WHAT TO DO IN DRESDEN IN 1-4 DAYS
If you are planning your Dresden itinerary, you might be wondering about the best things to do in Dresden. If so, then this post is for you. Here you will find what to do in Dresden along with many travel tips for a great trip – whether you stay 1 day in Dresden or longer.
When visiting Dresden, Germany, you are sure to find things to keep yourself busy. This vibrant city boasts a huge variety of activities that will suit everyone’s taste. Whether you’re looking for culture, history, nature, or nightlife – Dresden has got it all!
From its iconic landmarks and incredible cultural attractions to buzzing bars – there is something to do here for everybody. So go ahead and dive into the best things to do in Dresden!
Visit the historic Zwinger Palace complex or explore the streets of Old Town with its charming architecture; enjoy a boat ride on River Elbe or take an exhilarating hike through the Saxon Switzerland National Park; soak up some culture at one of its many museums or take in a live performance at the Semperoper opera house – the possibilities are endless.
As a German I have to say: Dresden IS Germanyßs most beautiful city!
And you are about to find out what Dresden activities I liked the most and at the end of the post, you will also find many travel tips for your visit/itinerary in Dresden.
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TOP THINGS TO DO IN DRESDEN
There are several parts of the old town (Altstadt) and new town (Neustadt) that I will focus on, as well as the Dresdner Heide and Saxon Switzerland.
Get ready to explore the enchanting old town of Dresden, nestled on the left bank of the majestic Elbe River. This treasure trove of history holds most of the city’s mesmerizing sights and is a major draw for travelers like you.
Although much of the town was ravaged during World War II, the resilient city has painstakingly rebuilt its most significant landmarks, so prepare to be awestruck by its architectural marvels as we embark on an unforgettable adventure on day 1 of the Dresden trip!
Discover the charm of the city’s old town, where you can easily stroll to all the must-see attractions. With everything so conveniently close, you’ll only need to wander a few kilometers to experience the magic of the sights!
Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche) + Dome Ascent Frauenkirche
Get ready to be amazed by the remarkable story of the Frauenkirche – the iconic symbol of WWII in Dresden! This beautiful and historic Protestant church, born from the ashes of its Catholic predecessor, came to life between 1726 and 1743.
Tragically, this architectural gem didn’t escape the destruction of World War II. Thanks to dedicated efforts, the Frauenkirche proudly stood tall once again in the 1990s and was warmly welcomed back with a touching reconsecration in 2005.
Nestled in the charming Neumarkt, the breathtaking Frauenkirche captivates attention with its grand stature and impressive design, both inside and out! As you admire its exquisite façade, keep an eye out for the darker stones, which are original pieces masterfully blended into the reconstruction. A true gem amidst lovely surroundings!
You’ll be amazed to find a massive rock in front of the church – it once belonged to the Frauenkirche but tumbled down during the airstrikes. Today, it stands as a poignant symbol of the past.
Step inside this incredible, replica church and witness history brought back to life! And don’t miss the chance to climb to the top for some breathtaking panoramic views of beautiful Dresden.
- The church is free to visit. Check out opening hours before your visit (there might be weddings and opening hours might change).
- You can also do guided tours of the church.
- The Dome ascent is 10€. There are almost 300 steps to the top, but you could use an elevator and then only have to climb another 123 steps.
Neumarkt Square – Neumarkt Platz
Nestled in the heart of Dresden, you’ll find the majestic Frauenkirche at the bustling Neumarkt Square. This lively hub surpasses size expectations for a German square, and will capture your imagination alongside its colorful pastel buildings. With ongoing rejuvenation, be sure to explore the sights, statues, and delightful eateries that make this destination a must-visit!
Transport Museum (Verkehrsmuseum)
At the bustling Neumarkt Square lies a must-visit gem for families and transportation enthusiasts alike – the renowned Transport Museum! Showcasing an impressive collection of vehicles spanning across railways, seas, roads, and airways, it’s the perfect haven to escape into during those pesky rain showers.
Fürstenzug (Procession of Princes) + Stallhof (Stable Yard)
Ready for a fascinating journey through history? Stroll over to the Fürstenzug, just a short hop away from the museum and Neumarkt. You’ll be awestruck by the impressive 101-meter tiled masterpiece showcasing Saxony’s royal lineage!
Nestled behind the majestic Royal Palace and right outside the Stallhof, it’s an extraordinary sight not to be missed.
Standing proudly for generations, a sgraffito depicting Saxony’s Wettin Dynasty marked its 800th anniversary on the Langer Gang wall. This artwork was created as an enduring tribute to this royal family and their momentous achievement!
Can you imagine a giant, stunning mural made entirely of porcelain tiles? That’s exactly what you’ll find in Dresden, Germany, where once-vibrant artwork on a castle wall found new life on Meissen porcelain tiles between 1904-1907. As the largest porcelain mural in the world, it features a jaw-dropping array of over 24,000 tiles!
This breathtaking piece showcases the faces of 35 margraves, princes, and kings, plus 59 scientists, artisans, craftsmen, and farmers, weaving a rich tapestry of Saxony’s history. To truly grasp the depth of this enchanting masterpiece, consider joining a guided tour to learn more about the influential rulers that shaped this fascinating region. A guided tour with information about certain rulers is very helpful to understand more about the history of Saxony.
Discover the intriguing Stallhof, tucked away behind the Fürstenzug! This enchanting 16th-century courtyard boasts a history rich with games and tournaments, and now magically transforms into a festive wonderland during December, offering delightful Christmas markets for all to enjoy!
It actually is part of the royal palace complex, but I felt that many people skipped it even though it is worth going through.
- Both attractions are free to visit and are open 24/7.
Royal Palace (Residenzschloss)
Have you ever wondered about the abundance of magnificent palaces and castles in Saxony, particularly Dresden’s Royal Palace? Well, it has an intriguing history as the center of power for Saxon princes and kings!
The castle complex we see today dates back to the 14th century, with its grand four-wing palace structure evolving in the 15th century. So, exploring this incredible architectural gem is like stepping into a rich historical tale!
Did you know that the remarkable baroque building, which stands proudly today, actually faced destruction twice in its lifetime?
First in 1701, with a devastating fire, but thanks to Augustus the Strong, it was reconstructed to its former grandeur. Sadly, the second time, WWII air raids reduced almost 500 halls and rooms to rubble, taking with them priceless interiors.
But resilience shines through! Reconstruction efforts kicked off in 1985, transforming it into a stunning cultural hub that boasts multiple museums, an awe-inspiring tower with panoramic views, and much more! Why not pay a visit to explore its rich history and exquisite architecture?
These are the museums of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, inside the Royal Palace.
- Royal State Apartments of August the Strong the Porcelain Cabinet
- Cabinet of Prints and Drawings
- Coin Cabinet
- New Green Vault (Neues Grünes Gewölbe)
- Renaissance Wing
- Giant´s Hall of the Armory
- Turkish Chamber
There is also the Historical Green Vault- the museum was founded in 1723 by Augustus the Strong, and it features a variety of exhibits in styles from Baroque to Classicism.
- Tickets for all museums cost 14€
- For the Historic Green Vault, you need an extra ticket, which is an additional 14€. When I visited, tickets for the day were already sold out.
- On busy days (bank holidays or the main season), buy your tickets in advance if you want to visit this museum.
Visiting all the museums would probably take 2 days or so. If you have a limited amount of time, then you have to focus on a few museums (or skip them altogether).
Discover the enchanting Schlosshof courtyard within the Royal Palace – a delightful haven that’s now accessible to everyone! Marvel at the stunning architecture of the surrounding buildings, which have been thoughtfully restored after past devastation.
As of 2022, you’re welcome to partake in this wondrous slice of history that’s unique to the country.
- You can also climb the 232 steps of the Hausmannsturm to enjoy some great views of the courtyard and the surroundings.
- There is an entrance fee of 5€ for the Hausmannturm – I think the views are worth it.
Sanctissimae Trinitatis Cathedral (Katholische Hofkirche)
Looking to explore the heart of the old town? Don’t miss the iconic cathedral nestled between the mesmerizing Semperoper, the magnificent Zwinger, and the captivating Fürstenzug! The illustrious Catholic Court Church awaits your visit and promises an unforgettable experience.
Step into Saxony’s grandest spiritual haven, the Dresden Cathedral, adorned with exquisite Baroque architecture by the 18th-century maestro Chiaveri. Housing a mystic crypt, it’s the eternal abode of 49 magnificent sarcophagi, belonging to the Wettin royal clan and their kinsfolk.
Among these eternal slumbers, you’ll even find the resting place of Augustus the Strong’s heart. This sacred sanctuary has held the honor of being the Dresden-Meissen diocese’s cathedral since 1980.
- It is open to the public, but make sure to check out the opening hours.
Semper Opera House (Semperoper)
Discover Dresden’s crown jewel, the Semper Opera House, standing proudly as Germany’s most renowned opera venue! Marvel at the architectural brilliance of Gottfried Semper, who brought this masterpiece to life between 1838 and 1841, ranking it second only to the iconic Frauenkirche.
Did you know that the breathtaking Semperoper has quite the history? Back in 1945, it faced the fury of the Allied air attacks and was burned to a crisp. But worry not – it has since been beautifully reconstructed and now welcomes visitors whether they’re opera enthusiasts or not!
Interestingly, the Semperoper originated as a theater in honor of greats like Goethe and Schiller, whose statues stand proudly in front. However, as time passed, it transformed into the enchanting opera house we know and love today!
Discover the magnificent Semper Opera, home to the legendary Saxon State Orchestra – one of the world’s most renowned musical ensembles. Immerse yourself in its rich history and awe-inspiring architecture by either attending an unforgettable opera performance or embarking on a fascinating 45-minute guided tour.
Whichever experience you choose, you’ll be captivated by its stunning interiors which, spoiler alert, are actually a faithful reconstruction of the original design.
- The tour costs around 13€ and there is an additional 3€ fee if you want to take pictures inside. You can buy tickets for an opera tour online here.
- Tickets for an opera start at around 11€ – depending on the play, seat, and the day of your visit.
Zwinger Palace (Zwinger)
Discover Dresden’s crown jewel, the magnificent Zwinger, showcasing the finest in late Baroque architecture from the 18th century. Lose yourself in a day of enthralling exploration as you meander through exquisite courtyards and treasure-filled museums, witnessing a perfect fusion of artistic mediums.
Once an elegant orangery for royal celebrations, this captivating palace faced its own trials, with wartime destruction and devastating floods.
However, it rose like a phoenix and now boasts an impressive array of museums, such as the Old Masters Picture Gallery, the Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments, and the Porcelain Collection. Experience history and art within the enchanting walls of the Zwinger!
You may not have set foot in a museum, but fret not! Just take a stroll through the streets, and you’ll discover that the enchanting sculptures and architectural marvels themselves serve as captivating pieces of art. So go on, explore, and let them spark your curiosity and creativity!
Make sure to also walk the upper pathway and walk to the more or less hidden water fountain. The little, chubby sculptures were probably my favorite sculptures to photograph.
- You can visit many parts of the Zwinger for free, including the garden and the upper pathway.
- There are entrance fees for the museums. Check out prices for the museums here.
Brühl‘s Terrace (Brühlsche Terrassen)
Why not wrap up your Dresden adventures with a stroll along the enchanting Brühl’s Terrace? Tucked away beside the Elbe River, this delightful elevated walkway was once a hidden gem – an exclusive 18th-century pleasure garden for Count Brühl.
Round off your magical evening with a refreshing drink, taking in the breathtaking views and rich history of this charming oasis.
Imagine strolling alongside the breathtaking Elbe River, feasting your eyes on incredible architecture and mesmerizing sculptures – sounds like a dream, right? Well, make that dream a reality at the enchanting Dresden Art Academy!
Start your magical journey at Theaterplatz and follow the river, just a short few hundred meters, until you find yourself surrounded by the lush greenery of Brühlischen Garten.
From there, you can access the magnificent Art Academy, the historical Dresden Fortress, and the illustrious Albertinum. So why wait? Embark on this picturesque adventure today!
Discover the captivating world of modern art within the breathtaking Renaissance-style Albertinum! Nestled on Brühl’s Terrace and named in honor of King Albert of Saxony, this gem is an absolute treat for art enthusiasts everywhere. Don’t miss out on this must-see wonder!
It hosts 1) the New Masters Gallery with some amazing paintings, and 2) the Sculpture Collection of the Dresden State Art Collections (featuring some very famous sculptures).
Strolling along Terrassenufer beneath Brühl’s Terrace is a magical experience, as you’re surrounded by scenic Elbe views. Best of all, this enchanting spot is where captivating boat cruises embark and return, adding to the allure of the area. Join in the wonder and make delightful memories as you explore this picturesque location.
Here are a few more places in Dresden/activities you could add to your first day.
Just below the Brühl´s Terraces, you have the fortress of Dresden. Here at this 17th–century fortress, European porcelain was invented.But these days it is home to a rather unique experience with 360-degree projections and 3D audio technology.
Duke Maurice will guide you through the 450-year–old ruins and tell you all about his adventures in what used to be the most modern bastion fortress in Germany. I enjoyed my experience, though I would not recommend it if you are on a tight budget or have just 1 or 2 days in Dresden.
- The entrance fee is 10€ (including the audio guide). I booked by ticket together with my hop-on and hop-off ticket here.
Night Watchman Tour
Learn about the sights with a historical night watchman – spooky Dresden by night is beautiful. The best way to experience it might be via a Night Watchman Tour. Learn about the sights with a historical night watchman – spooky stories and amusing anecdotes included.
- Tours take about 90 minutes, and even if you did the walking tour during the day, this will be a different experience. You can book Night Watchman tours here.
If you have a ticket for a hop–on and hop–off ticket, night watchman tours are included.
Guided Walking Tour
Discover the hidden gems and fascinating stories of any destination through guided walking tours, led by seasoned locals. Not only will they show you the must-see spots, but they’ll also share invaluable insider knowledge for an authentic experience!
There are different tour operators, but most cover the same places and the same route.
I booked my “walking tour with a coffee,“ which started inside the mall next to the Frauenkirche (and the tourism office). If you wonder when you‘ll get that coffee during the walk, you will receive a voucher that you can use for a cafe inside the mall. Check out the guided tour I did.
Later I found out that there is a walking tour included in the hop-on and hop-off bus ticket.
WHAT TO DO IN DRESDEN OUTSIDE THE OLD TOWN
Now, let´s explore the vibrant New Town! Located on the right bank of the Elbe River, this district may be “new” but it’s filled with a rich history. In fact, it was the first part of the city to be destroyed by fire in the 17th century.
Under the reign of Augustus the Strong, the area was transformed into a stunning Baroque Quarter. Today, you’ll be in awe of the gorgeous buildings, statues, and charming alleyways that await you.
But it’s not all just history – New Town is a trendy hotspot brimming with hip cafés and unique attractions! So, let’s kick off our New Town adventure at a main attraction on the eastern end of Dresden. Enjoy the journey!
Pillnitz Castle (Schloss Pillnitz)
Looking for a fairy tale escape from the bustle of city life? Look no further than Pillnitz Palace in Dresden! This beautifully restored baroque castle sits on the banks of the Elbe River and offers stunning views of the surrounding vineyards and valleys.
And if you’re curious about why Saxon rulers flocked to this spot in the summertime, you’ll have to see it to believe it! Don’t miss this must-see attraction during your two-day stay in Dresden.
The Pillnitz Palace is where stunning baroque and oriental architecture come together with breathtaking parks to create an unforgettable experience. Explore the wings built by Augustus the Strong, now home to the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Palace Museum.
Take a leisurely stroll through the English, Dutch, and Chinese Gardens, and make sure to visit the Palm House to see the incredible 250-year-old camellia during the winter months. With so much to see and do, you could easily spend an entire day here, or continue your adventure to discover other amazing places in Dresden. We can’t wait to show you around!
There are different ways to get to Pllinitz Castle: Get there by boat, car, or local bus – or enjoy a scenic bike ride from the old town along the Elbe River.
- There is an entrance fee for the parks of 3€ for adults (totally, totally worth it).
- The entrance fee for the museums “Place Museum and Museum of Decorative Arts” is 8€ and the entrance fee for the Palm House is 3€.
- Check out opening hours and more here.
Loschwitz Bridge (Blaues Wunder)
Looking to connect two of Dresden’s most affluent districts? Look no further than the Loschwitz Bridge! This beautiful cantilever truss bridge spans across the Elbe River, transporting residents and visitors alike from the luxurious Blasewitz area to the equally upscale Loschwitz neighborhood.
Plus, with both districts being among the most expensive in Europe, you know you’ll be in good company on your journey. Hop on the Loschwitz Bridge for a scenic and stylish commute.
Discover one of Dresden’s most iconic landmarks – the Blue Bridge! For over a century, this bridge has stood as a testament to engineering excellence and artistic beauty. And did you know that the steel of the bridge itself is actually blue?
Now that’s a cool detail to impress your friends with! Whether you prefer strolling, biking, or driving, the Blue Bridge is an easy and popular way to explore Dresden. Don’t miss out on the stunning views that await you atop this stunning bridge – it’s a sight to behold. Trust me, you won’t regret taking a detour to experience this wonder!
Get ready for delightful sights! Despite undergoing a revamp, the 19th century palace serves up exceptional views from its enchanting garden, dining spot, and diverse cultural programs.
Looking for a great place to enjoy a cup of coffee or a light lunch while taking in the fresh air? Look no further than the outdoor cafe! You won’t break the bank with their reasonable prices, but be vigilant – they accidentally overcharged me for a supersized drink when I only ordered a small one.
Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll be sure to have a fantastic experience.
The Lingnerterrasse is a gorgeous stop – easily accessible by car, sightseeing bus, or tram line 11.
Ready for some milk-manic adventure? Hop on the tram or bus and head over to the next stop. Trust us, you don’t want to miss the most gorgeous dairy shop in the world! Nestled in the heart of New Town, this beloved spot has become a popular destination for visitors from all over.
Whether you’re a dairy-devotee or just looking for a unique experience, it’s definitely worth a visit. So hop on board and let’s go explore!
Personally, I try to avoid dairy products, however, I did want to mention it because it is really pretty and is often named one of the top 10 sights in Dresden.
With 247.9 m² of hand–painted tiles from the company Villeroy & Boch (one of Germany´s leading manufacturers of ceramics), the store tells the story of the Pfund brothers, who opened the shop in 1892.
There are now also two additional shops next door, selling soaps and regional products, including vegan food. The shop is closed on Sundays and bank holidays (this is why I could not enter and could only look through the window). There is no entrance fee.
Callejón del Arte (Kunsthofpassage)
Looking to explore the charming and quirky side of Dresden? Take a leisurely 15-minute stroll to the vibrant Neustadt area, where you’ll discover hidden gems at every turn. From unique cafes and restaurants to fantastic boutiques and artists’ studios, there’s something for everyone.
Be sure to check out the Kunsthofpassage, a network of decorated courtyards featuring cozy outdoor cafes and independent shops. Get ready to be charmed by the colorful and creative spirit of Neustadt!
House of the Church of Dresden (Dreikönigskirche)
Welcome to the charming area of Dreikönigskirche where, amidst several beautiful churches, stands one that truly captures the essence of neo-baroque architecture – The Dreikönigskirche! Built in the 18th century, this stunning church is not to be missed.
And to top it off, about 100 years later, a neo-baroque tower was added, making it a unique fusion of classical and modern styles. So, come on over to this divine beauty and soak in the tranquil and serene atmosphere it offers.
Great news for history and architecture lovers! The church that was devastated in World War II has been reconstructed and is now open for visits. You can explore the stunning church and even head up to the tower to take in the breathtaking panoramic views, including the famous Canaletto View.
- The entrance fee is about 5€ for the tower.
- The church is free to visit.
Looking to add some charm to your day in the city? After exploring the beautiful church, make sure to wander back towards the Hauptstrasse. This stunning pedestrian street is filled with lush greenery, gorgeous patrician homes, mouth-watering restaurants, and unique shopping opportunities.
Don’t forget to peek into the charming inner courtyards, which house even more fantastic eateries and boutiques. The Hauptstrasse is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll and to soak up the beauty of the city.
Golden Horseman (Goldener Reiter)
Be transported back in time to the days of baroque buildings and incredible art collections by taking a stroll down the picturesque alley leading to the New Town market. The stunning monument of Augustus the Strong has stood proud in this spot since 1736, a testament to the man who helped shape Dresden’s history and earned it the nickname “Florence on the Elbe.”
His legacy lives on today, and learning about his incredible contributions is a must for anyone interested in exploring the rich history of this fascinating city.
Canaletto View From the Beach Area
After you pass the Golden Horseman statue, walk to the bridge. But before you actually reach it, turn right and walk towards the Elbe River. Here you have a great panorama – also known as the Canaletto View.
Did you know that the court painter Canaletto was responsible for creating a breathtaking series of views of baroque Dresden in the mid-18th century? Thanks to these stunning portrayals, Dresden earned the nickname “Venice on the Elbe,” which later became “Florence on the Elbe.
You won’t want to miss Canaletto’s views of the Frauenkirche, the Hofkirche, and other iconic sights. But that’s not all – you can also spend some time at the nearby “beach” along the Elbe River, a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to take a dip and unwind.
Before you head back to the old town, why not grab a drink or a bite to eat in this picturesque area, or stroll back by way of the Augustus Bridge? Don’t miss out on this unforgettable Dresden experience!
More Activities for Day 2 in Dresden
Here are a few more activities you could combine with above-mentioned sights.
Elbe River Cruise
Have you ever considered taking a boat cruise on the Elbe River? It’s a popular thing to do in Dresden for a reason!
While it’s not typically associated with Neustadt, I highly recommend adding it to your itinerary. Why? Well, for starters, you can reach Pillnitz Castle by boat and explore before hopping on a local bus or another boat to continue your journey.
But that’s not all! You could also combine your trip to Königstein Fortress or Meißen with a scenic ride along the river. Or, if you’re feeling spontaneous, embark on a random boat cruise for a fun and relaxing experience. Trust me, you won’t regret it!
Day 3 in Dresden
If you are in Dresden for a couple of days, you should explore the nearby nature. The pretty vineyards near Dresden are worth a visit – but if you head further east, then some of the most unique rock formations in Germany will await you.
Saxon Switzerland – Bastei & Bastei Bridge
If you’re planning a trip to Dresden, make sure to add Saxon Switzerland to your list of must-sees! This national park in the Elbe Valley is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It’s a unique blend of towering sandstone mountains and lush greenery that will leave you in awe.
Don’t let the name fool you – Saxon Switzerland is not actually located in Switzerland, but it’s just as beautiful. And if you’re up for an adventure, don’t forget to also visit neighboring Bohemian Switzerland in the Czech Republic for even more stunning scenery.
Nestled within the Saxon Switzerland National Park lies the breathtaking Bastei and Bastei Bridge. It’s no surprise that they’re the most famous sights in the area – just wait until you see the unique rock formation up close. Trust me, it’s absolutely stunning and worth putting on your must-see Dresden list.
Ready to experience the most breathtaking view of the bridge without spending a dime? Simply take a stroll across the pedestrian-friendly bridge and discover great viewing platforms along the way!
Hiking enthusiasts will be pleased to find a variety of trail options, but don’t worry – even beginners can reach the top with minimal exertion. Get your camera ready, because you won’t want to miss capturing this stunning sight. Best of all, it’s completely cost-free!
Ready to embark on an adventure? Allow me to introduce you to the Bastei! With a mere 2 hours to spare, you can explore the breathtaking sights, snap some stunning photos, and maybe even indulge in some local treats from the nearby food vendors.
Looking for a quick escape from Dresden? You’re in luck! The Bastei is just an hour’s journey away. Come and see what all the fuss is about – your next memorable excursion awaits!
Looking to take a break from all the hustle and bustle of planning your travels? A guided tour might just be the answer you’re looking for! Not only is it budget-friendly (only 20€!), but it’ll also ensure that you have a stress-free experience without dealing with the hassle of parking and navigation. It’s definitely worth giving yourself a break and taking the opportunity to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!
Want to explore the area on your own terms? Well, you’re in luck! You have a couple of options to embark on this tour solo. First, you can hop in your own trusty steed and hit the road. Or, if you prefer to let someone else do the driving, you can take advantage of the reliable local bus system.
And don’t worry about finding a parking spot – there’s a handy lot just a kilometer away from the bridge where you can safely park your car. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to take the reins and discover this beautiful area for yourself!
- There is just a small entrance fee (about 2.5€) for the extra viewing platform – you can pay by card.
Looking for an adventure fit for royalty? Look no further than this awe-inspiring fortress, which boasts over 50 impressive buildings dotted throughout its sprawling hilltop grounds. From towering barracks and mighty casemates, to tranquil gardens and a deep, mysterious well, this incredible destination truly has it all.
Whether you’re a history buff, a lover of architecture, or simply seeking a fun day out with family and friends, this fortress is sure to leave you in awe of its grandeur and magnificence.
Welcome to the stunning fortress of Dresden! Take the lift from the parking lot and be transported into a world of breathtaking views of the mountain landscape and the Elbe River. The 1.7-kilometer-long panorama walk is the perfect spot to immerse yourself in the beauty of the area. F
or kids, there are plenty of exciting activities like visiting the museum, exploring canons, and much more! Whether you have a whole day or just a few hours to spend here, you’ll end up with lifelong memories. Take your time to enjoy the charm of the fortress, sip coffee, and soak in the sun before heading back to Dresden.
- The cost for the entrance is 13€ – which is not a little.
But there is quite a lot to do and see, and I think that it was worth it after all.
Meissen (Albrechtsburg) and Moritzburg
If you stay 4 days in Dresden, you can add a few more castles to your itinerary. For one, there is the very cute town of Meißen, just 20 km west of Dresden, with a famous castle known as Albrechtsburg.
Have you heard of the Albrechtsburg Castle? It’s a stunning late gothic and Renaissance castle from the 15th century situated on a hill overlooking the Elbe River in Meissen. While the views from across the river are breathtaking, you won’t regret spending some time at the castle itself.
Afterward, head to the Meissen Cathedral and meander through the charming town center with its colorful buildings. It’s the perfect day trip for any history or architecture lover.
- There is an entrance fee for the castle, the cathedral, and its tower. 13€ for a combined ticket (cathedral and castle), plus 2€ for the tower.
- You can get to Meissen by car, bus, or boat.
- Check out river cruises to Meissen here.
Looking for a stunning castle to explore? Look no further than Moritzburg Castle! This gem is a must-visit for any history enthusiast or lover of beautiful architecture. Originally built as a hunting lodge for Duke Maurice back in the 16th century, Moritzburg Castle has since been converted into a remarkable baroque masterpiece surrounded by a sizable pond and park.
Whether you’re a fan of history, or nature, or just want to experience some stunning views, you won’t want to miss out on a trip to Moritzburg Castle.
You can see one of the most important collections of hunting trophies in Europe, ornate gilt leather tapestries, and the “Feather Room,“ which includes over a million colored feathers!
- The entrance fee for the castle is about 10€.
TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR DRESDEN ITINERARY – FAQ
Dresden is beautiful! Yes, it is! Dresden, the capital of the state of Saxony, is one of the prettiest cities in Germany – if not the prettiest.
Nicknamed the Florence of the Elbe, Dresden is full of gorgeous architecture and a beautiful riverfront. It took me many, many years to finally visit (I will share with you later why that was the case), but now I can say that it is really…pretty! And not only is Dresden pretty but also the surroundings are pretty s – from castles along the Elbe River, which is just a stone‘s throw away, to fortresses and the unique landscapes of Saxon Switzerland.
But before talking about the top Dresden activities, here are a few tips for your trip.
Is Dresden Worth Visiting?
Yes, Dresden is worth visiting. It is a beautiful city that is rich in history, stunning architecture, lively nightlife, gorgeous places to visit nearby, and much more.
Dresden History at a Glance
Dresden has a long history that played an important role in the region – reflected in numerous castles in and near Dresden that served as palaces for kings and queens When we talk about the previous Saxon rulers, Augustus the Strong will probably be the one you will hear/see the most about.
He was the Elector of Saxony from 1694 as well as King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He belonged to the Albertine line of the House of Wettin and had a lasting influence on Dresden and the many buildings you will see in Dresden.
During the Second World War, the center of Dresden was largely destroyed by bombs dropped by the Allies – and world–famous buildings like the Frauenkirche burnt down.
Due to its location in eastern Germany, it became part of East Germany (the DDR – or GDR in English) and fell under Soviet occupation after World War II. While parts of Dresden were rebuilt up until the 1990s (when West and East Germany reunited), many buildings were actually only rebuilt after the reunification.
The destruction of Dresden and its main sights, along with the partition of Germany, will be the main topic of recent history – along with a disastrous flood in 2002 that also destroyed many buildings. The flood is also the reason for some construction work – e.g. around the Zwinger.
There is much more about the history of Dresden to talk about, but we will leave it for now and have some bits of history here and there when we talk about the sights. But to really get a grasp of the history, I highly recommend doing some guided tours in Dresden.
HOW TO GET AROUND
Many sights are either located in the old town of Dresden or the new town. Since this post also serves as an itinerary, I clustered the attractions so that you reduce the amount of time walking. Within the old town, you can walk to most sights, and in the new town as well.
However, there are some areas where you will need a bike, car, public transportation, or a sightseeing bus.
- Make sure to wear comfy shoes – many parts of Dresden are best explored on foot and the cobbled-stone streets are not made for high heels!
- I got a ticket for a sightseeing bus and used it for the old town because the views from the double–decker bus, along with some information, are nice, but also because I wanted to get outside these two areas and thus, a sightseeing bus was the best choice for me. Also, the sightseeing bus company I chose offered free walking tours, including a night watchman tour. Check out their prices here.
- Cycling around Dresden is a great idea – getting around by bike, especially along the Elbe River, is a very popular way to see Dresden. And on sunny days, it’s actually a popular activity.
- I got to Dresden in my van but did not really use it to get around, and rather booked a guided tour to Saxon Switzerland to avoid traffic and searching for parking spots.
- Boats are also a great mode of transport for some spots on this itinerary – especially when visiting some areas outside the old and new town – like Pillnitz Castle – you should consider using a boat.
- For each day, I will give you some tips on what mode of transport is best.
HOW MANY DAYS IN DRESDEN?
I stayed 4 nights in Dresden, but wish I‘d had a few more days. Two days in Dresden is a minimum in my opinion – if you want to explore nearby places, then 3 days in Dresden are a must. If you can stay longer, even better, but with two days, you can see the main attractions. I try to cluster the sights, so you can use this as a Dresden itinerary – so, whether you are spending 2 or 3 days in Dresden, this is your post!
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST DRESDEN ACTIVITIES
Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history buff, architecture lover, or all of the above, Dresden has something for everyone. Take a stroll through the city center and explore its many sights – from grand castles to beautiful parks. Or venture out into the countryside for breathtaking views and picturesque landscapes as far as the eye can see.
With so many things to do in Dresden, it’s impossible to be bored! From exploring royal fortresses and tranquil gardens to visiting museums and taking boat rides along the Elbe River, this is an experience that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
Enjoy and stay safe!