Dresden City Travel Guide

A majestic city south of Berlin and close to the Czech border. Dresden, Saxony has been lovingly reconstructed after the city experienced a devastating Allied bombing raid during World War II.

Dresden is home to some of the finest architecture in Europe, if not the world. And as an added bonus for tourists, many things to do in Dresden are centered around the city’s numerous art galleries and museums.

To start planning your trip to Dresden, Saxony and to read about the the main things to do in Dresden, click on the tabs below.

Tourist attractions in Dresden


Dresden is the capital city of the state of Saxony. The state is found in the east of Germany, 120 miles south of Berlin and 20 miles north of the Czech Republic.

The city sits on the Elbe River. A river that passes up through Saxony and flows out of Hamburg into the North Sea. The banks of the Elbe interchange between vineyards, palaces and a dramatic rocky landscape that goes on makes up the Saxon Switzerland.


As with many waterside settlements, Dresden started off as a riverside village of Slav fishermen. In the 15th century, Dresden grew, and the rulers of Saxony used it as their residence. From the reign of August der Stark (1670 – 1733) onwards, the grand baroque buildings of Dresden were developed.

During World War II, residents of Dresden considered the city safe from raids because it had not been affected by industrialization like other German cities. Sadly in February 1945, shortly before the end of WWII, much of the city was destroyed. Fortunately, the city was rebuilt and continues to be a center for the arts to this day.

Quick Facts about Dresden

    • The name Dresden comes from Drezdzany back when it was a Slav village of fishermen. The name means Forest Dwellers on the Plain.
    • Dresden as a place was first mentioned in 1216.
    • Today the population of the city of Dresden is 554,649.
    • It is the 12th largest city in Germany, and the 3rd largest city in eastern Germany.
    • The Elbe Valley in Dresden famously lost its UNESCO World Heritage Site status after constructing a four-lane bridge spanning the Elbe.
Dresden City Skyline at Night

Sightseeing in Dresden

With an abundance of places to visit in Dresden, you won’t be stuck for things to do and see.

Grand architecture in a riverside setting and full to the brim with art galleries and museums, Dresden has it all.

Tourists don’t need to venture much further than the most central areas of Dresden for sightseeing. The city is perfect for short stays as the main things to do in Dresden are within easy reach of one another.

To start planning your own sightseeing tour of Dresden, browse through the dropdowns to find out more.

There are two tourist information centers in Dresden. One is found at the Dresden’s main train station and the other in the city center. The addresses and opening hours are:

Dresden Tourist Information in QF Passage, Neumarkt 2 (Close to the Martin-Luther-Statue)
This is the main tourist information office in Dresden. The opening hours do vary slightly from season to season.
Monday – Friday between 10:00 – 19:00
Saturdays 10:00 – 18:00
Sundays 10:00 – 15:00

Dresden Hauptbahnhof (Dresden main train station) Wiener Platz 4
Situated in the main train station in Dresden
Monday – Sunday 10:00 – 19:00.

For more information visit Dresden’s official tourism website.

Start your tour of Dresden in the Old Town (Altstadt). This is Dresden’s historical center. Much of Dresden’s historic buildings were destroyed to rubble in WWII, buildings that survived or have been reconstructed showcase grand renaissance and baroque style architecture.

Things to see in the Old Town of Dresden include Neumarkt Square, an opulent renaissance square of buildings and the best-known square in Dresden. Not far from Neumarkt Square you’ll find Frauenkirche, Zwinger Place and Altmarkt Square.

If you want to see Dresden from above, you have a few different options:

There is an observation deck on top of this iconic church. The deck is 67 meters high and there is a elevator available that takes you almost all the way to the top. From the elevator, there is a steep flight of stairs to the platform.

As the church is in the middle of Dresden, you will see a great view of the inner city, many of the historic buildings and the Elbe winding its way through the city.

There is an entrance fee to the viewing platform in Dresden’s Frauenkirche, an adult ticket costs €10.

For more information about opening times, visit the Dome Ascent section of the Frauenkirche’s website. 

A cheaper alternative viewing platform is found at Kreuzkirche. Another bonus of visiting this platform is that you can see Frauenkirche’s famous tower from above.

The observation deck at Kreuzkirche is 54 meters high and there are 259 steps to the top.

The entrance fee for the tower is €5 per adult. It is open daily. For more information about opening hours, visit Kreuzkirche’s website

They offer tourists a way to save money on travel and museum entrance fees, and extra deals and discounts to theatres, restaurants and other tourist attractions. There are three different Dresden Welcome Cards available. 

The Dresden Welcome Card can be bought from the tourist information offices or online. The tickets cost from €13 and can be bought to cover up to three days of sightseeing.

For more information, visit the official Dresden Welcome Card website. 

Tourist Attractions in Dresden

There are things to do in Dresden for every interest. To help you plan your visit to Dresden we’ve split the tourist attractions into five categories.

Click on a category below to read more about things to do in Dresden.

The oldest Christmas Market in Germany, Dresden Saxony

The Frauenkirche on Neustadt (Church of Our Lady)
A Lutheran church consecrated in 1736. Although a historic building of Baroque style architecture, the Frauenkirche was destroyed in WWII. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, it was rebuilt and has stood in its resplendent form since 2005.

Self-guided audiotours walk you through the history of the church and its reconstruction. Audiotours cost €2.50 per person and no reservation is needed. Entrance to the church is free. The Frauenkirche website is kept up to date with all the opening times. 

The Dresden Zwinger, Theaterplatz 1
The Zwinger was built in the eighteenth century as a group of Baroque buildings. Commissioned by August der Stark, it was purpose built as a setting for lavish court festivals. It has also been home to art and porcelain collected by royalty which survived WWII and “safekeeping” in the Soviet Union.

Today it is a museum arranged around lawns, pools and fountains. The Old Masters Picture Gallery is said to be one of the world’s greatest art collections.

For information about the Zwinger, its exhibitions, opening times and entrance fees, check the website

Brühl’s Terrace
A grand promenade overlooking the Elbe. Around 100 meters north of Frauenkirche.

Originally the terrace was part of a private garden. Today, the terrace can be enjoyed by all. It’s a good place to view Dresden’s Neustadt. Tourists and residents alike come here to admire the views, watch the tour boats dock and sit and enjoy a cup of coffee on the promenade.

Green Vault, Residenzschloss
If you’re struggling to find things to do in Dresden for children and adults, look no further than the Green Vault. This museum is a literal treasure trove. It was originally the private collection of Augustus the Strong. There is a free audioguide with your ticket.

It is recommended that tickets are booked in advance as this museum is a popular tourist attraction in Dresden. Book online on the official website

A world famous opera house was originally built in its current form in 1878 after the original theater by Gottfried Semper was burned down in 1869.

It was destroyed in 1945 but reconstructed by the GDR and reopened in 1985. It has been welcoming guests almost every night since.

Gemaeldegalerie Alte Meister – Old Masters Picture Gallery
Found in Zwinger, this is an impressive collection of artwork including Raphael’s Sistine Madonna. It is a well structured art gallery with an informative audioguide giving short descriptions of the rooms, period and the artwork.

Entrance to the gallery is €14 for adults and free for children under 17 years old. Tickets are available to purchase online

Pfunds Dairy, Bautzner Str. 79
An unusual tourist attraction. This is the “most beautiful dairy shop in the world”.

The shop was founded in 1880 by two brothers and features neo-Renaissance hand-painted tiles. The tiles cover the floor, walls and shop counter. All the tiles were hand-painted by Villeroy & Bosch, Dresden’s stoneware factory.

Die Welt der DDR – The World of the GDR, Antonstrasse 2a
A social history museum capturing the ordinary lives of East Germans behind the Berlin Wall. The interactive nature of the museum makes it a great place for children to see how people lived under communism. The museum focusses on people not politics.

Entrance to the museum is €7 for adults, it is free for children under 12 and €5 for 12 – 18 year olds. For more information about the museum, opening times and accessibility, visit the website

Free Walking Tours in Dresden
Dresden has a very good “free” walking tour. The two hour tour takes you round the main tourist attractions in the city. It’s a good way to start your time in Dresden and help you navigate the city. At the end of the tour you will be asked to pay how much you feel it was worth.

It’s a good idea to book yourself onto the tour. For more information about booking and tour times, visit the official Free Walking Tour website

Boat Tours along the Elbe
The Saechsische Dampfschifffahrt takes passengers on a 90 minute boat trip along the river Elbe. The boats are a tourist attraction themselves. The Saechsische Dampfschifffahrt is the oldest fleet of paddle-wheel steamboats in the world.

There are several different boat tours running most days during the summer season. The city boat tour (Stadtfahrt zu Wasser) departs from Terrassenufer several times a day. Check the website for more information on times and tickets. 


Dresdner Striezelmarkt – Dresden Christmas Market
Open from November 23rd until December 24th. This Christmas market in Dresden is hosted on Dresden’s Altmarkt. It is thought to be the oldest Christmas market in Germany. Held in Dresden since 1434.

The square is beautifully lit up and a giant, traditional candle pyramid towers high above the stalls. Many tourists visiting the Dresden Christmas market say this is by far the best one they’ve visited.

Dresden is a magical place to visit at Christmas. The Striezelmarkt isn’t the only festive event taking place in the city. There’s a lot more to experience.

Visit Dresden’s official Christmas website to find out more about Christmas in Dresden. 

Frauenkirche in Dresden and its iconic dome topped church

Where to Eat in Dresden

Dresden and the state of Saxony has a rich culinary history. Expect a variety of sauces served alongside a hearty cut of meat and a potato dumpling or two.

When looking for a restaurant in Dresden, the best places are traditional restaurants serving traditional Saxon cuisine. Look out for dishes such as Dresdner Sauerbraten, beef marinated in herbs and vinegar, and Sächsische Kartoffelsuppe, a hearty potato soup served with sausages.

Dresdeners have a serious sweet tooth, there are some top notch traditional sweet foods to try while in Dresden including the Dresdner Eierschecke, a custard slice style pastry, and Holunderbeerensuppe, an elderberry soup served with croutons.

Here’s a couple of Dresden restaurant recommendations if you’re looking to try traditional Saxon food in Dresden’s city center:

Gansedieb in Weisse Gasse near Kreuzkirche
Good quality Saxon food in a central location. Expect to see a lot of goose on the menu, the restaurant’s name translates as “goose thief”. There is also duck, beef and pork on the menu.

PulverTurm, An der Frauenkirche 12
Possibly the most historic place to eat in Dresden. The PulverTurm restaurant is set in an original gun powder tower, hence the German name. The food is traditional Saxon cuisine. It is targeted at tourists, but it is perfect for families with younger children.

It is possible to make a reservation online

Street Tram in Dresden Saxony

Getting around Dresden

The best airport to fly into is Dresden Airport (DRS). Dresden Airport is located less than 6 miles north of Dresden city center in Klotzsche.

Airlines operating from Dresden Airport fly to a few European destinations including London, Zurich, Amsterdam and Fuerteventura, as well as some German destinations including Frankfurt and Dusseldorf. There is one terminal.

If you are flying from the US, Australia or Canada to visit Dresden, it would be advisable to travel to Frankfurt and get a connecting flight to Dresden or Leipzig. Alternatively you could take a train from Frankfurt am Main Airport to Dresden city center, it would take around 5 hours.

Other nearby airports include Berlin and Leipzig.

Travel from Dresden Airport to Dresden City Center by Taxi
Taxis from Dresden Airport to the city center can be picked up without a booking from the taxi rank outside the airport terminal.

It is best to have cash ready for the taxi fare but some taxis are able to take card payments. Check with the driver.

The journey will take about 25 minutes depending on traffic.

Take the train from Dresden Airport to Dresden City Center
Use the S2 to travel direct from Dresden Airport to Dresden Central Train Station (Dresden Hauptbahnhof or Dresden Hbf). It is a 30-minute journey. Follow signs in the airport terminal for the airport train station.

You can buy tickets for Dresden city center at a ticket machine. There are ticket machines located before the platforms and on the platforms. You must purchase your ticket before boarding your train, you are not able to buy a ticket once onboard a train.

From Dresden Hbf you can reach your accommodation by foot or take the tram or S-Bahn. The best website your route is bahn.de. It is possible to book tickets in advance using the Deutsche Bahn website.

Using the tram and S-Bahn in Dresden
The most convenient way to travel around Dresden is by foot, bike or public transport. There are tram stations all over the city center. All tickets can be bought at tram stations in Dresden.
The Dresden Welcome Card

It might be worth looking into getting a Dresden Welcome Card to save money on travelling around Dresden and also save money on tickets for tourist attractions. 

Shopping in Dresden

The main shopping street in Dresden runs from Dresden Hbf (Dresden Main Train Station) along Prager Strasse and past Altmarkt to Wilsdruffer Strasse. The shopping street is mainly pedestrianized and lined with department stores as well as national and international chains.

The Baroque Quarter (crossing over on Augustusbruecke) and the area around Frauenkirche are home to more boutiques, luxury shops and a good range of independent shops.

If you like shopping malls or have a rainy afternoon ahead of you, take a trip to the Altmarkt Galerie close by Wisdruffer Strasse. This mall has over 100 shops, cafes and bakeries. Open Monday – Saturday 10:00 – 20:00.

It’s good to note that shops don’t tend to open on a Sunday in most parts of Germany unless it’s a special occasion. Check the tourist information website for up-to-date information on events happening in the city center. 


Day trips from Dresden, Saxony

Dresden is the capital of Saxony. The varied and mountainous landscape of Saxony, packed with hilltop castles, make this region a top tourist destination. The central lovation of Dresden in Saxony makes day trips to other parts of the area easy, it is also cheap and convenient to use public transport to get around.


Saxon Switzerland in Saxony near Dresden, Saxony

Saxon Switzerland, Sächsische Schweiz

Just 30 miles southeast of Dresden, there is a dramatic mountainous landscape called the Sächsische Schweiz. Jagged sandstone rocks stand upright through thick forests and high above deep valleys. 

Since 1990 it has held the title of Saxony’s only national park. The area is known for great rock-climbing, long hikes and mountain biking.

There are several ways to get to Saxon Switzerland. You have the option of boat, bus, car or trains. If you choose to take the train, take the S1 from Dresden to Bad Schandau.


For more information about taking the boat to the Sächsische Schweiz, visit the Saechsische Dampfschifffahrt website. 

For more information about walking routes and planning your trip to Saxon Switzerland, visit the official tourism website


Bastei Bridge in Saxon Switzerland

Bastei Bridge in Saxon Switzerland

This is another serious rock formation, just a little closer to Dresden but still in Saxon Switzerland. South of the city and sitting along the Elbe is Bastei. It sits 200 meters above the river and village of Rathen. 

The Bastei is perhaps one of the most photographed spots in Saxony outside of Dresden. All because of a striking sandstone bridge sitting high above the landscape built right into the rock formations. It’s called the Bastei Bridge (Basteibruecke).

There is a walking route that takes in the Bastei Bridge, it starts at the car park and takes in the Schwedenloecher, a hiding spot where German troops hid from the Swedes during the Thirty Years’ War from 1618 – 1648.

Where to stay in Dresden

If you’re staying in Dresden for a short break you’ll want to find a central hotel in Dresden.

Should you choose a hotel in Dresden that is a little further out of the city center, make sure your hotel is within walking distance of a tram stop or S-Bahn station.

Hotels in Dresden are reasonably priced and there is a good selection, make sure you shop around for the best deal and check the location on a map before booking.

Prices of hotels in Dresden fluctuate depending on events happening in the city. Booking online in advance of your trip is recommended. If you’re looking for a hotel, hostel or aparthotel, the best place to book is on booking.com. It has the best choice, plenty of reviews and clear pricing. It is a trusted booking service.

Suggested hotels:

Townhouse Dresden in Neumarkt

A reasonably priced and centrally located hotel. The hotel is in Neumarkt surrounded by restaurants and cafes, there is a great feeling of being in the middle of the action when staying here. The rooms are cosy and modern, and many of the rooms have views of the square.

INNSIDE by Melia Dresden, Salzgasse 4 

A stone’s throw from Frauenkirche. This hotel is in a central location in Dresden and has new, modern rooms. A good breakfast is available and there’s a bar on the top floor. Car parking for guests is underground for a fee and there is public car park close by.