The historic city of Dresden, capital of the Free State of Saxony in Germany will definitely capture your attention with its rich culture and breathtaking architecture. It’s only a couple of hours away from Prague by bus or train; making it a perfect destination for a day trip. I found Dresden to be a very unique city, and the fact that I was lucky enough to be there on the first day of the opening of its 2016 Christmas Market, made me like it even more! Furthermore, the center of Dresden is pretty compact; it’s easy to get around as most of the Old Town sights are within walking distance.
The starting point of our exploration was at the Dresden Hauptbahnhof. Here is the list of everything we did during our day trip and that we totally recommend to anyone who is visiting Dresden during that time of the year:
1. Coffee and Breakfast.
Following the “Prager Straße”, we ended up strolling around the center of Dresden and wandering in its magical Christmas Markets. But, since we arrived early in the morning, our first stop had to be for coffee and breakfast at Bäckerei und Konditorei Schwerdtner GmbH.
2. Enjoy the Dresden Christmas Markets.
The Altmarkt Square is where the world famous “Dresden Striezelmarkt” is located . It’s Germany’s oldest and most traditional Christmas Market with a very long history dating back to 1434. Of course it’s only one of the eleven Christmas markets in Dresden, but it’s considered to be the most important.
The traditional hand-made crafts, wood ornaments, decorations, toys and woolen accessories, are a real treasure trove. Besides shopping handmade Christmas toys and other gifts, all of Dresden’s Christmas Markets offer a vast variety of local and international cuisine. Have some hot wine, snack on some waffles,pretzels, or even cheese and other traditional goodies and besides going to a fancy restaurant, choose to enjoy some German street food like bratwurst, currywurst, woodoven baked flatbread and more!
There were also rides for children like a Ferris wheel, trains and a carousel. One could not help but notice the abundance of people of all ages, local Germans and tourists of course.
3. Take a good glance at the “Frauenkirche”.
The Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) is Germany’s most important Protestant church. After WWII, the church was left in ruins, but was able to be reconstructed 60 years after the war thanks to donations from German and international foundations.
4. Admire the “Zwinger”.
The Zwinger is one of Dresden’s most famous buildings; an alluring example of courtly baroque architecture and one of the most beautiful buildings you will see in Dresden. Today the Zwinger serves as a museum complex that contains the Old Masters Picture Gallery, the Dresden Porcelain Collection (Porzellansammlung) and the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon.
5. Head to Brühl’s Terrace a.k.a. the “Balcony of Europe”.
One of the most popular highlights of Dresden is the top of the Renaissance Fort, a terrace named “Balcony of Europe”, that offers a gorgeous view over the Elbe river and the monumental buildings of the Neustadt district, on the opposite bank.
The terrace is also home to the Albertinum where you can wonder in the Bruhlsche Garden and also check out the two museums: the New Masters Gallery and the collection of Sculptures.
6. Walk accross the “Augustusbrücke”.
Also known as “Augusts Bridge“, it’s the main crossing over the Elbe River, which links the historic city centre to Innere Neustadt. You can either walk this bridge or take a tram, as it offers a great panoramic view of the Old Town.
7. Wander in the Old Town and admire the architecture.
The Fürstenzug (Procession of Princes), is the world’s largest porcelain mural. It portraits Saxonian kings, lords and electors between 1127 and 1904 and was created by alchemist, Johann Friedrich Bottger.
The Dresden Cathedral, or Katholische Hofkirche, is a unique combination of Roman and baroque architecture. The heart of King Augustus II, “August the Strong,” is kept in a copper case underneath the Hofkirche, and legend has it that whenever a beautiful woman goes by, his heart begins to beat again.
Pause for a minute and take a good look at the golden statue of August the Strong on his horse, at the centre of the square just on the mouth of Augustus Bridge.
Take a good look at the neo-renaissance opera building, the Semperor, one of the most famous opera houses in Germany, or even visit one of the evening performances.
8. Do some shopping!
Dresden, apart from being a city of great historical significance and full of astonishing landmarks, is also great for shopping as it has a variety of brands and shops to offer. The main shopping area in the city is from the central railway station (Hauptbahnhof) straight to the old town (Prager Strasse: Centrum Galerie mall, Karstadt, Wöhrl and Peek & Cloppenburg). Just off the Altmarkt square is Altmarktgalerie shopping mall as well.
Overall, speding a day in Dresden was enough to explore its charming center and was all that I needed to make me wanting to visit this city again. If I ever do visit Dresden again, it would defenitely be for more days in order to explore the city and everything it has to offer in even more depth. So if you’re staying in Berlin or in Prague, do pay a visit to Dresden as it’s not to far from there, and you will totally enjoy it!
Lot’s of love,