Visiting Dresden – A City Guide
Dresden’s famous opera house, baroque landmarks, galleries and city parks attract both culture lovers and families. Many of the city’s grand buildings were restored to their former glory after Second World War bombing. Wide squares and the meadows beside the Elbe river give the city a spacious and green feel.
Dresden: city layout
Dresden’s historic centre encompasses the Altstadt (Old Town) in the south and northern Neustadt (New Town), divided by the River Elbe. Altstadt’s squares include Neumarkt with its reconstructed baroque buildings, 14th-century Altmarkt and spacious Theaterplatz, home to the iconic Semperoper opera house.
On the river’s right bank you’ll find museums and boutiques in the baroque Innere Neustadt. The Golden Horseman statue and central Albertplatz are joined by plane tree-lined, pedestrianised Hauptstraße.
North of the former city walls, urban Äußere Neustadt is the haunt of artists and students, with many trendy bars and nightclubs.
Quieter suburbs include Albertstadt and Friedrichstadt. To the northeast, Dresden Heath forest has pretty walks close to the heart of the city.
Top attractions in Dresden
It’s impossible to wander through Dresden’s Innere Altstadt without stumbling upon a baroque palace or a grand square. You can gaze out over the Altmarkt from the tower of huge Kreuzkirche church. From here it’s a six-minute walk to Neumarkt square and the Frauenkirche , a majestic baroque church reconstructed after the war. Art lovers can admire the architecture and sculptures of Dresden Zwinger palace from the outside, or works by Rembrandt and Raphael among the masterpieces in its Old Masters Picture Gallery.
The concierge recommends…
Hotels in Dresden
Dresden offers hotels for all budgets and needs, both in the city centre and in the leafier suburbs. Thanks to an excellent network of trams and buses, you can quickly reach the main attractions from the quieter neighbourhoods outside the centre.
In the Altstadt, major landmarks like Dresden Zwinger and Dresden Royal Palace are all within walking distance. So is the Elbe river, a perfect starting point for an outing by bike or boat. The Internationales Congress Center Dresden and the Semperoper are also found here.
Staying in Äußere Neustadt, a short tram ride from the old town, puts you right in the middle of Dresden’s vibrant art scene and you can drink and dance at buzzing student bars and clubs.
Residential Südvorstadt, south of Dresden Main Station, has wide, tree-lined streets and parks and is a good choice If you prefer a quieter neighbourhood.
Eating Out in Dresden
Dresden’s own cuisine is characterised by Saxon home cooking, sweet, spicy pastries and local white wines. The wider gastronomical landscape is colourful and diverse, ranging from down-to-earth beer gardens to sushi bars and top-class international restaurants.
Around Altmarkt and Neumarkt you can enjoy a Saxon pot roast with a view of Frauenkirche or have a drink on Brühl’s Terrace and watch the boats drifting by on the Elbe. Italian, Indian and Spanish restaurants are clustered around Weiße Gasse, opposite Kreuzkirche.
For a touch of luxury, visit Innere Neustadt. Hidden in picturesque baroque courtyards between its galleries and antique shops, elegant restaurants offer Saxon cuisine, sushi and tapas.
Much-loved by students, musicians and artists, the hip restaurants and cosy cafés of Äußere Neustadt serve everything from rare steaks to organic vegan delicacies.
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Shopping in Dresden
Whether you’re looking for artisan craftwork, luxury goods, fashion or antiques, you’re sure to find the right shop in Dresden, so why not combine your sightseeing tour with a shopping spree?
The spherical Kugelhaus opposite Dresden Main Station and the grand Altmarkt-Galerie shopping centre are connected by Prager Straße. Here you can find major brands as well as small shops selling clothes, shoes and books. From Altmarkt-Galerie it’s a 10-minute walk to Neumarkt, where designer clothes and jewellery beckon from stylish boutiques.
On the right bank of the Elbe, you can hunt for antiques in the upscale Baroque Quarter Innere Neustadt between Königstraße and Hauptstraße. Make sure you visit the spectacular Neustadt
Market Hall, a huge indoor market with elaborate iron staircases and railings, for local produce, spices and gifts.
North of Albertplatz, Äußere Neustadt is an artistic neighbourhood where you can discover craftwork and original gifts in the courtyards and alleys of Kunsthofpassage.
Must buy in Dresden
Culture & Nightlife in Dresden
Dresden’s abundance of museums and art galleries ranges from classic to contemporary and unusually-themed. Every September, you can visit as many museums as you like with one ticket during Museumsnacht Dresden – or “Museum Night”.
Altstadt’s German Hygiene Museum has fascinating exhibits dedicated to medicine, society and science. The glass cases in opulent royal treasure chamber Grünes Gewölbe display gold jewellery and elaborate decorative arts.
Contemporary galleries specialising in 20th- and 21st-century Saxon art are clustered in the “Kunstquartier Barockviertel” in Innere Neustadt. Bundeswehr Museum of Military History in northern Äußere Neustadt displays some 10,000 exhibits from uniforms to military vehicles.
Nightlife thrives in Neustadt and around Albertplatz, where bars and clubs play music from electro to punk. In the summer, you can enjoy a drink at one of the beach clubs near Leipziger Straße on the right bank of the Elbe.
Classical music in Dresden
Visiting Dresden with a Family
Dresden has all the right ingredients for family walks, cycling tours and outdoor activities, with extensive parks and gardens, the winding Elbe river and Dresden Heath forest right on the doorstep. Family-friendly museums and playgrounds offer ideal alternatives for inquisitive little minds on rainy days.
Take a half-hour ride on the Park Railway or relax with a picnic on the grassy lawns of the huge Grosser Garten, home to Dresden’s Zoo and Botanical Garden.
Take your pick from canoes, motor boats or steamboats, depending on your energy level, to explore the River Elbe by boat. A cycle tour along the Elbe Cycle Route passes picturesque castles, villages and vineyards.
On a rainy day, you can shelter in one of the popular Kindercafés, child-friendly cafés with indoor play areas. Children can also burn off some energy at indoor playgrounds such as Kuddeldaddeldu in Elbepark shopping centre.
Best family attractions in Dresden