If you’re wondering how to spend 2 days in Dresden keep reading for the perfect itinerary!
Located on either side of the Elbe River, the city of Dresden is both unique and fascinating.
Ready to travel again? Don’t go without travel insurance.
I recommend SafetyWing Nomad Insurance. I’ve been using it since 2019 and I can assure you it’s the perfect solution for nomads like you and me.
Once the seat of Saxon rulers, it boasts some spectacular architecture and museums filled with art, antiques, and royal clothing. Yet everything is not as it seems at first sight.
This is a city that has risen from the ashes, with much of its original architecture destroyed by bombing in World War 2.
A period of Communist rule followed, reflected in some of Dresden’s austere, Soviet-style buildings. During this time, nothing was done to restore the original city to its former glory.
But that changed with the German reunification in 1990 when reconstruction of the medieval Old Town began. And the results are quite spectacular, with Dresden’s historic heart now offering its visitors everything from palaces and gardens to perfectly restored churches.
2 days in Dresden is just the right amount of time to see the best that this intriguing city has to offer. It is easy to walk between the different attractions, especially if you follow this itinerary and spent one day in the Old Town, and the other in the New.
The bus and tram services are efficient should you choose not to walk and there are ferries crossing the Elbe to help you see things from a different perspective.
Read on to discover the best way to spend a weekend in Dresden, with our recommendations for what to do each morning and afternoon of your stay. We’ll also share some of our favorite places to eat, and the best accommodation options available to suit every budget.
The first of your two days in Dresden will be spent entirely in the Old Town on the south side of the river.
When you view some of the intricate detail on the restored buildings here, you’ll find it hard to believe that they are younger than the New Town buildings!
To start your day, head to Neumarkt, Dresden’s beautiful main square. Here you’ll find one of the city’s main attractions, the Frauenkirche, often considered one of Germany’s most outstanding reconstruction projects.
The original building was completed in 1793, and its ruins were then stored after its WWII destruction. The building you see now finally opened in 2005, containing almost 4,000 of its original stones.
It is breathtakingly beautiful inside, with gorgeous galleries and a Baroque altar. Entry is free, or you can pay to go up inside the dome for a fantastic view of the city.
Next, visit Brühl’s Terrace. Once a city wall, it extends along the Elbe for around 1,640 feet (500 meters) and is a great place to take a stroll. You will find the Albertinum here, an art museum containing works by masters such as Goya, Degas, and Max Liebermann.
From here take the 10-minute walk to the spectacular Semperoper, home to the Dresden Orchestra, Saxon State Opera, and Semperoper Ballet. You can book a guided tour of the beautifully decorated interior – or even buy tickets to attend a performance!
Your next stop is the nearby Zwinger building, a museum housing the Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments and the Porcelain Collection. Take the time to walk around the outside and admire the fabulous Baroque architecture, considered among the finest in Germany.
Before lunch, go to see the Fürstenzug, or ‘Procession of Princes’, this is a 335 feet (102-meter-long) mural depicting the Dukes, Electors, and Kings of the house of Wettin, along with other important cultural figures. Composed of 25,000 Meissen Porcelain tiles, it thankfully survived the bombing in 1945.
After stopping for lunch at the popular Ladencafé aha, it’s time to head towards the Grosser Garten, a 20-minute walk away. Open to the public since 1814, this beautiful garden was originally designed in the French Baroque style.
It is home to the Sommerpalais – one of Germany’s earliest Baroque palaces – along with the Dresden Zoo and Botanical Garden.
Stroll just outside the Garden to find the German Hygiene Museum. Founded in 1912, it is far more fascinating than it sounds and contains exhibits related to health and medicine.
Here you can see the popular Glass Woman and a children’s museum devoted to the senses, containing lots of interactive activities.
To end your afternoon, stroll towards Altstadt for a visit to the Residenzschloss, another of the city’s main attractions. This former Royal Palace is one of the oldest public museums in Europe and contains some fabulous exhibitions.
You can see everything from a medieval armory here to a fascinating Turkish Chamber, where an authentic tent is erected.
The museum also houses the Historical Green Vault and the New Green Vault, both filled with collections of jewelry, and the Dresden State Art Collection. Here you can see treasures, including beautiful needlework, wonderful masterpieces, and original court clothing.
As the day draws to a close, why not enjoy a Sunset Paddle Steamer Cruise on the Elbe River? This 3.5-hour experience helps you enjoy Dresden from an entirely new perspective, passing by 4 bridges and taking in the city’s stately castles.
Although not included as part of the tour, food and drink are available to purchase on board, so you can relax, dine, and watch the world go by.
The second of your two days in Dresden will be spent in the city’s New Town and then the nearby town of Meissen, with its fabulous Porcelain Museum and Castle.
After a morning cappuccino and a taste of local life at the Neustadter Markthalle, your first stop today is Garnison Kirche Saint Martin. This beautiful church is definitely worth a quick look, with its pretty stained glass windows and interesting architectural features.
From here, take a short walk to the Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr – Dresden’s Military Museum.
Imposing on the outside and modern on the inside, this impressive building offers 4 floors of exhibits, with an unrivaled view of the city from the 5th floor. You won’t need to be a lover of military history to find this vast museum captivating, as there is also a very strong – and sobering – emphasis on the human side of war.
You may choose to spend your entire morning here (there’s certainly enough to see!), or you could head instead to the Albrechtsberg Castle a 10-minute drive away.
You can’t go into the Castle unless you are part of a group, but you are allowed to stroll through the park. This provides lovely elevated views of the Elbe.
Seeing the best of Dresden in 2 days gives you time to pay a visit to the town of Meissen, just 16.8 mi (30 km) to the west.
It can be reached via the S-Bahn from Neustadt station in around 1.25 hours. Get off at the Meissen-Triebischtal stop so you can visit the town’s main attraction – its world-famous Porcelain Museum.
Meissen is Europe’s oldest and largest porcelain manufacturer, and the museum is totally fascinating! With vast windows providing plenty of light, its collection is a pleasure to behold and contains many exquisite pieces.
There are interesting workshops to enjoy, where you can see educational videos and watch craftsmen demonstrate parts of the production process. An audio tour is available in English if required.
After visiting the museum, take a walk along to Meissen Altstadt, where you’ll discover cobblestone streets, an old market square, and Albrechtsburg Castle. If you have the time, it’s well worth buying tickets to enter, as the Castle is now a museum containing exhibits about its history and that of the town.
A fitting end to your 2 days in Dresden is to experience typical Saxon food as it would have been prepared in the 18th century.
The best place to do this is at Sophienkeller im Taschenbergpalais, one of the city’s most beautiful vault restaurants. Here you can enjoy traditional delicacies such as spit-roasted suckling pig, duck, and Saxon potato soup.
As you dine you can listen to music played on a lute and hear historic stories from staff dressed in period costume.
Are 2 Days In Dresden Enough?
As you can see, it is very easy to see the best of Dresden in 2 days, mainly because all the main attractions are so close together.
Do remember, though, that this itinerary is based on two full days in the city. If you arrive in Dresden late on your first day or need to leave early on departure day, then we would recommend adding an extra night to your stay.
Where To Stay In Dresden
Thanks to Dresden’s relatively compact size and good transport links, you have quite a bit of freedom over where in the city you choose to stay. Most first-time visitors choose to stay in the Old Town, although accommodation costs here can be a bit higher than in the newer part of the city.
Here are some of our favorite places to stay.
Best Budget Accommodation
Hostel Lollis Homestay is located in the Neustadt district, surrounded by plenty of lively cafes and pubs. The rooms are brightly furnished and individually decorated, with free wifi available throughout.
There is a fully equipped communal kitchen with free tea and coffee, laundry facilities, plus linen to rent.
Available rooms include singles, doubles, dormitory rooms, and apartments. There are several free events on offer including a BBQ night, and Neustadt Train Station is just a 15-minute walk away.
Best Mid-Range Accommodation
In a super location just steps from Frauenkirche, INNSiDE by Meliá Dresden is within easy reach of all the other Old Town’s attractions. The contemporary-style rooms are elegantly decorated, featuring air-conditioning, a rain shower, and toiletries.
There is an excellent wellness area with 2 saunas, a steam bath, and a fitness studio, plus the VEN restaurant serving German and international cuisine. Cocktails are on offer at the TWIST bar, or you can head to the 6th-floor Sky Bar for fabulous views of the Frauenkirche Church.
Best Luxury Accommodation
Why not spoil yourself during your 2 days in Dresden with a stay at the beautiful Hotel Suitess in the center of the Old Town?
The hotel has an original Baroque façade and is located right beside the Frauenkirche Church. The soundproofed rooms are decorated in 19th-century style and feature flat-screen TVs and Italian marble bathrooms.
Breakfast is available in the hotel’s restaurant and there is a lovely conservatory for dining in the warmer months.
Final Thoughts On This Itinerary For Two Days In Dresden
If you have been wondering what to do in Dresden in 2 days, I hope this guide has helped you plan an enjoyable itinerary. With its unique modern history and fascinating mix of new and original architecture, it may be one of the most interesting of all European cities to visit.
Traveling to Germany soon? Read one of the following guides: