After years of living in Germany, I have finally managed to spend a wonderful weekend in Dresden, Germany. I was first inspired by a TV documentary which was about the rebuild of the famous Dresden Frauenkirche using the old stones. It took nearly a decade to complete both exterior and interior reconstruction.
Then, quite a while ago, I saw a picture showing the Bastei Bridge before the dawn. The picture caught my attention right away. The view was so remote and attractive.
Besides, being the royal residence for the Electors and Kings of Saxony, Dresden for centuries featured with cultural and artistic splendor. However, during the air raids of the Second World War, the city was left as a ruin. After the reunification, the re-development has started gradually. Today, the city’s many royal buildings have regained their glorious status. It is known as the “Florence of the North“, the twin city of Florence. Without doubts, I planned a long weekend in Dresden.
My long weekend in Dresden started from Thursday to Sunday. To be honest, I had difficulty to add more activities to my tight itinerary. Nevertheless, in the four days, I managed to discover not only the sites in the city but also its surroundings.
Weekend in Dresden Itinerary
Our weekend trip started from Thursday and ended on Sunday.
- Thursday – Dresden old town and the city’s night views
- Friday – three castles in Dresden, Moritzburg Castle, and Wackerbarth Castle
- Saturday – Pillnitz Castle garden, the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, and the Bastei Bridge
- Sunday – Meissen old town walking tour and the Porcelain Workshop tour
Thursday – Dresden old town and the city’s night views
The first day explored the major sites in Dresden and the city’s night views.
All major sites in Dresden are within walking distance. We spent several hours wandering around the old town and walked along the Elbe riverside. After dinner, we spent another two hours in the old centre to capture the scenes of the illuminated buildings.
Friday – three castles in Dresden, Moritzburg Castle, and Wackerbarth Castle
The second day was the castle day. Our itinerary included three castles in Dresden, Moritzburg Castle, and Wackerbarth Castle.
The three castles Albrechtsberg Castle, Lingner Castle, and Eckberg Castle are just next to each other. To walk through three castles, it takes around one hour. But we spent some time at each castle and also enjoyed the riverside views highlighted by a river cruise, an old steamer.
Then, in the early afternoon, we headed to Moritzburg Castle. The Castle ground is huge with trees, ponds, meadows, and a small harbour. It is impossible to walk the entire castle park in a few hours. In most places, we were the only visitors.
In the late afternoon, we went to Wackerbarth Castle to taste wines. Meanwhile, there is also a nice walkway in the vineyard. It took us 90 minutes to complete the round walk.
Related post: Medieval Castles in Dresden and the City’s Surroundings
Saturday – Pillnitz Castle garden, the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, and the Bastei Bridge
The places we visited were the Pillnitz Castle garden, the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, and the Bastei Bridge.
As we stayed in Dresden, the Pillnitz Castle is just on the way to the natural wonder, the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. So we had a relaxed walk in the most beautiful garden in Saxony and had lunch in the Castle hotel restaurant.
In the afternoon, we admired the unique landscape of the Elbe Sandstone Mountain, including the famous Bastei Bridge. The walking route to see the Bastei Bridge is easy. We spent roughly three hours in the area. At the end of the day, we had a rest in the panorama restaurant of Berghotel Bastei with a wonderful sunset view over the Königstein Fortress.
Related post: Bastei, the Natural Wonder in Saxon Switzerland, Germany
Sunday – Meissen old town walking tour and the Porcelain Workshop tour
The activities were the day trip to Meissen and the Porcelain Workshop tour.
Meissen is only a 30-minute drive from Dresden. So it is a perfect day trip destination from Dresden. The city consists of two old parts. The city’s historic walkway is well sign-posted. There were several stairways in the old centre. We could see the city from Albrechtburg Castle hill.
The current Meissen factory is not far from the old city centre. Therefore, we took the chance to join the Meissen Porcelain Workshop Tour on the factory premise and witnessed the German craftsmanship. That was the last tour of our weekend in Dresden.
Related post: Meissen Porcelain Workshop Tour and Porcelain Museum
Where I stayed
To make our trip more comfortable, our family stayed in Holiday Inn Express Dresden City Centre. The hotel is around 100 metres to the historic square Altmarkt. For centuries the historic square hosts a popular Christmas market. There are plenty of parking places opposite the hotel. And the parking costs only a couple of Euros per day. Besides, the hotel offers a very nice breakfast with several German hams, cheeses, different types of bread and vegetables. You can find this hotel on booking.com or hotelscombined.com.
If you opt for luxury but affordable hotels, please take a look at several historic hotels in Dresden.
Related post: Historic Hotels in Dresden, Luxury but Affordable
The locals offer some tours in English and other languages. The tours are not expansive, mainly because the cost in the area is still relatively lower compared to the other big German cities. There were quite a lot of tourists joining the tours. Let the local tour guides entertain you with some hidden stories about the sites. The following tours are my recommendations:
- Semperoper Tickets and 45-Minute Guided Tour
- Elbe River Cruise to Meissen
- Elbe River Cruise to Pillnitz Castle
- Tickets to the Meissen Porcelain Factory
If you are visiting Prague or Berlin, it is also possible to join a tour to explore Dresden in one day:
How to get there
If you want to several castles in Dresden on your own, the best way to reach Dresden is by car. But if you arrive at Frankfurt am Main or Berlin, you can rent a car from rentalcars.com. The distance between Berlin and Dresden is less than 200km. It takes around 2 hours to reach Dresden. By all mean, it is practical to look around Dresden by self-driving, if you don’t want to join a tour.
Dresden has also Airport. Eurowings and Lufthansa have flights to Dresden from some big German cities.