town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Gelsenkirchen is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia. Gelsenkirchen, like neighbouring cities, is refining its image promoting its industrial culture. Old refineries have been remodelled into event halls and ice skating rinks. Beautiful bike paths now lie where old rail lines ran. Art from old machines are a source of artistic expression.

Understand

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Former Zeche Nordstern
 
Fans during a football match at the Arena
 
The sun over Gelsenkirchen's industrial heritage hasn't set entirely yet
 
Wissenschaftspark, modern glass architecture replaced old factories

Gelsenkirchen is a city of 260,000 people (2019) at the Ruhr region in the western part of the country, near major cities such as Düsseldorf and Cologne. Through coal mining, the Ruhr Region became the industrial heart of Germany and formed heavily populated cities. During World War II, due to its rich industrial value, the area was severely bombed. After the war, though, coal mining was severely curtailed, and large unemployment hit the region.

Get in

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The Ruhr area, especially Gelsenkirchen, offers a wonderful public transportation system. Whether using the train, bus, streetcar/ trolley, or car, it is easy to plan your transportation to and from all your activities in and around Gelsenkirchen.

By plane

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Nearest airports are located within 100 km from the city.

  • Dusseldorf International Airport, approx. 40 km (25 mi)) away. Busiest airport in NRW state, continental and intercontinental routes. Most convenient to reach directly in under 1 hour on regional trains.
  • Dortmund International Airport, approx. 60 km (37 mi). Budget flights to european destinations with a strong focus on eastern europe.
  • Cologne-Bonn Airport, approx. 90 km (56 mi). 1.5 hours by car, 2 hours by train.

Train stations with connections to Gelsenkirchen are available at both airports.

By train

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The city can be easily reached using the German train network InterCity-Express (ICE)and InterCity (IC) trains offer high speed connections between cities throughout Germany and popular European destinations. These trains travel up to 300 km/h and offer optimal comfort for long distance travel. ICE, IC and Eurostar also stop in nearby Essen, only a short few minutes by train from Gelsenkirchen.

  • 1 Gelsenkirchen Central station (Gelsenkirchen Hauptbahnhof).    

Stopping at Gelsenkirchen Hauptbahnhof are following regional and local train services:

  • RE2 Osnabrück - Münster - Gelsenkirchen - Essen - Duisburg - Düsseldorf Airport - Düsseldorf
  • RE3 Düsseldorf - Düsseldorf Airport - Duisburg - Oberhausen - Gelsenkirchen - Herne - Dortmund - Hamm
  • RE42 Münster - Gelsenkirchen - Essen - Duisburg - Krefeld - Viersen - Mönchengladbach
  • RB32 Duisburg - Oberhausen - Essen-Altenessen - Essen Zollverein Nord - Gelsenkirchen - Wanne-Eickel - Herne - Castrop-Rauxel - Dortmund
  • RB35 Gelsenkirchen - Essen Zollverein Nord - Essen-Altenessen - Oberhausen - Duisburg - Duisburg-Rheinhausen - Krefeld - Viersen - Mönchengladbach
  • RB46 Gelsenkirchen - Wanne-Eickel - Bochum-Riemke - Bochum-West - Bochum
  • S2 Dortmund - DO-Dorstfeld - DO-Mengede - Castrop-Rauxel - Herne - Wanne-Eickel - Gelsenkirchen - GE-Rotthausen - Essen-Kray Nord - Essen

Intercity transportation

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The Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr[dead link] Website offers a wonderful online planner in multiple languages for using the train and/ or bus in the Rhein-Ruhr area. The central Bus Stations are located at the Gelsenkirchen Main Train Station and in the center of Gelsenkirchen Buer. Tis website does not provide prices for your specific route-plan.

The official bus and tram/treetcar transportation provider in Gelsenkirchen and the surrounding area is BOGESTRA.

By car

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Gelsenkirchen can be reached using the highway (Autobahn) A42, A2, A40, as well as the Bundesstraße B224/A52.

Get around

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Map of Gelsenkirchen

Public transport

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Besides the central station (Gelsenkirchen Hauptbahnhof), where slow, regional and express train services stop, other useful rail stations are

  • 2 Gelsenkirchen Zoo Station on regional train RB43 Dortmund - Herne - Wanne-Eickel - Dorsten, for access to Gelsenkirchen Zoo
  • 3 Gelsenkirchen Buer-Nord  , on S-Bahn local train S9 Hagen - Wuppertal - Essen - Gelsenkirchen-Buer-Nord - Recklinghausen / Haltern am See, located to the north of Buer town centre, 4 km (2.5 mi) north of the Arena.

From the central station, Gelsenkirchen Hauptbahnhof, 3 trams and multiple bus routes leave. For tourists, the 3 trams are the most important:

  • Tram 302, starting in Bochum it arrives at Gelsenkirchen Hauptbahnhof, crosses the city centre underground and then crosses the city on the major north-south thoroughfare Kurt-Schuhmacher-Straße in a straight line, stopping at VELTINS-Arena at the 4 Veltins-Arena Stop and ending in Gelsenkirchen-Buer. On football match days and during events at the stadium this line will be served by everything the local transit company BOGESTRA can throw at it, but will still likely be completely overwhelmed. If you're headed for the Arena, be patient and listen to the guides, all others avoid immediately before and after.
  • Tram 301, starts and ends at Hauptbahnhof, diverges to the north-east after the city centre and passes by ZOOM zoo, before eventually meeting 302 in Buer and ending in the west near the border with Essen. There it'll connect to Tram U11 to Gruga Park via Essen city centre.
  • Tram 107, starts and ends at Hauptbahnhof, diverges to the west and runs to Essen city, passing the Trabrennbahn horse race track before leaving the city and passing Zollverein Mining Museum in Essen on its way to Essen Hauptbahnhof.

Local buses, some of them express routes, connect to all neighbouring cities.

Also underground tram stations 5 Heinrich-König-Platz and 6 Musikitheater in the city centre of Gelsenkirchen allow easy access to the city. Tickets, information updates and schedules are available via BOGESTRA. You must have a valid ticket before entering a tram in an underground station.

Check if your ticket to an event at the Arena includes travel in the Ruhr Area or even all of NRW, they often do! If you already have a VRR ticket, a ticket sold under the NRW-wide travels scheme like a e.g. SchönerTagTicketNRW, or a DeutschlandTicket, those will all be accepted on Gelsenkirchen public transport. If you don't already have a ticket, you can

 
BOGESTRA trams, Gelsenkirchen in the top left corner
 
Metropolradruhr bike share station
  • use ticket machines at underground and other major stations to purchase one before boarding any vehicle
  • buy tickets from the driver of buses as well as trams while running on the surface, preferably with small cash, as they dont carry a lot of change
  • use the Muttis etarif or VRR apps, or use the eezy.nrw app which calculates fares based on distance but never charges more than a regular paper ticket.
  • buy tickets from dedicated newspaper agents

Tickets bought from machines might need to be stamped in one of the orange or red boxes located at station entrances and bus/tram doors before being valid. You face a €60 penalty if caught without ticket by uniformed or plainclothes control agents.

Disability information: All buses are low-floor and equipped with wheelchair ramps. Important bus stops usually have level boarding from raised stops.

All trams on 301 and 302 (white trams) are low-floor, on 107 (yellow trams) very rarely older high-floor stock are used as back-up vehicles. Both the white and yellow low-floor trams have large multi-use spaces at the 2nd and 4th; and 1st and 3rd doors respectively. The tunnel stations are accessible by lifts, including Hauptbahnhof (central station). If the lift there isn't working go one stop north to Heinrich-König-Platz station.
The station directly at the arena is not wheelchair-accessible, exit at Willy-Brandt-Allee stop, 10 minutes to the actual stadium. In Gelsenkirchen, only Veltins-Arena and Emscherstraße tram stops are only reachable by stairs. Light rail U11 from uses high-floor vehicles at high-floor platforms accessed by ramps.

Stops are announced on board and shown on information screens. Many stops are equipped with a push-button text-to-speech system at the departure screen. Blind guide strips are being retrofitted as of 2024. Regular dogs thus including guide dogs are welcome.

By car

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Like the rest of the Ruhr Area, Gelsenkirchen is very spread out and thus people rely on cars more than the german average. Roads and highway are well-maintained but crowded. You should not attempt to reach the stadium by car during large football matches, concerts etc. Parking spots can be found in a number of large car parks, for example next to the train station. Fares are reasonable and cheap.

Parking in residential streets is discouraged for visitors except when visiting relatives or friends and in many cases even outright forbidden without permits. Make sure to pay extra attention to signs and ask friends or family about parking.
Where its allowed to the general public, you may need to throw some coins into parking ticket machines (Parkscheinautomat) standing on street corners, marked by tall signs displaying either a blue sign, the word Parkscheinautomat or a red arrow, and display the ticket clearly visible, preferably from the curbside, on your dashboard.

By bike or electric scooter

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Bike infrastructure is lacking but slowly being improved. You can rent bikes via the Metropolradruhr bike hire scheme at stations throughout the city after signing up for it on your phone, which should take only minutes at most.

Electric scooters can not be rented anymore since 20 April 2024. The city decided to ban them due to massive problems with vandalism, scooters blocking footpaths and reckless driving. Riding private ones is still permitted, but due to fire risks, carrying them on-board buses and trams is also forbidden since early 2024.

A relatively unvisited city, even within Germany, Gelsenkirchen offers enough to fill your day, especially if you're keen for cultural and industrial sights like football, arts and old heavy industry.

 
Contrasts in the inner-city
 
"Zoom" zoo tried to recreate natural habitats themed after 3 continents
  • 1 Berge Castle (Schloss Berge). Adenauerallee 103, Bus 302 (stop: "Berger See"). Built in 1264, and underwent major expansion between 1785 and 1788. There is a traditional summer festival at the end of July every year. Concerts and other events are hosted regularly in this historically preserved location.  
  • City Parks. Gelsenkirchen offers wonderful city parks with beautiful playgrounds, gardens, and ponds. The "Revierpark" and "Stadtgarten" are popular centrally located parks within the city.
  • 2 Glückauf-Kampfbahn (First Schalke Stadium) (Tram 302 Stop Ernst-Kuzorra-Platz). First own stadium of football club FC Schalke 04, opened in 1928 and used as their home until 1974. Inside only accessible to public during local football matches.    
  • 3 Heilig-Kreuz Kirche (Church of the Holy Cross), Bochumer Str. 115 (Tram 302 Bus 385 Stop Wissenschaftspark). Impressive former church build 1927 in a mix of new objectivity and expressionism, profaned in 2007 and now a cultural centre.  
  • 4 Kunstmuseum Gelsenkirchen, Horster Str. 5 (in centre of Buer district, Tram/Bus Station Buer Rathaus). Tu-Su 11:00-18:00. Art museum in Buer district. Free admission.
  • 5 Rathaus Buer (Buer city hall), Goldbergstr. 12 (Tram and bus terminal Buer Rathaus). Build in 1910, this monumental building used to house both the city council of the old City of Buer, as well as the council of Gelsenkirchen until the 1960s after being annexed by it in 1928. Decorated by numerous artworks and topped by a clock tower, it stands as one of the landmarks of Buer and still serves as office for numerous branches of the city administration.  
  • 6 Rungenberg Tip (Halde Rungenberg) (Tram 301 Bus NE14 stop "Hugostr."). The Rungenberg mining tip is a 40 m (130 ft) tall tip created by dumping millions of tons of soil from coal mining. Since the end of mining, it has been landscaped and made accessible as viewpoint, by using the ramps or climbing a 300-step staircase straight to the top.  
  • 7 Saint Urbanus provost church (Propsteikirche St. Urbanus), Sankt-Urbanus-Kirchplatz 9 (Buer town centre). changing open times, usually from noon to late afternoon. Provost church build in the 1890s but with almost a millenium of history. The wide church tower has been missing its spire since WW2, plans to restore it are underway as of 2024.  
  • 8 Schalke Museum, Rudi-Assauer-Platz 1 (inside Arena) (from city: Tram 302 direction GE-Buer, Stop VELTINS-Arena), +49 209 36185890. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00, closed Mondays except during school holidays. Small exhibition inside of the Arena, dedicated to FC Schalke 04, who call it their home since 2001. Adults €5.00 Youth 6-21yr. €3.00 under 6 free admission.  
  • 9 Wissenschaftspark, Munscheidtstr. 14 (south of city centre, Tram 302 Bus 385 NE12 Stop Wissenschaftspark). Modern interesting glass office building in a triangular shape. Constructed during a building exhibition on grounds of an old metal factory in 1996, its now home to offices with a focus on sustainability, IT and healthcare.  
  • 10 Zeche Consolidation (Consolidation Mine) (Tram 301 Stop Zeche Consolidation, Bus 384,NE12 Stop Marshallstr., Bus 392 Stop Consolstr.). Old industrial buildings including headframe tower of former coal mine that closed in the early 1990s. Area is now also used for cultural events.  
  • 11 Zoom Erlebniswelt (Zoo Gelsenkirchen). Openings times: Mar Oct 09:00-18:00, Apr-Sep 09:00-13:30, Nov-Feb 10:00-17:00. Gelsenkirchen's interactive zoo. Zoom offers a special zoo experience for children, families, and adults of all ages! The zoo is split into three sections or "worlds": Africa, Asia, and Alaska and offers a more natural atmosphere of the animal habitats. Day ticket: adult €17.50, child aged 4 to 12 €11.50..    
  • 1 Nordsternpark. A former industrial park offering many attractions including a bike/walking trails along a canal, an open air theater (which plays featured films in the summer time), rock climbing, a children's play land, and a colliery.    
  • Football: 2 Schalke 04. They were relegated in 2023 so they now play soccer in 2. Bundesliga, Germany's second tier. Their home ground is Veltins Arena, capacity 62,000, which in 2024 hosts matches in the UEFA Euro Finals. It's 3 km north of the centre, or 2 km northeast of Gelsenkirchen Zoo railway station. Match tickets from €15.00 to €55.00.    
  • Veltins Arena also hosts other events, such as rock concerts, operas and motorbike racing. Tours of the arena are available.
  • Football Fan Zone at Nordsternpark: During the UEFA European Championships 2024 a public event is held here and all matches played in Gelsenkirchen, and all matches of the german team, will be broadcast here. Free entry. Security will do pat-downs and bag searches at entrance.
  • 3 GelsenTrabPark (Trabrennbahn Gelsenkirchen), Nienhausenstr. 42 (Tram 107 Stop Trabrennbahn), +49 209 40920, . Large horse race track, regular horse races, also used for events like concerts.    
 
Hochstr. , the main shopping street in Buer

There are 2 major shopping areas:

  • Bahnhofstraße Gelsenkirchen's centre may not be what one can call a picturesque german city, but has all the common retail chains and a wide selection of restaurants.
  • Hochstraße Buer in the north acts as its own town centre and offers most amenities you'd expect to find in a small german town centre too. Arguably the less desolate of the two central districts.

Gelsenkirchen is not known for its excellent high cuisine, but still offers good food. The local cuisine has been influenced by past migrations, including from the middle-east in recent years.

  • 1 Cafe Extrablatt, Arminstr. 1, +49 209 1551360. Daily 08:00-22:00. An American-style cafe which offers coffee drinks as well as meals. Every morning they offer an all-you-can-eat buffet of eggs, bacon, fresh bread, and other delicious treats. Also cocktails are only €4 each in the evenings. This is a fun place to enjoy a typical European cafe with a slight American flair.
  • 2 Konditorei Pabst, Arminstr. 17. Cafe that sells cakes too.
  • 3 Mr.Wasabi, Klosterstr. 1, +49 209 36699829. M W-Su 11:30-22:00. Vietnamese restaurant, inside seating or take-away counter.
  • 4 Topkapi Kebab Haus, Neumarkt 6. M-Sa 09:00-23:00. Turkish restaurant.
  • 5 Jori Alsham, Bochumer Str. 12-16 (take south exit of Hauptbahnhof), +49 209 36129387. daily 09:00-23:00. Arab restaurant, authentic cuisine.
  • 6 Anadolu Grill, Küppersbuschstraße 33 (Tram 107 Stop Feldmarkstr.), +49 0209 45999. Daily 11:30-22:30. Turkish kebab.

Drink

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  • 1 Vereinslokal Bosch, Ernst-Kuzorra-Platz 1. Bar and Pub frequented by fans of Schalke 04 football club.
  • 2 Noah's & Zoe's Place, Neumarkt 1 (Tram stop "Heinrich-König-Platz"), +49 209 36666101. Cafe, Bar, Restaurant, modern. Happy Hour from 20:00-23:00. daily 09:00-23:30.
  • 3 Posthörnchen, Sellhorststr. 3, +49 209 202285. daily 10:00-22:00. Traditional german Kneipe (pub).

Sleep

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Depending on your budget, Gelsenkirchen offers multiple hotel options.

  • 1 Art Hotel Monopol Gelsenkirchen, Springestr. 9 (Buer district, right in the centre next to Buer tram and bus station), +49 209 930640, . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Small friendly hotel with 12 solo and 33 double rooms, right in Buer.
  • Inter City Hotel. Inter City Hotels are a chain of inexpensive hotels in convenient central locations in several Germany cities. Gelsenkirchen offers a convenient Inter City Hotel connected to the main train station in the center of the city. Also ask about special (free) transportation passes for convenient travel within and around Gelsenkirchen!
  • 2 stays by friends Gelsemkirchen, Parkallee 3 (right next to the Arena), +49 211 54006342. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Modern large Hotel next to the Arena, Bar and Restaurant, Fitness and spa area, surface and underground parking spaces.
  • 3 PLAZA Hotel Gelsenkirchen (former Maritim Hotel), Am Stadtgarten 1 (Tram 107 Bus 388 Stop Feldmarkstr.), +49 209 1760, . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Hotel on west side of city centre inside a twin highrise block. Slightly dated but clean and friendly.
  • 4 ibis Styles Gelsenkirchen, Ringstraße 1-3 (take city-facing exit of station, immediately turn right and right again at the bank, left at intersection), +49 209 92550, . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Basic Hotel next to the central train station.

Go next

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  • Essen, major city in the Ruhr Area, industrial heritage and modern culture. Nature in south of city. 8 km (5.0 mi)
  • Dortmund, beer, steel and football rival of Gelsenkirchen. 25 km (16 mi)
  • Hattingen, medieval city centre with alleys and timber framed houses. 14 km (8.7 mi)
  • Düsseldorf, capital of NRW state, fashion capitol and large Japanese community along the mighty Rhine. 38 km (24 mi)
  • Cologne, fourth largest German city of 1 million, Cologne Cathedral, Roman artefacts and lively LGBTQ scene. 65 km (40 mi)


This city travel guide to Gelsenkirchen is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.