Gelsenkirchen - Famously one of a group of cities that formed the coal-mining heartland of Germany for decades, Gelsenkirchen's most famous export is its football club - FC Schalke 04.

Yet although the area lives and breathes the beautiful game and their beloved Royal Blues, there is more to the city than just its football. presents a handy bite-size guide to what you need to see if you're planning a visit in the near future...

Gelsenkirchen is located between the cities of Essen and Dortmund in the heart of the Ruhr region of North Rhine-Westphalia. Other major cities such as Cologne and Düsseldorf are also nearby, from where you can find quick and easy rail access to the city. The nearest airport is in Dortmund, but Düsseldorf International Airport can also be reached via a direct regional train service or inter-city trains via Essen or Oberhausen. The main motorway that serves the city is the Autobahn 42, which runs from west to east in the Ruhr region.

In the north of Gelsenkirchen, amid a designated lowland nature reserve set with 300-year-old oak trees, lies Haus Lüttinghoff, a moated castle. First documented in 1308, it is the city's oldest historic monument. As you go further into town, there is the Zoom Erlebniswelt, an interactive zoo which offers a more original atmosphere than most zoos in its three sections: Africa, Asia and Alaska. Zoom Erlebniswelt has to up 14,000 visitors a day.

The city of Gelsenkirchen passed a resolution in 1950 to build up a municipal collection of art - the Städtische Museum Gelsenkirchen - with the remit of acquiring contemporary art. The museum today exhibits around 1300 historic artifacts. Other well visited locations are Maxi, a beer garden which occasionally features live music and Hugo, a discotheque and cocktail bar, while there's usually a more alternative crowd at Kaue, a coal mine converted into a bar.

The Veltins-Arena, built at a cost of €192 million, has a capacity of 60,000. Its main features include a four-screen video cube, a removable pitch and a retractable roof. One of the most modern stadia in Germany, it is a concert venue and trade fair venue and also hosted both the 2004 UEFA Champions League final and five matches at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, including a quarter-final.

In the city centre stand two main attractions: the neo-gothic Propsteikirche St Augustine, and just to the north, the Hans-Sachs-Haus, an Expressionist building in the classic mould which has been transformed into a civic centre. From there you could also walk the Bleckkirche, the city’s oldest church. Gelsenkirchen also offers wonderful city parks with beautiful playgrounds, gardens and ponds. Revierpark and Stadtgarten are such centrally located parks within the city.