6 Best Neighborhoods in Essen: Your Ultimate Guide
One of western Germany’s lesser-known cities, pretty little Essen sits between Dusseldorf and Dortmund, and it’s swiftly becoming a much more popular choice for a German relocation.
Once an industrial hyper-hub, the place is now a bit better known for being kooky, quirky and creative… with a young population, relatively low rents, and a nice community vibe. If you’re looking for friendly, interesting and not too pricey, you’ve found it.
The city is a pretty common new-home choice for young people—loads of students live here, and it’s a good nightlife spot.
Moving to Essen is also a popular choice for families. It’s home to great schools, many green spaces, and excellent employment opportunities—and, like most of Germany, it’s known for being a super-safe place. And as a nice bonus, it’s of course cheaper than most of Germany’s better-known cities.
But although Essen is a pretty small place (with a population of just under 600,000 people), all of its districts are different to one another—and they’re all suited to different people.
So in this guide, we’ve brought you details on the best of them, with information on who will (and won’t!) like living in each area.
In our Essen odyssey, we’ve covered these 6 districts:
- Innenstadt (Essen-Stadtkern)
Want to know about the best neighborhoods in Essen? Or where to stay in Essen? Coming up, your good ol’ friends at Homelike have covered it all. Willkommen to the party!
1. Innenstadt (Essen-Stadtkern)
Best for: Seeing the sights, exploring bars and restaurants, and living in the center of the city
Innenstadt (or ‘Essen-Stadtkern,’ as the area is also known), is the most central district in the city.
If you want to experience a touristy side to life (rather than the more local vibes you’ll get in most other neighborhoods we’ve covered), this is where you want to be. It’s a good choice if you’ll only be hanging around for a short while, or if you want to spend most of your time hopping between food spots, nightlife venues, and busy bars.
Highlights here include Essen Minster (a big cathedral), Alte Synagoge (the city’s first synagogue, and now home to exhibitions and events around Jewish culture, history and people), and the trees, walks and waterways of Grüne Mitte park.
Like any city-center district, this neighborhood is brimming with bars, restaurants, and places to drink and dance. Some of the most popular eats here include the Balkan-style meaty morsels of Zagreb Grill, the spicy Malaysian treats of Banana Leaf, and the casual Italian fayre of Leo’s Casa.
If you want a wide range of flavor-filled food, this is the neighborhood for you. In some other parts of Essen, you’re often limited to munching on German food—but here, you can find tastes and treats running the gastronomical gamut.
Some of the neighborhood’s top bars include cozy little inviting Felis, the rock-and-metal live music of Don’t Panic, and Irish-named Temple Bar (where you can grab yourself a Guinness).
Overall, this is one of the best neighborhoods in Essen for young people, kid-free couples, and party-going peeps who want to prioritize fun and socializing over everything else. But if you’re a little older, or if you’re moving with a family, you’ll likely want to find somewhere a little quieter and calmer.
If you want to live in this neighborhood, it’s usually best to find a serviced apartment or a serviced flat. Because the Innenstadt is popular, small, and largely non-residential, finding a home here can be expensive and frustrating—but a serviced place can easily eliminate all the stress and hassle.
Best for: Raising a family, munching on some cut-price Turkish food, and living in a residential area
The name of this western district literally translates to “old village”—which, in a lot of ways, tells you everything you need to know about the place.
It’s not the most exciting neighborhood in the world, but it’s residential, it’s big, and it’s brimming with a range of varied homes. So no matter what type of place you’re looking for, you’ll find it here.
Because Altendorf isn’t quite as “nice” as some other parts of the city, it’s a little more affordable. Yep, pockets of the neighborhood can be a little grimy and gritty, but it’s perfectly safe and welcoming.
It’s a pretty multicultural area, with a large Turkish population… and loads of tasty Turkish food to go along with it. Make sure you get your lips around the meats and meals of both Kartal Döner and Asil Urfa—both are no-frills laid-back hangouts with plenty of flavor, but absolutely no pretense.
Altendorf is also a decent neighborhood for a convenience-filled family life. The neighborhood is home to supermarkets, schools (the massive Gesamtschule Bockmühle is right in the heart of the neighborhood), and some sprawling (though admittedly unstartling) green spaces. And if you head a little west, you’ll find some much-more-impressive green hangouts—highlights include the grasses and waterways of both Schlosspark Borbeck and Winkhauser Tal.
Overall, if you want to save money and live a quiet life in a residential region, this is one of the best neighborhoods in Essen.
Best for: Living close to your office, getting knee-deep in some culture, and hopping between eateries, cafes and bars
Just south of the Innenstadt, Südviertel is the most action-packed district outside of Essen’s very-central stretch. It’s popular with hipsters, young professionals, and people who want a busy balance between earning money and spending it.
Some of its highlights include the city’s philharmonic hall (which serves up a wide range of classical music), the elegant Aalto Theatre (known for classy opera and ballet), the iconic modern art of Museum Folkwang, and the pond-filled fun of Stadtgarten (one of the nicest and most popular parks in the city).
And as a drool-inducing bonus, this is one of the best areas in Essen for chowing down on tasty treats. Rice to Meet You offers freshly-assembled salads and other healthy fayre, while the packed potatoes of Kumpir Kumpels are a popular choice for hurrying workers and hungry students.
You’ll also find lots of cafes and nightlife spots in Südviertel. So whether you want to slurp on coffees, cocktails, or craft beers, you’ll find it all here. For classy alcoholic tipples, head to School of Drinking. For something a little more downmarket, Südrock Rock Pub is always a good bet.
When job-seekers are working out where to stay in Essen, this is usually one of their first picks. Lots of businesses have offices here—so if you want to avoid commuting, getting a home in Essen’s Südviertel can be a wise choice.
Overall, this neighborhood is a good choice for anyone without a family, and it serves up opportunities for both fun and work.
Best for: Keeping fit, choosing from a variety of homes, and hanging around with students,
This time, we’re heading just north of the city center, where you’ll stumble into the Nordviertel.
Of all the central districts we’ve brought you, this is one of the biggest—so it’s a good option for finding an affordable range of varied housing. If you want to live relatively centrally without spending too much money, Nordviertel can be a good choice.
It’s a pretty multicultural neighborhood—so no matter where in the world you’re from, you’ll feel at home here. It’s also a good choice for young people—the most southern stretch of the district is home to the University of Duisburg-Essen, so lots of students hang around here.
And on top of all that stuff, it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Essen for people who like keeping all fit and active. The district is home to some decent gyms, a lot of green spaces, and the massive adult-and-child-friendly fun of Neoliet climbing center. And as a nice bonus, you’ll find some pretty little stretches of the Berne River to stroll (or run!) along.
Overall, this isn’t one of the best areas in Essen for living an exciting life. But it’s affordable and welcoming, and you’re never far from the action and adventure of the central part of the city.
Best for: Slurping on coffee, living with kids, and enjoying a suburban life
If you’re trying to work out where to stay in Essen with children, you’ve found a perfect place—this is one of the best areas in Essen for anyone with little ones.
You get lots of schools (International School Ruhr, for example, sits just on the outskirts of the district), endless reliable kindergartens, and close proximity to three hospitals.
And as a nice bonus, this part of the city is also home to Grugapark Essen, one of the city’s best and most impressive parks. Sitting inside its great green confines, you’ll find a load of little lakes, a petting zoo (which is home to some young deer), some pretty flowers, barbecue areas, picnic spots, and more. It takes up around 20% of the district’s space, so it’s a hefty place to spend some kid-centric weekends.
Although this neighborhood isn’t the most central district, it’s not too far from all the action—the heart of Rüttenscheid is only a 30-minute walk from the heart of Essen; and lots of well-connected underground stations run right through the center of the district.
There are also a surprising number of places to hang out here. The imaginatively-named Rüttenscheider Street runs through the middle of the neighborhood, and it’s lined with endless places to eat and drink. The neighborhood is particularly good for cafes, perfect if you like slurping on a cute little coffee. Some top cafe spots include Coffee Pirates, Nesifa Café & Bar, and Cafe am Markt.
Because Rüttenscheid is such a massive neighborhood, you have lots of potential homes to choose from—and many of them are pretty affordable.
Best for: Riverside adventures, throwing your cash around, and living a quiet life far from the center of the city
Bordering Rüttenscheid to the south, Bredeney is outside of the central sprawl of the city—and some parts sit around 8 km (5 miles) from the city’s most famous places.
So it’s not one of the best neighborhoods in Essen for young people, or anyone hunting out fun. You won’t find many bars, dancing spots, or nightlife venues—and it’s not the best district if you’re keen to make friends.
Instead, the neighborhood is mostly popular with high-earning couples and families… it’s a pretty pricey district, and most homes here come with lofty prices. It might not be central, but it’s certainly sought-after.
Like most of the planet’s pricey districts, it’s a very safe place to live. All of Essen is pretty safe and secure—but this is the safest neighborhood of them all.
Bredeney is most well-known for being home to Villa Hügel, a massive 19th-century mansion with more than 250 rooms. It has bundles of history, along with loads of exhibitions, walks, sculptures, and family-friendly attractions.
And because the neighborhood sits right on the river, it’s home to lots of stroll-worthy (and cycle-worthy) areas. You get campsites, riverside parks, fresh air, and lots of photogenic spots.
6 Best Neighborhoods in Essen: Final Thoughts
Alright, you’ve reached the end of this neighborhood-hunting guide.
Hopefully we’ve covered everything you need to know about where to stay in Essen, and the best neighborhoods in Essen.
As you’ve probably worked out by now, we think it’s a great place to live!
But because Essen is a bit of an under-the-radar location, it can sometimes be difficult to find a nice apartment—and the good ones are grabbed pretty quickly. So to save you the trouble of sifting through all the options, we have lots of homely and perfect-for-working serviced apartments on our site. They’re all affordable and comfortable, and they’re all ready to move into today!
For information on relocating to Germany, here’s our guide on how to find a job in the nation… and 14 things you need to know before you make your big move.
Thanks for reading, thanks for wandering over to Homelike, and enjoy Essen!