The top 11+ things to do in Dresden

The top 11+ things to do in Dresden

While Berlin and the home of Oktoberfest, Munich, probably spring to mind when most people think of holidaying in Germany, you’d be denying yourself a wonderful opportunity by not thinking outside of the box; and Dresden is a prime example of one of the best places to holiday in Germany.

The capital of Saxony, Dresden is full of fantastic things to see and do; from the delightful classical architecture of the OldTown (Altstadt), wonderful artworks and museums, to excellent restaurants and quaint cafes, Dresden offers plenty of attractions and activities. So, here’s our top picks of the best things to do in Dresden.

And yes, you’re right, 11+ is a somewhat strange number but, as you’ll see, many of our individual recommendations also contain several other things to see and do in Dresden contained within…so the ‘plus’ will soon make sense ;)


Dresden Free Walking Tours

Much of what we’re recommending to see and do in Dresden on this list will be included on a Dresden free tour, plus you’ll have the added benefit of being accompanied by an expert local guide, getting a thorough insight to the history, facts, mythology and culture of the sites and sights, but also insight to Dresden itself and life lived here, as well as local insider tips for your visit. Best of all, you get to decide how much the tour costs – just give your guide whatever amount you deem appropriate at the end.

Of course, with so much to see and do in Dresden, tours can only pack so much into a few hours – that said, it is the perfect thing to do if you are only staying a short time or are visiting Dresden on a day trip as you will see and learn so much, making the best use of your time. If you have more time in Dresden, then take a free tour on your very first day to help you get orientated, get unique insight to the place around you, and figure out what sites you might like to come back to and explore more of during your visit!


Zwinger Palace 

This Baroque Palace and Gardens complex is a real sight to behold! Commissioned by Augustus the Strong in the early 18th Century, it is an absolute must see and top thing to do in Dresden.

It’s a grand and expansive complex, and the exquisite architectural detail will keep you captivated throughout – allow yourself some time to really absorb the marvellous beauty of the sandstone building and grounds, including the Crown Gate, The Wall Pavilion, the Arched Gallery, and the Nymphs’ Bath among many more gorgeous attractions here.

Such a historic Palace obviously has plenty of rooms for historic treasures – don’t miss Raphael's Sistine Madonna, among a plethora of other masterpieces by the likes of Rembrandt and Vermeer, the incredible Porcelain collection, and the fascinating collection of historic scientific instruments which are all contained in the Palace museums on site.


Dresdner Residenzschloss 

Staying regal, another must see in Dresden is the Baroque & Neo-renaissance style Dresdner Residenzschloss, or Royal Palace, also called Dresden Castle. One of Dresden’s oldest and most beautiful buildings, it was originally built around 1200 but was destroyed during a fire in 1701 before being rebuilt in the Baroque style by Augustus the Strong and undergoing a later Neo-renaissance renovation.

The castle also fell victim to the 1945 firebombing that decimated much of Dresden’s Old Town; thankfully, however, the collections within survived and can be enjoyed today throughout five museum sections in the castle: ‘The Green Vault’ & ‘Historic Green Vault’ featuring the largest collection of treasures in Europe including the largest green diamond in the world, the Numismatic Cabinet containing more than 300,000 coins, the incredible Collection of Prints, Drawings and Photographs, and the Dresden armoury.

On the outer wall of the castle is a must-see sight in its own right, the Fürstenzug. On the outside of the Stallhof, on Schlossplatz Square, this 101-meter-long mural called The Procession of the Princes depicts a mounted procession of the rulers of Saxony. It is the largest porcelain artwork in the world and the originally painted artwork dates to 1871.



From one famous Baroque architectural monument to another, the Dresden Frauenkirche is a Lutheran church that is as aesthetically breath-taking as its history is intriguing. Standing on the site of former churches dating back more than 1000 years, the Frauenkirche was converted from Catholic to Protestantism during the reformation.

The Frauenkirche’s iconic dome is one of the largest in Europe and has dominated the Dresden skyline for over 200 years despite the building, like many in Dresden, having suffered collapse in February 1945 following an allied air raid on the city. The ruins of the Frauenkirche became a memorial against the devastation of war for almost forty years before being rebuilt between 1994 and 2005 - and indeed is still a focal point for memorial commemorations on the anniversary of the air-raid in Dresden today.

The rebuild was true to the original Baroque form, at long last restoring one of Dresden’s most beautiful and most remarkable attractions to its former glory, and imbued with a symbolism of peace and hope.




Sächsische Schweiz 

Okay, so you’ve probably gathered by now that Dresden is full of classical architectural delights and artistic masterpieces – but you don’t need to go far to treat your eyes to some of the most exquisite architectural masterpieces formed over a million years by nature.

About an hour or so from Dresden by car or public bus (line 237) or S-Bahn trains, the German Saxon Switzerland National Park awaits you 30 KM south of the city and is absolutely worth visiting. The scenery is truly sublime in any season, the Bastei sandstone rock formations jutting up from the Elbe river, 305 metres above sea level, are wonderfully majestic, be they dusted with winter snow, surrounded by the red an amber hues of Autumn or set against the vivid greens of Spring & Summer.

The jagged rock formations are connected by a 76.5 meter man-made bridge, Bastei Bridge, from where you can marvel at truly incredible views of the Elbe river, Koenigstein fortress, and the Lilienstein mountain. The area also offers fantastic hiking and walking trails, and it’s free to visit any time!


Großer Garten – the Great garden

If your travel plans don’t allow for a little day trip out of Dresden to embrace the scenery of greater Saxony though, worry not, for there are plenty of delightful green spaces in the centre of Dresden to enjoy, relax and recharge. Not least of them is The Great Garden!

Dating from way back in 1676, this French Baroque style Garden covers more than 1.8 square kilometres and contains some fantastic attractions such as the Sommerpalais, one of Germany’s earliest Baroque palaces, the Botanical Gardens featuring more than 10,000 different species of plants, the Dresden Zoo, a six-metre long miniature railway staffed by children, and Volkswagon’s Transparent Factory which offers an interesting insight to the car assembly process.



While much of the focus will be on Altstasdt, or OldTown,  across the river, Neustadt, or NewTown, offers a hell of a lot for visitors to see & do when in Dresden, so be sure not to skip it – that would be a real mistake!

Dresden’s Neustadt is a diverse, quirky and uber-cool part of the city which mixes classical elegance with more contemporary urban grit & culture. From the 18th Century Japanese Palace, galleries and museums of the Baroque quarter, to the hip cafes, vintage thrift stores & boutiques, vibrant bars & live music venues and intriguing street art, Neustadt is a hip district that is guaranteed to take more of your time than you might have initially planned for – be warned!

Don’t miss the Kunsthofpassage in Neustadt – the ‘Courtyard of Elements’ is a series of courtyards containing some of the most unique installations of urban street art that you’re ever likely to see, including a remarkable gutter system resembling an elaborate wacky musical instrument which actually plays music when it rains!


Other top things to do in Dresden – quickfire 

·Ride the world’s oldest suspension railway – board the Schwebebahn Dresden hanging cable car, dating from 1901, for an incredible view of the city.

·Visit in the historic Cafe Schinkelwache – here in this neoclassical building you can experience a proper, authentic Saxon coffee house vibe. With fantastic views over the Semper Opera and Royal Palaces to accompany your coffee or chardonnay, you’ll not find a more extravagant cafe experience!

·Stroll along ‘The Balcony of  Europe’ – stretching between the river Elbe and the Old Town, Brühl's Terrace is flanked by some of the city’s most remarkable buildings such as the Royal Art Academy and Albertinum Museum.

·Treat yourself in the most beautiful Dairy shop in the world – that accolade is according to the Guinness Book of Records, and Pfund’s Dairy, opened by the Pfund brothers in 1880 in the Neustadt quarter, is a truly beautiful thing to walk into. Elaborate decoration, chandeliers and neo-Renaissance porcelain tiles come second only to the exquisite cheeses, ice-creams and buttermilk on offer.

There you have it, dear Dresden-bound travellers, our top recommendations for the best things to see and do in Dresden. Already visited Dresden and have any other recommendations? Let us and your fellow travellers know in the comments below! is a trustworthy partner who ensures your comfort by offering a range of cars to suit any taste and budget for the duration of your trip, in case you're not using your own car.
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