Like a phoenix from the flames, Dresden rebuilt itself after World War II, meticulously recreating one of the world's most beautiful baroque cities. Nowadays, Dresden is more striking than ever, boasting numerous museums, fine food, and plenty of cultural attractions as well.
Dresden's golden age was in the 18th century under the Saxon ruler Augustus II the Strong. Palaces like the Zwinger and the Residenzschloss are simply stunning.
Dresden is serious about culture, and this is reflected in exceptional museums like the Green Vault, the Military History Museum, and the quirkier German Hygiene Museum.
Art lovers will adore the Albertinum, where Monet and Chagall sit alongside contemporary contenders, while the Old Masters Picture Gallery features big names like Raphael, Tintoretto, and Dürer.
Dresdeners are fortunate to have some beautiful parks and gardens, with the Grosser Garten head and shoulders above the rest, featuring a city zoo and botanical gardens.
Catch an opera at the lavish Semperoper, visit in May for the Dresden Music Festival, or dive into the clubs that have earned Dresden the nickname the "Detroit of the East."
This large public "theater" square is located near the Elbe River and features an impressive bronze equestrian statue of King John or Johann, who was the ruler of Saxony from 1854 to 1973. Many of the city's landmarks are located along the square, including the Zwinger Palace, or Semperbau, which includes an art gallery and two fountains dating from the 1800s in front of the entrance. The Hofkirche, a Baroque church, is also located along the square, along with the Italienisches Dörfchen, and the neoclassical Altstädter Wache, or Old Town Watchtower.
Bombed to rubble during the Second World War and then meticulously reconstructed in the 1990s, the Frauenkirche is an impressive example of ornate Baroque architecture. Its large dome, constructed of stone, has become an icon of the city. Visitors can tour the intricately decorated interior of the church, which includes an exhibit on the restoration process. The public may also attend services, which are held twice daily.
The Grosser Garten covers just over one square mile in Dresden's center and delights visitors with its pristine landscaped grounds, impressive fountains, and other sights. Originally established in 1676, it was converted to a public garden in 1814. The Sommerpalais, a small but charming palace, is located at the center of the park and boasts impressive sandstone sculptures and other early Baroque features. The park is also the home of the Dresden Zoo, with over 300 species of animals, located in the southwest corner. The exotic Dresden Botanical Garden, featuring 10,000 different types of plants, is situated in the northwest corner of the park. The Parkeisenbahn, or Dresden Park Railway, a miniature railway service, travels throughout the grounds seasonally from April to October. Tours of the garden and palace are available to the public.
One of the most important military history museums in Germany, the Bundeswehr Military History Museum is located in what was once a military arsenal. Exhibits examine both German military technology as well as the human cost of war, and include objects such as uniforms, handguns, and other military gear. There is also an extensive collection devoted to art that examines war and its consequences, including over 1,000 paintings along with hundreds of sculptures, drawings, and prints. Historic artifacts include the ship's bell from SMS Schleswig-Holstein, which launched World War II by firing at Polish targets in September 1939.
Extending along and above the river Elbe, this Renaissance-era terrace offers striking views along the river, and of many of the city's iconic structures such as the nearby Hofkirche. Brühl's Terrace itself consists of a number of historic architectural structures, including the Academy of Fine Arts, various sculptures and monuments, along a wide pedestrian street, with benches overlooking the river view on the other side. A number of restaurants and bars line the streets nearby.
Spring is a wonderful time to visit Dresden, with beautiful weather, smaller crowds, and the excellent music festival, but Christmas and summer are almost as good.
Many European low-cost airlines fly into Dresden International Airport (DRS). From there, take the 77 or 97 bus, or the S-Bahn (overland rail). Either way, the cost is EUR2.30, while taxis cost around EUR25.
You can reach Dresden Hauptbahnhof from Munich, Berlin, and Frankfurt with ease, while other services may stop at Dresden Neustadt. The Hauptbahnhof is more central, so check your arrival point before you travel.
From Berlin, take the A13 or the A14 from Leipzig. If you are coming from Prague, take the E8, then the A17 from the border.
BerlinLinienbus, FlixBus, and Eurolines run daily services into Dresden Hauptbahnhof from other German cities.
City center accommodation options worth considering include the palatial Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski Dresden and the Hotel Suitess, while the Bülow Palais is situated in a mansion north of the river.
Altstadt - rebuilt with incredible dedication following the war, the Altstadt is a baroque masterpiece, with squares, townhouses, and civic architecture to die for.
Innenstadt - the heart of the modern city, Innenstadt is Dresden's shopping hub (don't miss Prager Strasse if you are hunting for souvenirs).
Loschwitz - prosperous and modern, Loschwitz is full of small galleries and design stores, and also hosts a couple of 18th-century castles.
Buses and trams will take you where you need to go, and cost EUR2.30 for a single journey. Day tickets cost EUR6.
Bike taxis are popular in Dresden and are great for short hops. Conventional taxis will cost about EUR3.50 for the meter drop, then EUR3 per mile.
Car rental outlets include Sixt, Avis, and Hertz; expect to pay around EUR15-20 per day for smaller vehicles.
Innenstadt is the place to go for chain stores, and Prager Strasse is the main shopping street. Check out Äußere Neustadt for vintage stores, record shops, and boutiques.
Local supermarkets include REWE and Lidl. Prices shouldn't be steep, at around EUR2.40 for a gallon of milk.
Local highlights include Lila Sosse (where the German tapas are a great intro to local delicacies), and the gourmet fish eatery Kastenmeiers. Expect to pay around EUR20-30 per head.