Do you have an extra day in your Berlin itinerary? Taking a day trip from Berlin to Dresden is a great idea to see another part of Germany and not losing too much time getting there and back. Dresden is a lovely city, and you can see lots of the highlights in one day. In this post, I’ll show you how to get from Berlin to Dresden, and what to do on a Dresden day trip from Berlin.
Why should you take a day trip from Berlin to Dresden
Dresden is a gorgeous city that lies along the Elbe River. The city is south of Berlin and not too far away, so it’s manageable to visit Dresden on a day trip. Many of the main attractions are in the old town, so it’s easy to explore and see a lot of what the city’s historical center has to offer.
World War II left it’s mark on Dresden, and much of what you see today has been rebuilt. Dresden’s place in WWII and Cold War history is an interesting reason to visit. From the Frauenkirche to the Dresden Castle, a walk through the city shows you how resilient Dresden is and how hope can come out of even the darkest moments.
Dresden’s old town is really gorgeous, and it’s well worth a day trip from Berlin to see a different city with interesting history and architecture.
I’ve also included Leipzig on my one week Germany itinerary for Berlin and eastern Germany.
Where to stay in Dresden
Dresden is such a great city, you might decide you’d rather spend a night or two there. The city certainly has enough things to do to fill more than one day. Here are some hotels we recommend for an overnight trip to Dresden.
Hotels in Dresden
How to Get from Berlin to Dresden by Train
To get from Berlin Hauptbahnhof to Dresden Hauptbahnhof, you can easily take the train. There are direct trains roughly once an hour, some that take a little under two hours, and some that take a little over two hours. Most trains going to Dresden also stop in either Berlin Gesundbrunnen or Berlin Spandau, plus Berlin Südkreuz. Check which station is closest to where you’re staying in Berlin to see which one makes the most sense.
Most trains stop in both Dresden Hbf and Dresden Neustadt, so if you mostly want to explore the old town, get out at Dresden Hbf. But the Neustadt is a great part of town with lots to see too, so if you’re starting your Dresden day trip there, that is the better station.
How to Get from Berlin to Dresden by Bus
If you’re traveling on a budget, FlixBus is another great option. The buses leave from the central bus station, Südkreuz, or sometimes Alexanderplatz, and it takes between two to three hours to get to Dresden. Most of the buses also stop in both Dresden Hbf and Dresden Neustadt.
FlixBus is a comfortable option that will most likely save you some money in exchange for not too much extra time.
Things to do in Dresden in One Day
Dresden has lots of culture and history to explore, and there are plenty of museums, monuments, and other great attractions to fill your day. Here’s a list of things to do in Dresden in one day and decide which ones fit your interests. You can’t do everything here, but you can certainly get a good view of the city and see a lot of Dresden in a day.
Visit the Frauenkirche Dresden
The Frauenkirche Dresden is a Lutheran church and a symbol of Dresden’s rebirth from the ashes of World War II. Its reconstruction is seen as a sign of post-war international reconciliation. Originally built between 1727 and 1743, the Frauenkirche was destroyed during the bombing of 1945. Afterwards, the ruins stood as a war memorial for 50 years before donations from around the world helped rebuild the church. Visit today and admire the beauty of the building or attend a service.
Swing by Dresden Castle
One of the oldest buildings in Dresden and an important example of Renaissance architecture, Dresden Castle was home to kings of Saxony for over 400 years. On its outer walls, you can catch a glimpse the Fürstenzug, a long mural depicting the rulers of Saxony through the ages. After destruction from WWII, reconstruction work finally began in 1985, and it is still being worked on today.
Marvel at the treasures in the Green Vault
Founded in 1723 by Augustus the Strong of Poland and Saxony, this museum began as his private collection and is sometimes considered the oldest in the world. Today, the Green Vault houses an array of eye-catching ornaments from silverware and carved ivory to ornate cabinets and Venetian automatons. The crowning glory is Dresden Green – an enormous, green Indian diamond.
Explore Zwinger Palace
This famous Baroque building is a palatial complex edged by ornately sculpted gardens. It was built on behalf of Augustus the Strong. Beginning life as an orangery, the project developed into a fully-fledged court. Today, you’ll be suitably amazed at how well this building has been restored following WWII. Check out the art museum inside or simply enjoy the building and gardens from the outside.
Check out the German Hygiene Museum
A unique place to visit in Dresden, you may not think a “hygiene museum” is very interesting, but this place features more of a general focus on medical science. The fascinating museum draws in around 300,000 visitors per year to learn more about the human body through exhibitions on topics such as “What is Beautiful?” and “War and Medicine.”
Admire the Fürstenzug
Located along the outer wall of the stables courtyard of the Dresden Castle, you’ll find an impressive mural of rulers of Saxony. This mural depicts the portraits of 35 kings, dukes, and other important figures. From 1904 to 1907, the mural was replaced using 23,000 Meissen tiles in order to make it waterproof, and it is now the largest piece of artwork made of porcelain in the world.
Take a ride on the Schwebebahn Dresden
This funicular railway connects the districts of Loschwitz and Oberloschwitz. Starting life in 1901, it is actually one of the world’s oldest suspension railways. Still working to this day, this unique monorail system provides visitors not just a convenient way to get around, but also views from the observation deck at Oberloschwitz. It’s a little ways outside the center of Dresden, but it’s worth it for those of you who are looking for something a bit different. Stop by the cafe and soak up the valley vista.
Admire the art at Albertinum
The Albertinum is a modern art museum set in a sandstone Renaissance revival style building, situated in the historic heart of the city. Named after King Albert of Saxony, it plays host to 200 years of art and sculptures – from Romanticism to the present day. This museum is a must for art lovers.
Catch a show at Semperoper Dresden
But even if you don’t catch a show, this neoclassical opera house will still wow you from the moment you see it. Its history is longer than the current reconstruction (only opened in 1985) – it started life back in 1667 as Dresden’s first opera house. The city soon became a prominent city for opera in Europe, and people flocked from across the continent to enjoy Italian and German opera.
Spend some time at Kraftwerk Mitte
This 19th century red-brick power plant was recently reborn as a cultural venue. It has since become a happening hub for Dresden’s creatives and cool kids from all over. Inside the complex, you’ll find a nightclub, two theaters, the Energy Museum, and two music schools. In the summertime, its open-air cafes become chilled-out spots to enjoy a cup of coffee.
Take a breather at Grosser Garten
In the center of Dresden you’ll find the Grosser Garten. This 1.8-square-kilometer Baroque style park was originally established in 1676. Since opening its doors to the public in 1814, it has become a favorite spot for locals to amble its tree-lined pathways and avenues. It’s also here that you’ll find Dresden Zoo and Dresden Botanical Garden. You can even take a ride on a miniature railway that operates here during the summer months!
Get festive at the Striezelmarkt
Thought to be the first Christmas market in the world, the Striezelmarkt has been going strong since 1434. It was first set up by Friedrich II in order to supply citizens with meat to enjoy with their Christmas meal. Dresden people really like Christmas, and so do visitors. An estimated three million people every year make their way to the market during the Advent season to shop gifts, decorations, and buy up its famed pastry, the Stollen.
Drink some milk at Pfunds Molkerei
Pfunds Molkerei has been called “the most beautiful milk shop in the world” by Guinness World Records, and it’s hard to disagree. This 19th-century shop for all things dairy is a world of elaborate design, boasting hand-painted tiles and gilded fixtures. On sale, you’ll find numerous types of cheeses, as well as liquor and wine, but you could also opt for the traditional milk soap.
Be wowed by the Dresden Panometer
Created by Austrian-born artist Yadegar Asisi, the “Panometer” is the name of two panoramic paintings by Asisi. One depicts Dresden as it may have appeared in 1756. The other illustrates Dresden in 1945 following its destruction during the war. It’s impressively housed inside a former gasometer. Neither painting is shown at the same time, instead alternating which view visitors will see.
Take a stroll along Brühl’s Terrace
Dresden’s location on the Elbe River makes for some scenic wandering. Where the old town meets the river, Brühl’s Terrace is one of the prettiest places to go for a stroll to admire both the river and the architecture. This terrace along the river is where the old city ramparts were once located.
Soak up the masterpieces at the Old Masters Picture Gallery
This is one impressive gallery. With 750 paintings on display, the collection at this Dresden museum ranges from the 15th to the 18th centuries. Originally founded by Augustus, Elector of Saxony in 1560, over the years, more works have been added to the collection. Today you can see works from the likes of Raphael, Rembrandt, and Lucas Cranach the Elder.
Take a trip to Pillnitz Castle
To the east of the city stands Pillnitz Castle. This restored Baroque palace sits elegantly on the banks of the River Elbe where the village of Pillnitz was once located. Built as the summer residence for the kings of Saxony, it’s a sprawling estate with lush hillsides and sculpted gardens. It’s also home to the Arts and Crafts Museum.
Stroll through the Kunsthofpassage
On the opposite side of the river, explore Dresden’s hip Neustadt. A favorite among Dresden creative types, Kunsthofpassage is a narrow lane filled with artistic establishments and is home to cool book shops and cafes. One of the landmarks of this alleyway is the colorful Courtyard of Elements. On the front of one building is an installation – a complex of funnels and gutters which, when it rains, turns the water into music. A cool thing to do on a rainy day in Dresden!
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Berlin Travel Resources
I want you to have the best trip to Berlin, and hopefully this guide for a day trip to Dresden from Berlin is helpful. But there are lots more tips on the site!
Here’s what you should know before coming to Berlin. From practical tips to quirky facts about the city, it’s all in there.
Read this helpful packing list for Berlin so you know what to bring and what to wear.
You’re probably going to be using public transport to get around Berlin. Read this handy guide to Berlin’s public transport system and how to get around Berlin.
Visiting Berlin? Don’t forget travel insurance!
It’s always a good idea to travel to Berlin with a valid travel insurance policy. Travel here is reasonably safe, but you never know when something could happen. You need to be covered in case you have an accident or become a victim to theft.
We recommend World Nomads insurance for travel. Travel insurance helps you recover your expenses and continue to enjoy your trip.