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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 landscapes and baroque wonders, Dresden fits well among Germany’s most charming cities. When visiting the city, you’ll be spoilt for choosing 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.
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, and ceremonial weapons to paintings by the Renaissance and more.
Let’s take a deeper look.
- Things to Do in Dresden, Germany
- 1. Visit Dresden Cathedral, Katholische Hofkirche
- 2. Tour the Green Vault (Grünes Gewölbe)
- 3. Visit the Zwinger Palace
- 5. Marvel at the Size and Scale of Fürstenzug Mural
- 5. Enjoy Performances at Semperoper, Dresden’s Opera House
- 6. Explore the Hidden Passageways of Dresden
- 7. Dresden Frauenkirche Church, Our Lady Church
- 8. Check Out the Old Masters Picture Gallery (Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister)
- 9. Go to a Free Jazz Concert
- 10. Enjoy Dresden’s Nightlife
- 11. Explore Elbe River Banks
- 12. Walk and Hike to Bastei Bridge
- 13. Grab a Cup of Coffee at the Cafe Oswaldz
Things to Do in Dresden, Germany
1. Visit Dresden Cathedral, Katholische Hofkirche
Address: Schloßstraße 24, 01067 Dresden, Germany
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 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)
Address: Residenzschloss, Taschenberg 2, 01067 Dresden, Germany
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 buy a ticket in the morning, it’s highly discouraged because such tickets are limited. Visiting the Green Vault is undoubtedly one of the most fulfilling things in Dresden.
See Related: Best Day Trips from Dresden
3. Visit the Zwinger Palace
Address: Sophienstraße, 01067 Dresden, Germany
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 the age’s high life, tournaments, and court festivities. It’s a German complex of galleries, art, pavilions, courtyards, and museums.
5. Marvel at the Size and Scale of Fürstenzug Mural
Address: Augustusstraße 1, 01067 Dresden, Germany
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. Undoubtedly, 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-foot-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, each measuring 8.1 inches by 8.1 inches.
This mural depicts the famous Saxony’s ruling family’s long reign that dominated the region for over eight centuries. It represents scientists, artisans, dukes & kings, and other famous German 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: Things to Do in Lower Saxony
5. Enjoy Performances at Semperoper, Dresden’s Opera House
Address: Theaterplatz 2, 01067 Dresden, Germany
Not very far from the Dresden cathedral is the Semperoper. If you’re a theater enthusiast, 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. Moreover, the house’s interior is another marvel of Dresden’s architectural prowess.
Here, you’ll be entertained by different electrifying performances, from musicals and play operas 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 fun to discover and interesting to see. Kunsthofpassage Dresden is among the top-secret gems to explore in these alleyways.
This run-down backyard 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, Metamorphosis, and 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 daily; thus, you should make this top of the list of things to see in Dresden.
7. Dresden Frauenkirche Church, Our Lady Church
Address: Neumarkt, 01067 Dresden, Germany
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. This Lutheran church is located at the center of the Neumarkt square and offers a great example of Protestant sacred architecture. 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)
Address: Theaterplatz 1, 01067 Dresden, Germany
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, the 1963 records show that 206 paintings were destroyed during this period, while another 507 pieces went missing.
Viewing these paintings brings the feeling of enjoying art almost resembling real life or realism. And from them, you can immerse yourself in 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 sit back and relax while enjoying 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
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.
You can grab a cocktail or wine in one of Dresden’s clubs and local bars. Most of these dive and cocktail bars are 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 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 explore.
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 have a cup of coffee while appreciating the beauty of the surroundings as you are with locals.
12. Walk and Hike to Bastei Bridge
Address: Basteiweg, 01824 Lohmen, Germany
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 Dresden’s most exceptional tourist attractions.
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 in 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.
Walking further along the trail, you will see the extensive splendor of the Saxony Switzerland landscape. You can 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 enter the town, 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
Address: Bautzner Str. 9, 01099 Dresden, Germany
When you want to enjoy coffee in a quiet place in Dresden, consider visiting ‘Cafe Oswaldz.’ This cozy little cafe serves a wide range of coffees and a tasty selection of bakeries.
You can meet up with friends to have 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 how many people use it.
You can smell and gobble hand-brewed coffee in Cafe Oswaldz with moderate background noise. This is indeed one of the best places to visit in Dresden to pass the time or complete some tasks.
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- About the Author
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.
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