Top Dresden Recommendations for a Weekend Getaway
I just got back from a wonderful solo weekend in Dresden and it was exactly what I needed. Some “me time” in a completely new city, accompanied by that familiar rush of the unfamiliar, where you don’t know what you’re going to discover as you turn the corner. I scouted out good cafés, had too much cake and took way too many photos – it was perfect!
Dresden is a very different city from Berlin, and just a two-hour drive away (with plenty of train and bus options connecting the two). If you’re thinking of spending a couple of days in the regal city of Dresden, here are my top recommendations.
Dresden is often hailed as a cultural capital. Even if you aren’t a museum person, you can soak up the history just by wandering around the Old Town. In fact, the Altstadt’s steeples and baroque palaces are hard to miss as you wander down bustling Pragerstraße, guiding you in the right direction.
Much of Dresden was destroyed towards the end of World War II by allied bombs. In the last few decades, the city has rebuilt its historic buildings, brick by brick. Much like Szczecin, Dresden’s Old Town is actually very new. It is also quite small and walkable, so you can reach the banks of the Elbe in a few minutes.
Key site in the old town include the iconic Frauenkirche (Church of the Ladies), the Dresden Castle and the Zwingergarten. To take in Dresden’s impressive baroque skyline, go for a waterfront wander along Brühl’s Terrace, lining the Elbe River and leading right to the heart of the Old Town.
Next, cross one of the bridges to Dresden’s Neustadt, or New Town. Here, you will see the famous Golden Rider statue of King Augustus II. The statue marks the start of Hauptstraße, lined by flowerbeds on both sides that stretch on for half a kilometre.
If you veer away from Hauptstraße, you’ll discover tidy streets lined by stylish buildings, many of which are private residences. There was a definite Chelsea vibe to wandering around this neighbourhood.
Crossing the bridge on the way back to the Old Town, you’ll have clear views of Dresden’s baroque skyline.
Another place to explore is the Grosser Garten, Dresden’s equivalent of Central Park. This large green space houses a castle at its heart. As I visited in early spring, there were quite a few wildflowers blossoming. The trees were still bare, but I can imagine the park looking almost fairytale like in the summer.
The eternal Instagrammer, I’m always looking for the best spots to take photos of every city. A friend told me that I could climb to the top of the Frauenkirche’s dome, which doubles up as a panoramic lookout over the city. The sun came out just as I finished walking up the spiral ramp, gifting those of us who were up there with great photo ops. Entry costs 8 euros, so make sure you have cash on you.
While I was only in Dresden for 48 hours, I found three restaurants and cafés that I can safely recommend.
I got to Dresden at 11 am, starving. After checking into my hotel, I wandered towards the Old Town in search of pretty buildings and decent food. I got lucky with both. I stumbled upon Central, which served an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet facing the state Altmarkt (one of Dresden’s many historic squares). Here, you could choose from croissants, meats and cheeses, salads, pancakes, fruit platters, the works! In other words, a brunch lover’s paradise.
The following morning, I had breakfast bright and early at Moka Café. Walking for 20 minutes in flats at -1 degrees was worth it, because I ordered the absolute best latté I’ve had in Germany! This little café also served delicious homemade marmelade to go on warm bread and a selection of meat and cheeses for breakfast. I think if I lived in Dresden, I would stop by every morning.
In the afternoon, I entered the world of Kaffee und Kuchen at Kuchen Atelier, the chic and stylish café set within the romantic Gewandhaus Hotel. I had a slice of cherry chocolate pie in the luminous café, accompanied by the Atelier’s take own take on a cappuccino. A fun spot to people watch in pretty surrounds – and the cherry blossoms outside are a real showstopper.
If you’d like to feel like Juliet, with or without Romeo, book a room at the Gewandhaus Dresden. At the core of this boutique hotel is an inner courtyard with a sun roof, surrounded by balconies – some of which belong to private suites. It makes you seem foolish not to be wandering the halls in a long, flowing dress. And of course, there’s cake downstairs!
To wake up with Dresden at your feet, stay at the Pullman. This modern hotel, conveniently set close to the Old Town and the train station, affords prime views over the Altstadt, thanks to bay windows in every room. As evening approaches, head up to the 14th floor to watch the sun go down over Dresden.