Dresden is an intriguing city with a particularly rich history and a variety of options and attractions that can be experienced alone, or with the whole family. It is a destination that becomes more popular every year and attracts crowds of tourists who leave happy and count the days until the next trip.
Due to its location in the heart of the diverse state of Saxony and close to the Czech border, Dresden is an excellent destination for day trips and sightseeing. There are several examples of recommended day trips around Dresden.
The Swiss Saxony National Park (Nationalpark Sächsische Schweiz)
Only 30 km southeast of Dresden is the “Swiss Saxony” national park, which is one of the most famous and popular in Germany. This park is called “Germany’s Little Switzerland”, and for good reason; the nature reserve is stunning in its beauty and includes a spectacular wild expanse of sandstone cliffs breaking out of an endless forest which definitely reminds of the landscapes in Switzerland.This beautiful sight is complemented by picturesque towns, remains of medieval fortresses and huge bridges.
The paths spread throughout the length and breadth of the park invite visitors to walk and discover it. For this purpose, you should arrive with comfortable shoes, but if you wish, there is also a small train that transports visitors from site to site. The highlight of the park, without a doubt, is the Basteibrücke, an arched stone bridge that stretches between the massive rocks. Getting to the bridge requires climbing on foot, but those who make the effort to reach it will be rewarded with a breathtaking view. It is worth visiting at least one of the picturesque towns embedded in the park, the best known and recommended of which is the wonderful town of Bad Schandau. This spa town also serves as a vacation spot in itself and if you want to stay overnight you can rent a room in one of the guesthouses and hotels scattered around.
Pillnitz Palace (Schloss pillnitz)
About 15 kilometers from the city center, up the river Elbe, is Pilnitz Palace, the summer home of the electors and kings of Saxony. Pilnitz Palace is actually a cluster of three different palaces – the “Water Palace” on the bank of the Elbe River (Wasserpalais), the “Upper Palace” on the hillside opposite (Bergpalais) and the “New Palace” that connects them (Neues Palais). The three buildings are located around a beautiful and well-kept baroque park.
The Water Palace and the Mountain Palace were both built in the 18th century, and are characterized by symmetry, pointed angles and elongated floors that are an example of the Chinese style in which they were built and which was prevalent during this period in Germany and Europe in general. Today the buildings house various art galleries.
The new palace, built in a neoclassical style, was rebuilt in the 19th century after the original building burned down, hence its name. Here is the Palace Museum, where you can find the Kuppelsaal, whose impressive dome, towering over six columns, is the only one in Dresden in neoclassical style. The palace’s chapel is also in the museum, as well as the royal court kitchen, which is divided into rooms with absolutely appetizing names such as the “roasting room” and the “baking room”, where dozens of staff members worked to please the palates of the princes and their families. In the museum you can get to know the history of the palace and the surrounding park and get an impression of the life of the Saxon royal court.
One of the highlights of a visit to Pilnitz Palace is a visit to its garden. The park was cultivated for hundreds of years, beautiful fountains were built and rare plants were planted. Don’t miss the Pillnitzer kamelie – a huge bush of Japanese camellia that is hundreds of years old.
The town of Bautzen
Bautzen is about 50 km east of Dresden, on the banks of the river Spree, and outwardly it is a typical picturesque German town – the high towers, red roofs and colorful houses that decorate its landscape create a feeling of a fairy tale. But the uniqueness of Dresden is actually in its inhabitants. This is the provincial capital of the Serb people, a Slavic ethnic group that is a minority in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. The Serbs have their own customs and language, and although only about 20 percent of Bautzen’s residents today belong to them, they try very hard to preserve the culture and language. That’s why all the signs You will meet in two languages - German and Serbian. The theater, the local newspaper and the radio have sections in the Serbian language and deal with customs and culture, and you can even hear people talking to each other in this language, which sounds like a combination of Polish and Czech. You should also visit the museum dedicated to Serbian culture that exists in the town.
The ancient part of Bautzen, surrounded by walls, lies on a plateau above the Shefra river and on top of it stands the Ortenburg fortress. Over the years the city spread eastward to the river and even beyond it. It is recommended to come to the town to enjoy its picturesque views and experience the preservation of the Serbian people.
If you are traveling with children, you should go to Kleinwelka Park, which is located in the north of the town. This is a park that includes three different complexes – a miniature park, a dinosaur park and a maze. It is worth coming here to spend an experiential and challenging day for both children and adults.
We have already mentioned that Dresden is very close to the German-Czech border, and in a comfortable two-hour bus or train ride you can already be in the Czech capital – Prague. This city, surrounded by history and cultural charm, can fill even whole months of travel, but if you still choose to spend only one day here and return to Dresden, let us recommend you to visit the must-see sites of the city. Start at the Old Town Square which is surrounded by medieval architectural buildings, two of which are worth a visit are the Church of Our Lady and the Town Hall, which houses the ancient Prague Astronomical Clock. Continue climbing the hill to the Prague Castle where you will enjoy a breathtaking view of this colorful and interesting city.
The Jewish Quarter of Prague, adjacent to the Old Town, is also a complex worth visiting as part of a day trip to the city. You can see there the monument dedicated to writer Franz Kafka. There are tours in the Jewish Quarter that go through the mandatory sites in the quarter and give a broad and necessary overview of the rich Jewish history and culture in Prague.
If you really plan to come to Prague for one day – plan your day well. Include in the schedule trips and must-see sites, rest in one of the beautiful gardens that adorn the city and, of course, lunch in one of the hundreds of picturesque restaurants and cafes that the city offers.