Dresden – Top-rated attractions and things to know
Dresden, these days we may call it one of Europe’s greatest Baroque cities, but who would have believed that the inner city was almost completely bombarded during World War II? Fortunately, it has risen from the ashes. Palaces, museums and other historical buildings were reconstructed. Dresden as a whole survived and we’re all very lucky to see it thrive.
LOCATION AND TRANSPORT
Dresden lies along the Elbe River. It’s located around 30 kilometers from the north border of the Czech Republic.
You can travel to Dresden by car, the parking places are free. There’s also a direct connection between Prague with a train, or from Brno with the buses: student agency or flixbus. There’s also an airport, so you may check out this way of transportation.
GOING AROUND THE CITY
In case your accommodation is within a walking distance of the city center, it’s the easiest way to visit it – on foot. But in case you’re accommodated on the outskirts of the city, don’t worry. The buses and tram connections are pretty good. Buses can take you to every corner of the city. Consider buying a day pass, the family one is an even bigger deal!!
DRESDEN WELCOME CARDS
With the card, you can use all trams and buses in the city for free. You’ll also get a city map and free admission to museums and exhibitions. Expect also a discount for restaurants, shops, tours and events. Ask in the Information centre: +49 351 501501 (Mon-Sat, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) email@example.com www.dresden.de/tourismus or order online.
THINGS TO DO IN DRESDEN
With plenty of museums, palaces, and other tourist attractions, there’s no chance you’ll be bored. But instead of running from one place to another, take your time to feel the city’s history, stroll along without any rush, admire the peaceful river, and enjoy your curry wurst (sausage)
The city may be divided into two parts. It’s the Altstadt (Old Town), where most of the historical sights are located. Alternatively, across the river is the Neustadt with funky restaurants, street art, and contemporary buildings.
The Church of Our Lady, Frauenkirche lies in the heart of the city’s main square, the Neumarkt. It’s a remarkable reconstruction project of the previously completed church in 1743. The building was considered one of the most beautiful churches in Europe. After its destruction in 1945, the ruins were cataloged and stored for use in its reconstruction.
It’s an 18th-century baroque palace complex in the center of Dresden. It’s one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in Germany. It’s absolutely worth walking around to appreciate its architecture, admire the symmetrically arranged pavilions, and stare at mythological figures. If you find time to visit its interiors, visit the famous Dresden Porcelain Collection. Unfortunately, as of June 2022, the huge area of Zwinger Garden is being under reconstruction.
Just outside the Zwinger, lies another marvel of architecture. I’m speaking of course of the Opera house. Everyone loving theater, music, and art should visit not only its exterior but also, and most of all, its interiors. Attend any type of performance: concert, ballet or opera and as a bonus, get to see the lavishly decorated interiors.
The oldest building in Dresden lies in the heart of the city and it’s the stunning Dresden Royal Palace. It was reopened to the public back in 2019 after the reconstruction that had started in 1960. Among others, inside you can admire the royal apartments of August the Strong, the Firearms Gallery or jewels, and the goldsmith’s art in the vault.
Open daily 10-18, except Tuesday
Entrance: 14 Eur adult, under 17 for free
STALLHOF AND THE PROCESSION OF PRINCES
Back in the Middle Ages, the Stallhoff, a royal palace stable yard with an ornate arcade was used for knight games and tournaments. Today the court is used for different events. Outside the Stallhof, on Augustustrasse you can find an amazing piece of art. Called The procession of Princes. It’s 101 meters long and a stunning mural made roughly out of 24 thousand tiles, representing the history of Saxon’s ruling family, the Wettins. The art was completed between 1872 and 1876 by Wilhelm Walther. Between 1904 and 1907 the tiles had to be taken down and preserved. But today we can still observe margraves, princes, kings, horses, and farmers.
Make sure not to miss the famous Bruhl’s Terrace, although the best view is from the opposite side of the river after it gets dark. The College of Art, built in 1894, is beautifully lit and it reflects in the calm river of Elbe. During the day, on the other hand, take a walk around Bruhl’s Terrace and look at the monuments, fountains or building decorations. And imagine that more than two hundred years ago you wouldn’t be allowed to be here. It was a private possession up till 1814.
EXHIBITION FESTUNG XPERIENCE
Underneath the Bruhls’ Terrace find the exhibition: The Renaissance Town Fortifications and experience 450 long city’s history on your own skin. It’s a multimedia experience with 360-degree projections and a 3-D sound.
Just behind the corner lays the modern art museum: Albertinum. It is a home for fine art from the Romantic period to this very day. Make a visit and explore works from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Check out the calendar before your visit. Maybe you can sign in for some workshops for families with kids or adults only. Those are held mostly in German, but they also have some in English.
Open daily 10-18, except Mondays
Entrance: 12 Euro adult, under 17 free
To sum up, The Old Town can fulfill your day with at least a few hours of walking around, not to mention entering museums, galleries or churches. For that, you need at least one more day.
Let’s take a look at the Neustadt District, which lies on the right banks of the Elbe River. And why the name? It’s because it was systematically rebuilt after the fire in 1685. The baroque reconstruction is full of attractive streets and sites in the area around Königstrasse. Among the attractions of the new district is the Golden Horseman, a statue of Polish king Frederick August I and the Market Hall located on Metzer Straße 1. The market hall was first opened in 1899 and now since November 2000 after a thorough reconstruction, it’s again opened for shopping.
Tram no 9 stop: Neustädter Markt
Open Mon to Sat 8 am to 8 pm
OTHER DISTRICTS OF DRESDEN
BLUE WONDER BRIDGE
The 280-meter-long steel bridge was one of the first in Europe, not supported by piers. The bridge was pretty controversial back in XIX century, mainly because of its appearance. An interesting fact is that the bridge was not damaged during the war, so it’s the oldest in the city.
One of a kind, built between 1898 and 1901, it’s the oldest suspension railway in the world. It’s definitely an unforgettable experience. Within 4,5 minutes you “fly” 273.8 meters, 84 meters above the ground. At the top, you can expect not only an unforgettable view of the Elbe River but also a story behind it all. Get yourself enough time to go through the information from the machine room!
The entrance is from Körnerplatz and goes to Oberloschwitz.
Timetable: The train goes every 15 minutes from Monday to Sunday from 9:30 am till 8 pm.
Tickets: Aerial railway belongs to the DSV group, which means you can basically buy the same tickets as for the buses and trains around Dresden. We had a family ticket for 10,60 Euro for the 4 of us and just had to buy two additional tickets.
I can compare it to panorama racławicka in Wroclaw. Basically, it’s a piece of art. showing local history from 1945 till today. On 27 meters in height and 100 meters in length with a 360-degree view, you can observe the tragedy of the bombings and see how the city has been rebuilt in the past 75 years. Unfortunately, we didn’t have to visit it this time but seems like not a complete waste of money.
THE GRAND GARDENS OF DRESDEN
Located outside of the busy city, the garden is a perfect location to spend a sunny Sunday morning. The grand garden is open all year round without any fee. It’s also where you can find a lot of attractions for kids, among them ZOO, Dresden Park Railway, playground and botanical garden. You can also meet people jogging, cycling and skating. But without a doubt, the main attraction is The Grand Garden Palace, an XVII century Renaissance villa.
On the first day, you can start with the blue wonder bridge and aerial railway. Then take the tram to the city center and start with Zwinger, Semperor and Dresden Castle. Slowly head to Bruhl’s Terrace, Albertinum and back to the main square with the Fraunkenkirche. It takes around 7 hours, without entering the interiors. Grab a lunch break in the shopping mall: Altmarkt Galerie Dresden.
On the second day, enjoy a peaceful morning walk in the Grand Garden Palace, visit ZOO and take your kid to the railway. Then visit the Panometer Dresden.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
- In order to enter public transport, one is still required to wear a mask.
- The grocery shops and shopping malls in general in Germany are closed on Sunday. Do your shopping before!
- Pay in Euro, and have some cash on you.
STAYING A NIGHT
There’s actually a lot to explore, so spending a night might not be such a bad idea.
- Budget Stay – the lower the price is, it’s further from the city center. So you need to take that into account. Backstage Hotel – 2 kilometers from the center with good reviews. Hotel Kipping – a 3 star hotel close to the train station
- Premium accommodation – Townhouse Dresden – a luxury hotel situated next to the landmark of Dresden: Fraukenkirche. Relais & Châteaux Bülow Palais – 5-star-superior hotel with a day spa.
- In the city center – Familienapartment Am Neumarkt l – apartments with exceptional reviews. Felix Suiten am Zwinger – just few minutes away from Zwinger
The possibilities are endless, depending on your preferences. try searching here.