Dresden is the capital of Saxony (Sachsen). It's often referred to locally as Elbflorenz, or "Florence on the Elbe", reflecting its location on the Elbe river and its historical role as a centre for the arts and beautiful architecture - much like Florence in Italy. While Florence flourished during the early renaissance, the Golden Age of Dresden was in the 18th century when, under August the Strong and his son, Friedrich August II, Saxony was a rich and important state and the rulers invested in lush architectural projects in their capital and supported artists of worldwide renown.
Dresden suffered catastrophic damage from allied bombing in 1945 and then lost much of its remaining architectural heritage at the hands of East German socialist city planners. However, the city has managed to resurrect some of its charm by rebuilding various landmarks. The reconstruction of the famous Frauenkirche was completed just in time for the what was marketed as the city's 800th birthday in 2006. (Dated from the first mention in extant historical documents, as is common in Germany.)
Today, Dresden remains a charming, relaxed and in many ways beautiful city and has become a very popular tourist destination, in addition to being a regional economic, political and academic centre. About ten million tourists visit Dresden annually, most from within Germany. International visitors most frequently come from the Czech Republic, the USA, Russia and Japan.
Dresden is over 800 years old, having become a city as long ago as 1206. Many Saxon princes, dukes and kings called Dresden home, the most famous of them being August der Starke (Augustus the Strong), who was also the King of Poland. The many buildings that date from their reign, and especially the rich art collections, are testimony to their extreme wealth. Raphael's Sistine Madonna, a famous oil painting of the Virgin Mary, was bought by the son of August the Strong, and is on display in Dresden. The last Saxon king abdicated in 1918, famously saying "macht doch euern Dregg aleene" (roughly translated from the original Saxon as "do your dirty work yourselves") when he did so.
Three quarters of the historical center of Dresden was destroyed by Allied bombing on February 13, 1945, towards the end of the second world war. Somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 people died in the firestorms - the exact number is unknown. There were more victims of bombardments in other cities, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of the population. Despite this, Dresden is the only major German city where the air raids are still a major aspect of public debate and city politics. The bombings are still remembered each year in processions and ceremonies, but the anniversary has also been used by Neo-Nazis for demonstrations, which in turn attracted anti-fascist counter-demonstrations. Suffice to say, the date is important to Dresdners even more than 70 years after the original events. For many years the ruins of the Frauenkirche (now rebuilt) with its gold cross donated by a British charity called the Dresden Trust - acted as a call for peace among the nations of the world. The city's historical center has largely been restored to its former glory, with other parts still being rebuilt.
During the era of German partition, the area around Dresden came to be known as "Tal der Ahnungslosen" ("valley of the clueless") as it was one of very few parts of East Germany which could not get West German television. Similarly the abbreviation "ARD" for the national first channel was variously interpreted as "Außer Raum Dresden" and "Außer Rügen und Dresden" ("Except the Dresden Area"/"Except Rügen and Dresden"). Nonetheless, in 1989 protests erupted in Dresden as well, especially when people who had taken refuge in the West German embassy in Prague were transported to West Germany via Dresden main station (which was hermetically sealed off for the occasion). Protests in Dresden never reached the scale they did in Leipzig or East Berlin, but there is still a memorial plaque for the 1989 events in Prager Straße among other places.
The Zwinger was rebuilt in 1964, the Semper Opera house in 1985, and the most famous Dresden landmark, the Frauenkirche, in 2005. When asked what they like most about their city, Dresden citizens will reply: the Old Town (which is quite compact, even though it has a lot of well-known attractions and museums of worldwide importance), Dresden-Neustadt (an alternative central quarter) and the nearby towns like Radebeul, known for its wine (and birthplace of Karl May, a famous German author of wild-west novels), the climbing area of Saxon Switzerland and lots of castles. Architecturally, Blasewitz is the most interesting residential neighbourhood, despite it being a hilly landscape. It has many Gründerzeit buildings,from around 1900.
Many historic sandstone buildings are black. That's not necessarily a result of fire or pollution - the local sandstone naturally blackens after a while. You can see this natural phenomenon in the nearby Saxon Switzerland and on paintings of Dresden from the 18th century, where the sandstone buildings are black as well.
Dresden was an important city in the German Democratic Republic and architecture from that era is still very visible in the city. In the city center, "Prager Straße" and the "Kulturpalast" are typical examples of such architecture. If you leave the center you will find a lot of apartment blocks, called "Plattenbau", which are also typical in neighbouring Poland, eastern Europe and Russia. Gorbitz and Prohlis especially were (re-)built in the 1970s and 1980s in the then "modern" Plattenbau style, and are now faced with the same problems similar neighborhoods have in much of Germany. Very few traces of World War II are still visible in the city.
The time since unification of Germany hasn't left too many architectural marks on the city yet, but some such as the controversial "Waldschlößchenbrücke" that cost Dresden's Elbe Valley its designation as a world heritage site are very visible even to the casual observer.
Dresden is very much oriented around the Elbe river, which meanders through the city, but not as much as the Seine in Paris, for example. Therefore, it is always easy to distinguish between the left, southwestern bank and the right one, which includes the city's northeast. In general, the left bank is relatively flat and more densely built, while the right bank is hilly and to a large extent covered with the Dresdner Heide forest.
Dresden has, over the years, expanded broadly and swallowed surrounding hamlets, villages, towns and municipalities, so that now the city is larger by area than Munich despite having only roughly a third of its inhabitants. Much of Dresden, however, is of little interest to most tourists. In general, the interesting districts are Altstadt ("old town", on the left bank) and Neustadt ("new town", on the right bank immediately opposite). Their historic cores are the Innere Altstadt and Innere Neustadt, respectively. Äußere (outer) Neustadt is a district with a lot of bars and restaurants and generally known for being inhabited by "alternative" people, students, artists and hipsters. In general "Neustadt" used in a generic sense will refer to the äußere Neustadt. Other districts of interest are Loschwitz in the eastern part of the right bank, which includes the namesake hill and the Pillnitz royal residence, and Klotzsche, because Dresden airport is in that district.
Victor Klemperer's diaries, first published in two volumes in 1995 in English as I Will Bear Witness, offer a vivid account of life in Dresden from 1933-1945. Klemperer was one of the few people of Jewish descent in Dresden who not only survived the war but stayed in Germany after 1945. His book The Language of the Third Reich: LTI--Lingua Tertii Imperii: A Philologist's Notebook is a detailed analysis of how language can be used to manipulate a culture. It's a classic of its kind and still relevant today. (Klemperer did not consider himself Jewish, but he was treated as such.)
Another of Dresden's famous sons is Erich Kästner who grew up in Neustadt and wrote about his childhood there.
Der Turm (published in English as The Tower: Tales from a Lost Country) is a novel about life in Dresden's more expensive parts (Loschwitz/Weißer Hirsch) during the last years of East Germany. Written by Dresden native Uwe Tellkamp, it was made into a TV movie with Dresden native Jan Josef Liefers in one of the leading roles.
1 Dresden Airport (DRS IATA) (located in Klotzsche, a north Dresden borough). The fastest connection to the city centre is the local train ("S-Bahn"), line S2, which takes 12 minutes to reach Dresden Neustadt and 20 minutes to reach the main station. The trains run every thirty minutes. Another option is to take the bus (line 77 or 97) and then change for tram line 7 at the Infineon Nord stop (the connection is announced in both English and German over loudspeakers).
Most flights to and from Dresden are charter flights to popular holiday destinations. That said, there are also regular scheduled flights to Basel, Amsterdam Schiphol, Zurich and Moscow. Dresden Airport also has direct flights —operated by Lufthansa and Eurowings— to major German airports, where you can connect to international or intercontinental flights. Many routes to and from Dresden have been cancelled and reestablished several times, mostly for economic reasons. There are several flights a day to/from Frankfurt airport despite the fact that a train may actually be faster if you take wait and transfer times into account. Dresden airport has struggled since reunification and opening of the borders to Poland and the Czech Republic. A new highway means Dresden now also has to compete with Prague Airport, which has better international connections. The only international route that has had any staying power in the last few years is the one to Moscow. Routes to Barcelona, Milan and London have long since been abandoned. Currently the operator with most flights from Dresden is Germania. However, most of their routes are seasonal. For example flights to Keflavík (Reykjavik's main international airport) started in summer 2017 and flights to Athens are scheduled to start in May 2018. The airport lists current destinations here.
The other airport in Saxony, Leipzig/Halle Airport (LEJ IATA), has a wider range of international destinations, and a direct railway connection to Dresden. Intercity (direct) and ICE (change in Leipzig Hbf) trains take less than 90 minutes to get from Leipzig Airport to Dresden Hauptbahnhof, with one-way full-fare tickets at around €30. Slightly slower but cheaper is regional train service. Take the S-Bahn to Leipzig main station and then the hourly (roughly two hours travel time) Saxonia Express RE to Dresden. If you are a group of two or more the cheapest price for that connection is the Sachsen-Ticket which costs (2017) €24 (for €6 extra per additional person, it can also function as a group ticket, up to a maxiumum of five people). It's valid in all regional-trains (i.e. all trains except ICE, IC and EC) and most trams and buses throughout Saxony, Thüringen and Saxony-Anhalt, including Leipzig and Dresden. There is also a reduced price option for local trains called Regio 120 ticket that costs €20 for the Leipzig/Halle airport to Dresden main station trip and is available at all times, unlike saver fares for IC and ICE which start at €19 but are subject to limited availability. If you have a BahnCard 25, there is a discount on the IC and ICE saver fare but not on the Sachsen Ticket or the Regio 120 Ticket.
As with the rest of Saxony, the geographic proximity and good road and rail transport links make it relatively convenient to use the airports of Berlin (TXL, SXF and BER for all airports and the yet to open new airport), Prague (PRG IATA) or Wrocław (WRO IATA) as entry points.
- See also: Rail travel in Germany
Dresden is served by two big train stations, one on the southern side of the Elbe, Dresden Hauptbahnhof, or main train station, and one on the northern side of the Elbe, Dresden Neustadt. Be sure to check if your train is departing from/arriving to Dresden Hauptbahnhof or Dresden Neustadt. If you come from Saxony-Anhalt or Thüringen it might be the best option to take a "Länder-Ticket" as the ticket of all three "Länder" are valid in all three of them (i.e. the Thüringen-Ticket is valid in Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt as well and vice versa), therefore your trip using regional trains will only cost you €24 and even less per person if you manage to get a small group together. For more on the price system of German trains see the Wikivoyage page on rail travel in Germany or the website of the state-owned railway company
For a city of its size, train connections to Dresden are surprisingly slow. The rail network did not see many investments in speed during GDR times and after reunification, connections to/from Berlin and Leipzig were prioritized over those to/from Dresden. The line to Leipzig is still being upgraded to 200 km/h operation as of 2017 with only the Leipzig-Riesa portion done, while the line to Berlin is also undergoing similar upgrades which will result in travel times comparable to those reached in the 1930s by steam trains. The line to Prague traverses the Elbe valley on a stunningly beautiful but curvy and congested route. The line to Wroclaw is only electrified on the Polish side while the line to Nuremberg is only electrified as far as Hof (making a change of trains necessary either in Hof or in Leipzig). For the latter three there is political consensus to upgrade - or in the case of Prague-Dresden replace - the existing lines, but no concrete plans or funds to start building anything.
2 Dresden Hauptbahnhof. Situated at the southern end of Dresden's main shopping street, Prager Straße, and about two kilometers from the historic old town. It is very well connected with the local bus and tram network and can be reached very quickly from nearly everywhere, also at night time. Trains to nearby towns, such as Meißen and Pirna run till around midnight and from about 04:30ish. Regular trains leave the main train station for the rest of Germany (Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich) and to Prague, Vienna, Zürich, Bratislava and Budapest. The station has been redesigned and now has several stores including one regular supermarket, most of which also open on Sundays.
The other big train station called 3 Dresden-Neustadt. is located just north of the New Town and also offers very good train connections, as most trains run through there, too. Some trains even terminate there and not at the main train station. Dresden-Neustadt is also easily accessible by tram or car.
An ÖBB Nightjet sleeper train serves Dresden on its way from Berlin to Vienna via Prague. The train is operated by Czech Railways and the only remaining service of what was previously a wide night train network. ÖBB has expressed a desire to expand those services, but as of 2017 nothing more concrete has come of it with regards to Dresden.
The connection between Dresden and Wrocław has been on and off in the past but is currently served by Trilex for a flat fare of €33 round trip (within 14 days). Group and family discounts are available.
Dresden can be easily reached by car from the rest of Germany. It is well connected with the German highway system and a new Autobahn to Prague has opened. The A 9 Autobahn (Berlin-Nuremberg-Munich) is - like many Autobahns- especially prone to congestion during holidays. Try to avoid the Friday and Saturday at the beginning of school holidays in the federal state you are driving in (Bavaria being last at around August 1st.) Websites such as http://www.schulferien.org/ list school holidays for each state.
- See also: Intercity buses in Germany
The main operator of long-distance buses in Germany, and by far the biggest operator in Dresden is Flixbus. There are more operators in Dresden than other German cities because it is close to the Czech and Polish borders and part of the Berlin-Prague route (which is not served by high speed rail). This means bus routes to Dresden are still competitive in terms of journey times and price. Besides Flixbus, operators with routes to Dresden include Onebus, Student Agency (aka Regiojet) and Eurolines. Most buses stop "behind" the main train station (from the train station looking south, with Prager Straße to your back). While the traffic situation is iffy and there are not enough bus stops, the station is easily reachable. Several shops are close to the station, and those in the main station are also open on Sundays and on public holidays. Flixbus has a ticket office opposite the station and you can buy tickets for most of the other operators in the station building. Some Flixbus lines also stop close to Bahnhof Neustadt, which has a similarly iffy traffic situation but is a less busy station. A handful of buses also serve Dresden airport, which is really only useful in the unlikely event that you are flying into/out of the airport but are not staying in Dresden. The airport is pretty out of the way and at least 20 minutes by S-Bahn from anything interesting. There is political consensus to address the overall unsatisfactory bus station situation, but so far neither sites nor funds have been earmarked for such a project.
In the centre, especially in the historic part of the Old Town (Altstadt), everything is easily accessible on foot. (The city centre is not the geographical midpoint of the city). If you want to go to the outer districts (unlikely for most travelers) you will probably have to take a bike or public transport (most tram lines go well into the suburbs).
By public transport
Dresden has an extensive reliable and high quality (even by German standards) public transport system consisting of regional railways (called S-Bahn, historically Schnellbahn), trams (called Straßenbahn) and buses. Three ferries cross the Elbe and two cable car systems go up Loschwitz hill. The Straßenbahn and S-Bahn are two entirely separate networks, although there are tram stops at many S-Bahn stations. A common fare system is operated by Dresdner Verkehrsbetriebe (DVB), which is part of the larger Oberelbe Transport Network (VVO). (VVO covers 27 municipalities in central Saxony.) VVO tickets are valid on all buses, trams, regional trains and some ferries within a particular zone in the VVO network area. The Sachsen ticket is now valid on buses and trams in Dresden as well so all information to the contrary is outdated.
The system works very well and connects all points of interest, but can be a little busy at peak times. Most lines run at night but with less frequency (and also slightly different routes, called "Gute Nacht Linien") allowing you to get to most places such as restaurants without the necessity of using a car, including to far-flung places like Pillnitz, Radebeul or even Meißen (with the S-Bahn). At night almost all trams and some regional buses meet at Postplatz (called "Postplatztreffen") and wait for each other, to ensure connections. Trams that don't pass through Postplatz usually wait for connections at some other point. These stops are announced in both German and English. As the rerouting of the lines can be a tad confusing and the night-line plan is printed on a black background that is hard to read at night, you might wish to ask the driver or other passengers where the tram is going. Failing that the DVB has an app and offers the possibility to search for your tram in real time online. For the night time lines see here
By tram (Straßenbahn)
Two tram lines are of particular interest to visitors:
- Line 4, billed by the operator as Kultourlinie as one that takes you on a tour of cultural and other highlights
- Line 9, is referred to by the operator as the Einkaufslinie ("shopping line"), connecting the main shopping centres and areas in various areas of Dresden.
A unique feature of the tram system in Dresden (which is never used by passengers but will interest many) is the CarGoTram. It runs right through the city centre and delivers parts for the electric version of the VW Golf which is produced at the Transparent Factory (Gläserne Manufaktur). The tram used to deliver parts for the Phaeton luxury car, production of which ended in 2016.
Other modes of transport
DVB operates three ferries on the Elbe:
- between Johannstadt and Neustadt
- between Niederpoyritz and Laubegast
- between Kleinzschachwitz and Pillnitz
There are also two separate cable car systems that go up the Loschwitz hill from the environs of Körnerplatz:
- a regular funicular goes towards the district of Weißer Hirsch
- a suspension railway (Schwebebahn) will take you to Oberloschwitz
Both systems were built at the turn from the 19th to the 20th century as a means of the inhabitants of the (then) expensive communities up the hill to get downtown and they still serve the residents of the area as such. However, they are marketed as a tourist attraction as well and a ride on them is not included on a normal day ticket for public transport (you, get a discount, though). Holders of weekly tickets can ride for free. As the system is quite old it is shut down for maintenance and inspection once a year, usually in early spring, so look at the website if you want to avoid going there just to see them not going.
Often the best option is to buy a day ticket for €6. (Or, for families, a family day ticket for €9). It allows you to use all trams, buses, most ferries and trains (except InterCitys and ICEs) and is relatively cheap. It's valid until the next day at 04:00. You can also get a ticket limited to an hour (€2.30) and some others, but day tickets are good if you are travelling around and not sure where you will be going and what you will be doing.
You can buy tickets at yellow ticket vending machines in trams or buses, but ticket machines on platforms sell a wider selection of tickets. Note that ticket machines in trams only accept coins. Vending machines on platforms accept notes as well as coins. Don't forget to stamp your ticket as you enter the vehicle (day tickets only need to be stamped the first time you use them). Stamping machines in Dresden are usually shoe-boxed sized orange boxes near the doors of the tram/bus. Tickets (except the night ticket) bought from vending machines in trams do not need to be stamped.
As with most of Germany, public transport operates on the proof-of-payment system: you can enter any bus or tram you like, but are expected to be able to show a valid ticket if asked. (If inspectors (there are always two of them) catch you without a valid ticket, you can be fined €60.) The exception is on the buses after 20:00, when passengers are expected to show their tickets to the driver on boarding.
A Bike&Ride ticket allows you to use all public transport and all sz-bike bicycles for one day. It costs 10€, €5 less than the price of buying both tickets separately. However you can only buy Bike&Ride tickets at one of the five DVB ticket offices scattered around the city centre, where you will be required to "register personal data".
The street network is very good and many roads have been refurbished recently, especially in the city centre. As in all bigger towns it can be a bit crowded during rush hours. During the Striezelmarkt (end of November till 24 Dec) traffic gets heavier, which is especially true on weekends. A word of caution on driving during Dynamo home games: don't. Streets get crowded and police shut down several roads to allow fans on foot to pass, leading to confusion and congestion for cars. There are many parking lots in downtown Dresden and it should not be a problem to find a place to park, except on Saturdays when everyone goes to town for shopping. the new city council announced in late 2014 that they want to raise parking fees, so consider parking on one of the various park&ride spots outside of town if you arrive by car or leaving your (rental) car altogether, as the public transport network is excellent even by the high German standards. A number of automatic signs have been created, showing you the available number of free parking spaces, before entering parking lots. Shops are open c. 10:00-20:00 (with the last ones closing 22:00) and you will see a lot of visitors and locals going shopping. The Neustadt neighborhood is particularly unfriendly to cars as most of its residential buildings (and thus the street grid) were built in the 19th century and have survived both world wars and over zealous urban planners. People in this neighborhood also have a certain reputation of burning cars they consider to be too luxurious or "extravagant" although this is not near as common as in Berlin and it has significantly decreased in recent years.
Bikes are the fastest thing in rush hour traffic for short-to-medium distances and if you're in good shape and not afraid of traffic. Bikes are also good for longer distances as they can be carried (with a separate ticket €2 per day as of late 2016) in trams. There are many designated cycle paths (marked red on pavements, or with a white bike symbol on a blue background) and most times it's very easy to find a place to park your bike. But, as anywhere else, always use a good lock!
Cobblestone roads and sidewalks are still quite common, particularly in Neustadt as well as the historical parts of Altstadt. As they get slippery with even a little moisture and make for a bumpy ride on most bikes, you might wish to avoid those. Another concern for cyclists are tram tracks, as tyres can get stuck in one of them if you aren't careful. Crossing them at an angle close to 90 degrees should take care of that problem, however. It should go without saying that you shouldn't drive on or between the tracks when a tram is approaching.
The main bike-share service in Dresden is called SZ-bike. Their rates are €1 per half hour or €9 per day. For more information on discounts and the technical details see their website
Dresden has a lot of cycle rickshaws, mostly operating around the Old Town. They offer a typical (short distance) taxi service and guided city tours. Horse-drawn carriages offer sightseeing.
Dresden is a very beautiful, light-spirited city, especially in summer, when you can appreciate the serene setting of the historic centre. Although Dresden is larger than Munich when measured by area, the historic centre is quite compact and walkable.
- 1 Frauenkirche. The original Church of Our Lady was completely destroyed during World War II; however, it has been reconstructed. The City of Coventry, which was raided by the Luftwaffe in WWII, donated the golden cross for the dome of the church. Check out some ruins in the basement. For €8 (concessions €5) you can walk up to the viewing platform on the dome and enjoy a great view of the city. You must have good walking shoes, otherwise you might not be admitted. As well as being a working church (with services once a month in English), there are also regular concerts. Even though they tend to be expensive, they sell out quickly, so try to book tickets ahead of time. The seating can be a little hard.
- 2 Zwinger Palace (tram 4, 8 and 9 Theaterplatz and tram 11 am Zwingerteich), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The baroque palace features a nympheum, many sculptures of Permoser, a bell pavilion and famous art collections. Do not miss the "Alte Meister" - you'll find Rafael's famous Sistine Madonna with its well-known angels there. There are 3 separate exhibitions housed in the Zwinger. Please see below. Entry is free to the palace but to see exhibits you need a €10 ticket (concessions €7.50).
- 4 Porzellansammlung (Porcelain Collection). Part of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen (State Art Collections).
- 5 Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon (Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments).
- 6 Residenzschloss (Royal Palace), Schloßstraße at the corner of Taschenberg, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. €12, concessions €9, children <16 free. Combi-ticket: adult €21..
- 7 Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault). 10:00-18:00, closed Tuesdays. Europe's most splendid treasure chamber museum. You can see the biggest green diamond and the court of Aurengzeb and its precious crown jewels. This is actually two museums, each requiring a separate ticket: Historic Green Vault (Historisches Grünes Gewölbe) is famous for the splendours of the historic treasure chamber as it existed in 1733, while the New Green Vault (Neues Grünes Gewölbe) focuses attention on each individual object in neutral rooms. €12, including Audioguide, children <16: free. Tickets for the Historisches Grünes Gewölbe have a clearly defined time limit.
- 11 Semperoper (Saxon State Opera and concert hall) (tram 4, 8 and 9 Theaterplatz), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Guided tours in English daily 15:00. One of the most beautiful opera houses in the world. The acoustics and the Staatskapelle orchestra are marvellous. Its history saw many operas of Wagner and Strauss having their first nights there. Make sure to book tickets in advance. Some last-minute tickets are available from the box office shortly before the performance starts. Seats which do not have a good view are very cheap, and you can sit on benches behind the seats, right at the top of the auditorium, for free. Tours in German are offered throughout the day. Varies for each performance. Guided tours: adults €10, concessions €6, families €20, photo fee per person €3 (but they don't check if you have it).
- 12 Fürstenzug (Altstadt, near Brühlsche Terasse). This biggest porcelain painting of the world shows (almost) all Saxon princes, electors and kings on their horses and splendid parade uniforms. (There is only one female person at the painting, find it.) It leads to the "Stallhof" - the last preserved tournament place contained in a European castle. In Winter, the Stallhof is the location of a medieval style Christmas market with a big fireplace.
- 13 Neue Synagogue, Hasenberg 1 (Tram 3 and 7, Synagoge). The New Synagogue is on the site of what was the Semper Synagogue. The old one was designed by Gottfried Semper, who also designed the Semper Opera in Dresden. Erected in 1840 and destroyed by the Nazis in the pogroms of November 1938. Unlike the buildings in the Altstadt destroyed during the war, the synagogue was deliberately not rebuilt in the original style, Instead, a new, starkly modern synagogue was built in 2001, when Dresden's Jewish community (now around 700 members) had grown enough to justify a synagogue. The building is made of concrete made to look like the sandstone which is typical of the area. The worship hall has sharp angles and the complex includes a smaller building and stone courtyard. The design in striking in an austere way both on the outside and the inside. There are regular guided tours (in German), times listed here Guided tour per person - €6, reduced - €4.
- 14 Kulturpalast (Palace of Culture), Schloßstraße 2 (Tram Altmarkt), ☎ . The Kulturpalast, or Palace of Culture, is socialist era building finished in 1969, standing right in the middle of the gradually reconstructed Altstadt, in stark contrast to the historic buildings surrounding it and supplanting some of the old buildings that closed the Altmarkt from the north before the second world war. It was originally planned to be a super-tall, ornate structure in the mould of the Palace of Culture in Warsaw, but ended up being a large concert hall with height on par with surrounding buildings, in an austere Bauhaus-inspired style. It is now a protected architectural monument, along with a giant socialist-realism themed mosaic on its western wall, facing Schloßstraße. Between 2012 and 2017 the Kulturpalast was completely renovated and now houses a concert hall, the city's main library and a Kabarett venue.
- 15 Brühl's Terrace (Brühlsche Terrasse) (tram 4 8 and 9 Theaterplatz). The "Balcony of Europe" stretches for 500 metres along the River Elbe, some 10 metres over the water table, and being up to 20 metres wide. Freely open to the public since 1814, it provides space shielded from the danger of flooding, as well as from motorized traffic (which runs directly below over the Terassenufer) for walking, relaxing and enjoying a meal or a drink to locals and visitors, with views of the picturesque Elbe and an impressive backdrop of historic buildings at its back.
Very nice, lively neighbourhood. Part alternative, part "pseudo-exclusive" and expensive. Check out the Bunte Republik Neustadt festival in June. But you shouldn't leave your bicycle unattended without a good lock, as there can be a serious risk of damage to your bicycle as well as your car, especially on weekend nights.
- 16 Dresden Baroque Quarter (Barockviertel Königstraße). Real baroque houses. The quarter reaches from the "Heinrichstraße" up to the "Albert Platz". On the Heinrichstr and in the surroundings you will find a lot of antique stores. It is the quarter where you will find different nice and small shops where the owner will serve you. It is the quarter of individuality.
- 17 Kunsthofpassage. Two buildings in the middle of Neustadt with many small stores and some bars, many of them in the artistically decorated inner courtyards. The complex also has art galleries as well as coffee shops
- 18 Pfunds Molkerei, Bautzner Straße 79. A dairy shop which is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most beautiful dairy in the world. Decorated with 247 m² of handmade tiles.
- 19 Dreikönigskirche, Hauptstraße 23, ☎ . (for the tower) March-October: Monday: closed Tuesday:11:30-16:00 Wednesday-Saturday: 11:00-17:00 Sunday/public holidays: 11:30-17:00. You get a nice view of the whole city from the whole city and the price of admission to the climb is lower than at the more famous Frauenkirche. Adult €3, reduced €2, child under 10: free.
- 20 Großer Garten ("Big Garden") (tram 10 and 13 at stop Großer Garten). Recommended for relaxing and sports (rollerblades are very common). It's Dresden's "green lung" and can be reached easily by tram. You can also go on a ride on a seasonal miniature train through the park.
- 21 Dresden Zoo, Tiergartenstraße 1 (Reachable by tram 9, 13, and bus 75 at stop Zoo.). One of Germany's oldest zoos.
- 22 Gläserne Manufaktur (The Transparent Factory), Lennestr. 1 (at Straßburger Platz tram stop), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. M-F 08:00-20:00. The Transparent Factory is a factory which assembles the electric version of VW's Golf car. Visitors can test drive VW electric cars for 30 minutes (except Sundays). Tours three times a day in English Mon-Sat, once on Sundays. The Lesage Restaurant is at the same site and offers both lush dinners in the evening and reasonably-priced lunches 12:00-15:00. Until 2016, final assembly for various luxury VW cars took place here. Tour: €7/€4,50 discounts/€15 families.
- 23 Yenidze ("Tabakmoschee", the tobacco mosque) (tram 6 and 11 Kongresszentrum/Haus der Presse). An absolutely unique building- once a cigarette factory- with heavily Ottoman-inspired architecture, including a mosque-like dome and a chimney shaped like a minaret. Nowadays an office building with event space. There is a restaurant in the upper floor.
- 24 Schwebebahn Dresden (Dresden Suspension Railway) (Take bus 61,63 or 84 to Kornerplatz). A historic suspension railway link between the low-lying Loschwitz district and the hill of Oberloschwitz.
- 25 Elbe Valley. This used to be on the UNESCO World Heritage List, until the government decided to build the four-lane highway Waldschlösschen Bridge through the heart of it! So now it has joined Oman´s Arabian Oryx Sanctuary as "one of only two un-UNESCO'd sites in the world" and is still a tourist attraction.
- 26 Elbwiesen (Elbe River Banks). Go to the (mostly) green river banks, especially in hot summer evenings/nights for a very nice view of the old parts and lot of people playing sports, having barbecues and parties. There are often big concerts and a huge movie screen offers "outdoor cinema."
- 27 Schloß Pillnitz (Pillnitz Castle), August-Böckstiegel-Straße 2 (Bus line 63 stops directly at the castle. Tram line 2 and bus line 88 stop on the southern side of the river and you will need to take the ferry. Paddle-steamers operate on a regular basis to Pillnitz (single from Dresden €13.50, return €17.50).), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Park from 06:00 till dusk.
Pillnitz is the old garden residence of the Saxon kings, built at the end of the 18th century in a Japanese but also English style outside of what was then-Dresden, as the closest out-of-town residence of the kings. Pillnitz was the summer residence of the Saxon kings till 1918, today it hosts concerts and cultural events.
The site consist of the English garden, a Chinese garden and Chinese pavilion (with Chinese style buildings) and the Orangerie. During summer you will also see all kinds of tropical plants in pots standing in the gardens, but in winter they are all transferred into the Orangerie. There are however, many other indigenous and foreign plants to be discovered. A big attraction is the camellia. Imported at the end of the 18th century from Japan is it now the oldest in Europe. It flowers beautifully in spring. It stands in the open during summer, but is put in a mobile glass house for winter.
The castle became known worldwide for the Declaration of Pillnitz by Emperor Leopold II and Frederick William II of Prussia. Calling on European powers to intervene, this declaration was intended to serve as a warning to the French revolutionaries not to infringe further on the rights of Louis XVI, and to allow his restoration to power. It helped begin the French Revolutionary Wars. There are no entry fees at the moment, although there still is a debate about a small fee.
- 28 Dresden Panometer (Asisi Panometer), Gasanstaltstraße 8b 01237 Dresden (64 Bus to "Nätherstraße" stop), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Tu F 10:00-17:00; Sa Su public holidays 10:00-18:00. huge 360° picture of Dresden imagined as it was between 1695 and 1760, housed in a former gasworks. You climb a kind of tower in the center of the gasworks to get a view over they city, with endless details to spot Adult €11.50; child €6.
Museums and galleries
- 29 Albertinum Museum. The "New Masters" collections feature a wonderful range from romantic painters like Caspar David Friedrich to Rotloff and Van Gogh.
- 30 Kunsthalle im Lipsius-Bau, Between Frauenkirche and Brühlsche Terrasse. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. Impressive building for the arts constructed in the 19th century. Combination ticket Albertinum and Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau Admission fee: €12.50.
- 31 Japanisches Palais (on the north bank of the Elbe between Augusbrücke and Marienbrücke). The palace was bombed out and in its partially restored state houses several small museums, including the museum of natural history of the region, museum of prehistory and a display of assorted exotic garments (ethnological collection).
- 33 Kasematten (under the Brühlsche Terrasse (the terrace at the Elbe river)). Apr-Oct: daily 10:00-18:00; Nov-Mar: daily 10:00-17:00. The remains of the old fort. Gives you a glimpse of what a fort in a medieval European town was like. Tour: €4, €2 concessions.
- 34 Dresden Transport Museum (Verkehrsmuseum), Augustusstraße 1 at Neumarkt, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. The museum is housed in the Johanneum at the Neumarkt, near Frauenkirche. €7, concessions: €3, Family ticket: €12.
- 36 Erich-Kästner-Museum. Dedicated to author, poet, screenwriter and satirist Emil Erich Kästner, known primarily for his humorous, socially astute poetry and children's literature such as Emil and the Detectives who was born and grew up in Dresden.
- 37 Military History Museum (Tram lines 7 and 8 or bus line 91 to stop Stauffenbergallee). M 10:00-21:00; Tu Th-Su 10:00-18:00. Exhibits relating to Germany's military history - and the country's complicated relationship with its armed forces and warfare. 20,000 m² of indoor and outdoor exhibition space and a collection of 1.2 million exhibits. €5; M 18:00-21:00 free.
- 38 Carl Maria von Weber Museum, Dresdner Straße 44. W-Su 13:00-18:00. Dedicated to Dresden's most famous composer.
- 39 German Hygiene Museum, Lingnerplatz 1 (Near the Big Garden.). A comprehensive museum dedicated to hygiene in various times and cultures. Despite its somewhat antiquated name you can learn a lot about the human body, including its diseases, nutrition and various other aspects. The children's section and special exhibitions are also well worth checking out. Has signage in English as well as German although the German texts tend to be more exhaustive.
- 41 Leonhardi Museum, Grundstraße 26. A private art collection of art from the DDR (East Germany) including works by the collector himself.
- 43 Kunsthof Dresden, Görlitzer Straße 23. Assortment of public artworks, galleries, shops selling art.
- Rollerblading or rowing in small boats on the Carolasee in the Großer Garten.
- Paddle-Steamer Tour. Best start your tour from the main pier at the castle and go down to Meissen or up to Pillnitz or the Saxon Switzerland.
- Semper Opera. Be sure to book in advance.
- Math Adventure Land. An entertaining hands-on exhibition on mathematics. Suitable for all ages, multilingual. Open Tuesdays to Sundays. Located in the Technology Museum, Junghansstr. 1-3.
- audio tour: Jewish life in Dresden 1993-1945. Download the free map and audio tracks (in English) and take yourself on a walk covering the history of Jewish life in Dresden from 1933 to 1945. You will need several hours.
- Fleamarket (Tram 6 or 13, Sachsenallee). Every Saturday there is a fleamarket on the banks of the Elbe by the Albertbrücke, with all kinds of sellers: professionals with covered stands, grandmothers selling homemade jam and children selling their old toys laid out on blankets.
- Tips in English. Weekly tips in English covering events which might be of particular interest to visitors.
- 1 Dresden Monarchs (American Football - German Football League) (tram 7 Kongresszentrum/ Haus der Presse). Usually Saturday 15:00. Founded in 1992 they are the only "true eastern" (i.e. apart from Berlin) American Football team to play in the first division. A first division team since 2002 they have made the playoffs every year since 2003 with exceptions of 2007 and 2011. They lost the final of 2013 by one point - which remains their biggest success as of 2015. The season starts around May and the playoffs are in September. They play most of their home games in Heinz Steyer Stadion right across the street from Yendize. In most of the recent seasons at least one game was held in the "big stadium" where Dynamo usually plays. Expect more announcements than usual for this game in particular. Occasional games, all youth games and some special events are also held at their training grounds at 2 Bärnsdorfer Straße in Neustadt
- 3 Dynamo Dresden (Soccer). One of the best teams of what was East Germany, they have been struggling on and off the field recently. Now a second division team they are still fervently loved by their fans who have a sort of rowdy reputation in other parts of Germany. Play their home-games at Rudolf Harbig Stadion, now renamed "Stadion Dresden" (after the previous name sponsorship contract ran out)
- Dresdner Eislöwen (Ice Hockey - Second National League)
- Dresdner SC (Volleyball women - First National League).
- 4 Blade Night, Lingnerallee (Start opposite townhall at the big halfpipe). F 21:00-23:00. Blade Night starts at 21:00 every Friday from April to September, roughly 20 km through the city on blocked roads. Great fun and participation is free - you can rent rollerblades for €5. Free.
- Ice skating at the EnergieVerbund Arena (Tram 10, Bus 94 Krankenhaus Friedrichstadt stop). indoor and outdoor, daily from the end of October to beginning of March. Skate rental available. "Ice Disco" with a DJ on Saturday evenings, adults €3.50; children €2.50, €5 for ice disco.
Festivals & events
- Bunte Republik Neustadt (BRN) ('Colourful Republic Neustadt') - a massive yearly street festival that consumes the Neustadt part of Dresden in June. The festival consists of many stages featuring local musicians of different styles. The festivities run very late into the night with plenty of booths offering a wide variety of food and drink. If you plan to overnight, it is advisable to book accommodation outside of the Neustadt area during BRN.
- Dixieland Festival. Europe's biggest jazz festival. It normally takes place in the second week of May and attracts bands and visitors from all over Europe, America and the rest of the world. A great deal of the music is played on the top decks of paddleboats in front of the Old Town.
- Filmnächte (June to August) - on the banks of the Elbe, just across the castle on the other side of the river. A huge movie screen offers cinema (in German) in a beautiful setting and there are also many concerts with popular stars. Again, it is the biggest event of its kind in Europe!
- Striezelmarkt - one of Germany's oldest Christmas Markets. It takes place from the end of November until Christmas. Located at the Altmarkt, all kinds of stalls selling among other things mulled wine - Glühwein- delicious!. Expect to pay a deposit for the mug/glass). Expect crowded streets and traffic jams. Avoid driving in the inner city around that time if you can to preserve your sanity. There are plenty of other Christmas markets in Dresden, including the medieval market at the Stallhof. Take tram 1, 2, or 4 to Altmarkt. You can walk from Postplatz if you can't make a connection.
- Kurzfilm-Festival (short movies). A number of short movies are shown throughout the cinemas of Dresden with entrants from a variety of countries, most of them with German or English subtitles. In 2015 an assortment was shown for free "open air" in front of the Frauenkirche.
- 5 Ostrale, Zur Messe 9, ☎ . One of Germany's biggest expositions of contemporary art, the Ostrale was begun in 2007 on the Ostragehege, a former abattoir. The area is located on a peninsula created by the river Elbe, and is in the heart of the former world heritage site. The buildings are in strong need of restauration, which means that it is unclear whether the next exposition can return to these original grounds. This is amongst the reasons the organizers have decided to change it into a biennial starting with the 2017 exposition. In the years without an exposition in Dresden, the Ostrale will be guest in foreign cities.
The main shopping district in Dresden extends along the pedestrianized Prager Straße, which runs from the Wiener Straße at the feet of the Hauptbahnhof to Dr.-Külz-Ring, and its extension Seestraße, which culminates in the Altmarkt, where the historic core of the city starts. Those streets are mostly filled with modern shopping centres, department stores and street-level retail, as well as national and international restaurant chains. There is nothing unique or exciting on offer, but the area is rather pleasant. More fancy and upmarket shops are generally clustered around the Frauenkirche. The larger stores traditionally cater to wealthy Russians and there is usually someone who speaks Russian and sometimes also Czech. English proficiency has historically been lacking, but Dresden is catching up fast and the more upmarket places will certainly be able to find someone who speaks sufficient English to deal with a potentially lucrative customer.
- 1 Altmarkt-Galerie, Webergasse 1, ☎ . A huge shopping centre which practically fills the western side of Seestraße and has an appearance of being many separate buildings, but they are in fact all interconnected. You can find everything from premium boutiques to very affordable shops there, as well as a fitness centre and even an ibis budget hotel (see "Sleep" section of this guide).
- 2 Karstadt. The quintessential German department store, covering everything from apparel and footwear through groceries and delicatessen
- 3 Centrum-Galerie, along Prager Straße. Shopping center built on the site of a "Centrum Warenhaus" (an East German department store chain, from which the present-day shopping centre also takes its name), which was demolished and rebuilt with some exterior elements reminsicent of the original building. Now hosts east Germany's first Primark, which seems to be a huge draw for shoppers. In the summer there is an (artificial) beach on the roof where soccer matches and "Tatort" are shown. There is no cover charge but expect to be searched for beverages as they sell drinks to recoup costs
- 4 Prager Zeile.
- 5 Prager Spitze (at the Southern End of Prager Straße).
- 6 Kugelhaus.
In the Äußere Neustadt area (north/east of Albertplatz), many small shops sell books, vinyl records and clothing. The Innere Neustadt (between Albertplatz and Elbe, mainly Haupstraße and Königstraße) is rather on a medium-to-fancy level. You can find supermarkets and certain other stores (major chains) at marktjagd.de.
The most typical fast (and inexpensive) food in Germany those days is doner kebab (Döner Kebap), typically served as a kind of sandwich in pita (flat bread) with salad and sauce. A typical kebab including a large drink should be around €5-6. The next step above doner kebab is Italian food. There are a certain number of ethnic restaurants scattered through the city, and if you go out to the eastern part of town, you will find lots of charming cafés and Volkshäuser that serve good food. As Dresden has a lower number of recent immigrants in general and people of Tukish descent in particular, the ethnic food is more of the Vietnamese or "Asian" variety, as those are the main immigrant groups in Dresden.
Within the historic center and especially around the Frauenkirche are a number of restaurants, serving many different tastes. Be aware that, as this is a tourist hotspot, there are many tourist traps here which you may find overpriced while the quality low.
You may want to choose one of the various restaurants on the Brühlsche Terrasse adjacent to the river Elbe - especially in summer time this a wonderful place to be. The view and the drinks are very pleasant. Alternatively, you may choose to go to Münzgasse, lying directly beside the Frauenkirche. The little street is full of restaurants, from glamorous and expensive to the cheaper ones.
- aha, Kreuzstraße 7, am Altmarkt, Phone +49 351 496-0673, hearty vegetarian and vegan food in a family-friendly and comfortable environment, also serves a wide variety of free trade teas and coffees, €10-15/person, Open 10:00-12:00 daily.
- Augustiner an der Frauenkirche, An der Frauenkirche 16/17, Phone 351 / 482897, German (Bavarian and Saxon), €10-15/person, the beer is brewed on their own and is especially good.
- Durum Kebap Haus, Prager-Straße 32 (Prager Zeile). Reputed as one of the best kebab joints in town.
- 1 Grand Café & Restaurant Coselpalais, An der Frauenkirche 12, ☎ . Open daily 10:00-00:00. An expensive café and restaurant on the backside of the Frauenkirche.
- Italienisches Dörfchen, One of the most stylish places in town - the baroque pavilion features various restaurants decorated with old paintings and furniture. The prices are higher than elsewhere, but still affordable. Go for the cakes!.
- Schützenhaus. This little farmhouse-restaurant is not so easy to find. It lies behind the "Herzogin Garten" (which is a ruin) and behind the opera-house. The large Biergarden is a very relaxing place, has good food and good prices and is very pleasant. If you are vegetarian try the adjacent "Brennessel".
- Mamma Mia, Kreuzstraße 1-3 (Pirnaische Platz or Altmarkt tram stops). Italian food with locally made pasta.
- Hans im Glück, Altmarkt 24 (Altmarkt tram stop). Fast casual burgers in all kinds of variations.
The Neustadt accounts for most of the trendy pubs, bars and clubs, and the majority of the restaurants in the city. You will generally have better luck finding decent food for a reasonable price north of Albertplatz in Neustadt.
- 2 Amarena Capanna, Louisenstraße 30 (At the southwest corner of intersection with Alaunstraße), ☎ . An Italian restaurant with a fake tropical hut and palm trees inside. €8-20.
- 3 Babos, Katharinenstraße 20, 01099 Dresden, ☎ . 09:00-16:00 (until 05:00 Saturday and Sunday mornings). A kebab place with a good reputation. They have several outlets throughout town.
- 4 Brauhaus am Waldschlößchen, Am Brauhaus 8b. Traditional German cuisine with a taste of beer brewed on place. Located on a hill with a splendid view over Elbe riverside from the outside garden. The food is recommended for those wishing to experience what the German cuisine should taste like.
- 5 Dürüm Kebap Haus, ☎ . The original site of the reputed Dürum Kebap Haus, now also found in Prager Straße in the Altstadt.
- 6 Curry & Co., Louißenstraße 64. Serves currywurst, a Berlin invention, with several flavors of sauce. Best fries in the city. Also has vegan wursts and ice cream. There is also one in Schillerplatz.
- 7 Devil's Kitchen, Alaunstraße 39. Nice selection on burgers and other fast food with vegan and vegetarian options.
- 8 Raskolnikoff, Böhmische Straße 34 (Close to the Lutherkirche.). Once a very alternative restaurant, it now features sand on the floors, a red lamp in front of the door and a very nice garden with a fountain. Again - in summer it is difficult to get in. Food and prices are good.
- 9 Rosengarten, Carusufer 12 (on the north bank of the Elbe at the edge of the park just east of Albertbrücke.). A café bordering one of the public rose gardens of Dresden's riverside park, with plenty of outside seating in nice weather. The food is acceptable, but nothing special. The view is gorgeous. Worth a stop for a hot chocolate or an ice cream.
- 10 Die Scheune, Alaunstraße 36/40. "The barn" is a restaurant with a large Biergarden in an alternative style - do not be shocked by the punks in front - they are decor. In warm summer nights you will have trouble to find a free spot. Good prices. Serves Indian food. Lots of concerts and events.
- 11 Vecchia Napoli, Alaunstraße 33, ☎ . A good Italian restaurant, with a wood fired pizza oven. You can get a pizza or pasta, or a full multicourse meal. Generally very busy, and the food is excellent. €15-40.
- 12 Watzke Brauereiausschank am Goldenen Reiter, Hauptstraße 1, ☎ . One of their 3 locations in Dresden and is a great place to go to taste Saxon cuisine. Their self-brewed beer is fantastic. €10-15/person,.
- 13 Pizza 5, Alaunstraße 4 (from Albertplatz head towards äußere Neustadt), ☎ . Daily from 11:00. At the "entrance" of Neustadt, this pizza place may not look like much, but the pies (30 cm) are good value for the money. Also try the "Pizzabrötchen" (8 for €3.99), small rolls filled with various ingredients. They offer call for pickup but no delivery. Every pizza €4.50.
The eastern part of the city, toward the Blaues Wunder, has a lower density of restaurants than Neustadt, and they tend to also serve as cafés, and the food is generally tasteful and cheap.
- Cafe Toscana, Schillerplatz 7 (in the Blasewitz quarter, right by the Blaues Wunder bridge.), ☎ . This is a very pleasant café that includes a pastry shop (Konditorei) and a restaurant. The cakes are gorgeous and will make you understand why the café is famous. The décor is fairly new, given the very long history of the place (it was called after Louise von Toscana, the run-away princess that divorced the King of Saxony). The terrace is very beautiful and overlooks the river and the famous "Blaue Wunder" bridge, real name Loschwitzer Brücke or König-Albert-Brücke. Generally it's full of locals, on Saturday afternoons, who come and chat. €8-20.
- Historisches Fischhaus, Fischhausstraße 14 (on the road into the Albertpark to the northeast of the city and 800 m from the B6), ☎ . M-F 11:30-24:00, Sa 11:00-24:00, Su 11:00-23:00. As one of the oldest inns in Dresden, its history can be traced back to 1573 - long enough for the road to be named after it.
- Kanzlei, Pohlandstr. 18, ☎ . Daily 17:00-23:59. Kind of gourmet restaurant, basically German food. Ambience is classical but simple, food is exceptionally good, personnel is very friendly. Located in a good residential area (Striesen) it is worth walking there. Starter, main, dessert and wine €30-50 per person.
- Fischer's, Görlitzer 81, ☎ . Daily 10:00-23:00. deutsches Essen €20-40-person, without wine.
- Hellas7, Stollbergstraße 95, ☎ . Daily 10:00-23:59. Greek cuisine More than €10-person.
- Pow, Exerzierstraße 7, ☎ . M-Sa 19:00-23:59. Serves international food More than €50-person.
- Schillerplatz, Schillerplatz 9, ☎ . Reservations recommended. Yes, all the tour buses pull up here, but that doesn't stop the locals from heading to Schillerplatz either. A good selection of German cuisines, including an excellent schnitzel. In the summer, there is a huge biergarten along the Elbe and nice views of the Blaues Wunder.
- Villa Marie, Fährgässchen 1 (just below the Blaues Wunder on the west side), ☎ . Excellent food, excellent ambiance. Italian food done really well. Reservations strongly recommended. Try to get it on the first floor with its views of the Elbe and the Blaues Wunder, or out on their garden
- 14 Volkshaus Laubegast, Laubegaster Ufer 22 (Take tram line 4 to the end station Laubegast and walk towards the Elbe River), ☎ . €10-20. A simple local eatery and café right on the river. The food tends to be stereotypically German (schnitzel, sausages, and the like) and is generally good. Their fried potatoes are excellent, though their green vegetables are overcooked. Has a nice view of the Elbe and outside seating.
- 15 elements, Königsbrücker Straße 96, Haus 25-26, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Located in a former industrial area in the east of Dresden, this restaurant has been awarded a Michelin guide star.
The area around the Frauenkirche and Dresden Castle is very popular with tourists. Some fine restaurants are located there. The Weiße Gasse is just around the corner of the Altmarkt near the shopping center and the historical town. A good alternative if you do not want to go to the Neustadt.
- Bar Peanuts Brühlsche Terrasse, +49 351-864-2838, small, cozy bar is located at the corner of the Hilton overlooking the Elbe. Peanut shells are scattered on the floor and as the name suggests, peanuts are the central theme. Cocktails and beer are the main draws here, along with the spectacular view.
- Bärenzwinger, ☎ . Brühlscher Garten, This popular student club is a good choice for its full schedule of nightly activities, including readings, live music, and discussions.
- Paulaner's Am Taschenberg 3, 351-491-2893, popular beer hall sells a selection of well-brewed local and regional favorites. A full menu is offered, and outside seating is available.
- Riesa efau, ☎ , fax: . Adlergasse 14, The pub is managed by a local events group and features a wide selection of drinks along with a regular slate of activities and entertainment. Good menu of regional beers and mixed drinks, as well as non-alcoholic drinks and coffees. Live music is frequently featured.
The Neustadt is a very popular destination, especially for younger people. It has a high number of bars and clubs, with many different styles. Especially the area around Albertplatz is filled with places to go.
- Blue Note, ☎ . Görlitzer Straße 2, This is the Dresden Jazz point. In the web page you may find the schedule of concerts. There is always very good music. This is a place to sit and enjoy good music. The scotch bar has very good drinks to enjoy during the concert.
- Blumenau, Louisenstraße 67, ☎ . This popular nightspot is considered one of the best in the city for its ambience, friendly service, and selection of drinks.
- Café 100, Alaunstraße 100, ☎ . This full-service nightspot features a café, wine bar, and pub.
- Café Europa, Königsbrücker Straße 68, ☎ . This pleasant café and bar is a great choice for a pre-dinner cocktail or late-night snack. The café closes only one hour a day, so stop by any time. In addition to great drinks, the menu also features a full breakfast menu, which young locals and visitors appreciate after a late night on the town.
- Café Hieronymous, Louisenstraße 10, ☎ . This bar is a great place to relax with a nice local beer or a glass of wine. Live music is featured frequently. The crowd here is young, and the service is friendly.
- Downtown, Katharinenstraße 11-13. The most popular club in the Neustadt. They play mostly mainstream/top 40/80s music. If this place isn't your scene, you can always go upstairs to Groove Station.
- Groove Station, Katharinenstraße 11-13. Sits on top of Downtown and has more alternative music. They often have live bands.
- Hebeda's, Rothenburger Str. 30. This pub is quite popular with locals, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. The old East German furniture gives it a cozy and retro feel. Beer is cheap and there's a small dance floor for those who feel like dancing.
- Katy's Garage, Alaunstraße. 48. If you're walking around Neustadt, you can't miss the beer garden at Katy's Garage. It's a great place to have a drink when it's warm outside. When the beer garden closes at around 22:00, you can make your way into their night club, which consists mostly of rock music.
- Lebowski-Bar. Görlitzer Str. 5, A tiny bar themed after the movie The Big Lebowski. Several TVs show it on a constant loop (with subtitles and muted sound)
- Louisengarten, Louisenstraße 43. Located a few meters from Katy's Garage, this beer garden is only open when it's warm outside. You can come here and relax with a Lenin's Hanf, a delicious beer brewed in the Neustadt.
- Mona Lisa, ☎ . This city center nightspot features a Mexican theme and a full menu, along with plenty of beers and well-mixed drinks. Take tram line 13 to Görlitzer Straße.
- Ost-Pol, Königsbrücker Straße 47. Ost-Pol (translation: East-Pole) is a bar with a retro East German feel to it. They often have live bands, but the place is still good to go for a beer when there's no live music. The beer is pretty cheap, and is one of the few places with Pilsner Urquell on tap. There might be a cover charge on some nights, though.
- Pinta Bar, Louisenstraße 49. Pinta specializes in cocktails. It is very popular on Friday and Saturday nights. When the place is busy, the service is slow.
- Planwirtschaft, Louisenstraße 20, ☎ . This quaint bar and restaurant is in a refurbished wine cellar. The drinks menu is extensive and served by an energetic staff.
- Studiobar Görlitzer Str. 1, The best cocktails in town are available here. Located on the 2nd floor, it is a little bit hard to find. From the entrance, go into the main floor bar and straight to the back. There is a staircase that leads up to the second floor. Smoking is allowed here.
- Sidedoor Böhmische Str. between Rothenberger and Martin Luther Platz. Good selection of beers and the tastiest Long Islands you've had since college.
Dresden charges what it calls a "lodging tax", which anyone offering accomodation has to collect from their guests. Often the tax is not listed on booking websites. The charge varies depending on the cost of the room and is charged per night. It starts at €1 per night for accomodation which costs up to €30 per night. More information (in English) is here. Anyone under 18 or who fills out this declaration stating they are in the city on a business trip does not have to pay the tax.
Since Dresden regained its status as a popular tourist destination, it has also developed a large accommodation base for every taste and budget. There are many new and refurbished properties, and competition is fierce due to slight overcapacity resulting from overly optimistic development. It pays off to research well for good offers even at normally expensive hotels, especially off-season.
When selecting your accommodation, keep in mind that Dresden is actually a very large city by area. Most attractions are all within a very small distance in the city centre on both banks of the Elbe River. However, if you choose to base yourself outside the centre, you may find yourself in a very remote location far away from points of interest and with very little to do in the area.
- 1 ibis Budget Dresden City (formerly ETAP hotel), Wilsdruffer Straße 25, 01067 Dresden, ☎ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. This ibis Budget is located in the Altmarkt-Gallerie shopping centre. It is appointed according to the brand's newest standards, with rooms featuring an extra third bunk bed available. Rooms are very basic, with the shower accessible directly from the room and the sink/vanity right in the room. €43.
- 2 AZIMUT Hotel Dresden, Huelssestraße 1, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Situated in a remote southern district of Reick, this inexpensive hotel from the Russian chain expanding rapidly in Germany is hard to miss thanks to its bright red façade. €41.
Youth Hostels - IYHF
- 3 Jugendgästehaus Dresden, Maternistr. 22 (next to "World Trade Center" - train-stop "Freiberger Straße), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Located a few minutes by foot from the historic city centre, opposite the World Trade Center. Room with breakfast from €25.
- Rudi Arndt, Hübnerstr. 11, ☎ . 900 meters form the Hauptbahnhof in the quiet Swiss Quarter. Includes two dining rooms, two seminar rooms, a club room, terrace and cellar bar. From €15.
- cityherberge, Lingnerallee 3., ☎ . The only hostel in Dresden's old town. Also has regular hotel rooms with private bath, breakfast included. Clean and good for families or couples young or old.
- A&O Hostel, Strehlener Str. 10, ☎ . Near the main train station, so it is very easy to get there and the prices are usually attractive. The rooms aren't equipped that well. No kitchen. Free and easy internet access. €14-25 (for 1 bed in a 6-bunk room).
- Lollis Homestay, Görlitzer Str. 34, Tel. +49 351-8108458. Member of the I-hostels network. This homey hostel offers a well equipped kitchen, nice rooms, and free (old) bike rental! The bikes come in handy because it's in the north area of the Neustadt.
- Mondpalast, Louisenstraße 77, ☎ . Very clean and bright rooms- from 10 bed dorm rooms up to ensuite doubles with balcony and TV. Lounge and bar, as well as a self-service kitchen.
- Historic Waterworks Trachau, Aachener Straße 31, ☎ . The apartment is suitable for up to three adults or a family with two children. Bus stop right in front of the house. Safe parking available. Nice apartment with lovely garden.
- 4 Hotel Am Terrassenufer Dresden, Terrassenufer 12. Near the Elbe and historic centre with outstanding view.
- 5 Art'otel Dresden by Park Plaza, Ostra-Allee 33. Contemporary art gallery hotel with restaurant and bar as well as a healthclub and free Wi-Fi access. €63.
- 6 Dorint Hotel Dresden, Grunaer Straße 14, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 244 rooms, huge wellness area, 14 conference rooms from € 77 per room/night.
- 8 Ibis Bastei, Königstein, Lilienstein, Prager Straße, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Three sister ibis hotels in a row on Prager Straße, near the Hauptbahnhof. In addition to the standard rooms, they offer studios for up to three people and apartments for up to four people. €59.
- 9 InterCityHotel, Wiener Platz 8. True to its name, the new InterCityHotel faces the Hauptbahnhof. €120.
- 10 Maritim Hotel & International Congress Center Dresden, Devrienstraße 10-12. €85.
- 11 Motel One Dresden an Zwinger, Postplatz 5, ☎ . The more expensive Motel One in Dresden is on the edge of Innere Altstadt, and indeed reasonably close to the Zwinger, even if you won't see it from most rooms. Like every other Motel One, it features modern design and a very predictable, standardized experience. €69 per night/room, breakfast buffet €7.50.
Neustadt and other districts
- 12 Courtyard by Marriott Dresden, Stauffenbergallee 25a, ☎ . Halfway between the airport and the old town, this hotel is a considerable distance from most points of interest.
- 13 Amedia Hotel Dresden Elbpromenade, Hamburger Straße 64/68, ☎ , fax: . on the outskirts of Dresden, right on the river Elbe. It has 103 rooms with Wi-Fi access, which is also available in the public areas.
- 14 Motel One Dresden Palaisplatz, Palaisplatz 1. The other Motel One is in the Neustadt, on the Palaisplatz right beside the Japanese Palace the hotel's name refers to. For €10 less, you get pretty much the same experience, a longer walk or a tram ride to the Altstadt, but a more convenient location in terms of rail travel, as the Neustadt station is only a short walk away. €69 per night/room, breakfast buffet €7.50..
- 15 NH Dresden, Hansastraße 43. The other NH in Dresden (not to be mistaken with the newer one in Altstadt, which is an "NH Collection" hotel) is a modern business hotel, situated in Neustadt at the Hansastraße, a thoroughfare connecting the city with the A4 motorway. 269 renovated rooms are available. €50.
- 16 Park Inn by Radisson Dresden, Melanchtonstraße 2. In a business district of Neustadt, shares the office block with some institutions and company offices. €39.
- 17 Ramada Hotel Dresden, Wilhelm-Franke-Straße 90. On the southeastern outskirts of Dresden. Do not mistake it with the "Ramada Resident", which is in a similar direction, but quite a distance away from this hotel. €55.
- 18 Ramada Resident Hotel Dresden, Brünner Straße 11. In the southeastern suburban district of Laubegast, halfway between Loschwitz and Pillnitz but on the eastern bank of the river. Don't confuse it with the other Ramada, which is also outside of the city centre, but not near this hotel.
The most luxurious accommodation in Dresden is mostly within the Innere Altstadt area, offering views over and close to the famous historic landmarks. A wide choice between modern design or faux historic charm awaits, but make no mistake: you will need to pay top dollar to stay in the old town - the sections above lists some cheaper hotels in lower price that are not that much farther away.
- 19 Hilton Dresden (formerly Interhotel Dresdner Hof), An der Frauenkirche 5, ☎ , fax: . Next to the Frauenkirche. Try to get a room with a view of the Elbe river. €98.
- 20 Innside by Melia Dresden, Salzgasse 4. The newest upmarket hotel in Dresden, all about modern design, with views of surrounding historic buildings. €90.
- 21 Luxushotel Suitess, An der Frauenkirche, ☎ , fax: . A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Experience the gourmet terrace with its view of the dome of Frauenkirche.
- 22 NH Collection Dresden Altmarkt, An der Kreuzkirche 2, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. The new NH opened in 2010, completing the southern façade of the Altmarkt. Specifically designed rooms feature large windows with views of the Altmarkt and Kulturpalast, while others face the Kreuzkirche across a narrow street. Some of the rooms in the top floor fhave sloping roofs and small dormer windows, so make sure you know what type of room you are booking. €75.
- 23 Taschenbergpalais Kempinski, Taschenberg 3, ☎ , fax: . The Baroque Taschenberg palace from the early 18th century was reconstructed as a luxury hotel of the Kempinski chain in 1995 after being almost completely destroyed in 1945. At its launch, it was the first five-star hotel in Saxony. Monarchs, heads of state and international celebrities have stayed here during their visits to Dresden and even the Bilderberg Conference was once held in it. €119.
- 24 Pullman Dresden Newa (formerly Mercure Dresden Newa, Interhotel Newa), Prager Straße 2c, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. The former Mercure was upgraded to a Pullman in name mostly, as there's not much of a difference (you don't even get coffee/tea facilities in rooms). That said, the property itself is in a prime location right at the Prager Straße and 300 m from the railway station and rooms offer floor-to-ceiling windows with views of either (depending on side), as well as reasonably modern and upmarket fixtures and furniture. The hotel often undercuts its upmarket competition in the Altstadt in room rates, but makes up for it by charging €12.50 a day for Wi-Fi. Bikes for rent at €10 a day, an electric Renault Twizzy starting at €20 per hour. Room rates start at €75.
- 25 Gewandhaus Hotel (formerly Radisson Blu), Ringstraße 1, ☎ . The baroque 18th century Gewandhaus (cloth hall) was rebuilt in late 1960s as a hotel. The interior design, fixtures and furniture echo the building's history. Marketed as part of the Autograph chain since 2015. €84.
- 26 Steigenberger Hotel de Saxe, Neumarkt 9. part of a German upmarket chain, the hotel is in a recontructed historic building (which was also previously a hotel). The interiors are decorated in various shades of beige and brown. The most expensive rooms are on the floors in the sloping roof, meaning that not all the surface area can actually be used. €87.
- 27 Hyperion Hotel Dresden am Schloss (formerly Swissôtel), Schlossstraße 16, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Hyperion is indeed "am Schloss", facing the Residenzschloss on the one side and the Kulturpalast (or rather the empty plot of land in front of it) on the other. Inside, you will find a mixture of modern design, historic references and folk motifs, all in a white/beige/red/green theme. The cheapest rooms are on the top floors, with sloping roofs and dormer windows. €90 - €190.
- 28 The Westin Bellevue Dresden, Große Meißner Straße 15. The only luxury hotel in Dresden on the "other" side of the river (in Neustadt), right at the riverbank, next to the Japanisches Palais. Opened in the 1980s as a part of the East German state-owned chain Interhotel, it was taken over by Starwood in the 1990s. While the hotel uses photos of the reconstructed baroque building in its marketing, most of the rooms are in the much less impressive expansive wings. The "belle vue" the hotel name alludes to is the view of the Innere Altstadt, that some rooms providing sweeping vistas of, while the others offer views the much less picturesque Hotel Maritim on the other side of the river and the rooms with "Neustadt view" face communist-era blocks across the busy Große Meißner Straße. €89.
Dresden is a safe place to be, just like the rest of Germany. There is no need to worry even in dark alleys and all parts of the city are considered safe by locals (the cautious and scared Germans) at all times of the day.
Media reports will point out that extreme right and extreme left parties are relatively popular, however these are very small groups (a few hundred people) and it has little to no effect on everyday life for most people. Although it is difficult to pinpoint the exact places where the right wing extremists of Dresden live the relatively poor high-rise ("Plattenbau") neighborhoods of Gorbitz and Prohlis have a reputation of being inhabited by more Nazis than other parts of town. Soccer matches of the local club Dynamo Dresden take place about every second weekend, but not during summer holidays. The supporters of Dynamo Dresden soccer club have a particularly bad reputation, but clashes with the police or other rival supporters are mainly a thing of the past. 99% of the fans are peaceful, sports-loving people. However don't be surprised to see large police force in anti-riot equipment (think robocop) around the main station and the stadium during so called "Risiko-Spiele" (roughly: high risk games). The (all standing) "K-Block" of Dynamo's stadium has a reputation for having the most hard core fans and unfortunately racial slurs and homophobic utterances are heard here from time to time, even though most Dynamo fans don't subscribe to either xenophobia or homophobia. If you are (visibly) part of an ethnic or sexual minority and especially if you don't wear Dynamo fan-gear try going to another block rather than this one.
Neo-Nazis are known to congregate in Dresden once or twice a year, most prominently on or around 13 February, when demonstrations are staged by right-wing extremists to recall the bombings of Dresden during the Second World War. The few hundred Neo-Nazis are usually condemned by thousands of peaceful anti-war demonstrators and there is a huge police attendance. There have been instances of violent acts during those demonstrations and all sides (police, right wing demonstrators and left wing "Antifa") have been variously blamed. While most demonstrators are peaceful and the police has an indeed very hard job to do, the security as well as the transport situation during large Nazi-demonstrations is far from normal. The whole issue is very controversial in Dresden as well as on a federal level in Germany and the fine points are best not discussed further here.
Furthermore starting around November 2014 a group calling themselves "Pegida" ("patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident") have held regular protests on Mondays. As there are also two groups staging counter-demonstrations expect a big police presence as well as disturbances of traffic and public transit throughout the city on Monday evenings for the time being as of January 2016.
The Elbe river has flooded the city to varying extents twice within this millennium (2002 and 2013) submerging some parts of the Elbwiesen and really endangering the city. Statistically these events occur once or twice in a century and last for a couple of days. Due to protection schemes set up after the big flooding in 2002, the city itself is now protected and no significant dangers exist to visitors. Should another flooding event occur, the city will - as it has in the past - provide resources online as well as a hotline to answer any questions regarding safety transportation and possibilities to help with anti flood efforts.
The local telephone code is 0351. There are some internet cafés in the city centre.
If you need medical attention, go to the Universitätsklinikum, Fetscherstraße 74; ☎ +49 351 458-2036. It's inexpensive (compared to others in the city), easy to get to (Augsburger Str. stop from the 12 or 6 tram line) and the doctors are well-trained and speak good English. EU residents and residents of Iceland, Lichtenstein, Switzerland and Norway are strongly advised to get an EHIC before travelling. Travel insurance is also a good idea.
Here is a map with free wifi (activate Themen > Leben in Dresden > Sonstige Angebote > WLAN-Hotspots)
- Saxon Switzerland (Sächsische Schweiz) upstream along the river Elbe is a national park for hiking and rock-climbing
- Königstein - has one of the largest and best preserved late medieval fortresses in Europe. The Königstein fortress is situated about 30 km from Dresden and can be reached by almost all means of transport. A trip on the river Elbe in one of the historic paddle-steamers of the "Sächsische Dampfschifffahrt" is also highly recommended
- Saxon Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) - hiking and crafts (toymaking, especially Christmas toys)
- Bautzen - a beautiful old city in the east (c. 45 min with car by Autobahn and 1h by train)
- Glashütte is the centre of east German watch manufacturing, with various watch factories and a nice watch museum. It's about 1h from Dresden by train, and part of the journey is beautiful, following a river through the mountains
- Leipzig - just over an hour away by ICE train
- Meissen - medieval cathedral and castle and home to the first European porcelain factory. Residence of the Saxon dukes and electors before they moved to Dresden.
- Moritzburg - beautiful castle that was once used when the kings went hunting. Reachable by a charming historic narrow gauge railway.
- Prague is about two hours away
- Radebeul - City west of Dresden with the world famous Karl May Museum (dedicated to the famous writer) and its vineyards
- Radeberg - a small town a short S-Bahn ride away from Dresden. The Radeberger Brewery offers tours throughout the day for €9, including tasting at the end. Phone +49 352 845-4880.
|Routes through Dresden|
|End ←||Dresden Frankfurt||→ Riesa → Leipzig|
|Berlin ←||Hamburg Prague||→ Bad Schandau → Prague|