rolling hills in either direction, with the inner city located in the vale, nestled between the hills. The unique hanging cable cars, called the Schwebebahn, are really fun to ride. The train follows the river, the Wupper, in just two directions, so you can’t get lost. Taking a trip in either direction from the train station is a good way to see the city before exploring on foot. Buy a day ticket (Tagesticket) for around 5€ at one of the machines located inside every Schwebebahn station. The cars are quite obviously used by the locals for real transportation, and so are both functional and a unique tourist attraction. On a nice day, there are a number of German tourists taking pictures both inside and outside the cars.
The trip is quite relaxing as long as you are comfortable with the mild swaying. Taking a seat as quickly as possible is recommended if you have any trouble with motion sickness. The route is also quite twisty through the different stops. The city is built out pretty far in both directions and some of the stops towards the end of the line look just as exciting as the inner city. The football stadium is located right off the tracks at the Zoo/ Botanical garden station and has a good view up the valley walls. Try to avoid looking at the transportation map for Wuppertal, which includes all the bus routes, as it is quite complicated.
Get Familiar with the Locals
The inner city has lots of shopping and even two small American style malls. There seems to be an abundance of hairdressers in Wuppertal. The info center is located on the way into the city from the train station and is marked with a large letter i, for information. There were two women working at the office and I was cordially given a tourist map of the city and an English guide to tourist attractions. The map was quite useful in finding my way around the streets, but unfortunately does not do a fantastic job with points of interest. Be sure to ask if you want to see something in particular, to get information on the correct Schwebebahn stop as well as the correct address.
Wuppertal is the home city of Friedrich Engels, something that was either not mentioned on the main Wuppertal website, or at least something that I didn't see. The Engels house is visible from the Schwebebahn and has distinctive green shutters. Take the Schwebebahn to the Adlerbrücke stop and use the underground stairs to get across the street. The Engels House is on Engelstraße, which is a short street off of Friedrich-Engels-Allee. The opera house is also in this area.
A visit to the Engels House also requires a visit to the Museum für Frühindustrialisierung. A ticket for 4€ serves as entry for both attractions. Walk past the Engels House and take a right into the parking lot and right again into the main entry. The best part of the first museum is the short film at the beginning, where one is put in a hot room with double screens and a movie of running wool machines. Otherwise, the museum is entirely in German and more of a mishmash of industrial themes, including some town history.
The Engels house requires a much higher level of German. One can peer into the classically styled rooms, which are roped off. Upstairs, are some paper exhibits, including a library with work by Engels in several different languages. Unfortunately, there is not much space to sit and read. I would recommend this short tour only to Engels enthusiasts. However, the house is beautiful from the outside and worth a trip on a nice day. Be sure to ring the bell at the house to get inside. Choose: Ausstellung.
Long Streets with Shopping
Heading back to the main station (Hauptbahnhof), walk into the city into the marketplace with the large fountain, and take a left onto Friedrich-Ebert-Allee. This is the real shopping district complete with grand churches and quaint cafes. Take another left down any of the side streets, and you will see the Schwebebahn and can most likely locate the nearest stop.
How to get there: The city is located in Nordrhein Westfalen, less than an hour away from Essen. The S9 regional train travels between Essen and the surrounding suburbs out to Wuppertal. There are also ICE trains that run to Wuppertal between Dortmund and Cologne.
Great things: Nice landscape and a nice feeling from a cosy city. The Schwebebahn is totally fun, easy to ride and runs frequently (every 3-4 minutes). Check out some of the many staircases built into the hillside of the city for a reasonable workout and a nice view.
Dates of visit: January 2, 2006 and September 22, 2006
Wuppertal website: www.wuppertal.de