In 2006, Dresden celebrated its 800th year as a city. Before being devastated by World War II bombs, it was a hub of art, classical music and glorious architecture. Gradually, the city has regenerated and today it’s home to more than 40 museums, 13,000 cultural monuments, and a host of concerts and events throughout the year.
Dresden’s great buildings continue to rise from the ashes. The lavish Katholische Hofkirche church was reconstructed in the mid 1980s. So too was the early Renaissance and Baroque-style Semperoper opera house. In 2005, rebuilding of the magnificently domed Dresden Frauenkirche was completed. Other photogenic highlights include Zwinger Palace and the city’s Baroque Quarter.
Dresden is one of Europe’s most important museum cities. Delve into the city’s past at the Dresden City Museum. Marvel at the invaluable collection of European treasures in the Green Vault. Learn more about who you are at the German Hygiene Museum, which has exhibitions about the human body. Gaze at the paintings, spanning from the Romantic period to now, which hang in the Albertinum.
Dresden knows how to throw a party. May’s Dixieland Festival is one of the biggest jazz gatherings in Europe. In the summer, the Filmnächte season screens cinema on the banks of the Elbe. Dresden’s Neustadt area comes alive in June with the Bunte Republik Neustadt street festival. Winter brings the Striezelmarkt, one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets.
Dresden nightlife is perennially buzzing, especially in Neustadt. For local crafts, souvenirs and antiques, hit the Altmarkt, Hauptstraße, Heinrichstraße or Königstraße.
For a break away from the city center, head for Dresdner Heide. This municipal nature reserve borders the northeast fringe of the city. It consists of 15,155 acres (6,133 hectares) of forestland; plenty of space to hike or cycle.
Peak season in Dresden is between June and August; the average high is about 72 F (22 C). Because there’s so much to do indoors, a visit in the off-season still guarantees plenty to do.
Dresden Airport is located about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the city center. Probably the fastest, and certainly cheapest, way to make the journey is by the S-Bahn from the station. Trains depart regularly, and take about 20 minutes to reach Dresden’s central station.