Things to do in Dresden in winter
Dresden, the stunning baroque city in Germany, offers plenty of exciting activities to enjoy in winter. Dresden in winter is spectacular with its snowy forest, romantic old town, alternative quarters and marvellous markets.
Immerse yourself in the city's rich cultural heritage by visiting the Christmas markets, the Frauenkirche and the Konzerthaus. Take a scenic hike in the Saxon Switzerland National Park, visit Maissen and see all the main art museums, or enjoy a hot drink at one of the city's cosy cafés.
There's lot of fun activities in the winter such as ice skating in the forest, having an immersive experience at the Festung Dresden or learning about the city at the Dresden Panometer. Dresden in winter is magical and in this guide I will tell you all the best things to do in Dresden in the cold months.
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Visit the Dresden Zwinger Palace
Dresden Zwinger Palace is a magnificent baroque palace is a true gem in the heart of the city and is a must-visit for anyone who appreciates stunning architecture and rich cultural heritage. The moment you step through the gates, you'll be transported back in time to a world of luxury and grandeur. The palace's central courtyard is surrounded by ornate galleries and arcades, each one more beautiful than the last.
The Zwinger Palace is also home to several museums and art collections, including the famous Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, which houses an impressive collection of Old Master paintings. You'll be able to admire works by renowned artists like Raphael, Botticelli, and Albrecht Dürer, and lose yourself in the beauty of each piece.
As you wander through the palace, you'll be struck by the intricate details of the baroque architecture. From the ornate statues and fountains in the courtyards, to the beautiful frescoes and carvings on the walls and ceilings, every inch of the palace is a work of art.
See magnificent art at Old Masters Picture Gallery
The Old Masters Picture Gallery is a world-renowned museum which displays some of the most magnificent artworks from the 13th to the 18th centuries. You'll love exploring the diverse collection of around 750 paintings, showcasing some of the most impressive works from Italy, the Netherlands, Flanders, France, Spain, and Germany.
The Gallery is a proud part of the Dresden State Art Collections, housed in the Semper Gallery wing of the magnificent Zwinger. This is the perfect place to spend hours admiring the beauty and skill of the Old Masters and their timeless creations.
Enjoy a concert at the Konzerthaus
Attending a concert at the Konzerthaus in Dresden is an unforgettable experience for music lovers. My husband and I went to see a formidable string quartet play in Konzerthaus, and it was one of the most memorable evenings in Dresden. Highly recommended activity for when you visit the city.
The newly renovated Kulturpalast on the old market square opened in April 2017 and has since become a beloved cultural hub in Dresden.
The centrepiece of the building is the magnificent Concert Hall, home to the Dresden Philharmonic, with its impeccable acoustics and remarkable architecture. This is the heart of Dresden's musical scene and a must-visit for both local and visiting orchestras and artists.
What's even cooler is that the two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett played in the movie "TÁR" by Todd Fields which was filmed in the Konzerthaus in Dresden.
Stroll along the River Elbe
Elbe is a scenic river and one of the defining features of Dresden, and offers some of the most breathtaking views of the city. As you walk along the riverbank, you'll be surrounded by stunning architecture and natural beauty.
One of the best things about strolling along the River Elbe is the way it brings together all the city's famous landmarks. You'll see the towering silhouette of the Frauenkirche, the grand Royal Palace, and the beautiful Zwinger Palace, all set against the backdrop of the river.
I recommend walking all the way to the Blaues Wunder Bridge. Have a break at the Schiller Garten for some of the best traditional German food in town. Then cross the bridge to walk around Loschwitz.
Loschwitz, a neighbourhood located in Dresden, is a must-visit during the winter months! Winter is the perfect time to explore this charming area and experience its unique atmosphere. Trust me, I used to live in Loschwitz and it's a splendid area in Dresden.
Once you arrive in Loschwitz, you'll find yourself in a charming and picturesque village like enclave filled with historic buildings, quaint cafés, and lovely buildings. The area is also home to the Loschwitzer Bridge (aka Blaues Wunder Bridge), one of the most iconic landmarks in Dresden, which provides stunning views of the city and the river.
In the winter, Loschwitz is transformed into a winter wonderland, with snow-covered roofs and twinkling lights. Eat Saxon schnitzel and game dishes at the Körnergarten Gaststätten, have a traditional German cake at Kaffee Wippler, then take the Dresden funicular to Luisenhof for a glass of German wine with the most incredible views.
Explore the Royal Palace of Dresden
Royal Palace of Dresden is very special thanks to its stunning architecture. The palace is a fusion of styles, with Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical elements seamlessly combined to create a magnificent building.
As you tour the palace, you'll be amazed by the richness and variety of the art and artefacts on display. You'll find Renaissance paintings as well as Baroque sculptures and so much history. There is so much to see and appreciate as you'll also learn about the lives of the royal families who once lived here.
Visit the Albertinum
The Albertinum, is a premier destination for modern art aficionados. Inside the Albertinum, you'll find two renowned collections of the Dresden State Art Collections - the New Masters Gallery (Galerie Neue Meister) and the Sculpture Collection (Skulpturensammlung). The museum showcases a diverse range of paintings and sculptures, spanning 200 years from the Romanticism period to the present day.
One of the things that makes the Albertinum so special is its architecture. The building itself is a work of art, with a modern grand hall, soaring ceilings, and epic lights. It's ideal for your insta collection.
The museum is designed to enhance the visitor experience, with natural light and spacious galleries that allow the art to shine. Make sure to take a break with a coffee and cafe in the grand hall.
Take a tour of the Dresden Frauenkirche
As someone who knows the Dresden Frauenkirche well and loves it, I can tell you that this iconic landmark is not just a church, it's a symbol of hope, resilience, and renewal.
The Frauenkirche is an awe-inspiring structure, with its towering dome, intricate stone carvings, and breathtaking stained-glass windows. You'll be struck by its sheer size and beauty as soon as you step inside. But the true magic of this place lies in its rich history and the powerful emotions it evokes.
The Frauenkirche was destroyed during World War II, but its ruins stood as a testament to the horrors of war for many years. Then, in the 1990s, a remarkable effort was launched to rebuild the church exactly as it was before, using the original plans and many of the same stones. Today, the Frauenkirche is once again a thriving place of worship, with services, concerts, and events that draw visitors from around the world.
Visit the Dresden State Opera
If you're a lover of music and grand performances, you simply must experience the magic of the Dresden State Opera. The stunning interior, with its ornate ceiling, plush red velvet seats, and elegant chandeliers, sets the stage for an unforgettable performance. And, of course, the music itself will take your breath away.
But if you don't have time to see a full performance, you will want to book tickets for a tour of the state opera. You will learn about the building's many secrets, including its deceiving materials which contribute to its grand design.
The tours are usually at lunch time and you can book them in German or English.
Go ice skating in the forest
Imagine gliding across on the ice rink surrounded by towering trees, with the crisp winter air blowing through your hair. This is what you'll experience when you visit the ice rink in the Heide Forest.
One of the best things about this rink is its idyllic location. The Konzertplatz is nestled within the Dresden Heide Forest, making it the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy a winter day in nature. The forest provides a picturesque backdrop as you skate, and you'll feel a million miles away from the stresses of everyday life.
Visit the Christmas markets
From late November until just after the New Year, the city comes alive with the sights, sounds, and smells of the holiday season.
There are several markets to visit, each with its own unique character and offerings. Stroll through the historic Striezelmarkt, which is one of the oldest Christmas markets in Germany and features a huge Christmas pyramid and an impressive array of traditional crafts and gifts. Or visit the charming Christkindlmarkt, which is located in the heart of the city and offers a cosy, intimate atmosphere.
You'll find stalls selling handmade gifts, festive foods, and holiday treats. And of course, there's plenty of Glühwein (mulled wine) and traditional German sweets to enjoy as you shop. It's the ideal place for authentic souvenirs from Germany.
Explore the Kunsthofpassage
Kunsthofpassage is a true hidden gem located in the Neustadt neighbourhood. This unique courtyard is a blend of art and architecture that residents are really proud of. The walls and facades of the buildings are adorned with quirky sculptures, murals, and other pieces of art, creating an atmosphere that's both playful and thought-provoking.
The Kunsthofpassage Singing Drain Pipes are a one-of-a-kind experience located in Dresden's student neighbourhood. Part of the Neustadt Kunsthoffpassage, or "Art Courtyards", this group of five buildings each has its own unique theme, with the Singing Drain Pipes being the Courtyard of Music.
As rainwater hits the rooftops, it travels through pipes and is transformed into music as it flows through funnels, trumpets, waterfalls, and platforms. The aluminium structure amplifies the sound and creates a captivating performance in the rain. Bring an umbrella and enjoy the show without getting wet.
Learn about chocolate at Camondas Schokoladenmuseum
If you're a chocolate lover like me, then I have just the place for you: Camondas which is a chocolate shop, museum and a cafe. The museum is dedicated to all things chocolate and is a delightful experience for people of all ages. You will learn how chocolate used to be produced and what type of materials were used to mix chocolate with.
You'll have the opportunity to learn about the history of chocolate, how it's made, and how it's enjoyed all around the world. You'll see vintage chocolate molds and packaging, as well as modern tools and techniques used in chocolate production today.
You will definately want to purchase some delicious chocolate from Camondas. The shop owners pride themselves in sourcing some of the best chocolate in the world. It's the perfect store for gifts, souvenirs and those with a sweet tooth!
Photograph Brühl's terrace
Brühl's Terrace, also known as the "Balcony of Europe," is a stunning architectural wonder located in the heart of Dresden. This iconic terrace stretches along the Elbe River and provides panoramic views of the city's skyline and the surrounding landscape.
Built in the 18th century, Brühl's Terrace was once a popular spot for aristocrats and high society to take in the views, socialize, and enjoy the beautiful gardens and fountains. Today, it remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in Dresden. The terrace is lined with charming cafes and restaurants, making it the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat or a drink and take in the scenery.
It's one of my favourite places for photography in Dresden and in the winter, it looks so calm and serene, especially at sunset!
Hike in the Dresden Heide
Dresden in winter looks wonderful, but did you know that Dresden is home to one of the largest forests in Germany? Take tram 11 from the old town and ride it all the way to "plattleite". Cross the street and enter the hiking trails in the forest, which is usually covered in snow during the winter months.
Make sure to wear comfortable waterproofs, snow shoes are especially recommended. There are many trails in Dresden Heide, some longer than 20 km. It's a really peaceful area and perfect for some snow activities such as cross country skiing, sledding or just hiking in the snow.
Take a day trip to Meißen
Meißen is a charming town located just a short drive or train ride from Dresden, and it makes for a perfect day trip destination.
Visit the main highlights of Meißen: the beautiful Albrechtsburg Castle, which was built in the 15th century. This stunning castle is considered one of the earliest examples of German Gothic architecture and is now a museum, showcasing the town's rich history and culture.
Another must-visit site in Meißen is the Meißen Cathedral, a stunning example of Gothic architecture that dates back to the 12th century. This beautiful cathedral is renowned for its stained-glass windows, intricate carvings, and stone work.
If you're searching for gifts, Meißen is known for its exceptional porcelain production, thanks to the abundant supply of kaolin and potter's earth in the area. This town was the birthplace of the first high-quality porcelain outside the East, making it a true leader in the world of ceramics.
Learn about Dresden at the Panometer
The Panometer is a unique combination of a panoramic painting and a science centre, all housed inside a former gasometer. The massive panoramic paintings, created by artist Yadegar Asisi, will take your breath away with their incredible detail and lifelike quality.
At the Panometer, you'll be able to explore different eras and events in Dresden's history, from the Renaissance to World War II. You'll see the city as it once was, from its grand architecture to its bustling streets, and learn about the people and events that shaped it.
In addition to the panoramic paintings, the Panometer also has a number of interactive exhibits and displays that will engage and educate you.
Immerse yourself in history at Festung Dresden
Festung Dresden was a series of fortifications built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries around the city. It was created as part of Germany's national defense plan and was meant to protect the city from any potential attacks.
You'll love exploring the concrete bunkers, casemates, and underground tunnels that made up Festung Dresden. These were the homes and workplaces for troops and their equipment during the war. Despite being heavily damaged during the Allied bombing of Dresden in 1945, Festung Dresden still stands as a testament to the city's rich history.
Although most of the fortifications have been demolished, the remaining tunnels are a must-see. Included in your entry ticket, you will enjoy an immersive experience with video, sound, and voice.
Take a scenic hike in the Saxon Switzerland National Park
Let me tell you about a place that's just a stone's throw from Dresden and is truly breathtaking -- Saxon Switzerland National Park!
You'll be amazed by the towering cliffs and unique rock formations, and the views are just something else! The park covers an area of around 90 square kilometres and is packed with all sorts of fascinating plants and animals, including some rare species of birds and insects.
When you visit, you'll have the opportunity to explore on foot, by bike, or even on horseback. And if you're into rock climbing, then this place is a real gem. Saxon Switzerland has some of the best climbing routes in the world. If you're looking for a peaceful escape from the city, or just love nature and adventure, Saxon Switzerland National Park is the place for you.
Visit the Japanese Palace
The Japanese Palace was built in 1715, but it got a bit of an upgrade in 1729 until 1731 to make room for King Augustus the Strong's Japanese porcelain collection, which is now part of the famous Dresden Porcelain Collection. And that's not all, more Japanese crafts were added to the collection too! But, instead of showing off all these beautiful things, it ended up serving as the Saxon Library. The palace was designed by some pretty talented architects, Pöppelmann, Longuelune and de Bodt.
Unfortunately, the Japanisches Palais saw some damage during the bombing raids in 1945. But don't worry, it got a fresh makeover in the 80s thanks to the French government!
Today, it's home to three awesome museums. You can visit the Museum of Ethnology Dresden, the State Museum for Pre-History, or the Senckenberg Natural History Collection. Each one is packed with interesting things to see and learn about!
As you can see there is so much to do in Dresden in the winter. Lots of fun outdoors and indoors activities, day trips and fun attractions for everyone. Don't forget to check our Dresden itinerary, if you're planning a romantic weekend in one of our favourite German cities.
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