The magnificent expanse of Saxon Switzerland National Park lies just 19 miles (30 kilometers) southeast of Dresden. This park rewards travelers with views of imposing sandstone rock formations towering over the River Elbe, the Lilienstein mountain, Koenigstein fortress, and gorgeous wilderness as far as the eyes can see. However, the most famous landmark of this national park, and one of the most photographed sites in the country, is the Bastei Bridge connecting the massive rocks. The romantic town of Pirna and the spa town of Bad Schaundau are two extremely popular stops in the park. At the end of the day, if you are not ready to leave this piece of paradise, consider staying overnight in one of the hotels.
Leipzig deserves much longer than a day, but being only 78 miles (125 kilometers) away from Dresden, it is certainly a great day-trip idea for those who are pressed for time. It especially appeals to history and architecture enthusiasts. The most famous landmarks in Leipzig are the Old Stock Exchange, Panometer, Augustusplatz, Federal Court, Gohlis Palace, City Hall, Russian Memorial Church, and St Thomas Church. The Monument to the Battle of the Nations (Völkerschlachtdenkmal) offers great views of the city, while Leipzig Zoo promises hours of fun for the entire family.
Moritzburg Castle sits pretty on an artificial island around eight miles (13 kilometers) from Dresden. This castle, built in the 1500s, is open for public tours. The interior never fails to amaze visitors with its walls wrapped in gold-gilded leather and ornate baroque decorations. The lush symmetric French gardens surrounding the castle and the smaller pink Pheasant Castle nearby are worth exploring as well.
Meissen is a romantic, picturesque little town about 16 miles (25 kilometers) away from Dresden. The most notable landmarks in Meissen are the Gothic Albrechtsburg Castle, Frauenkirche (“Church of Our Lady”) and the charming old town. Meissen is also known for its porcelain and ceramics production. During your visit, don’t miss the pretty porcelain bells at the Frauenkirche.
Görlitz, 68 miles (110 kilometers) from Dresden, is a historic river town famous for its stunning gothic, renaissance and baroque architecture. The most well-known sites in Görlitz are the beautifully preserved old town, St Peter and Paul’s Church, St Marienthal Abbey, and Fat Tower. Görlitz also has a number of interesting museums and a zoo. Travelers interested in squeezing as many of the landmarks as possible within a day might consider joining one of the city tours.
Located less than 19 miles (30 kilometers) from Dresden, the 800-year-old Stolpen Castle is a must-visit. Visitors will learn about the tragic story of Countess Cosel, who was imprisoned in this castle for 49 years, not unlike a fairy-tale princess. While touring the castle, visitors also get to find out about the Stolpen basalt on which the castle is founded.
Radebeul, only seven miles (12 kilometers) from Dresden, is a must-visit for wine connoisseurs. The quaint town has been famous for its viticulture since the 1300s, and today it is still rich in lush vineyards. Visitors can tour wineries and sip on some great wine. Schloss Wackerbarth is the most popular stop for wine enthusiasts. The Karl May Museum and the DDR Museum are also definitely worth exploring for a dose of culture and history.
Bautzen, on the shore of the River Spree, is 31 miles (50 kilometers) away from Dresden and is a popular day-trip destination. This pretty town has a lot of interesting architecture, including Ortenburg Castle, Alt Wasserkunst, and St Peter’s Cathedral. Saurierpark Kleinwelka adventure park, boasting of life-size dinosaurs, climbing frames, slides, and ropes, is invariably a big hit with children.
The 14th-century town of Seiffen is nestled in the Ore Mountains and is 40 miles (65 kilometers) from Dresden. Seiffen, affectionately referred to as the “Toy Village,” is known for its varied and beautiful handicrafts. It is especially famous for its wood carving, though a large number of people are involved in lace-making and weaving. It is one of the best places in Germany to purchase authentic, traditional Christmas ornaments and decorations, like wooden nutcrackers, candle arches, Christmas carousels, and more. The Toy Museum is a delightful place that travelers can’t afford to miss while in Seiffen.