With Dresden’s magnificent structure and Leipzig’s free-thinking creativity, grand castles and stately palaces, and the serenity of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, the very 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 a vital 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 be revered for its contributions to tradition and artwork, so it’s no shock lots of the greatest issues to do in Saxony contain music, equivalent to visiting an Opera Home or having fun with a live performance in opposition to a palace backdrop.
Different widespread day journeys from Dresden – though a few of these locations definitely deserve longer – embrace 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 need to city kayak, hop between museums, hike unadulterated landscapes or study historic mining traditions, Saxony greater than has you coated.
These are 15 of the very best (for my part) locations to go to in Saxony – however first, listed below are a couple of FAQs that can assist you plan your journey.
No, they don’t seem to be – and it may be a bit complicated that the three states have the identical title. Decrease Saxony is definitely in northwest Germany (the capital is Hanover), whereas Saxony-Anhalt (capital Magdeburg) borders Saxony. Saxony’s formal title 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 title for Saxony.
Completely! I’ve visited the state twice (as soon as in summer time and once more in winter) and had implausible journeys each instances. 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 mountaineering 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 street journey, I’d counsel spending per week within the area. This might enable you adequate time to go to Dresden, Leipzig, the Saxon Switzerland Nationwide Park, and several other smaller cities and castles. For those who’re pressed for time, a protracted weekend will mean you can see the area’s highlights for those who transfer every day.
Dresden is probably the very best base for a go to to Saxony, particularly for those who plan to get round by public transport because it’s very effectively linked. Leipzig is one other good metropolis base, however not as centrally situated. For those who’re coming for Christmas markets and conventional experiences, you would possibly need to take into account Chemnitz or Seiffen. Nature lovers will doubtless favor a base across the spa city of Unhealthy Schandau.
Whereas some would say that Dresden might be accomplished as a fast-paced day journey from Berlin, I’d urge you to think about spending not less than two days in Dresden. The town has a number of historical past, grand structure and a few implausible museums to go to, in addition to points of interest 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 greatest day journeys as you’ll be able to study concerning the Sorbs, a West Slavic ethnic group, or alongside the Elbe River for wineries and castles.
Dresden and Leipzig’s airports provide a restricted selection of flights and primarily serve close by nations 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, take into account the brand new London to Berlin evening 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 unimaginable locations to go to in Saxony as day journeys from Dresden, let’s first speak concerning the area’s showstopping capital itself. A criminally underrated European metropolis, Dresden flanks the Elbe River with magnificence and beauty. Awash with dazzling Baroque structure and loads of cultural areas, it’s onerous to think about simply how a lot this metropolis suffered throughout WWII.
To present you an thought of the quantity of labor and love which went into reconstructing Dresden after the extraordinary 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 stage.
Unsurprisingly for the state’s capital, lots of the prime issues to do in Saxony could be present in Dresden, with a specific give attention to artwork and tradition.
Dresden Zwinger, an enormous Baroque masterpiece of palace, courtyards, and fountains, is the main girl, with cultural kingpins such because the Porcelain Museum and the acclaimed Previous Masters Image Gallery inside her partitions. For one thing particular, you’ll be able to guide tickets to a Gala live performance on the Zwinger. Semperoper Dresden, town’s opera home, is an equally spectacular overture, and you’ll get pleasure from a guided tour by reserving upfront for those who don’t plan to see a efficiency.
Different prequels and sequels of town embrace Dresden Citadel, town’s hulking cathedral, and the Fürstenzug, a formidable and expansive exterior paintings depicting a royal procession.
The grand finale although is definitely The Frauenkirche, an imposing centrally-located church full with gold interiors and a hulking dome. From the viewing platform, you’ll get among the metropolis’s best views, together with throughout the Elbe River to the extra trendy quarter, the place impartial artist outlets 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 probably essentially 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 probably a bit excessive, you’ll be able to definitely see some similarities.
That’s to not say forward-thinking Leipzig hasn’t paid its dues to Saxony’s classical heritage. In reality, town has been an overachieving contributor. 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 unit, strolling by the dated retail passageways whereas studying concerning the beginnings of town’s Previous Commerce Honest in 1913 – one of many oldest on the earth – or admiring the gathering within the Spinnerei Galleries, housed in an outdated cotton manufacturing unit, you’ll be inadvertently connecting with the cities manufacturing previous.
Leipzig can be one of the crucial vital locations to go to in Saxony to study Germany’s previous, as town’s peaceable protests, which occurred every Monday main as much as 1990, are one of many key elements which led to the autumn of the GDR and east and west reunification.
After all, that pupil inhabitants and references to a ‘new Berlin’ assist town come alive at evening, with some banging golf equipment maintaining the rave going till the early mornings – maybe motive sufficient to neglect visiting on a day journey from Dresden and staying not less than one evening.
Methods to get to Leipzig: It takes round 80 minutes to achieve Leipzig by prepare or automotive, making it a simple day and widespread day journey from Dresden. Nonetheless, it’s a big metropolis with nice nightlife, so that you would possibly need to make it a separate metropolis break or keep for not less than one evening.
There are tons of of castles and palaces in Saxony, Germany, with a handful of those being in Dresden’s peripherals lining the Elbe River, and Albrechtsberg is among the most spectacular.
Constructed for a Prussian worth within the mid-1800s, the palace’s intensive gardens, fountains, and stairways are an inviting prelude to the grand inside. Visitable by guided tour, the inside rooms retain their bygone allure despite the fact that 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 pageant was one of many highlights of my second go to to Saxony, as musicians, performers, fireworks, advantageous wines, and projections on the fortress welcomed in the summertime with a bang. Everybody was dressed up and regarded implausible, and at sundown, the DJ and orchestra began to play membership tracks collectively, creating an unimaginable soundtrack for the remainder of the night.
For those who don’t make the Schlössernacht, maintain a watch out for different occasions, equivalent to open-air movie screenings within the hotter months.
Methods to get to Albrechtsberg Palace: Because the palace is in Dresden’s outer limits, trams and buses will convey you right here rapidly. 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 one of the crucial widespread day journeys from Dresden. Nonetheless, you’ll need to set off early to make sure you have time to discover all of the magnificent Saxon Switzerland Nationwide Park provides.
Spanning the border, the park is break up between Saxony, Germany and Czechia, the place it’s referred to as Bohemian Switzerland. A fascinating panorama of jagged rocks, passageways carved by boulders and dense woodland, it’s a preferred place to go to in Saxony for mountaineering and mountaineering.
The park’s greatest draw, although, particularly with photographers, is the Bastei Bridge which sits within the shadow of among the most spectacular geological wonders formed by water erosion hundreds of thousands of years in the past. Initially constructed from wooden, the present sandstone bridge was in-built 1851.
Don’t make the error of simply coming to see the bridge, although, as there are a lot extra equally spectacular areas. The Stairway to Heaven – an unbelievably slender stairway between two big rocks – and a handful of waterfalls are effectively value mountaineering for.
If you wish to go to as a full-day journey with none trouble, this €20 bus tour from Dresden (together with Bastei and Königstein Fortress) would possibly enchantment.
Methods to get to Saxon Switzerland Nationwide Park: To succeed in 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 determine if that works for you as a day journey, however there are a couple of totally different choices. You possibly can take the prepare to Unhealthy 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 succeed in the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ mountaineering space, the Kirnitzschtal tram from Unhealthy Schandau to Lichtenhainer Wasserfall is the best way to go.
Königstein Fortress and Unhealthy Schandau
One other of the very 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 fortress 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 can be an understatement, so make sure to enable your self sufficient time to go to.
Chances are high for those who’re heading to Königstein Fortress, you’ll additionally go by Unhealthy 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 for those who’re after a bit TLC.
A peaceable solution 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 value as little as €30 for a full-day boat journey.
Methods 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 Unhealthy Schandau or Pirna.
The Elbe River and Saxony’s Vineyards
Whereas speaking concerning 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 essentially the most celebrated wine producer in Europe, and the wines of Saxony are among the nation’s lesser-known, however that’s what intrigued me to go to. And, because it seems after a few days dashing 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 quite 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 attention-grabbing idea and site, the couple-owned winery offers area to each of their passions; one harvesting Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc in granite and the opposite creating some unimaginable sculptures. Degustations can be found, as are excursions of the vines – examine opening hours and guide upfront. The onsite wine store is open from Wednesday to Sunday.
Methods 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 town. Permit an hour for those who’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 sublime arrival level.
Sadly, I didn’t get to see the within of the Citadel – I visited through the Christmas interval when festive mild installations take over the attractive gardens – however from the pictures of the areas that are open to the general public, equivalent to The New Palace and the Museum of Ornamental Arts, it appears to be like value a go to. Simply take into accout sure elements shut through the winter months.
For those who’re not fussed about touring the palace and would quite see the steps and different castles close to Dresden from the waterway, you would possibly need to guide the Elbe river fortress river from Dresden as an alternative.
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 preferred native Christmas deal with – within the conventional methodology 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?
Methods to get to Pillnitz: By automotive, it’s round 25 minutes alongside the Elbe to Pillnitz. On public transport, it should take about 50 minutes with one change.
Persevering with the stately theme, the Moritzburg Citadel is one other widespread 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 midst of a small lake.
Whereas the surface is the place you’ll discover the very best picture 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 Citadel) earlier than persevering with to the pond to identify the Leuchtturm, a small lighthouse which appears to be like barely misplaced in landlocked Saxony.
Methods to get to Moritzburg Citadel: A preferred day journey from Dresden means you’ll be able to hop on the bus (477) from Dresden Bahnhof Neustadt and arrive in round half-hour.
Görlitz is the one one among these locations in Saxony that I personally didn’t make it to, as unhealthy winter climate modified my schedule. Nonetheless, once 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 needed to go to – and therefore maintaining the advice on this article – is it’s additionally thought-about one among 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 effectively preserved. Cross the Previous City Bridge – which sits within the shadow of town’s foreboding Gothic church – and also you’ll arrive in Zgorzelec, the Polish ‘different half’ of town.
Methods 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 lovable medieval city, and whereas it’s not essentially the most thrilling place to go to in Saxony, it’s someplace you could go by on a bus connection to Saxon Switzerland Nationwide Park.
Sadly, in 2002, the city suffered a extreme flood which brought on a lot harm. Now, with a lot of the worst repaired, the medieval sq., cobbled streets lined with boutique shops, and Sonnenstein Citadel shine as soon as extra.
For those who determine 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.
Methods to get to Pirna: Due to 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 over 20 minutes. The drive will take nearer to 40 minutes.
Europe’s hidden gems
Meissen was one among 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 fortress’s rooms are filled with data and beautiful decor.
Probably the most widespread 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 filled with informative shows and displays.
If you wish to choose up some porcelain to take dwelling, you’ll discover quite a few outlets across the city, and you’ll even be a part of a workshop to take part on this historic custom your self.
Methods 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 dwell in elements of Lusatia (which incorporates Saxony and Brandenberg), and the language is nearer to Czech and Polish than Germany. Whereas just a few thousand Sorbs dwell in these nations 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 concerning the Sorbian tradition, clothes and historical past on the Sorbian Museum; and relish the possibility to listen to the language nonetheless spoken by pockets of society.
Different issues to do in Saxony’s romantic city of Bautzen embrace walks alongside the mirror-like river admiring the fortress turrets and visiting the peculiarly formed central Cathedral of St Peter. Inside, it will get much more attention-grabbing 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 for those who’re beginning to endure ‘spiritual monument fatigue’.
Methods to get to Bautzen: This is among the greatest day journeys from Dresden, as you’ll study concerning the area’s distinctive tradition. Fortunately, it’s just below an hour by prepare and a contact longer by automotive.
Chemnitz is the third largest metropolis within the Saxony, Germany area, and provides every little thing you’d anticipate 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 preferred place to go to in Saxony is its proximity as the closest central city to the Ore Mountains. This implies town comes alive at Christmas with mining parades and a busy festive market.
The town additionally has loads of historical past to share, particularly concerning the textile business, with the Chemnitz Museum of Business being a superb place to begin. However the metropolis brags a lot extra museums, starting from classical and modern artwork to trams, archaeology and pure historical past.
You’ll even have the possibility to study concerning the metropolis’s wartime historical past and the years it was referred to as Karl-Marx-Stadt. Lastly, the renaissance riverside Klaffenbach Citadel on town’s peripherals (reachable by Metropolis-Bahn) makes for a extra historic facet journey.
Methods to get to Chemnitz: By automotive or prepare, it’s a bit over one hour from Dresden, making it potential 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.
Wood toys are hand-crafted year-round, winged angels are formed from porcelain, and within the surrounding small villages and cities, conventional mining traditions dwell on with particular occasions, a lot of that are centered through the festive interval, making this one among Europe’s prime winter locations.
Whereas this implies December is the very 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 good for mountaineering and mountain biking.
There are additionally a couple of castles to go to, lovable villages (Annaberg is among the prettiest), and a historic steam prepare to experience. No matter if you go to, analysis the mining traditions and see if any occasions are on, as this UNESCO-listed historical past carries loads of tales.
Methods to get to Seiffen: For those who want to go to Seiffen and the Ore Mountains as a day journey from Dresden, you’ll desire a automotive because the driving time is round 80 minutes whereas public transport takes a couple of hours. Nonetheless, for those who’re visiting at Christmas, I’d counsel spending not less than two days within the Ore Mountains to expertise among 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 would possibly need to take into account 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 also known as the Cultural Coronary heart of Germany.
In Erfurt, the area’s capital, you’ll discover a laid-back metropolis filled with loads of Martin Luther’s historical past, as this was town he studied in. There’s additionally a hulking cathedral – one among Germany’s best – alongside a fort and the distinctive Krämerbrücke (Retailers Bridge), one of many solely mediaeval arch bridges on the earth lined with outlets and homes on both facet.
Different widespread locations to go to in Thuringia embrace Weimar, fascinating for each the Bauhaus design motion, which hails from town, and Gotha, wealthy in Saxe-Coburg and WWII historical past. The Anna Amalia library in Weimar can be one of the crucial stunning libraries on the earth, for my part.
Methods to get to Erfurt: From Dresden, it takes round two hours by prepare, making it potential to go to town as a protracted 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
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