Dresden surprises visitors, with fanciful Baroque architecture in a delightful-to-stroll cityscape, a dynamic history that mingles tragedy with inspiration, and some of the best museum-going in Germany. Today's Dresden is a young and vibrant city, crawling with proud locals, cheery tourists, and happy-go-lucky students who have no memory of communism. This intriguing and fun city winds up on far fewer American itineraries than it deserves to. Don't make that mistake.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Historic Green Vault Fairy-tale Baroque halls holding a trove of sparkling gems and curiosities collected by the rulers of Saxony.
▲▲ New Green Vault More Saxon treasures, but displayed in sleek modern spaces.
▲▲ Old Masters Gallery Grand collection of paintings filling the eastern wing of the Zwinger Palace and featuring top pieces from the most prominent Renaissance masters.
▲▲ Royal Armory in the Giant's Hall and Coin Cabinet Impressive display of some of Europe's finest medieval armor, much of it posed to make it easy to imagine these suits and lances in action.
▲▲ Albertinum Paintings and sculpture from the Romantic era through present day, with big-name works clustered in the New Masters Gallery.
▲▲ Frauenkirche Bell-shaped Baroque landmark church whose exquisite restoration has come to symbolize Dresden's rebirth after its firebombing and Communist-era neglect.
▲ Porcelain Collection World's largest array of decorative ceramics, with enough variety and sheer artistry to interest just about anyone.
▲ Turkish Chamber Hall within the Royal Palace housing Augustus the Strong's impressive collection of Turkish swag.
▲ Katholiche Hofkirche Huge Catholic church at the foot of the Augustus Bridge and home to a stirring memorial to the February 1945 firebombing.
▲ New Town (Neustadt) and Outer New Town Stately never-bombed neighborhood of restaurants and shops just across the river from the Old Town, with and edgy, proudly counter-cultural district stretching north from Albertplatz.
Mathematics-Physics Salon Engaging and beautifully presented collection of Age of Discovery -era clocks, globes, telescopes, and other scientific instruments in the northwestern wing of the Zwinger palace.
Watchman's Tower Lookout tower of the Royal Palace, offering fun city views.
Semperoper Sumptuous home to the Saxon State Opera, visitable by guided tour.
Prager Strasse Classic Communist-era promenade connecting the main train station the middle of town.
German Hygiene Museum Fun, somewhat dated and largely interactive exhibits designed to explain and explore human biology.
Volkswagen's Transparent Factory Car-assembly factory with tours that let you watch the VW sausage getting made.
Military History Museum Gigantic space covering nearly a millennium of Germanic war-making, presented with an eye toward furthering an understanding of the costs of violence.
Outside the City Center
Along the Elbe River to the Blue Wonder Bridge Easy excursion to a relaxing spot on Dresden's lazy river.
Saxon Switzerland National Park Unique rocky landscape located 40 minutes outside Dresden by train, featuring the fairy-tale Bastei Bridge.