Best things to do in Dresden
Find out more about those top places in Dresden
In February 1945, Dresden was virtually wiped off the map. However, after years of stop-start reconstruction under the East German government, the reunification of Germany in 1991 saw renewed impetus in restoring ‘Florence on the Elbe’ to its former glories. Today, Dresden’s baroque streetscape has been painstakingly restored and its stunning skyline of bulbous domes and gothic spires, including that of the landmark Frauenkirche, has been reconstituted as one of Europe’s most memorable. While the legacy of Elector Augustus the Strong, who transformed the city into an architectural gem in the 17th century, seems stronger today than ever, Dresden is not all about history. The multicultural Neustadt, on the north bank of the Elbe, is home to a host of funky restaurants, buzzing clubs and quirky independent boutiques that would not be out of place in Berlin’s Kreuzberg.
Built by Augustus the Strong between 1710 and 1728, Dresden’s Zwinger is one of Europe’s most remarkable palace complexes. Designed to rival the splendor of Versailles, the Zwinger has a host of grand fountain peppered courtyards, gilded buildings bedecked in fine sculptures and romantic gardens that stretch alongside a tranquil lake. Guided tours of the complex are available with many giving you access to the three superb museums that today call the palace home.
The Frauenkirche, the main landmark of Dresden’s reconstructed Altstadt, was rebuilt between 1994 and 2005 from the vast pile of rubble leftover from the Allied bombing of the city. Thanks to years of careful restoration, today the Frauenkirche is as resplendent as it would have been in the 18th century with cupola offering spectacular views of the city.
Home to Saxony’s royal family between the 15th and 20th centuries, the Residenzschloss is Dresden’s most historic building. The palace today houses various collections of precious artifacts from Saxony’s past, including the jaw-dropping Green Vault. With so many historic items and famed works of art displayed, tour guides are recommended to help you search out the must-see pieces.
Many tourists come to Dresden for the Altstadt but end up enjoying their time in the Neustadt even more. Laid out on a grid pattern in the 19th century, the area’s tenements are today populated with students, hipsters and artists who give the neighborhood a vibrant atmosphere. Make sure to go on a street art tour of the area, where huge murals adorn every unused wall, and check out its famous nightlife.
Nicknamed ‘the Balcony of Europe’, Brühl’s Terrace is one of Dresden’s most charming attractions. Elegantly stretching along the banks of the Elbe, the terrace runs past a number of Dresden’s landmarks and makes for a romantic stroll in the evening.
One of Europe’s best art collections is housed in this former gun arsenal. With works from artists ranging from Claude Monet to Marc Chagall, the Albertinum gallery has something for everyone and can be visited in the company of tour guides.
Making an ideal day tour from Dresden, Moritzburg Castle is one of Germany’s most spectacular. The baroque masterpiece is set on an island amidst what was once the vast hunting reserve of the Saxon royal family and is home to a treasure trove of historic artifacts and hunting trophies.