10 must do’s in Dresden

Dresden, Germany

30 years ago a visit to Dresden would have been impossible. After the WWII the city became part of Eastern Germany (DDR) and was closed to the outside world. In 1990 with Germany’s reunification, the process of reintegration of the city to the rest of Germany began, and so did its restoration. One thing is certain, way before the war started until today, the capital of Saxony has always been an important center for culture and beloved by artists from all over Europe.

When visiting Dresden, it’s impossible not to notice how much the city suffered with the consequences of the WWII. From being one of the cities most damaged by bombings in the country, to becoming part of the USSR until being reunified with Germany once again. In the meantime, the city of culture lost many lives and had buildings and important landmarks destroyed, including its so famous Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady).

Visiting the city was like seeing a different Germany, just like it was for me when I visited Berlin for the first time. You can perceive the strong feeling of a difficult past, and at the same time, the persistence and the strength to try to recover what was lost. I was also impressed by how art and culture is everywhere, from the small to the big things.

Dresden is a small town, and most of its attractions can be seen in 1 or 2 days without any hurry. As I always do with a new place I visit, I put together my list of 10 must do’s in Dresden and I hope it will be useful to you when planning your trip to the city:

A walk around Altstadt (old town)

Dresden Altstadt

If you had the chance to visit only one area of Dresden, that would be the old town, which in reality is pretty small and you can see it all in a few hours. Here you will see the famous Frauenkirche, the Opera House, Zwinger Palace, many art galleries and museums like the Albertinum, the Brühl’s Terrace, pretty streets like Münzgasse, and many other points of interest including the Dresden Castle.

 

Frauenkirche

Frauenkirche, Dresden

One of the most stunning churches you will ever see in your life, with one of the largest domes in Europe and with a history like no other. The Frauenkirche was completely destroyed during the WWII, after the city was bombed by the U.S. It was only after the reunification, that it was rebuilt, work which started in 1994 and finished in 2005.

To enter the church is free, but if you plan on climbing up for a great view over town, it costs 8 Euros. Most of the way up is with an elevator, then you will find a ramp and stairs.

Dresden from above

 

Zwinger Palace

Zwinger, Dresden

This stunning palace of Rococo style, used to be the orangery, exhibition gallery and festival arena for the Dresden court. It’s park and fountains are beautiful and it’s possible to visit its porcelain collection. There is a cafe on the top floor with a beautiful view over the park, where you can sip coffee or tea and try one of the cakes.

 

Semperoper (Semper Opera House)

Semperoper, Dresden

Right next to the Zwinger Palace, there is the Semperoper, where it is possible to take a guided tour on the inside. If you are passionate for music, try to get a ticket for one of the performances.

 

Albertinum Museum & Brühl’s Terrace

Albertinum Museum, Dresden

If you are an art lover, you just can’t miss the Albertinum Museum. Here you will find paintings by Monet, Lautrec and Van Gogh, to name a few. Even normally finding museums boring, I just had to see these paintings with my own eyes.

Just outside the museum you can enjoy the time to walk along the Brühl’s Terrace and catch your breath overlooking the Elbe River.

 

Watch the sunset by the Elbe

Dresden at night

Another must do in Dresden is to see the sun set by the Elbe. Especially from the Staudengarten, which gives you a stunning view over the old town. The cool thing is that during the summer, there is an open-air cinema there!

 

A walk around Neustadt (New City)

Dresden, Germany

Even though called new city, Neustadt is actually the original old town of Dresden. Nowadays it is the perfect place to find a nice pub, bar, restaurants and a good place for a brunch. Not to mention, here is filled with street art, pretty original buildings of every colour and passages. I loved wandering here with W and Enzzo.

 

Kunsthofpassage

Kunsthofpassage, Dresden

If you are a fan of Pinterest and likes to pin from the travel category, I’m sure you have seen this place before. The Kunsthofpassage, is a small passage that leads you to very interesting buildings, including the one above, normally called the Funnel Wall, which has a system that when it rains, it becomes a music instrument. Sadly (or fortunately, depends on your point of view) the day we went there wasn’t raining.

 

The Großer Garten (Great Garden)

Dresden Great Garden

I’m always keen to make a stop at a park, especially if Enzzo is coming along with us. So we made a stop at the Großer Garten for a morning stroll, and I must say I found it impressive. Worth a stop, especially on warmer days.

 

Take a day or a half-day trip

Bastei Bridge, Germany

There are a few places where you can visit while in Dresden, like the Moritzburg Castle and the so famous Bastei Bridge, located in the Saxon Switzerland National Park. We took an afternoon to visit the latter, and I found it pretty impressive, though very popular among tourists, so arrive early!

Tip

Take the sightseeing tour bus. It’s a hop-on hop-off bus, which gives you a great overview of the city in 1,5 hour. The tour is offered in other languages, including English, Spanish and Italian (with an audio guide).

Where to stay

We stayed at the Motel 1 in Neustadt and we were very happy with our choice. The location was great, easy to walk to the city center, with restaurants and supermarkets nearby. Also easy to park (if you are driving, like us), they accept dogs (Enzzo is grateful), not to mention the value for money!

Pin it!

Things to do in Dresden

A special thank you to the Dresden tourism board for providing us the city tours, public transportation tickets and discounts in some of the attractions.

About Allane

A Brazilian living in Germany. Married to W. mommy to a baby girl and a Golden Retriever. Traveler, writer, aspiring photographer, diver, wine appreciator, Formula 1 fan, avid reader of historical and young adult fictions books. City girl, nature lover, believer of a better world, one little change at a time.

  • Dresden is a beautiful city! I visited 12 years ago on a day trip from Berlin and explored the old city mainly. The church wasn’t finished back then and there was still some scaffolding on top. Another place I discovered thanks to a guide I picked up at the train station was VW Gläserne Manufaktur, were you can test drive in virtual environment the Phaeton car.

    • So interesting, I wonder how the church looked like back then. It’s incredible to think that it was finished in 2005 only.
      If you ever have the chance to go again and see how it looks like, would be awesome to see the before and after 😀

  • Wow Dresden is stunning – you know I’ve never really considered it as a place tgo visit – but your post has made me change my mind. I love how cities and their people can come through adversity and show strength. Like you explain it’s in the heart of a place and you can always feel it. Makes it more special. Great photos too!

    • Thank you Ting! So happy you liked the photos 😀
      Yes, Dresden is very beautiful, it has lots of contrasts too, you can still see building from the communism time, but still, the remaining buildings are stunning! I hope you get to visit it someday, maybe combine it with Berlin, who knows 😀

  • My pleasure, glad you liked it 😀

  • Hey Andrew! I think you would like it too!
    I think it would be very nice to return there after these years, you will probably notice big differences!
    That’s pretty cool, thank you for thinking of me. Of course, no problem at all! I will email you soon 😀

  • BEAUTIFUL PICTURES! Hope you had a great time! I’m sad, I didn’t know you could go to the top of the Frauenkirche before we went! Next time!

    • Thank you 😀
      The trip was great, I loved exploring a little more of Germany!
      Yes you can. There is also another church where you can go to the top, and I think the view from there must be the best as you can see the Frauenkirche too 😀

  • Wow, stunning photos! Dresden is on my must-see list 🙂

  • thaaaaank you so much Vlad 😀
    Yess you do! You have to come to Germany soon!

  • Thank you Kate, happy that you liked it 😀

  • I know, right? The city carries a very sad story.

  • Thank you Maria 🙂
    Yes, it’s very quirky! I think you would like it. In December there is one of the largest and oldest Christmas Markets there, I still haven’t been but must be amazing! 😀

  • How amazing!! Must be awesome to return after 20 years and see the changes. I hope you will have a great time. Kunsthofpassage is pretty cool 😀

  • Thank you Erin 😀
    It is indeed!
    Cheers from Munich 😀

  • Kathleen (Kat)

    Wow, stunning pics, Allane! Aside from the historical sites, I really like the sunset by Elbe and the unique brightly coloured Kunsthofpassage. You’re truly a great source of information when it comes to Germany, am bookmarking this post 🙂 #MondayEscapes

  • I can imagine Cathy!! The old town is very pretty indeed, the architecture is stunning 😀

  • hahaha I’m happy to introduce some new places to you 😀

  • I really hope you come someday 😀
    Well, one day these places were also very far away from me, today I live here 😀 it’s crazy to think like that!

  • Thank you 😀
    Ohh that’s great to hear!! If you need any tips let me know!!

  • hahaha I am too, but went up for the love of a good picture 😀
    it wasn’t scary though, on the way up you don’t see how high it is!

  • Kunsthofpassage was definitely a highlight Marcella, I was intrigued by the place 😀
    Dresden is very pretty indeed!!

  • I have! Incredible, isn’t it? I was really impressed by all the history behind the town.
    I hope you visit it someday 😀

  • I know, me too! I love to feel the history of the place.
    I hope you get to visit it someday 😀

  • It is, and very easy to get around too 😀

  • Thank you Clare, happy to know that 😀

  • That’s so cool Marta! The hot chocolate sounds amazing… if we ever go back I would love to take a boat tour as well 😀

  • 😀

  • hahaha I know right? We even wished it rained, the day before did, but we didn’t go there.

  • Thank you so much dear! You certainly brightened up my day with your compliment 😀 that makes me happy to know!
    I wish you a wonderful week!

  • Thank you Stephanie 😀 have a wonderful week!

  • That blue building is so funky! I also love all the old monumental stuff – bonus when it’s on the river 🙂

    • It is isn’t it? Pretty interesting how it works… these people are so creative hahaha
      Same here, bonus when it’s on the river! 😀

  • Thank you so much!! I’m sooo happy to know that, it’s really nice of you to say that!!

  • This is soooo nice of you to say!! So happy to know that 😀 <3