There are so many things to do in and around Dresden! Truly, more than just a day trip, Dresden is filled with historic buildings, remarkable sites, and breathtaking views at Bastei Bridge.
It’s only a few hours away from our hometown in Grafenwoehr, which meant we could spend the majority of our time touring the area. Our trip consisted of so many “Wow” moments, that we’ve created a detailed list of things to do in Dresden just for you!
Americans Living in Germany: Know Before You Go
We know that it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of traveling. Here’s a reminder of the things to always remember when traveling as an American. Bring cash, your passport, and your military ID.
Traveling by car from Grafenwoehr, Germany will take you approximately 3hrs by A93 and A72.
Prior to the trip, pack for comfort and walking. Comfortable shoes and clothes for being active are essential! Most of the landmarks and places you’ll want to see are within a few miles walking distance of each other.
Quick Facts About Dresden
- – With a population of 554,649, the captial city of the state of Saxony, Dresden is one of the largest cities by population and the 12th largest in the country of Germany.
- – With it’s rich history and grand architecture, it’s one of the most visited cities in Germany.
- – Only a 45 minute drive via A17 from Dresden to Bastei Bridge.
Where to Stay
We love to take our dog with us! So we always find a dog-friendly place to stay. It was a huge win when we found the centrally located, historic hotel – Steinberger Hotel De Saxe. Literally in the middle of the downtown area of Dresden. It’s also within walking distance of many of the historic sites to visit.
And the hotel has a restaurant on-site! With 24-hour room service, too! We enjoyed a scrumptious breakfast on the balcony. Trust us when we say the view from the balcony is a perfect place to gaze upon the city just before exploring Dresden.
Things to do in Dresden
Altstadt (old city) Dresden makes it easy to be a tourist. Many of the attractions are within walking distance of each other and are full of rich history.
Within walking distance from the Steinberger Hotel is The Frauenkirche, known as the Church of Our Lady. It’s free and open to the public Monday through Friday, morning and afternoon. The church does hold services and gives tours. Plus, you’ll want to check the website for mask requirements.
Originally built in the 11th century as a mission church, it was destroyed just prior to World War II. The current building is made out of as much of the original materials as possible. The ruins still remain as a memorial. Donations from around the globe helped to rebuild this glorious structure.
After you visit the baroque-style church, pop over to the Japanese Palace. You’ll be awe-struck with the area that isn’t just one museum, but a complex of 15 museums. The history dates all the way back to 1721.
Tickets are needed to enter and they vary depending on what you’d like to see. The hours and days the complex are open vary as well. If you get hungry while you’re spending the day visiting all the places you can grab a quick bite or coffee at Palais Cafe. It’s a savory, vegan, vegetarian cafe open Wednesday through Sunday 10 – 6 pm.
As a part of the museum complex, Zwinger was created by Augustus the Strong who wanted to create a total work of art to function between the inner and outer structure of the fortification. Zwinger, which means fortress between the inner and outer fortress, was built in 1709 and is considered to be one of the most important buildings from the Baroque period, it’s also considered the most famous architectural monument in Dresden.
Something a little different than viewing monuments, historic building is a visit to Citybeach. It’s a short drive over the historic Augustus Bridge. Once you get to Citybeach, you can enjoy some sand, palm trees, a beach bar & grill. Or play some beach volleyball and have some ice cream, it’s like a little mini-vacation in a vacation!
You definitely can’t miss this Lipuisbau building. Knicknamed the “lemon squeezer” because of its glass dome top structure, the pronounced position in the city is hard to miss! The original name came from its creator, the architecture professor Constantin Lipsius. This building houses an art gallery and an art academy.
Definitely visit the website to find out hours and openings.
Besides being Dresden’s opera house, the magnificence of this structure is not only outstanding but striking. Opera’s history in this area dates back to 1667. Dresden became a vibrant place for the European opera urding the time of Hofkapellmeister Johann Adolph Hasse. Since that time, audiences have enjoyed world premieres and everything from Italian to German operas. And Semperoper doesn’t just provide opera, but musical theatre, ballet, and more!
For tickets to the ballet, opera or more, visit the website.
Katholische Hofkirche: Catholic Court Church
Even from the outside, you can enjoy the majesty of this church. Built between 1726 and 1743, it still stands today. It is distinguished from other monuments with its impressive height and ornate walkway. It’s a pleasant place to visit and walkthrough. The building exudes tranquility and is unquestionably a place you need to add to your tour.
Standing in the same place since the 12th century here is yet another structure created by Augustus II the Strong of Poland. While it remains in the same location, the structure itself has changed with time and adapted to the different forms of transportation.
Now operating as an office building, the beginning of the construction was in 1886 by Hugo Zeitz. Known as the “Oriental Tobacco and Cigarette Factory Yenidze,” the building was completed in 1909 and is one of the few that does not fit into the styles of the baroque and renaissance buildings in the area. Plus, the original reason for the building did not fit into the city requirements by advertising cigarette brands. Nonetheless, the building is still considered the “most striking building in Dresden.”
Stallhof and Procession of Princes
This place is definitely a sight to see! First, a little history lesson to bring it to life. Stallhof means Stall Courtyard and is a part of the Royal Palace complex. It originally represented the history of the Wettins, Saxony’s ruling family. It has an extraordinary 101-meter-long mural of The Procession of Princes located outside of the Stallhof. Today this area is called the “long walk” and the courtyard is used for cultural events.
The Grand Garden Palace
We love a nice walk through the splendid garden! The Grand Garden Palace is filled with enchanting, plush, detailed beauty. The garden is truly a work of art within itself!
Open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am – 6 pm, this garden is full of quiet pockets of shade for picnics, walking trails, and they even have a small steam railway that will take you around the entire park.
After a few days exploring Dresden, we headed on a 45-minute journey in our car to see the most famous rock formations in Germany at Bastei Bridge. And let’s just say the views are breathtaking. When you’re on Bastei Bridge, you have a panoramic view of the rock formations. All while the Elbe River flows 250 feet under the bridge.
The Bastei Bridge is in between the massive rocks, along with a hiking trail that covers so much area. Before taking the hike, make sure you have plenty of water, comfortable shoes, and clothes. This is a hike to be fully taken in, but with the right footwear. The grandeur of this Saxon Switzerland National Park is awe-inspiring!
You will have to pay for parking. Up to 3 hours is 3 EUR. More than 3 hours is 5.50 EUR. Bus parking is 11 EUR.
Plan your trip!
Make sure you bring comfy shoes. The ground is uneven and there are really steep stairs. Maybe a walking or hiking stick if need be. You will most definitely get your steps in with this adventure. While you are allowed to take photos, you cannot use drones. You will be fined if you do.
There is no fee to enter the bridge or view the rock formations, but there is a small fee for the entrance to Felsenburg Neurathen (medieval stone castle ruins) within the compound. They are open seven days a week and do have hours posted, but they do close the gate in the evenings.
History of Bastei Bridge
The Bastei Bridge is over the major rivers in Central Europe known as the Elbe River. The major tributaries include multiple other rivers. Rising in the Czech Republic’s Giant Mountains, the Elbe River traverses much of Bohemia, then Germany. Finally, flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven.
Bastei Bridge was originally built in 1824 as a wooden bridge. Its goal was to link several rocks for visitors. The wooden bridge was replaced by the present bridge made of sandstone.
Where to stay near Bastei Bridge
Just before the entrance of the bridge, you’ll see the Berghotel Bastei. The Berghotel goes over and above to make sure your stay is great! There’s an onsite spa, 24-hour room service, and more!
There’s a restaurant on-site, the Panorama Restaurant, for you to enjoy local and international food. The restaurant’s hours vary depending on the time of year, so make sure and check the website first.
Whether your destination is a quick visit to the bridge or a long weekend in Dresden, you’ll find plenty of enjoyment out of this Saxony trip.