15 Finest Locations to Go to in Saxony (Dresden Day Journeys)
With Dresden’s magnificent structure and Leipzig’s free-thinking creativity, grand castles and stately palaces, and the serenity of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, one of the best locations to go to in Saxony, Germany, are as riveting because the state’s historical past.
As a part of Soviet-occupied East Germany (GDR), Dresden was all however razed in WWII earlier than being painstakingly reconstructed. Leipzig’s peaceable protests had been an important a part of Germany’s reunification, resulting in the state being formally reformed with its present borders in 1990. Different nods to extra distant historical past are simply discovered, with traditionally very important fortresses and former estates of noble households dotting the land.
The area can also be revered for its contributions to tradition and artwork, so it’s no shock lots of the finest issues to do in Saxony contain music, reminiscent of visiting an Opera Home or having fun with a live performance in opposition to a palace backdrop.
Different common day journeys from Dresden – though a few of these locations actually deserve longer – embody underrated cities which inform the tales of indigenous communities or conventional dishes, wine estates with river views, and the verdant and rocky Saxon Switzerland Nationwide Park, which traverses the border with Czechia.
Whether or not you wish to city kayak, hop between museums, hike unadulterated landscapes or study historical mining traditions, Saxony greater than has you lined.
These are 15 of one of the best (in my view) locations to go to in Saxony – however first, listed below are a couple of FAQs that will help you plan your journey.
No, they aren’t – and it may be a bit of complicated that the three states have the identical identify. Decrease Saxony is definitely in northwest Germany (the capital is Hanover), whereas Saxony-Anhalt (capital Magdeburg) borders Saxony. Saxony’s formal identify is the Free State of Saxony. The area’s historical past explains a bit extra about how the names got here to be, together with why Higher Saxony is definitely situated beneath Decrease Saxony.
Sure, Sachsen is the German language identify for Saxony.
Completely! I’ve visited the state twice (as soon as in summer time and once more in winter) and had improbable journeys each occasions. Within the winter, Saxony is a superb place to go to for Christmas Markets in Dresden and festive traditions within the Ore Mountains. The hotter months are perfect for mountain climbing within the Saxon Switzerland Nationwide Park, sipping regional wines alongside the Elbe river, and visiting the numerous palaces and castles dotted across the area.
If you wish to take a deep dive into the Free State of Saxony on a rail or highway journey, I’d counsel spending per week within the area. This may permit you sufficient time to go to Dresden, Leipzig, the Saxon Switzerland Nationwide Park, and a number of other smaller cities and castles. When you’re pressed for time, an extended weekend will can help you see the area’s highlights in the event you transfer every day.
Dresden is maybe one of the best base for a go to to Saxony, particularly in the event you plan to get round by public transport because it’s very nicely linked. Leipzig is one other good metropolis base, however not as centrally situated. When you’re coming for Christmas markets and conventional experiences, you may wish to contemplate Chemnitz or Seiffen. Nature lovers will possible choose a base across the spa city of Dangerous Schandau.
Whereas some would say that Dresden may very well be accomplished as a fast-paced day journey from Berlin, I’d urge you to contemplate spending a minimum of two days in Dresden. Town has plenty of historical past, grand structure and a few improbable museums to go to, in addition to sights close by alongside the Elbe.
The Bastei Bridge in Saxon Switzerland Nationwide Park and Leipzig are maybe the most well-liked and best-known day journeys from Dresden. Bautzen is among the finest day journeys as you may study in regards to the Sorbs, a West Slavic ethnic group, or alongside the Elbe River for wineries and castles.
Dresden and Leipzig’s airports provide a restricted alternative of flights and primarily serve close by international locations and home connections, though they do have Ryanair flights to London. Excessive-speed rail connects the area with Munich and Nuremberg, offering various flight choices. Or, for a flight-free journey from the UK, contemplate the brand new London to Berlin night time prepare by way of Brussels adopted by a regional connection utilizing Germany’s new €49 regional rail go.
Earlier than diving into the entire different unbelievable locations to go to in Saxony as day journeys from Dresden, let’s first speak in regards to the area’s showstopping capital itself. A criminally underrated European metropolis, Dresden flanks the Elbe River with magnificence and charm. Awash with elegant Baroque structure and loads of cultural areas, it’s arduous to think about simply how a lot this metropolis suffered throughout WWII.
To provide you an concept of the quantity of labor and love which went into reconstructing Dresden after the extreme bombing, check out these pictures contrasting the then and now. But, as you wander between the church buildings, squares and grand structure of the Altstadt (Previous City), you’d by no means know – this was restoration at a passionate, devoted and detailed degree.
Unsurprisingly for the state’s capital, lots of the prime issues to do in Saxony could be present in Dresden, with a selected concentrate on artwork and tradition.
Dresden Zwinger, an enormous Baroque masterpiece of palace, courtyards, and fountains, is the main woman, with cultural kingpins such because the Porcelain and the acclaimed Previous Masters Image Gallery inside her partitions. For one thing particular, you may ebook tickets to a Gala live performance on the Zwinger. Semperoper Dresden, the town’s opera home, is an equally spectacular overture, and you may get pleasure from a guided tour by reserving upfront in the event you don’t plan to see a efficiency.
Different prequels and sequels of the town embody Dresden Fortress, the town’s hulking cathedral, and the Fürstenzug, a formidable and expansive exterior paintings depicting a royal procession.
The grand finale although is actually The Frauenkirche, an imposing centrally-located church full with gold interiors and a hulking dome. From the viewing platform, you’ll get a number of the metropolis’s most interesting views, together with throughout the Elbe River to the extra trendy quarter, the place impartial artist retailers and funky bars are discovered across the Kunsthofpassage.
Issues to do in Dresden
Of all of the locations to go to in Saxony, Germany, Leipzig is maybe probably the most distinct. This metropolis has an industrial spirit and a college environment, which makes it really feel a world away from the extra old-world cities close by. Whereas I’d say the oft-given moniker of the ‘new Berlin’ is maybe a bit excessive, you may actually see some similarities.
That’s to not say forward-thinking Leipzig hasn’t paid its dues to Saxony’s classical heritage. The truth is, it’s removed from the alternative. Classical composer Wagner hails from Leipzig, whereas Bach lived, composed and died right here. The Gewandhaus Orchestra claims the title of the oldest civic symphony orchestra on the earth.
But it surely’s additionally a metropolis steeped in industrialism. Whether or not you’re touring the BMW manufacturing facility, strolling by way of the dated retail passageways whereas studying in regards to the beginnings of the town’s Previous Commerce Truthful in 1913 – one of many oldest on the earth – or admiring the gathering within the Spinnerei Galleries, housed in an previous cotton manufacturing facility, you’ll be inadvertently connecting with the cities manufacturing previous.
Leipzig can also be some of the essential locations to go to in Saxony to study Germany’s previous, as the town’s peaceable protests every Monday are one of many key elements which led to the autumn of the GDR and east and west reunification.
After all, that scholar inhabitants and references to a ‘new Berlin’ assist the town come alive at night time, with some banging golf equipment holding the rave going till the early mornings – maybe motive sufficient to overlook visiting on a day journey from Dresden and staying a minimum of one night time.
The right way to get to Leipzig: It takes round 80 minutes to achieve Leipzig by prepare or automotive, making it a simple day and common day journey from Dresden. Nonetheless, it’s a big metropolis with nice nightlife, so that you may wish to make it a separate metropolis break or keep for a minimum of one night time.
There are a whole lot of castles and palaces in Saxony, Germany, with a handful of those being alongside the Elbe River on Dresden’s peripherals, and Albrechtsberg is among the most spectacular.
Constructed for a Prussian value within the mid-1800s, the palace’s in depth gardens, fountains, and stairways are an inviting prelude to the grand inside. Visitable by guided tour, the inside rooms retain their bygone appeal despite the fact that the town now owns the constructing.
If you end up in Dresden in July, you’ll be fortunate sufficient to get pleasure from one of many prime issues to do in Saxony’s occasion calendar – attend the Dresdner Schlössernacht, which takes place on the palace’s grounds.
This avant-garde competition was one of many highlights of my second go to to Saxony, as musicians, performers, fireworks, nice wines, and projections on the fort welcomed in the summertime with a bang. Everybody was dressed up and seemed improbable, and at sundown, the DJ and orchestra began to play membership tracks collectively, creating an unbelievable soundtrack for the remainder of the night.
When you don’t make the Schlössernacht, maintain an eye fixed out for different occasions, reminiscent of open-air movie screenings within the hotter months.
The right way to get to Albrechtsberg Palace: Because the palace is in Dresden’s outer limits, trams and buses will carry you right here shortly. Alternatively, I loved and would suggest the stroll alongside the river, which took simply over an hour.
The Bastei Bridge & Saxon Switzerland Nationwide Park
The Bastei Bridge and rock formations are some of the common day journeys from Dresden. Nevertheless, you’ll wish to set off early to make sure you have time to discover all of the magnificent Saxon Switzerland Nationwide Park affords.
Spanning the border, the park is break up between Saxony, Germany and Czechia, the place it’s generally known as Bohemian Switzerland. A fascinating panorama of jagged rocks, passageways carved by way of boulders and dense woodland, it’s a well-liked place to go to in Saxony for mountaineering and mountain climbing.
The park’s largest draw, although, particularly with photographers, is the Bastei Bridge which sits within the shadow of a number of the most spectacular geological wonders formed by water erosion thousands and thousands of years in the past. Initially constructed from wooden, the present sandstone bridge was inbuilt 1851.
Don’t make the error of simply coming to see the bridge, although, as there are loads extra equally spectacular areas. The Stairway to Heaven – an unbelievably slim stairway between two large rocks – and a handful of waterfalls are nicely value mountain climbing for.
If you wish to go to as a full-day journey with none problem, this €20 bus tour from Dresden (together with Bastei and Königstein Fortress) may enchantment.
The right way to get to Saxon Switzerland Nationwide Park: To achieve Bastei on a day journey from Dresden, a automotive is undoubtedly the quickest as you’ll arrive in lower than an hour. Public transport will take longer, so that you’ll have to resolve if that works for you as a day journey, however there are a couple of completely different choices. You may take the prepare to Dangerous Schandau after which a ferry in the direction of Rathen and stroll, or take a public bus to Sebnitz or Pirna after which change onto a connecting service. To achieve the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ mountain climbing space, the Kirnitzschtal tram from Dangerous Schandau to Lichtenhainer Wasserfall is the way in which to go.
Königstein Fortress and Dangerous Schandau
One other of one of the best issues to do close to Saxony’s Switzerland Nationwide park is to tour the mighty Königstein Fortress. Overlooking the Elbe River, this expansive defensive advanced has been surveying the panorama since 1589, though it was a smaller fort earlier than this.
With Baroque, Renaissance, and Gothic structure, it’s a storied treasure which has been lorded over by the Saxon Royal Household, the Bohemian Kingdom and served as a royal retreat, jail, and even a spa hospital for wounded troopers. To say it’s huge could be an understatement, so make sure to permit your self sufficient time to go to.
Likelihood is in the event you’re heading to Königstein Fortress, you’ll additionally go by way of Dangerous Schandau. Whereas I didn’t spend a lot time on this city, it’s a quaint spot with a couple of thermal spas and wellness centres in the event you’re after a bit of TLC.
A peaceable technique to go to is onboard a ship journey from Dresden, permitting you to see varied castles alongside the Elbe en route earlier than arriving at Königstein Fortress. The sailings can price as little as €30 for a full-day boat journey.
The right way to get to Königstein Fortress: Sitting on the opposite facet of the river not removed from Bastei, they will simply be mixed by taking a bus from both Dangerous Schandau or Pirna.
The Elbe River and Saxony’s Vineyards
Whereas speaking in regards to the Elbe River, let me introduce you to the pristine and small-batch vineyards that may be discovered rising from its banks.
I get that Germany isn’t probably the most celebrated wine area in Europe, and the wines of Saxony are a number of the nation’s lesser-known, however that’s what intrigued me to go to. And, because it seems, after a few days speeding across the area’s smaller cities, a glass of wine with a river view had shot to the highest of my checklist of issues to do in Saxony.
The wines grown alongside the Elbe are fairly distinctive and flavoursome, with the bulk cultivated by tiny producers. There are apparently round 3000 growers right here, though the wineries that open and repair the general public are far fewer.
I visited Weingut Klaus Zimmerling, enticed by its promise that wine meets artwork. An fascinating idea and placement, the couple-owned winery provides area to each of their passions; one harvesting Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc in granite and the opposite creating some unbelievable sculptures. Degustations can be found, as are excursions of the vines – verify opening hours and ebook upfront. The onsite wine store is open from Wednesday to Sunday.
The right way to get to the vineyards: One of many closest and most easy of the Elbe River’s vineyards to go to as a day journey from Dresden is Zimmerling is only a 30-minute drive from the town. Permit an hour in the event you’ll use public transport.
If it’s not obvious but, lots of the prime issues to do in Saxony are palace visits – however bear with me, as this one has a candy Saxony deal with on the finish of it!
Pillnitz Palace and Park is among the area’s grandest affairs, made much more particular by the staircase which rises from the Elbe and as soon as served as a chic arrival level.
Sadly, I didn’t get to see the within of the Fortress – I visited through the Christmas interval when festive gentle installations take over the attractive gardens – however from the pictures of the areas that are open to the general public, reminiscent of The New Palace and the Museum of Ornamental Arts, it seems to be value a go to. Simply remember sure components shut through the winter months.
When you’re not fussed about touring the palace and would fairly see the steps and different castles close to Dresden from the waterway, you may wish to ebook the Elbe river fort river from Dresden as a substitute.
Close by, within the small village of Pillnitz, one winter deal with is accessible year-round at Bäckerei Wippler. This greater than 100-year-old bakery has been producing the everyday Dresdner Stollen – a well-liked native Christmas deal with – within the conventional technique since opening. So, the place higher to get pleasure from a espresso and a cake than within the European festive staple’s birthplace and legally protected designation space?
The right way to get to Pillnitz: By automotive, it’s round 25 minutes alongside the Elbe to Pillnitz. On public transport, it is going to take about 50 minutes with one change.
Persevering with the stately theme, the Moritzburg Fortress is one other common Dresden day journey. Designed by the identical architect as Dresden’s Zwinger, its spectacular and symmetrical magnificence is made much more enchanting by its moated location in the course of a small lake.
Whereas the skin is the place you’ll discover one of the best photograph alternatives – the pastel yellow turrets and resident swans are a photographer’s dream – the baroque inside is simply as enchanting.
You’ll additionally discover a couple of extra particular locations in Saxony close by. First, head to the well-preserved and bright-pink Fasanenschlösschen (Little Pheasant Fortress) earlier than persevering with to the pond to identify the Leuchtturm, a small lighthouse which seems to be barely misplaced in landlocked Saxony.
The right way to get to Moritzburg Fortress: A preferred day journey from Dresden means you may hop on the bus (477) from Dresden Bahnhof Neustadt and arrive in round half-hour.
Görlitz is the one one in all these locations in Saxony that I personally didn’t make it to, as unhealthy winter climate modified my schedule. Nonetheless, after I return, I hope to have the ability to make it out to this small city which straddles Germany’s border with Poland.
Probably the most easterly city within the nation, the principle motive I wished to go to – and therefore holding the advice on this article – is it’s additionally thought-about one in all Germany’s prettiest.
With a cobbled and photogenic pedestrian sq. flanked by architecturally wealthy buildings, Görlitz blends its numerous array of kinds with aptitude. Artwork Nouveau, Baroque and Renaissance all characteristic, and as WWII didn’t depart many scars on the cityscape; the mediaeval and historic stay nicely preserved. Cross the Previous City Bridge – which sits within the shadow of the town’s foreboding Gothic church – and also you’ll arrive in Zgorzelec, the Polish ‘different half’ of the town.
The right way to get to Görlitz: By prepare or automotive, it’s a 90-minute journey, making this a manageable day journey from Dresden.
Pirna is a small but lovely medieval city, and whereas it’s not probably the most thrilling place to go to in Saxony, it’s someplace you might go by way of on a bus connection to Saxon Switzerland Nationwide Park.
Sadly, in 2002, the city suffered a extreme flood which precipitated a lot injury. Now, with a lot of the worst repaired, the medieval sq., cobbled streets lined with boutique shops, and Sonnenstein Fortress shine as soon as extra.
When you resolve to spend a while within the city, the Pirna Museum – housed in a former monastery – and the views from the fortress will fill a couple of hours.
The right way to get to Pirna: Because of Pirna being on the S-Bahn (S2), this is among the quickest day journeys from Dresden – and a central connection level for sure onward journey – taking a bit of over 20 minutes. The drive will take nearer to 40 minutes.
Europe’s hidden gems
Meissen was one in all my favorite locations in Saxony, not least as a result of it’s drop-dead beautiful, particularly throughout Christmas when the city sq. is transformed right into a life-size creation calendar.
You don’t have to plan for a December journey to get pleasure from Meissen, although, because the city sparkles year-round. As you strategy Meissen, you’ll be instantly taken by the riverside views and the Fifteenth-century Albrechtsburg, a castle-cum-church which crowns the cluster of ochre rooftops. After all, a go to inside is a should, and the fort’s rooms are full of data and beautiful decor.
Some of the common issues to do in Saxony is to buy porcelain in Meissen. Lengthy a famend centre for the manufacturing of ‘white gold’ – Meissen was one of many first producers in Europe – the Stadtmuseum Meißen is full of informative shows and reveals.
If you wish to choose up some porcelain to take dwelling, you’ll discover quite a few retailers across the city, and you may even be a part of a workshop to take part on this historical custom your self.
The right way to get to Meissen: The drive to Meissen from Dresden ought to take round 45 minutes. By prepare, a change is required, which might double the journey time.
Many guests don’t realise that Saxony and Germany has an official minority language, Sorbian. To study this indigenous and ethnic minority inhabitants, Bautzen is the place to return.
The Sorb reside in components of Lusatia (which incorporates Saxony and Brandenberg), and the language is nearer to Czech and Polish than Germany. Whereas only some thousand Sorbs reside in these international locations nonetheless, it’s believed that greater than 50,000 Sorbs reside in Germany, with many calling Bautzen dwelling.
Go to Sorbisches Restaurant to eat conventional dishes and see legends depicted on the stained glass; study extra in regards to the Sorbian tradition, clothes and historical past on the Sorbian Museum; and relish the prospect to listen to the language nonetheless spoken by pockets of society.
Different issues to do in Saxony’s romantic city of Bautzen embody walks alongside the mirror-like river admiring the fort turrets and visiting the peculiarly formed central Cathedral of St Peter. Inside, it will get much more fascinating because the area is utilized by Catholics and Protestants, with a bodily divide inside. One of many oldest and most unusual church buildings in Germany, it’s value a go to even in the event you’re beginning to undergo ‘spiritual monument fatigue’.
The right way to get to Bautzen: This is among the finest day journeys from Dresden, as you’ll study in regards to the area’s distinctive tradition. Fortunately, it’s slightly below an hour by prepare and a contact longer by automotive.
Chemnitz is the third largest metropolis within the Saxony, Germany area, and affords every part you’d count on from an city centre within the ‘State of the Arts’. There’s a revered opera home, a formidable city corridor, and a hovering church. However, with little of the Previous City left – WWII left its scars, and new builds had been favoured over reconstruction – many of the metropolis is a little more futuristic.
What makes Chemnitz a well-liked place to go to in Saxony is its proximity as the closest central city to the Ore Mountains. This implies the town comes alive at Christmas with mining parades and a busy festive market.
Town additionally has loads of historical past to share, particularly relating to the textile trade, with the Chemnitz Museum of Business being a superb place to begin. However the metropolis brags loads extra museums, starting from classical and modern artwork to trams, archaeology and pure historical past.
You’ll even have the prospect to study in regards to the metropolis’s wartime historical past and the years it was referred to as Karl-Marx-Stadt. Lastly, the renaissance riverside Klaffenbach Fortress on the town’s peripherals (reachable by Metropolis-Bahn) makes for a extra historic facet journey.
The right way to get to Chemnitz: By automotive or prepare, it’s a bit of over one hour from Dresden, making it attainable as a day journey.
Underrated cities in Europe
Seiffen and The Ore Mountains
Seiffen, a small valley city tucked away within the Ore Mountains, is Christmas personified. The year-round real-life ‘Santa’s workshop’ is among the most well-known locations to go to in Saxony, Germany, to study, take part in, and store for Christmas traditions.
Picket toys are hand-crafted year-round, winged angels are formed from porcelain, and within the surrounding small villages and cities, conventional mining traditions reside on with particular occasions, a lot of that are centered through the festive interval, making this one in all Europe’s prime winter locations.
Whereas this implies December is one of the best time to go to, there are many issues to do in Saxony’s Ore Mountains all year long. And whereas winter is all about snow, snowboarding and Santa, summer time is right for mountain climbing and mountain biking.
There are additionally a couple of castles to go to, lovely villages (Annaberg is among the prettiest), and a historic steam prepare to journey. No matter once you go to, analysis the mining traditions and see if any occasions are on, as this UNESCO-listed historical past carries loads of tales.
The right way to get to Seiffen: When you want to go to Seiffen and the Ore Mountains as a day journey from Dresden, you’ll need a automotive because the driving time is round 80 minutes whereas public transport takes a couple of hours. Nonetheless, in the event you’re visiting at Christmas, I’d counsel spending a minimum of two days within the Ore Mountains to expertise a number of the mining traditions within the area.
Christmas in Seiffen and the Ore Mountains
Past Saxony: Erfurt and Thuringia
When you’ve explored all of the gems that Saxony, Germany, has to supply, you may wish to contemplate taking a day journey from Dresden to Erfurt within the neighbouring state of Thuringia. One other area decked out with historical past and heritage, these two areas mixed are sometimes called the Cultural Coronary heart of Germany.
In Erfurt, the area’s capital, you’ll discover a laid-back metropolis full of loads of Martin Luther’s historical past, as this was the town he studied in. There’s additionally a hulking cathedral – one in all Germany’s most interesting – alongside a fort and the distinctive Krämerbrücke (Retailers Bridge), one of many solely mediaeval arch bridges on the earth lined with retailers and homes on both facet.
Different common locations to go to in Thuringia embody Weimar, fascinating for each the Bauhaus design motion, which hails from the town, and Gotha, wealthy in Saxe-Coburg and WWII historical past. The Anna Amalia library in Weimar can also be some of the stunning libraries on the earth, in my view.
The right way to get to Erfurt: From Dresden, it takes round two hours by prepare, making it attainable to go to the town as an extended day journey from Dresden. Higher nonetheless, spend a couple of days exploring the area of Thuringia. To drive it takes barely longer.
Exploring Thuringia, Germany