When you consider that Dresden was almost wiped off the map by Allied bombing in 1945, the city’s remarkable renaissance is all the more impressive. In fact, Dresden is today nicknamed Florence on the Elbe, a city that combines baroque architecture with a thriving modern arts scene and lively nightlife. On top of this, you’re just a hop, skip and a jump away from some of Germany’s most stunning wilderness. Here are some of the top things to see and do while you’re there.
Symbolising the city of Dresden itself, the Frauenkirche, or Lady’s Church, rose from the ashes when it was rebuilt after it was bombed in 1945. However, it’s an exact replica of the original Lutheran church and visitors love the splendour of the octagonal hall and ornate altar. Climb up to the 67m (220ft) high viewing platform of the stone dome – it is well worth the effort as it offers unrivalled views over Dresden. Maria, one of the original bells from 1734, also lives up there.
Take in Dresden’s many spires and domes as you stroll along the northern banks of the Elbe river, a must for visitors to the city. The banks are a hive of activity, from families barbecuing and fishing boats bobbing past to al fresco cinema nights. Start at the Augustus Brücke and make your way down to the Albert Brücke before crossing to complete your loop. Tired legs? Hop on one of the numerous river tours available to view the city from the water.
After a hard day pounding the pavements, take a moment to relax on the terrace of Cafe Schinkelwache and watch the world go by. Right in the heart of Dresden, and directly opposite the Semperoper, this traditional coffee house is no tourist trap and serves up delicious traditional Saxon dishes as well as other international delights. Most of the cakes are homemade and you can expect a hearty slab. The apfelstrudel served with vanilla ice cream is melt-in-your-mouth divine.