Dresden was the capital and royal residency king of Saxony back in the days.
Today it still is a hidden gem of Europe.
Not many travelers visit Dresden, even though it is a lively, hipster city. Full of cafés and students, we asked the hostel Lollis Homestay in Dresden, to help us to elaborate a list of things to do in Dresden.
This big list of 32 fun things to do in Dresden.
It could not be more shattering.
Culture, food, and a cool mix of the old and the new.
Never been to Dresden?
Come with us along and discover all the possibilities this city has to offer.
In the city center, you will find the baroque and rococo style of East Germany. Even though Dresden was destroyed during World War Two, the most historic and well-known landmarks have been rebuilt.
Once you go to the Neustadt (it means “new city” in German) you will find plenty of places to get inspired by:
- artsy buildings
- cozy cafés
- beer gardens to meet the locals
Considering this route, there are also amazing Hostels to stay at:
- the design hostel Wallyard Concept Hostel, #1 top hostel in Berlin for solo-traveller
- best hostels in Prague
The route Berlin – Dresden – Prague is easily reachable by train. Fly into Berlin (best with Kiwi.com) and take the train.
We traveled this route ourselves some years ago during wintertime.
In fact, for it is a perfect itinerary for European Winter.
The highlight about traveling in the wintertime to this places? The Christmas Markets!
Also, these destinations are cheaper in winter, as well as other winter destinations we collected, check out our 16 Winter destinations for this year.
Full List of Fun Things to do in Dresden
Let’s go to the list, keep scrolling and discover with us this hidden gem of Europe.
Dresden has plenty of things to do. We want to start with something really unique:
1. Trabi Safari (Super Unique!)
Safari in Dresden? It is not what you have in mind. Fear not, it is even better.
Have you ever heard about the Trabant car?
What is a Trabant Car (or Trabbi, as Germans call it for short)?
The Trabant car was a popular car inspired by the Soviet Sputnik satellite. It was manufactured in East Germany. Today it is a symbol of the past days of East Germany.
Now, you can do a tour around Dresden in this car, painted in safari patterns.
This is a very unique thing to do, right?
2. Skate Park
Flat quarter pipes, handrails, curbs… and a wall ride.
All this, in Dresden’s biggest outdoor Skate park.
You have no idea what all these things mean? Skatepark Lingerplatz is still worth a visit.
It is just opposite the City Hall, in Lingnerallee.
Dive into the concrete post-GDR atmosphere, pick your favorite street art graffiti and be surprised by the local skaters.
BTW There is also a nice café nearby, the Café Restaurant Linger.
3. Find your treasure
The Dresden flea Market, called Elbe Flohmarkt, is like a journey through time:
- beautiful paintings
- Soviet army equipment
- old coins
- video games…
Hurray, there it is, the lost issue of my comic collection!
The vendors might be grumpy if they had made little money during the day, but don’t take it personally.
Keep on bargaining, always staying fair.
Seek, and you shall find your treasure.
4. Instagramable Mountain fortress
This National park has one of the most gorgeous views in Europe.
Come here, take a photo and put it on your Instagram. Your friends will LOVE you for this!
The best part: it is just around one hour away from Dresden.
A stone bridge stretching across rock formations in Elbe Sandstone Mountains. The stone bridge promises mesmerizing views of the landscape below.
This area is also one of the best areas to do a bit of hiking in the region. An alternative to the driving if you are more into exercise.
Also, you can go on a day trip to Saxon’s Park
5. Blurry shadows
In the past, the GDR government often used neon signs for their propaganda.
At the top of the huge building at Gruner Strasse 5 (just behind Lidl) they wrote
“DER SOZIALISMUS SIEGT” (Socialism Prevails)
Nowadays, you can only see the blurry shadows of these letters.
6. The ongoing West/East conflict
There is one point over which the Germans still can’t unify:
the traffic light figures, called Ampe0lfiguren.
In West Germany, they are so bourgeois. In the East, they are lively and cute.
There are actually men and women figures on the traffic lights in Dresden. They are there since the GDR and they’re here to stay!
Maybe this sounds a little strange when you consider the ruthless regime that suppressed its people for more than 40 years.
Apparently, East German men and women were equal enough to be able to control the intersections.
7. Touch, Smell, Taste…
Well, this is a bit strange, unique, and pretty awesome frankly!
The Hygiene Museum in Dresden is a museum about all aspects of human beings in general.
What makes this museum special?
The collection is not just about walking through and looking.
It is an experimental concept.
Touch, smell, taste, try out and participate.
One highlight is the brain ball game in the permanent exhibition:
Battle with someone by moving a real ball on a table with the power of… your mind!
8. Reach the Sky
The Kreuzkirche was built during the 18th century.
It survived a big fire in 1897 and the bombardment at the end of World War II.
Although you can’t climb the full 92 meters of the tower, the viewing platform at 52m height offers an impressive view over the city.
Take some selfies with the famous Frauenkirche in the background!
The Frauenkirche is the #1 landmark here!
Visit the mass on Sunday (starts at 9:30) to get a free concert by the world-famous 800 years old boys choir: “Dresdner Kreuzchor”.
Buy your ticket online for the Frauenkirche Dome here and avoid the queues.
9. Go back to the Uni (and eat with Students)
No worries, we just invite you to taste the lunch at the University’s cafeteria (in German called Mensa).
Why? It is tasty, it is cheap, and it is full of good student’s vibes.
Expect a large indoor dining area distributed on three floors featuring an extensive menu selection.
The best part? The food is affordably priced: from €1 to €5.
Note: You can only pay cash at the counter.
If one of the cafeteria ladies asks: “Student?”
Just practice your German and say “Ich bin kein Student” (I’m not a student).
Address: Reichenbachstrasse 1
9. Free Walking tour
Join a free tour through the Historic Quarter of the town for about 1,5 hours.
You will get a general impression of Dresden and it’s history, as well as many interesting facts.
The tour is tip-based, meaning at the end of the tour, you give what you consider worth giving.
There Tours in
- and Spanish.
Alternatively, there are also tours for the Neue Stadt on Fridays.
Check their website for more information on the dates and languages at freetoursdresden.com
Starting point: Martin-Luther statue, in front of Frauenkirche
11. Artsy Coffee
Café Oha is a cozy Coffee place stuffed with sofas and creative decorations on the wall.
It’s located in one of the buildings of Dresden’s Academy of Fine Arts.
Being surrounded by all the students, you can easily let your creativity flow, whilst enjoying a coffee and a cake for just €1 each.
However, it is not so easy to find.
- Go through the main door of the big pompous building of the Academy of Fine Arts.
- Go straight through till you come to the backyard.
- Now, simply follow the name written on the windows.
Address: Güntzstraße 34
12. Retro souvenir
Use the FOTOKISTE to get a personal souvenir!
Insert €2, pull some faces and wait for the four passport-sized retro pictures to drop out of the photo booth.
The unofficial record is seven people. Can you beat that?
Try to squeeze in with all the friends you made in Dresden!
Where: Louisenstraße 61
13. FKK in the Spa
What did you read? Forget it…
Spas in Dresden are considered a local meeting point where locals gossip, bathe and enjoy some quality time.
There are quite a few Spas around the city.
You will find the smallest pool in town at the Nordbad.
For the sauna just bring two big towels and leave your swimsuit at home!
Here in the East, they still practice “Frei-Körper-Kultur” (Freely translated: free nudism culture)!
Note: In case you want warm water, go on Mondays.
You will get 32 °C for just €0.50 extra.
14. Genuine Bar
Don’t care about your good intentions not getting drunk tonight! Do it TROTZDEM (“anyway”)!
It is one of the few original bars that look like a bar used to be in the Neustadt area many years ago.
It offers a left-winged climate in a dimly lit atmosphere.
During summer, they open their small and cozy beer garden.
More info on Facebook: Trotzdem Bar
You can also join a kind of pub crawl here at night.
15. Get Wild
Filled with students on weekends, a night in Hebeda’s can get pretty wild.
The bar’s style remembers the old times, back when there only existed CRT televisions and David Bowie (R.I.P.) just had his big breakthrough.
Don’t forget to put on some music on their Jukebox (when it’s not broken) and play around.
There is also a pool in the back room.
16. Innovative city culture bar
The perfect bar for an after-work pint (0,5l for €2.20) and dinner (between €5 – €10).
Kneipe Stadt Riesa belongs to the cultural forum in Dresden called Riesa Efau.
A group of artists occupied the house in 1990 and founded the first cultural venue in town, just after the Fall of the Wall in Berlin.
They do organize lots of cultural events.
Support innovative city culture!
17. Party underground
It might be a challenge finding Sabotage, but this club is a bedrock of Dresden’s alternative music scene.
Sabotage provides a forum for international and local music acts (Techno to Dubstep to D’n’B to Progressive Stoner Metal).
Every Thursday there’s a live performance.
The club is relatively small.
Yet what it lacks in space, Sabotage makes up with its dark, sweaty and thumping atmosphere.
How to get there?
The backyard of Bautzner Straße 75, the entrance is down the stairs, inside a cellar.
18. Techno in the Station?
The same guys who run Sabotage opened up TBA (To Be Announced) in the basement of the train station.
Like it’s big sister, TBA is a converted cellar, but mostly caters to an “electro-music lovin’ crowd”.
Another great thing about the place? No neighbors!
Look forward to loud, big and long-lasting parties.
19. Dance all night looooooong
Dresden’s best clubs are located near each other, making it easier to go out. You do not have to decide where to dance all night long until you are in the area.
Just go there, and pick the club you like most:
- Industriegelände is the best place to get an insight into the town’s Deep House, Techno, Drum ‘n’ Bass and Psytrance scene.
- Paula is a small Club with a quite good sound system.
- Sektor Evolution is a big Club with 3 floors. One floor is an outdoor-circus-tent (very nice during summer).
To get to the clubs: Take the tram no. 7 to “Industriegelände”, once your there, follow the humming bass sound or ask the party crowd for the way.
20. 300 Beers
Have you ever thought about trying over 300 different kinds of special beers in one single place?
The Craft Beer Store in Dresden has them!
They have a pub in the cellar, so you do not have to get drunk in the shop.
Address: Görlitzer Straße 25
And btw…you are in Germany here, a country well-known for its beer.
The Radebeger Brewery is located in Dresden. You can join the Radeberger Beer Tour.
21. A concert at a barn
The Scheune (the German word for “barn”) hosts all kinds of cultural events
- poetry slams
Check out their program at The Scheune website. They offer several events during the week.
Don’t miss the FREE jazz concerts on Mondays with the legendary “Jazzfanatics”.
If you don’t find any place inside, you have a good chance to meet some locals.
Many people just stand on the street in front of the building.
Scheune is one of the central meeting points in Neustadt.
22. Buy by BUI (Louisenstraße 70)
It does not get more local than that!
Tuyen Bui came to Dresden as a guest-worker in the early ’80s, when there was a heavily needed laborer.
After the change in 1990, there weren’t many jobs to make a living anymore.
Therefore, he decided to open up a little corner shop to sell what people needed.
Did someone ask for flour?
He will have it at his shop the next day.
Nowadays, you can get pretty much everything for your daily needs.
He is known as the king of the Supermarkets. Bui is an institution in Dresden.
He is so famous, that a local band even wrote a song, called “ Tulips from Bui”
Look at their funny retro video:
23. Hidden Art Yard (famous Kunsthofpassage)
This is the best thing to do in Dresden when it rains!
Admire the thoughtful details at the yard of light, discover new life forms in the yard of mythical creatures or get comfy in a café in the yard of animals.
The Kunsthofpassage is a magical place of architectural art.
When it rains, you can watch the unique spectacle at the blue rain pipe house in the yard of elements.
All shops have a special arty concept.
A real must walk-through!
Good to know: It is worth it to stop by even when it is not raining. This little alley is really cute. It’s interesting to walk through since there are a lot of tiny shops nearby.
Address: Görlitzer Straße 23
24. Rustic Tavern
Old, rustic, dark, and cozy – Bautzner Tor makes you stay all night long.
- Drink some of their home-made beers: Elbhang Rot, brewed in a small brewery just around the corner
- enjoy the hearty German/Bohemian food: cabbage pasta with Knackwurst and herbal sour cream
- meet Dresdners to have your most local bar-experience in town.
25. Local Meal in a Butcher’s shop
Nowadays, it is hard to find German food between all the pizza and burger places.
Most butcher shops offer cheap lunch options.
Try “Bratwurst mit Sauerkraut” (German sausage) or “Bullette” (meatballs) at Fleischerei Augst.
The sellers do not speak English though. It’s time to practice some German!
The butcher’s shop is located just a street away from the Kunsthofpassage.
26. Baroque Water Garden
Just nearby the famous Royal Palace, the Zwinger, you will find this Baroque Water Garden.
Go up the hill on the right hand (coming from the direction of the opera) and look for the “Nymphen Bad” (Nymph’s bath).
Not many tourists go that far, so take some time to enjoy it.
The Nymphs Bath is a baroque fountain decorated with dozens of busts of young girls, spouting dolphins, and kings of the sea.
Owning such a romantic place it’s not surprising that August the Strong is said to have had 365 kids.
There are also cool tours, covering the main landmarks as well as the Water Garden. Join the Old Dresden Tour here.
27. Pie Parade
The alluring smell of warm pie is in the air!
In Tanteleuk you get a handmade pie and a coffee for about €4.50 and it totally pays off.
Watch how the pie is prepared and baked (mostly organic and regional).
They also offer breakfast and sandwiches.
Also, vegans will find a tasty pie or sandwich that fits their needs.
28. Relax and… go outdoors
Who needs bars and cafés when the nicest spots are for free?
In Dresden, people love to hang out outdoors when it’s warm.
Enjoy the spectacular old town view from Elbwiesen, the Neustadt-side bank of the river. Look how locals cool their beer in the water (and try it too).
Are you more active?
Then go to Alaunplatz Park and join in for a football game, Kub or some slacklining.
You will meet many locals here.
When it gets dark, move on to Assi-Eck and enjoy the open-air party atmosphere.
Dozens of young people meet here when it’s warm to have a chat and a drink.
29. Walk in the forest – WANDERLUST!
Do you feel “Wanderlust”?
Pass the Alaunpark along Kamenzer Strasse to get to the “green lung” of Dresden: the “Heide” woods.
Walk straight ahead till you reach the small “Prießnitz” river.
If you see a huge bridge above you, you are right!
Use the very good acoustics here: Turn on the Hostelgeeks Travel playlist and sing!
Following the river, until you reach a small bridge, cross it and turn left if you want to have a picnic on the sandy riverbank as we locals do during summer days.
Take a deep breath of the freshest air in town!
Go back to the small bridge and follow the path uphill.
You will reach a paved road (Marienallee), cross it.
In front of you are two paths, the right one takes you to “Nordfriedhof” (a former military graveyard), the left one takes you to a small free deer park with deers and mouflons.
Follow this path straight ahead.
After an hour of walking time, you’ll get to a big street (Fischhausstraße).
Cross the street, turn left and the next opportunity right.
After 200m you can see the deer compound on the right, they are very trusting and you may get the chance to pet them (but don’t feed them please, they’ll get ill!)
Walk to the big road Bautzner Strasse to get back to the city (you can hear it).
Use Tram 11 direction Zschertnitz, in a few minutes you will reach Albertplatz in the Neustadt area.
30. GDR-Ice cream
When the sun is shining you recognize Café Komisch from far away by the long line in front of the ice cream counter.
It is one of the best soft ice creams in town.
The owner is proud to use machines from the GDR times and says that his ice cream still tastes like then.
He always surprises with new flavors.
Go for the big cone and hang out with all the others in Alaunpark.
31. Beer Garden hopping
Rent a bike and go on a beer garden hopping!
Start right in the Old Town, in the Radeberger Spezialausschank.
This restaurant is directly on the river, close to the Semper Opera house.
Go to the beer garden on the roof and enjoy a beer with an Elbe view.
After that, follow the river along the bike path (upstream).
You will smell the beer and grilled food after 10 minutes, it comes from the Fährgarten.
There, you can have another beer next to the river.
Eventually, go to Germany’s greenest residential area, next to the Blaues Wunder (Blue Wonder Bridge).
Take a rest in the Schillergarten restaurant, where the famous writer Schiller drank beer in 1785.
If he drank a beer there, you should have one as well!
Enjoy the view of the beautiful bridge, which is the oldest frame bridge in Europe.
Germans call somebody who is drunk “Blau”.
The bridge might have a totally different meaning for you now.
Explore the quarter on the other side of the river, you can also get back to downtown on this side.
But the path is a bit rough.
You will pass the 3 Elbe Castles, which are on the hill on your right.
Find the open door inside the big wall to get to the stairs.
After that, you deserve an after-drinking lemonade.
Get the cheapest one in town for just €0.75 at Lingnerschloss.
Yes, you can have a cheap drink in a castle in Dresden.
Enjoy your drink. If the weather is good, you can appreciate nice views.
After that is time to head back to town.
32. Pub and bars Night tour
Hear stories of legendary visitors and their adventures in local pubs, while you get some free drinks.
Those tales of people and places could only come from Dresden.
There’s no better place to hear them than socializing with some other travel buddies in Dresden pubs and bars, guided by a local, don’t you think?
Book your Dresden by night walking tour here.
33. People watching at the Balcony of Europe
Probably the oldest part of town, this terrace stretches high above the shore of the river, offering unique views.
The Brühlsche Terrasse was built in the 16th century as a fortress.
Nowadays, is one of the favorite places for tourist and locals for walking, people watching or having a drink.
It is best to visit the promenade at night when all the buildings are illuminated (till midnight); otherwise, you might be squashed by other tourists.
Where to stay in Dresden?
For the traveler on a budget, we highly recommend Lollis Homestay. It is the #1 hostel in town and it comes with super social vibes and artsy heart.
The highlight at Lollis Hostel?
You can sleep in a real Trabant car – in the hostel room!
Read more on our review of Hostel Lollis Homestay here.
Only a few days in town, more interested in hotels? Stay in a hotel downtown, near the Frauenkirche. You can find all the hotels in Dresden here.
Summary: Things to do in Dresden
As you can see, there are many things to do in Dresden. It is a lively city with plenty of options.
We put all the things we mentioned above on a map.
So you can have all the addresses and places on your phone.
We hope this big summary of things to do in Dresden is helpful.
Did we miss something? Happy to read it in the comments below.
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Hostel Packing List
It is time to see what you should pack in your backpack or suitcase. Make sure you always pick a quality hostel, it totally reduces the things you need to pack. Here is our ultimate hostel packing list. It features 23 items you should really throw in your backpack.The most important things to pack are:
- eye mask
- key chain flashlight
- the right backpack, the Nomatic (our review of Nomatic here) or Lowe Alpine Lightflite 45 Pack
- packing cubes
- generic padlock (fitting all locker types)
- quick-dry travel towel
- universal power adapter
- travel-sized toiletries