10 tips for Dresden
The city on the Elbe looks back on more than 800 years of history and was not only the ducal residence city but also the political and cultural centre of Saxony. Today Dresden is one of the most innovative locations in Germany and attracts around seven million tourists from all over the world every year with its world-famous Baroque and Renaissance buildings and countless museums and exhibitions.
In addition to the Zwinger, Residence Palace and Semper Opera House, the many other buildings in the Baroque style are also worth seeing. Once built for the Saxon monarchs, many of the historic monarchs were almost completely destroyed in the last days of World War II. With the reconstruction of Dresden’s Frauenkirche, the city’s landmark can be visited in all its glory. Other cultural and historical highlights include the Semper Opera House, the Dresden Zwinger, the Old and New Town, which was rebuilt according to original plans.
2nd Brühl Terraces
A great introduction to the history of Dresden is a walk on the “Brühlsche Terrasse” along the Elbe. Once part of the fortress complex built in the 16th century, today it stretches for almost a kilometre between the Augustus Bridge and the Carola Bridge. The section, also known as the “Balcony of Europe”, includes the palace, gallery, library, Belvedere and gardens, the so-called “Brühl glories”. About 10 m above the Elbe you have a great view to the landing stages of the paddle steamers and the skyline of the city. The Albertinum, the Sekundogenitur and the Art Academy as well as countless sculptures and monuments also have their place here.
3. castles and gardens
Dresden now has over 570 parks and green spaces. In addition to the historical parks such as Pillnitz Palace and the Japanese Palace, Dresden’s beautiful parks also include the Leutewitzer Volkspark and the Rosengarten on the banks of the Elbe in Neustadt. Many of the parks also offer a picnic with a view of Dresden’s old town and beer gardens and meadows invite you to linger. When the weather is fine, you can marvel at the paddle steamers on the Elbe from the meadows along the banks of the Elbe or enjoy the tranquillity of nature. The Elbe River itself flows for about 23 km through the city and is also bordered by the Elbe cycle path. The historical setting is also often used for various open-air events such as the film nights on the banks of the Elbe or for concerts in the romantic parks. Dresden’s “Schlössernacht” in particular offers countless events in the castles and their gardens. In the centre of the city are two other popular Dresden parks, the Dresden Zoo and the Gondelteich.
4 The Old Town
The Old Town is the historical centre of Dresden and is located directly on the left bank of the Elbe in a charming river arch of the Elbe. The Elbfornt of the old town, as Canaletto immortalized it in his famous painting, can still be seen from the banks of the Elbe in Neustadt. With the magnificent dome of the Frauenkirche, the tower of the Hofkirche and the facade of the Zwinger, the silhouette of the city is perfectly designed. Famous buildings of the old town are also the Old Masters Picture Gallery and the Green Vault. There are also countless shops, bars and restaurants around Altmarkt and Prager Straße, inviting you to stroll and relax.
5 The New Town
Neustadt is the name given to the districts on the right bank of the Elbe. The new town also received its town charter as early as 1403, and was given its name after a devastating fire and the associated reconstruction. The sights on the right bank of the Elbe include the charming street ensemble along Königsstraße and the Neustadt market with the “Golden Rider”. The equestrian monument is dedicated to the Saxon Elector and Frederick August I and the main street through the historic district also begins here. The two monumental buildings of today’s State Chancellery and the Saxon Ministry of Finance, dating from 1890/96, still dominate the Neustadt today; historical architecture also determines the ambience of Königsbrücker Strasse and Lutherplatz, where the city’s nightlife district is practically located.
6. boat trip on the Elbe
Sailing along the Elbe river on the paddle wheel steamer will not only inspire the lovers of old ships. On board the historic paddle steamers, the view of castles, churches and parks as well as the cultural offerings are just as exciting. Whether castle tour or Dixieland, a boat trip on the Elbe inspires young and old. There are moorings both in the city centre and along the Elbe. And of course you can also just get off if Schloss Pillnitz inspires with its silhouette already from the water. Romantic castles and five Elbe bridges can be admired on an excursion on the Elbe as well as the rock formations of Saxon Switzerland, Moritzburg Castle or Bad Schandau.
7. museums and exhibitions
Dresden offers countless interesting galleries and exhibition venues, especially for culture enthusiasts and museum fans. More than 50 museums, 36 theatres and 60 art galleries are at the disposal of interested visitors. Whether pictures and paintings of old masters, the jewellery exhibition in the Green Vault or the vintage cars in the Transport Museum, the range of exhibitions worth seeing is broadly diversified. Not only such important paintings as Titian’s “Das Schokoladenmädchen” or “Der Zinsgroschen”, but also sculptures such as Raphael’s “Sixtinischer Madonna” and works by modern artists can be found in the generous exhibitions.
8. opera and music
Dresden is also known across national borders for its opera and ballet performances. Dresden’s musical culture ranges from the Semper Opera House and the Saxon State Orchestra to the Dresden Philharmonic, the Kreuzchor and the Dresdner Kapellknaben. The Semperoper is one of Europe’s most important opera houses and the performances of top international artists are in great demand. The city expects countless visitors from near and far to the annual Dresden Music Festival. Among the special musical pleasures are the concerts in the city’s large churches such as the Frauenkirche, cathedral and Kreuzkirche. Contemporary compositions and performances have their stage in Dresden-Hellerau.
9. culinary delights
The Saxons invented coffee and there is a lot to discover here in culinary terms. Biscuits and sweets are just as much a part of it as typical Saxon home cooking. Eggs in mustard sauce, potato pancakes or green dumplings are served hearty and in good portions. The city can also be explored culinarily in the Neustadt market hall. The light-flooded market hall with its
The wrought-iron railing and the decorated iron stairs are also a visual highlight. Inside, visitors can expect fresh goods and specialities from the region, from sausages to wine and cheese. With the Dresden Christmas Stollen and the Striezelmarkt, Dresden has made a name for itself among connoisseurs, especially during the Christmas season.
10. excursions in the surroundings
With Meissen and the Moritzburg castle as well as its vineyards and small ostrich farms in Radebeul, Dresden’s surroundings are always an excursion. At the Moritzburg, not only August the Strong celebrated glittering festivals, the Baroque castle was also the backdrop for the Christmas classic “Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella”. Around Radebeul, on the other hand, is Germany’s smallest and easternmost wine-growing region with a vineyard area of about 447 hectares. Excursions to this region are not only worthwhile for the grape harvest, the wonderful landscape along the Elbe and of course the tasting of the wines cultivated here make an excursion the whole year round an experience. Not far from Dresden is one of the most beautiful climbing regions in Germany. The Elbe Sandstone Mountains with its sandstone formations is the oldest climbing area and also has some special features. This is practically the cradle of free climbing in Germany with over 1100 free-standing climbing possibilities and demanding climbing rules.
Unique with its baroque buildings, exhibitions worth seeing and its location directly on the Elbe River, Dresden is always worth a visit. Whether city stroll, castle tour or museum visits, the city offers countless interesting cultural highlights in every respect.