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13 Best Things to Do in Dresden, Germany

Is Dresden city a worthy tourist destination? Here is a list of unique things to do in Dresden that you probably didn’t know.

Owing to its numerous architectural sceneries and baroque wonders, Dresden fits well among German’s most charming cities. When visiting the city, you’ll pretty much be spoilt for choice in picking the best things to do in Dresden.

First, Dresden is where modernity meets history. Why say so? Having been hugely ruined during the WWII bombing of Dresden, most of Dresden city’s old structures have been reconstructed to their former state using modern ideas.

Before its destruction, this beautiful city, in Saxony state, was both a communication hub and manufacturing center. Dresden was also home to a long line of electors and Kings between the 13th and 20th centuries.

For instance, Augustus II the Strong wielded the greatest power in the 18th century. But what makes Dresden a perfect destination for your next vacation? First, there are tons of things to see in Dresden, ranging from invaluable gold, classical sculptures, oriental porcelain, treasures, ceremonial weapons, to paintings by Renaissance, and more.

Let’s take a deeper look.

Things to Do in Dresden, Germany

1. Visit Dresden Cathedral, Katholische Hofkirche

Dresden Cathedral

As a tourist, a visit to Dresden cathedral is well worth it. This is one of the top churches in Dresden and is located on the right side of the Georgenbau, Dresden’s Old Town exit.

It’s a historical landmark that will first capture your eyes when you enter the Old Town area. Although it was destroyed during WWII, this beautiful old Roman Catholic Cathedral was rebuilt and is now one of the unique Dresden attractions.

The church is one of the burial spots for the House of Wettin, along with the Polish Monarch. Consider touring this church when you visit Dresden.

2. Tour the Green Vault (Grünes Gewölbe)

green vault
Green Vault/tripadvisor

The green vault is one of Europe’s largest relic collection museums. It is a highly guarded chamber with a collection of treasures, from coins, green diamonds, art, and jewels from Russia to other priceless treasures.

After being opened in the 18th century by Augustus the Strong, the green vault suffered massive losses in subsequent times. It, however, reopened its doors in 2004, after some major reconstruction.

Located on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the Residenzschloss, the museum is usually open for visitors. To enter the vault, you must purchase tickets in advance to be allocated a specific time slot. Although one can manage to buy a ticket in the morning, it’s highly discouraged because such tickets are limited.

Visiting the green vault is, without a doubt, one of the most fulfilling things to do in Dresden.

See Related: Best Day Trips from Dresden

3. Visit the Zwinger Palace

Zwinger Palace- things to do in Dresden

Another elaborate piece of architecture in Dresden is the Zwinger Palace. This is certainly one place you shouldn’t miss on your visit to Dresden.

When walking around the palace, you’ll see tons of art exhibitions that can help you learn more about the city’s historical status. The place is surrounded by beautiful gardens, bordered by porcelain objects and physical & mathematical instruments.

From the beginning of the 19th century, this place has offered a glimpse of high life, tournaments, and court festivities of the age. It’s indeed a German complex of galleries, art, pavilions, courtyards, and museums.

5. Marvel at the Size and Scale of Fürstenzug Mural

Fürstenzug is the largest porcelain mural art in the world. It represents the procession of the various Saxony rulers.

The mural was originally painted in 1876 in celebration of the 800th anniversary of the Wettin dynasty. It’s no doubt that it remains one of the finest sights to behold to date.

Also called the ‘procession of princes,’ it is a 334-foot-long and 34 feet-high porcelain mural that runs across the stables (Stallhof) of the Residenzschloss. Between 1904 and 1907, it was replaced with over 23,000 Meissen Porcelain tiles, where each tile measures 8.1 inches by 8.1 inches.

This mural depicts the famous Saxony’s ruling family’s long reign that dominated the region for more than eight centuries. It represents scientists, artisans, dukes & kings, and artisans, among other German famous figures of the age.

During WW2, the mural miraculously remained almost unscathed with only minimal damage to the tiles. The dates and names of the rulers are inscribed on the mural below each image.

See Related: Best Things to do in Lower Saxony

5. Enjoy Performances at Semperoper, Dresden’s Opera House

Semperoper opera house

Not very far from the Dresden cathedral is the Semperoper.  If you’re a theater enthusiast, then visiting the Semperoper should be top of your list of things to do in Dresden.

First, even before you enter inside, you’ll be mesmerized by the intricate design of this house. At the main entrance, the spectacular statue of Dionysos will blow off your mind. What’s more, the house’s interior is another marvel of the Dresden architectural prowess.

Here, you’ll also be entertained by different electrifying performances from musicals, play opera to ballet dances. So, why not set aside some time in your next holiday to Dresden to check in to this place and enjoy some beautiful recitals?

6. Explore the Hidden Passageways of Dresden

Dresden has hidden gems that are not only fun to discover but also interesting to see. Kunsthofpassage Dresden is among the top-secret gems to explore in these alleyways.

This is a run-down backyard that has been refurbished into a modern art center. It has five cool art installations, including the Courtyard of Light, the Courtyard of Element, the Courtyard of Animals, the Courtyard of Metamorphosis, and the Courtyard of Mythical Garden.

The Courtyard of Element, for example, is also known as the singing drain pipes. It’s a place that creates music when water runs down a sophisticated drain pipe installation erected on a stunning turquoise building. This means that when it rains, what seems like a drainpipe system, transforms into an incredible musical instrument.

These are spectacular things you don’t encounter every day, and thus, you should make this top of the list of things to see in Dresden.

7. Dresden Frauenkirche Church, Our Lady Church

Dresden Frauenkirche Church

Considered one of the most elegant churches in Germany, Dresden Frauenkirche church is a remarkable baroque building situated in Dresden. You cannot visit Dresden and fail to stop over to see this famous landmark.

The church was initially a catholic church, but during the reformation, it became protestant. Located at the center of the Neumarkt square, this Lutheran church offers a great example of Protestant sacred architecture. And it features one of Europe’s largest domes.

The church was completely ruined during the Second World War but was later reconstructed from ruins meticulously. Other than that, it remains a veritable symbol of reconciliation in Dresden between former fighting enemies.

8. Check Out the Old Masters Picture Gallery (Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister)

Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister
Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister/tripadvisor

When planning what to do in Dresden, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister is a good place to consider. This is a museum with an Old Master picture gallery that has over 750 paintings. The paintings were crafted between the 15th and 18th centuries by French, German, and Spanish painters.

The Old Masters form an integral part of the art collections in Dresden state. The collection includes paintings from renowned painters such as Correggio, Giorgione, Raphael, Titian, Jan Van Eyck, etc.

During the Dresden Bombing in 1945, the museum was destroyed, although most of the artwork remained intact. However, from the 1963 records, it shows that 206 painting got destroyed during this period, while another 507 pieces went missing.

Viewing these paintings brings the feeling of enjoying art that almost resembles real-life or realism of art. And from them, you can immerse yourself into some interesting history. These are must-see gems when visiting the city of Dresden.

See related: Must-See Castles in Germany

9. Go to a Free Jazz Concert

Attending one of the free jazz concerts is also among the most incredible things to do in Dresden. Here, the jazz fanatics organize a free concert where you can simply sit back and relax as you enjoy some good music.

The concerts happen at Kulturzentrum Scheune every Monday.

Besides that, many other events happen during the week and over the weekends.

While some are free, some might require you to part with a few euros (as little as 5 EUR). You might want to check out or attend some of these events while there. 

10. Enjoy Dresden’s Nightlife

dresden nightlife

While Dresden’s nightlife is less crowded and not as extensive as Berlin’s, the place is still a popular destination for night outs. The vibe and the buzzing of the revelers keep the night fun and entertaining.

You can grab a cocktail or wine in one of Dresden’s clubs and local bars. Most of these dive and cocktail bars are situated at the Elbe Rivers’ North Bank in Neustadt.

One of the oldest pubs in this area is the Hebedas bar. The place offers an ideal atmosphere to chill out at night, and their beer is reasonably priced and nice.  If you’ve come for the tour with a few of your friends, consider a night out there, party, and chat your night away while playing pool.

Also, you may check out Madness Bar & Pub or Mondfisch Kneipe & Bar. Both of these bars host live events and concerts. If you are looking for things to do in Dresden at night, you can never go wrong with these.

See Related: German Speaking Countries Around the World

11. Explore Elbe River Banks

Elbe River is one of the most famous Dresden tourist attractions and a fine spot to explore. This river valley has complex but serene recreational areas where locals and visitors can go for an adventure.

The place is open and surrounded by the attractive city’s old and new towns.  Leading away from it are spectacular bridges and vast green spaces for sports, barbecues, and relaxation. It’s also a famous spot for fishing adventures and theater performances.

When around, consider walking along ‘The Brühl’s Terrace’ locally called “The Balcony of Europe.” This is a terrace stretching high above the River Elbe shores.

On one side of the terrace, you can explore the stunning architectural wonders of the Old Town’s buildings. Then, on the other side along river Elbe, you can take a cup of coffee while appreciating the beauty of the surroundings as you with locals.

12. Walk and Hike to Bastei Bridge

bastei bridge
Bastei Bridge/tripadvisor

Bastei rock formation in Saxony Switzerland towers 194 meters above River Elbe. It is made of sandstone and meant to link rocks, but it’s now one of the most exceptional tourist attractions in Dresden.

When taking the Bastei bridge nature walk, you can’t resist marveling at the beautiful landscapes in the surroundings. The walk can take you an hour, but walking a bit slow can help you engross into the beauty of the area.

There are plenty of viewpoint areas at Bastei Bridge. One of them is along the cliffside, a vantage point where you can see the beautiful Kurort Rathen town.

When you walk a bit further along the trail, you will see the extensive splendor of the Saxony Switzerland landscape. From there, you can then walk across the Bastei Bridge for that great adventure.

To get to Bastei Bridge, you may opt for a train from the Dresden Neustadt station, which heads to Schöna or Bad Schandau, then to Kurort Lathen station. Once there, you can go into the town and then cross the river with a ferry and start your hike. The bridge is indeed worth a visit when you’re in East Germany.

See Related: Famous Castles in Germany

13. Grab a Cup of Coffee at the Cafe Oswaldz

Cafe Oswaldz
Cafe Oswaldz/facebook

When you desire to enjoy a cup of coffee in a quiet place in Dresden, then consider visiting ‘Cafe Oswaldz.’ This is a cozy little cafe serving a wide range of coffees along with a tasty selection of bakeries.

You can meet up with friends to take some coffee as you surf the internet. The café has power outlets that let you recharge your phone and laptops.

Also, it offers free Wi-Fi, although its reliability depends on the number of people using it.

With moderate background noise, you can smell and gobble in hand-brewed coffee in Cafe Oswaldz. This is indeed one of the best places to go to in Dresden, to pass the time or get some tasks done.

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