No, this isn’t Disneyland. It’s the Old Town of Dresden that takes you back in time – straight from the beginning of the 21st century back to the time of a man who has entered the history as “August the Strong”. Actually, he was called Friedrich August I, and since 1694 he had been Elector of Saxony and (since 1697) King of Poland as August II.
Less complicated than the naming and especially to the present were the life maxims of strong August: power, women, art. A man of indulgence, on for whom nothing human was foreign, one who broke hearts of many women – and who brought the Baroque to Dresden. So we walk through the Zwinger with all its museums, have a break (or even stay) at the Taschenbergpalais, visit more museums in the castle with the unique juwellery collection of the Green Vault. Even after crossing the river Elbe for a walk through the New Town (Neustadt) we meet August the Strong – as the Golden Horseman. Only the Semper Opera House as we see it now is significant younger – but fits perfectly into the picture.
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At the end of world war II the centre of Dresden was almost completely destroyed, so what you see now is mostly a reconstruction of the old Baroque: The Zwinger was completed in 1964, the Semper Opera on 13 February 1985 (exactly forty years after its destruction) – both during the GDR regime.
Other projects were reserved for the time after the fall of the Berlin Wall – a spectacular reconstruction of the Frauenkirche, which cost 250 million Deutschmarks (125 €). Less exciting, although equally expensive and completely privately financed was the rebuilding of the Taschenbergpalais: Risen from ruins is a hotel, which is one of the most beautiful in Germany.
Exploring the old town with all its baroque splendour can take you one hour or one day – depending on whether you just walk and see or whether you visit all the unique museums that the city of art and culture offers. But if you always wanted to meet the two cute guys you can find on cups, umbrellas and other omnivores, a visit to the Old Masters Picture Gallery (Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister) is a must.
So much history! So much Baroque! So much art! But Dresden is not a museum with half a million people living in it. There are shopping malls and other ways to lose money in a joyful way, especially in the shops left and right the Königstraße with its small shop windows (all reconstructed original facades dating back to the 18th century and corresponding historical preserves). And for the evening you find far more restaurants and shops than parking lots in Germany’s largest Gründerzeit district (literally: “founders’ period”). But it is better anyway to enjoy the evening in the Neustadt without a car – this and public transport (all through the night!) are here for a safe way home to your hotel…
The best time to visit Dresden is – when the sun shines! No, honestly: The city offers inspiration for nearly all weather situations. Of course we all love blue sky, romantic sunsets – but if it happens to rain you can enjoy world famous museums – or, on another level of culture, visit beer houses with homemade beers. Or follow the author to the winemakers of the region…
If you are on a tour Europe in a week – then three hours will do to see the old city, the Altstadt. But if you would like to spend the whole week here, feel free to dive in deeper and get to know the hidden gems of the city – and, of course, the magnificent surroundings with the mountains and castles could keep you busy for weeks!
Statistics say that most guests visit Dresden in the months of May, August and December. There are reasons to do like the others do – but why not try the months when the city is not so crowded? As long as it doesn’t rain it’s always worth it – and the city is not so crowded…
The weather generally is not too bad in Dresden: Here you find real winters with snow and real summers with sunshine…
The sun is shining so often and is warm enough to produce wine in the Elbe valley between Dresden and Meissen. And you know: If the wine likes the climate, the people like it as well!
When it comes to putting on splendid celebrations, Dresden boasts remarkable traditions dating back centuries. A flourishing and extremely diverse festival culture has survived to the present day.
The Striezelmarkt (during Advent), the oldest German Christmas market (founded in 1434), as well as the diverse Baroque court festivities during the period of Augustus the Strong established this tradition and continue to contribute to Dresden’s European-wide reputation as a city of celebrations and festivals to this day.
In addition to the traditional celebrations there is a large number of new festivals and activities all year round, so that Dresden residents and visitors may choose from a variety of events of all kinds which have more than just regional importance.
The Elbhangfest (last weekend in June), for example, which is known far beyond the borders of Saxony, came into existence in 1991 in connection with an initiative to save two churches of cultural and historic value on the slope by the River Elbe.
The most important events for film lovers are the Film Festival for short and animation films in April and by far more famous: the open air Filmnächte (film nights) right on the banks of the river Elbe lasting from June to August.
In terms of the musical life the Dixieland Festival in May is probably the most popular festivity which welcomes fans of traditional Jazz of all nationalities. Not less important are the two weeks lasting (from end of May till June) Dresdner Musikfestspiele (Music Festival). Over the years it became one of the greatest classical music festival of Germany with participants from Dresden as well as international artists and ensembles.
Joyful events in summer are always the different district festivals. The Bunte Republik Neustadt (BRN) in June is by far the most popular event for the alternative scene with various concerts and a great supply of eating and drinking. A bit smaller but more original and intimate is the Hechtfest in August.
Time Zone: Europe/Berlin
GMT / UTC 1.0 h
DST (Daylight Saving Time) 2.0 h
Some time differences:
Los Angeles -9 hours
Mexico City -7 hours
New York -6 hours
São Paulo -5 hours
London -1 hours
Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, Madrid, Roma: none
Hong Kong 6 hours
Tokyo 7 hours
Sydney 8 hours
Compared to other cities of this size a stay in Dresden can be very inexpensive. Best things in life are free – but neiter beer nor accomodation. But the range of restaurants and hotels is large, every budget will do.
Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We don’t want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest.
Price ranges are quoted in €.
See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
€ => Tickets less than €15 per person
€€ => Tickets €15- €30 per person
€€€ => Tickets €30 per person
Sleep — Out of town/rural
€ => Rooms less than €60 for a double
€€ => Rooms €60 – €100 for a double
€€€ => Rooms €100 for a double
Sleep — Large Cities
€ => Rooms less than €100 for a double
€€ => Rooms €100 – €150 for a double
€€€ => Rooms €150 for a double
€=> €5- €10 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
€€ => €10 – €25 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
€€€ => €25 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
N/A => Not applicable
€ => Tickets less than €25 per person
€€ => Tickets €25 – €50 per person
€€€ => Tickets €50 per person
Public Transport in Dresden is the second best way of transportation in Dresden – the best is to go on foot! Distances are not great, and you discover definitely more in the slow speed of the pedestrian.
But between walks you may have to overcome greater distances – and that’s where the buses and trams are of great help. My recommendation is the one-day pass (or, if you travel as a family, the one-day family pass). Important: You have to stamp your ticket in the buses and trams the first time you use it. (Info: https://www.dvb.de/en-gb/)
The Dresden airport is rather small, but very new modern buildings make you feel comfortable.
Taking a taxi to town will cost you approximately 20-25 EURO.
Taking the S-Bahn to the stations (see Dresden by rail) is fast and cheaper:
The S-Bahn station is on the lower level of the new terminal building. It takes you 13 minutes to travel to/from Dresden-Neustadt station, and about 22 minutes to/from Dresden Hauptbahnhof. A single ticket for the fare zone Dresden is EUR 2.30 (valid on S-Bahn, tram and bus). Day passes 6,00 Euro.
There are two big railway stations: The Neustädter Bahnhof is situated right of the river Elbe (recommended for all destinations on that side of the town, e.g. Neustadt, Weißer Hirsch) and the main station (Hauptbahnhof) on the left side of the Elbe (fine if you stay in the historic center or the hotels at the Prager Straße).
– from Cologne / Frankfurt via Eisenach take the motorway (Autobahn) A4
– from Münster / Osnabrück or Hannover via Magdeburg / Leipzig (A 14)
– from Hamburg via Berlin and the A 13
– from Munic / Nürnberg via Chemnitz (A 72/A4)
The hotels have a guiding system (a single letter and the name of the hotel on green signs) – ask your hotel for the correct route!
Without Dresden the world would look different today. No, not because of the famous Semper Opera House and the world-famous museums like the Old Masters Picture Gallery with Raphael’s “Sistine Madonna”. No, it’s much simpler: In Dresden things were invented that changed the world.
The coffee filter, for example – Melitta Benz had the idea in 1908. And also the “vest that holds the breast in form” was patented here (5 September 1895) – the bra is Saxon, just like the first industrially produced condensed milk. It was manufactured by two brothers, Paul and Friedrich Pfund in their dairy. Today the house is called “the most beautiful dairy in the world”.
Pilsner from Radeberg near Dresden is Germany’s oldest (and still one of the best) Pilsner beers. When there is beer, there has to be a beermat – it was Robert Sputh of Dresden who in 1892 manufactured the first beermat made of wood pulp. And then the porcelain! Invented by an alchemist named Johann Friedrich Böttger, who had promised the monarch of Saxony to convert metal to gold, which he probably knew to be quite difficult. But during his experiments, he at least found „white gold“, when he (with a lot of help by Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus) discovered the secrets of the creation of porcelain in 1708.
All this and a lot more is part of the heritage of this city – and its inhabitants are very proud thereof.