Dresden is fascinating and beautiful city with a complex history. The skyline is one of the most distinctive in the world, dominated by the towers, domes and spires of Dresden’s many palaces and churches. This is one of the most culturally significant cities in Germany, and holidays in Dresden are a great opportunity to explore the finest museums, architecture and entertainment. Despite losing three-quarters of its historic buildings during Allied bombing in the Second World War, central Dresden has been largely restored to its former glory.
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To orientate yourself in the historic centre of Dresden, take a walking or bike tour to all the main sights and attractions. Once you have a good overview of the city, you can prioritise the things you want to explore in more detail. There are plenty of alternative tours too, where you can learn about life in East Germany and get tips from the locals about the best bars, pubs and restaurants in the city. Away from the pristine buildings, Dresden has an edgier creative side, with bold street art and lively subcultures. The Baroque Quarter is well worth a wander, with original and perfectly preserved Baroque architecture and a plethora of antique shops.
Most of Dresden’s precious items and artefacts were saved from the city before it was bombed, and they now take pride of place in the rebuilt museums. The Historiches Grünes Gewöble (Historic Green Vault) and the Neues Grünes Gewöble (New Green Vault) are both well worth a visit during your holiday to Dresden. The Historic Green Vault displays thousands of treasures as they would have been presented in the time of August der Starke, the city’s 18th-century heyday, and the New Green Vault is its equally impressive modern counterpart. There are further museums to appeal to a range of interests, from the Military History Museum to the Carl Maria von Weber Museum.
Although not a gallery, the Kunsthofpassage is Dresden’s most artistic space. It is a web of courtyards adorned by the work of the city’s visionary and experimental artists. The famously spectacular opera house, Semperoper, puts on outstanding performances which usually sell out in advance, so book ahead if you are keen to catch a show. If your Dresden holiday coincides with one of the internationally renowned festivals, be sure to join in. The BRN street festival takes place in June and the Dixieland jazz festival in May. There are also dazzling Christmas markets throughout the city in December.
The Neustadt, outside the historic centre and to the north of the Elbe River, is the thriving hub of most of Dresden’s bars and restaurants. This is where you can get the best quality food without being overcharged, and there is a vast and diverse range of cuisines on offer. The traditional restaurants in the historic part of the city tend to be tourist traps. The Neustadt also has the highest concentration of late-night venues, so it is an ideal place to continue your night.