The Neandertal is probably one of the most well-known places in the world and therefore a destination that attracts a lot of visitors. Apart from the Neanderthal man who was found 160 years ago the valley is a place of excursions for nature-lovers and hikers alike. The Neanderthal Museum, the place of discovery and the ice-age game reserve near the river Düssel are suitable for a full-day excursion.
Current information: As part of the Materplan Neandertal, the Bergisch-Rheinische Wasserverband (BRW) will start the ecological redesign of the Düssel at the beginning of May. Between the Neanderthal Museum and the site of discovery, the Düssel will be redesigned in a near-natural way and the watercourse will be moved closer to the footpath. New floodplain areas will be created and the watercourse will be given an improved structural quality. Extensive earthworks are being carried out for the renaturation of the river. Despite careful planning, temporary restrictions or nuisance due to dust or noise may occur. The BRW asks for your understanding.
The Neandertal, named after the theologian and composer of hymns Joachim Neander, has been a tourist attraction for centuries. The ‘Gesteins’, as the valley of the little stream Düssel between Mettmann and Erkrath was also called, was in Neander’s times a narrow, deep gorge. In the 17th century he held church services and composed hymns in front of this impressive natural setting.
The excavation of limestone that began in the 19th century with the onset of industrialisation changed the aspect of the valley for good, but also led to its becoming world-famous. In the process of excavation works in the caves in 1856, parts of a human skeleton were found which were later on identified as early hominid remains. Ever since then the term ‘Neanderthal man’ is known worldwide. Today the Neandertal with its numerous attractions and its excellent infrastructure is a popular destination for visitors from near and far.
Moreover, the Neandertal is Germany’s oldest nature reserve. Back then there were waterfalls, caves, cliffs and ample forests. After the excavation of limestone the valley has developed in harmony with nature. Beech groves and hornbeams grow at the valleys’ slopes and in the stone pits.
One of Europe’s most modern museums is today located not far from the place where Neanderthal man was found 160 years ago. It tells visitors from all over the world the story of mankind from its beginning in the African savannah more than four million years ago to present age. Regularly changing special exhibitions address the most diversified topics.
The stone-age atelier offers join-in activities and workshops for children, young persons and adults, and once a year there is a grand museum festival. From the museum, a trail leads to the world-famous place of discovery of Neanderthal man. Audio systems at stations along the trail provide background information on the natural, cultural and industrial history of the valley. All information is also available in a smartphone app. Access by public transport is recommended - e.g. with the combination ticket of the DB.
Talstraße 300 | 40822 Mettmann | Tel. 02104-97970
open Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
On a short hike around the game reserve you can observe primeval wisents, tarpan wild horses and aurochs. On an area of 23 hectares, the animals live on wooded slopes as well as high and valley meadows. For a good overview of the area, visit the small viewing platform in Erkrath. The reserve is accessible free of charge round the clock. Dogs are allowed on the leash.
Thekhauser Quall 2 | 40699 Erkrath
After several years of planning and renovation, the new Stone Age playground in Neandertal was opened in the summer of 2020 and has been delighting not only the little visitors ever since. The name of the playground says it all: the theme "Stone Age and Neanderthals" can be discovered playfully in many corners here. Archaeological finds, such as thrusting lances and throwing spears, were taken up and interpreted in the design of the play landscape: For younger children, a small watercourse with a mud area, a "driftwood"-looking climbing opportunity, and a stone slide were created. A "shock lance tower", which is the highlight of the Stone Age playground with a height of up to eight meters, can be seen from afar. In the center of the oversized lances, nets span a total of four levels. The ascent is a challenge for younger children, but their courage is rewarded afterwards with the descent down a tube slide. In addition, a "Throwing Spear Forest" as a hanging construction, a climbing rock as well as a double swing and swap swing in primeval look complete the play offer. All this is located at the newly created and renaturalized confluence of the Düssel and Mettmanner brooks within throwing distance of the Ice Age Game Reserve and Neanderthal Museum.
Neandertal 1, 40699 Erkrath (across from the Neanderthal Museum).
Important note about the parking situation on site:
Especially on weekends, parking space in Neandertal is very limited! Therefore we recommend the use of the following alternative parking lots:
- P&R parking lot S-Bahn Neanderthal (directly above the Neanderthal Museum)
- Altenheim Neandertal, Talstraße 189 (25 minutes walk to the museum)
- Parking lot on the grounds of the Erwepa company, Mettmanner Str. 51, Erkrath (approx. 25 minutes' walk).
Tip: On Sundays and public holidays, a free shuttle service runs between the Erwepa parking lot and the museum from 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.
This interesting walkabout starts at the country house “Gut Bachelsberg” and does not only give you insight into the valley’s nature but as well in its history. The Urtour through the Neandertal is guided by Ute Stöcker and is available in German and English for groups of five to fifteen people. Meals are optional and should be booked ahead.
Moreover, groups can engage in berry tasting from June through September. Request for groups of children and teenagers should be addressed separately.
Ute Stöcker | Gut Bachelsberg, Diepensiepen | 40822 Mettmann
Tel. 02104-5083195 | www.urtour.de | Prior booking necessary
Works by ten artists of international repute give a better understanding of the competing interests of man and nature. Children can have a good romp on the large playground by the banks of the stream Düssel. An audio guide to the art trail is available at the Neanderthal Museum‘s ticket counter. Please note that as part of the preparations for the Masterplan Neandertal, three sculptures must be temporarily dismantled as they can not remain at their previous locations.
Talstraße 300 | 40822 Mettmann | Tel. 02104-97970
The walking trail from Mettmann town centre to the Neanderthal Museum, almost four kilometers long, features installations, sculptures and industrial monuments demonstrating human evolution, such as the ‘rings of remembrance’, possibly the only growing monument worldwide.
Lavalplatz (town centre) / Talstraße 300 (Neandertal) | 40822 Mettmann | Tel. 02104-980123