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Top 10 Things to Do in Dresden
Dresden was the place I celebrated my 27th birthday where I began my day with a hike in the Saxony Switzerland region and ended my night with a German rap battle. Needless to say, it was one of the best birthday I had, all because of Dresden and its awesome culture.
Dresden is where history and modernity meet. It was pretty much destroyed after World War 2 which allows the city Baroque beauty to be diffused with modern artistry when it was rebuilt. Because of this, you will find that Dresden is one of the most unique city in Germany offering everything from the majestic treasures of architecture to stunning nature in Saxony Switzerland, all without the crazy amount of tourists like in Berlin or Munich.Table of Contents
- Dresden Things to Do for One Day Itinerary Map
- Germany Travel Video
- Where to Stay in Dresden, Germany
- How to Get to Dresden, Germany
- How to Get Around Dresden, Germany
- Travel Insurance
One Day Itinerary: Top 10 Things to Do in Dresden, Germany
- 1. Visit and Hike to Bastei Bridge
- 2. Visit Dresden's Historical Old Town
- 3. Marvel at the Size and Scale of Fürstenzug Mural
- 4. Check Out Dresden Frauenkirche Church
- 5. Walk Along the Brühl's Terrace Nicknamed "The Balcony of Europe"
- 6. Check out the Old Masters Picture Gallery
- 8. Go to a Free Concert in Dresden
- 8. Enjoy Dresden's Crazy Nightlife
- 9. Have a Cup of Coffee at The Cafe Oswaldz
- 10. Explore the Hidden Passageways of Dresden
- Further Reading for Germany
Dresden Things to Do for One Day Itinerary Map
Germany Travel Video
Where to Stay in Dresden, Germany
Budget - Lollis Homestay - 21.34 USD/Night (Dorm) - Fun environment, located in the creative part of Dresden
Lollis Homestay is a cozy little hostel that catered to solo backpackers like me. It is located at the center of the artistic zone of Dresden Neustadt with a wide selection of bars for you to enjoy the nightlife. The hostel has a social atmosphere to it with a cozy common area and a balcony with bean bags for your privacy. They also have one of the most friendly staff that will organize weekly activities for people to connect. My trip couldn't have been this fun if it wasn't the people I met here and the information provided by the staff. I wouldn't have known about the free jazz concert or the German rap battle night if it wasn't for them!
Mid-Range - LaLeLu Hostel Dresden - 48 USD / Night (Double Room)
How to Get to Dresden, Germany
The best way to get here is to fly into one of Germany's hub cities like Frankfurt or Berlin and take a bus from there. I would recommend you browse through Skyscanner or Momondo to find all the cheap flights from where you live to Germany and compare them so that you can find the one best fit for your itinerary.
If you are taking a train operated by Deutsche Bahn (DB) or a bus (FlixBus), make sure you get off at the right station. Dresden is served by 2 big train stations, the Dresden Neustadt, which is nearer to our hostel and the main railway station, the Dresden Hauptbahnhof.
I took a FlixBus from Leipzig to Dresden for 7 Euros. Originally I booked the bus ticket to Dresden Hauptbahnhof, not the Neustadt station but luckily, the Neustadt train station was one of the stops before the Hauptbahnhof so I was able to hop off at the right place before the bus continued.
Note: Both the bus and the train drop people off at the either Dresden Neustadt or at the Dresden Hauptbahnhof.
How to Get Around Dresden, Germany
Inside the city, you can take a tram or walk. Most of the attractions in Dresden are located in the old town which is only 15 minutes walk away from the hostel.
If you planned to do the Bastei hike (which you should), you must take a train from the Neustadt station heading toward the direction of Schöna or Bad Schandau to the Kurort Lathen station and simply follow the direction across the river and you should arrive at the start of the hike.
Traveling here, on average, will cost you more than traveling in most countries out there. You can expect to spend around 45 - 65 USD per day per person with food, accommodation and transportation.
Keep in mind that this is just a suggested daily budget based on my style of traveling, which is leaning more toward the budget side of things. If you want to stick to this budget, expect to sleep in dorms, eat out only a few times, and be comfortable using the cheapest and most convenient way of transportation, which often times involves walking.
If you are looking for travel insurance to go along with your trip to Germany, I would recommend WorldNomads.com, which is what I use to look for a travel insurance that fits my kind of adventure. They have a simple and flexible search system that allowed me to find the right insurance for the right amount of time at an affordable price in seconds. If you need travel insurance, give WorldNomads.com a try.
One Day Itinerary: Top 10 Things to Do in Dresden, Germany
1. Visit and Hike to Bastei Bridge (Half Day)
The Bastei bridge and the stunning nature around Saxony Switzerland (Don't be fooled by the name, it is still in Germany) made it all worthwhile to visit East Germany. The landscape in Saxony Switzerland doesn't even feel like Germany to me, it reminds me more of the spires I saw in Zhangjiajie National Park in China.
This is not much of a hike in my opinion, it was more like a nature walk. The walk took us around an hour to complete but we took our time and spent almost 3 hours, walking around.
There were many lookout points worth seeing near Bastei bridge. The one along the side of a cliff will give you a view of the peaceful town of Kurort Rathen. Further along the trail, you will be able to grasp the beauty of the landscape of the Saxony Switzerland from another lookout point and at the end, you will be able to walk across the Bastei bridge itself.
To get to Bastei Bridge from Dresden, you will have to take a train heading toward the direction of Schöna or Bad Schandau to the Kurort Lathen station from the Dresden Neustadt station. Once you arrive, go into the town and cross the river with a ferry. From there you should be able to follow the direction to the start of the hike.
2. Visit Dresden's Historical Old Town
Dresden's old town is surrounded by amazing Baroque architecture. Right at the gate you will find the Georgenbau, a renaissance-style gate/palace that was built in the 1500s. On the right side of the gate is the most important church in the city, Dresden Cathedral.
Katholische Hofkirche is the landmark of Dresden and the first structure you will see when you enter the Old Town area. It's a beautiful old Roman Catholic Cathedral that was renovated after it was destroyed during WW2.
Not too far from Katholische Hofkirche, you will find Semperoper Dresden or Dresden Opera House, another unique building with beautiful and intricate detail design on its facade. If your trip is aligned with a show in the Opera House, take the opportunity to go and see an even more beautiful interior.
Zwinger is a Baroque-style palace with gardens, art exhibitions and more for you to walk around and learn a bit more about the historical importance of the city. If you want to feel like a noble walking around beautiful gardens surrounded by porcelain objects and scientific instruments, Zwinger is a place you shouldn't miss.
3. Marvel at the Size and Scale of Fürstenzug Mural
Right around the corner from the fate is the Fürstenzug. It is a massive mural of procession of the rulers of Saxony which was originally painted between 1871 and 1876. The superb attention to detail on the mural was quite a sight to behold.
4. Check Out Dresden Frauenkirche Church (Church of Our Lady)
Dresden Frauenkirche church is a famous landmark of Dresden. It is a Lutheran church that gives a great example of Protestant sacred architecture, featuring one of the largest domes in Europe. The church is located at the center of the Neumarkt square where you will be surrounded by other impressive Baroque architecture. Take a walk around the church and appreciate the fact that you are standing in the square that was completed destroyed during the World War 2.
5. Walk Along the Brühl's Terrace Nicknamed "The Balcony of Europe"
The Balcony of Europe or the Brühl's Terrace is a terrace that stretches high above the shore of the river Elbe. On one side, you will be able to appreciate the beautiful architectural wonders of the buildings in the Old town whereas on the other you can enjoy your coffee along the river Elbe while watching locals doing the same.
6. Check out the Old Masters Picture Gallery (Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister)
Since it was raining the first day I arrived, I decided to make that day a museum day and checked out the Old Masters Picture Gallery. The museum includes around 750 paintings during the 15th - 18th centuries from German, French and Spanish painters. You can really see how realism art, the making of art that resemble life, developed right before your eyes. I was able to spot a few famous paintings as well such as the Tower of Babel and being able to read the history of it was interesting.
8. Go to a Free Concert in Dresden
This is by far one of my favorite things to do in Dresden, to check out what is happening at Scheune On every Monday, Jazzfanatics organize a free Jazz concert that you can attend at Kulturzentrum Scheune. On my first day arriving in Dresden, I attended one of their concerts and I instantly fall in love with Dresden then.
You can also find many other kinds of events happening every week both on weekdays and weekends, some free, some cost 5 EUR for entrance or more. If you are in Dresden for a few days, be sure to check Scheune out and see what events they have to offer.
8. Enjoy Dresden's Crazy Nightlife
Berlin may be the most popular nightlife destination in Germany but if you are looking for a place that is less crowded and yet offer the same fun vibe at a cheaper price, Dresden is a place you will never forget. I was day on my birthday so I had a chance to explore the nightlife there quite a bit with a group of people I met at my hostel.
If you are looking for a night out with your friends to drink some beers, chill out and talk to each other while playing Pool, Hebedas Bar is one of oldest pub in the area and they have a nice atmospheric interior. They also serve nice beers at a very affordable price. If you are looking for a place to go pre-party, this is it.
If you are looking for a place to dance your night away, check out Mondfisch Kneipe & Bar or Madness Bar & Pub. Both of these places have events and live concerts happen quite often and it often gets crowded late in the night. If you are looking for a fun night out, be sure to check out these places.
9. Have a Cup of Coffee at The Cafe Oswaldz
Cafe Oswaldz is a cozy little cafe that serves great range of coffees including Flat White and a delicious selection of bakeries. It has that "Parisian cafe" vibe to it AKA a perfect balance of a moderate background noise of people chattering and the smell of hand-brewed coffee. Unfortunately, the free wifi may or may not work depending on the number of people in the cafe. Although once you are able to connect, the internet flies. There are also power outlets for you to top up your laptop's juice. Definitely, the best place to get a good cup of coffee while getting some work done hands down.
10. Explore the Hidden Passageways of Dresden
Dresden has many secrets and hidden gems and some of them are hidden right under our noses and only those who dare to explore will find them. Among the hidden gems in these alley way is Kunsthofpassage Dresden, a run-down backyard renovated into an art center with 5 really cool art installation, the Courtyard of Element, the Courtyard of Light, the Courtyard of Metamorphosis, the Courtyard of Animals, and the Courtyard of Mythical Garden.
Photos by Fred Romero.
One of my favorite courtyards is the Courtyard of Element where music is created through water running down through an intricate design of water pipe on a beautiful turquoise building. Something you don't see every day. If you are in Dresden, be sure to walk around these hidden passageways, and explore all the beautiful architecture and modern art installation the city has to offer.
Further Reading for Germany
I hope you found this guide helpful in your trip planning. If you want to read more about Germany, I have written a few more travel guides, all listed here:
- Looking for a complete itinerary for Germany? 2 - 3 Weeks Backpacking Itinerary for Germany.
- Are you traveling to Germany as part of a bigger Europe trip? Be sure to check out my 3 months itinerary for Europe from Portugal all the way to Sweden.
- Berlin, the creative capital is Europe has so much to offer that you can spend a week there without getting bored. If you are heading that way, be sure to check out my hipster travel guide on top 12 things to do in Berlin.
- Munich is also another great city in Germany with its own pace and culture, almost the opposite of Berlin. Check out my insider’s travel guide on things to do in Munich here.
- If you are going to Cologne, watch out for your bag as I got my bag snatched from the train station there. Read about my experience getting my bag stolen in Cologne and how I dealt with it here.
- Not convinced by my words? Here are 125 photos that will inspire you to visit Europe.
- You can also watch my Germany travel video here: "Alone in Germany" travel video.
- To see all the articles about Germany, visit Germany Travel Guide page.
- Looking for a place to go after Germany? How about France, Switzerland or Poland? Visit our France travel guide page, Switzerland travel guide page and Poland travel guide page for more.
- Looking for more travel guides for Europe? You can find more on my Europe Travel Guide page.
- Or if you want something more specific to the region, visit our Western Europe Travel Guide page.
- For more of my travel guides like this, visit my Destinations page.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by Pete Rojwongsuriya, the founder of BucketListly Blog where we will follow his solo journey around the world as he experiences different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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