Synonymous with Baroque and Rococo architecture, Dresden is a beautiful German town worth visiting. The city was known as the Jewel Box of Germany up until its destruction in 1945 during World War II. But it was able to revive its former glory and is now a popular stop for those travelling on the rail and Autobahn routes. Likewise, it’s a gateway to German’s other cities including Meissen, Chemnitz, and Leipzig.
Today, Dresden is a completely modern city despite its historic architectural marvels. Complete your itinerary with visits to Dresden’s well-known attractions including Zwinger, Semperoper Dresden, Dresden Castle, and Dresden Frauenkirche.
How to Get There
Located about nine kilometres from the city, international travelers would mostly arrive at Dresden Airport. Some of the carriers that fly here include Lufthansa, KML, and Aeroflot.
Riding the S-Bahn, or Dresden’s commuter train is the fastest, cheapest, and also a convenient way to go to the city centre. Located in the airport terminal’s lower ground floor, hop on the line S2 going to Hauptbahnhof.
Travel time is only 20 minutes plus it has ample room for your luggage. Tickets can be purchased from a vending machine. Another option would be to take the bus (routes 77 or 80), depending on the station nearest your hotel. You would need to transfer to tram line 7 when you choose this transport.
Dresden is best explored on foot. Many of its top tourist spots are located in the Altstadt and the banks of the Elbe River. As a pedestrian-friendly city, you’ll be able to immerse yourself more and check out the best things that Dresden has to offer at your leisure. It also helps burn those extra calories off after filling yourself with their scrumptious meals.
But if you’re going to the Neustadt district, located across the river, it’s more convenient to take public transport. There are also some museums, palaces, and parks worth checking that aren’t within walking distance. And if you decide on hailing a taxi, it might not be the best idea as it’s quite pricey.
For a different experience, you can rent a Rikscha Taxi. This modern take on the traditional rickshaws is a three-wheeled, green vehicle that can accommodate two passengers aside from the driver. It costs CHF 85 for an hour tour, excluding VAT.
Things to Do
From its majestic Baroque-designed architectural sights to its charming landscape and vibrant culture, Dresden is an underrated destination in Germany. Take time to explore its historic edifices, notable art and porcelain collections, and quaint neighborhoods.
Don’t miss the imposing Frauenkirche, an iconic landmark in Neumarkt. This massive, domed church was destroyed during the second world war, until its reconstruction in 1994. Almost 4,000 of the original stones were incorporated in the new building. It’s topped off by a gold cross given by Great Britain as a sign of goodwill.
Travellers will also be able to appreciate Dresden’s rich history by visiting Zinger, an 18th-century palace. Located beside the Elbe, it houses an impressive porcelain collection, paintings, and other memorabilia. There are also several galleries found here. You can also admire priceless artifacts at the Dresden Royal Palace and Museums.
Other distinct destinations to include in your itinerary are the Theaterplatz and the Semper Opera, Brühl's Terrace, Dresdner Residenzschloss, Dresden Cathedral, Pillnitz Palace & Park, and Kunsthofpassage.
Nightlife in Dresden is very hip and lively. As one of Germany’s party cities, clubbers and revellers will have a blast at Dresden’s nightlife destinations. Whether you’re into rock and pop, house and electro, hip-hop, or R&B, there’s a place for any type of partygoers.
An interesting neighborhood to visit is the Outer New Town, where lots of bars and clubs are found. Listen to all types of music at Katy’s Garage, watch live bands play at Scheune, or join jam sessions at Blue Note. If you’re into a more upbeat crowd, you can dance the night away at the Groove Station and Koralle.
What to Eat
Have a sweet tooth? Lots of delicious treats await you in Dresden that is perfect for souvenirs, too. Perhaps the most famous among them is Dresdner Christstollen. This fruitcake, also containing a secret mix of spices, is so special there’s even a German law protecting its name. Dresdner Eierschecke, on the other hand, is a yummy sheet cake found in almost all cafes in Dresden.
But of course, you can’t survive your explorations by just eating these sweets. What you can do is try some hearty Saxon dishes. There is the Sächsische Kartoffelsuppe or potato soup. This popular starter even has chunks of sausages. And while Holunderbeerensuppe can be a mouthful to pronounce, it’s quite tasty. This unique soup is made of thickened elderberry juice, lemon, and spices.
Other must-tries include Dresdner Sauerbraten mit Rotkraut, their local take on German pot roast; Quarkkeulchen, a savoury snack similar to pancakes and made of potatoes, quark cheese, egg and flour; and Fettbemme, an open-faced sandwich that’s a local favorite.
Where to Stay
If you’re looking for the best hotel in Dresden, many international hotel brands like Holiday Inn, Hilton, and Best Western are already dotting the city’s skyline. At the same time, you’ll also find some family-owned accommodations in Dresden. Hostels are also on the rise as they serve the young, solo, and budget travellers.
The Altstadt or Old Town is a great choice for those who want to base themselves near the popular tourist attractions, retail shops, and restaurants. The Hauptbahnhof is also nearby, so getting from and to the airport will not be a hassle. However, hotels in this location such as Hotel Suitess aren’t exactly the cheapest options.
Dresden Neustadt, on the other hand, is a hip and lively neighbourhood perfect for those revellers and foodies. Most of the crowd here are young millennials since hostels are prevalent. One of the noteworthy accommodations here are the “ships.” Found along the banks of the Elbe, CVJM-Schiff and Die Koje offer cabin rooms for a unique experience.
• Get a Dresden Welcome Card. Depending on the ticket type you buy, you can have free use of their public transport (buses and trams) and free entrance to museums for up to three days. You can also get a free printed city guide map plus discounts for attractions.
• When riding the S-Bahn, make sure to have your ticket validated in the separate time-stamping machine before you board the train. Failure to do so would cost a fine of 40 euros.