48 Hours in Dresden: A 2 Day Itinerary

Exploring Dresden for two days is an underrated experience. I’ve lived in Europe for a number of years and spent some time exploring Germany and Dresden. It’s one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen!

The architecture is stunning, there are plenty of museums and galleries to explore, plus there are many unique local restaurants that serve delicious traditional dishes.

In terms of things to do when travelling to Dresden, some popular itineraries include a visit to the Frauenkirche Church or the Semperoper Opera House, both iconic landmarks in their own right. For a more cultural experience, the Zwinger Palace and Royal Palace provide great insight into the city’s culture and history.

One day can be dedicated to exploring these landmarks while another day could be devoted to leisurely walks along the Elbe River or a boat ride through its canals.

Of course, no trip would be complete without indulging in some traditional German cuisine – bratwurst with sauerkraut or potato pancakes are classic local favourites! Whatever activities you decide on, Dresden is sure to provide an unforgettable travel experience for those who visit it.

Dresden, Germany, a fascinating city located on the eastern flank of the country, is steeped in history, renowned for its architectural beauty, and full of cultural wonder.

Dresden offers visitors a perfect blend of old world charm and modern attractions, and with 48 hours in Dresden, you’ll have ample time to explore its historic landmarks, immerse yourself in its cultural treasures, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of this bustling metropolis.

This 2 Day Itinerary for Dresden will guide you through where to stay and when to visit, as well as what to do in Dresden, highlighting the best cultural and culinary experiences that this city has to offer.

Dresden, Germany. Panoramic  cityscape image of Dresden, Germany with reflection of the city in the Elbe river, during sunset.

We also love Dresden for its location: Nestled on the eastern flank of Germany, at the crossroads of Leipzig, Nuremberg, Berlin, and even nearby Prague, Dresden is almost too easy to weave into your eastern European itinerary. Even more, the eastern German metropolises are well connected by the extensive German train system, with connections to neighboring Czech Republic and Poland very doable, too. 

When is the best time to visit Dresden, you ask? Being a city with so much to offer both indoors and out, Dresden can truly be enjoyed year round, but the best time to visit is arguably between late spring and early autumn.

While Germany can get very cold in the winter, its spring, summer, and autumn seasons are known to be lovely, and as such, the city’s outdoor activities will be in full swing. 

Nonetheless, we’d be remiss not to mention Dresden’s famous Christmas market, an expansive and classically German market that winds through the cobblestone streets of the Old Town for several weeks every December preceding Christmas.

It’s known to be one of the best markets in Germany, so if you’re considering a visit in the early winter, you can’t go wrong. Pro tip: If visiting Germany around Christmas, you can plan a Christmas market ‘tour’ throughout eastern Germany. A few quick train rides, and you can hit Dresden, Leipzig, Berlin, and more in just several days.

Before we dive into your 2 days in Dresden itinerary, let’s talk about where to stay in Dresden. Whether it’s your first time visiting or your tenth, knowing where to stay in Dresden is key to planning your perfect weekend in Dresden.

For the easiest access to the city’s main attractions – such as the enchanting Grand Garden (‘Grosser Garden’) and the renowned Zwinger Palace – we recommend posting up in the Old Town (‘Altstadt’). This central location in the heart of the city will set you up perfectly for a packed 48 hours in Dresden itinerary.

Those of you hoping for a more modern take on the city, consider staying in the Dresden Neustadt instead (the ‘new town’). Known for its exciting party scene and edgy eastern German culture (similar to that of Berlin), Dresden’s Neustadt also offers larger and more varied accommodation than the old town, simply by nature of being ‘new’. 

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Overview Of 2 Days In Dresden Itinerary

For those of you wondering, Is Dresden worth visiting?, the answer is a resounding yes. From the royal palace, to the impressive street art, to the historic Dresden Frauenkirche and the ornate Dresden Porcelain Collection, a weekend in Dresden is well worth your time.

We’ll help you determine the best things to do in Dresden, sprinkled with some downtime and great meals, too. So, without further ado, let’s dive into your itinerary for 48 hrs in Dresden.

Day 1 in Dresden:

  • Treat yourself to a classic German breakfast
  • Visit the Frauenkirche Dresden
  • Explore the historic Old Town (‘Altstadt’)
  • Tour the Zwinger Palace and Dresden Porcelain Collection
  • Have lunch in a traditional restaurant
  • Stroll along the Elbe River
  • Visit the Dresden Castle
  • See the opera at Semperoper Opera House
  • Experience Dresden nightlife in Neustadt

Day 2 in Dresden:

  • Have breakfast inside a historic building
  • Visit the Dresden Royal Palace
  • Tour the Grand Garden (‘Grosser Garten’)
  • Have lunch in a garden cafe
  • Visit the Pfund’s Molkerei
  • Shop in Neustadt
  • Return to the Altstadt for dinner and drinks
Dresden, Germany. Image of Dresden, Germany with the Dresden Frauenkirche  during twilight blue hour.

Day 1 of your 2 day itinerary for Dresden:

Your first official day in Dresden is all about getting acquainted with this fascinating eastern Germany metropolis.

Fuel up for a busy day with a classic, hearty German breakfast, and get ready to hit the city’s major sites. We’ll end the day with dinner and drinks in the bustling Neustadt district. 

Grab a coffee and a bite to eat in an old pharmacy

Start your day at Café Apotheke, an old school European cafe housed inside an old pharmacy. Grab a coffee—Germany is known for its strong, full bodied blends—and a cake, and soak in the atmosphere for a bit before heading out.

Be sure to get your hands on some home-baked German bread and local meats and cheeses. German breakfasts are known to have quite the spread, and this will serve as the perfect fuel for your busy day ahead. 

Visit the Frauenkirche Dresden

Kick off your Dresden sightseeing day at the Frauenkirche, an iconic symbol of the city with stunning architecture and a must-see when visiting Dresden. Climb to the top of the tower to experience panoramic views of the city from above.

Interestingly, the Frauenkirche was actually destroyed during World War Two (like much of Dresden), but it was rebuilt completely in the late 20th century. Today, the rebuilt structure harkens back to its original Baroque design. 

Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) on New Market square (Neumarkt), Dresden, Germany

Tour the Zwinger Palace and and Dresden Porcelain Collection

Truly a masterpiece of Baroque architecture, Zwinger Palace’s magnificent gardens, fountains, and New Green Vault — the largest collection of treasure in all of Europe — will leave you in awe at its seemingly endless rooms of ornate treasures.

The Zwinger Palace is also home to the Dresden Porcelain Collection, another incredible display of refined European artistry, where you will find the finest and most extensive collection of porcelain arguably in the world.

With over 20,000 artifacts on display, many of which are from China and Japan, you can’t miss this impressive collection while visiting Dresden.

Tour Pick
DRESDEN, GERMANY - Famous Zwinger palace (Der Dresdner Zwinger) Art Gallery of Dresden, Saxrony, Germany

Shared Walking Tour

  • 2 hours 
  • Max of 15 people 
  • Local guide
Baroque Dresden, Zwinger museum

Indulge in a traditional German lunch

Alte Meister Restaurant, located just outside the Zwinger Palace, offers local Northern German cuisine and wines in a beautiful outdoor patio setting. Be sure to try some of the local dishes, such as a fish filet sandwich or chicken breast. 

Walk along the Elbe River

Walk off your lunch on the banks of the Elbe River, just a stone’s throw away from the Zwinger Palace, with plenty of walking paths and grassy areas to enjoy.

The Elbe River is one of the most picturesque in Germany, with waterfront parks and bistros lining its shores, so be sure to spend at least an hour here and pop into a cafe for a drink.

Scenic summer view of the Old Town architecture with Elbe river embankment in Dresden, Saxony, Germany

Enjoy a scenic and traditional dinner

Pulverturm is an incredibly atmospheric restaurant that taps into Dresden’s medieval history while serving up some of the best food in the city. Eat and imbibe in a centuries old building or enjoy views of the Elbe River from the outside patio.

Attend a performance at the Dresden Opera House

End the day with a visit to the Semperoper, the iconic opera house known for its exquisite performances and also known to be one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world.

Dating back to 1667, the famed opera house is home to both the Dresden opera and its ballet company, too. Be sure to check the schedule for performances and book tickets in advance.

Dresden, Saxony. Opera house of Dresda, on a sunny day with blue sky. Germany landmark.

Experience Neustadt’s nightlife

Time and energy permitting, after your long day of exploring Dresden, head over to Neustadt after dinner to experience the lively eastern German nightlife that Dresden is known for.

If you’ve ever been to Berlin, you’ll feel right at home among Dresden’s bustling bars and clubs, which have an eastern German edge to them that you won’t find in many other places. 

Day 2 of your 2 day itinerary for Dresden:

Now that you’re well acquainted with the city, your second day in Dresden is all about deeper exploration and some relaxation, too. We start the day at a fascinating breakfast spot, tour a royal palace, take in some nature, and top it off with a return visit to Old Town, of course. 

Eat breakfast in a baroque cafe

Start your day on a high note with breakfast at the Coselpalais Dresden, a baroque style cafe housed within a historic building, where you’ll find everything from coffee, to cakes, to freshly made eggs and salads.

Take some time to relax in this scenic cafe, sip on a coffee, and take in the atmosphere. Germans don’t like to rush their meals, and breakfast is no exception to that. 

Visit the Dresden Castle

The Dresden Castle (‘Residenzschloss’) is a stately old palace that was largely destroyed in World War Two but has since been refurbished as a state art museum. Its iconic domed courtyard and various exhibitions inside make this historic site well worth a visit.

Be sure to reserve a few hours of your time to tour this impressive site and allow yourself to wander through its ornate rooms and various exhibits. 

Tour Pick
DRESDEN GERMANY-Dresden Castle (Green Vault) in the historic center of Dresden. Green Vault in Dresden is a unique historic museum that contains the largest collection of treasures in Europe. Saxony Germany.

Dresden Castle tour

  • 2.5 hours 
  • Max of 15 people 
  • Admission included
DRESDEN GERMANY-Dresden Castle (Green Vault) in the historic center of Dresden. Green Vault in Dresden is a unique historic museum that contains the largest collection of treasures in Europe. Saxony Germany.

Get lost in the Grosser Garten

Take a short trip from Dresden to the Grosser Garten, a large park with beautifully manicured gardens, with the Zwinger Palace right in the backdrop.

Enjoy a leisurely stroll or rent a paddleboat to explore the park’s lake, rent a paddleboat, or visit the Dresden Zoo.

The Grosser Garten is serene, beautifully maintained, and lively, especially on a beautiful day. Perhaps you can lounge on the lawn and read a book or simply soak in the sights. 

Baroque palace reflected in waters of Palaisteich in Grosser Garten in Dresden

Enjoy a scenic beer garden lunch

A visit to Germany wouldn’t be complete without a beer garden pit stop, so while you’re in the Grosser Garten, pop into the Sommercafé am Palaisteich or the Torwirtschaft Dresden. These classic German beer gardens serve up freshly brewed beer, local dishes, and a relaxed vibe among the park’s scenery. 

Visit the Pfund’s Molkerei

Visit the Pfund’s Molkerei, a stunning milk shop that holds the Guinness World Record for the most beautiful dairy shop in the world. Admire its intricate tile decor and indulge in a delicious ice cream treat.

Shop and explore in Neustadt

Head back to Dresden Neustadt, a vibrant district known for its alternative culture and street art scene. Explore the trendy shops, cafes, and galleries in the area.

Head back to Old Town for a traditional dinner

Top off your weekend in Dresden with a regional dinner at Sophienkeller, a traditional German cellar restaurant that offers local inspired dishes.

After dinner, wander around the winding streets of Dresden before saying bidding adieu to this enchanting city.

Neumarkt square in the old town of Dresden, Germany.

Extra time? Take a day trip from Dresden

If our itinerary hasn’t quite fulfilled your 48 hours in Dresden (we’d be surprised if it didn’t!), why not head outside the city limits for a day trip? With Prague, Leipzig, Berlin, and Nuremberg all within a few hours by train, these famous cities make for great day trip options from Dresden.

Other day trip options include the Niederlausitzer Heidelandschaft Nature Park, a renowned nature reserve close to the city, and the Moritzburg Palace, a stunning palace located just 20 kilometers from Dresden’s city center.

For small town vibes, visit Görlitz, a charming little village with quaint streets, impressive architecture, and a well preserved old town, or opt for Seiffen, a 14th century town that’s lovingly known as “Toy Village” for its handmade toys and artifcats. 

Gorlitz, Germany. Cityscape image of historical downtown of Gorlitz, Germany during dramatic sunset.

FAQs About what to see in dresden in 2 days

What to see in dresden in 2 days

Dresden is a city filled with rich culture that can be explored in two days! A must-see spot in the city is the magnificent Zwinger Palace.

Located near the Elbe River, this palace contains several breathtaking palatial buildings and gardens to explore. Another popular attraction is the Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady.

This Baroque-style Lutheran church has been rebuilt since its destruction in World War II and now stands tall as a reminder of Dresden’s resilient spirit. To soak up more of Dresden’s history, check out the Green Vault at Dresden Castle, home to some of Europe’s most precious treasures.

The city also offers plenty of shopping opportunities and restaurants for all kinds of tastes. With two days to spare in this beautiful city, you can make sure to get an unforgettable experience!

is 2 days in dresden enough

2 days in Dresden can be enough to experience the city’s main attractions and have a taste of its culture. You can visit a few museums, take a tour of the city center and spend some time on the banks of Elbe river. While two days is not enough to get a comprehensive understanding of this historic city, it’s certainly enough to appreciate its charms.

is dresden worth visiting

Dresden is an incredible city that is well worth visiting. From its stunning architecture, including the Zwinger Palace and Frauenkirche, to its world-class restaurants and vibrant nightlife, Dresden offers something for everyone.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family vacation, Dresden has it all. Plus, the city’s rich cultural heritage makes it a great destination to explore. So yes – Dresden is definitely worth visiting!

Final Thoughts: dresden 2 day itinerary

With its historical treasures, cultural landmarks, and natural beauty, Dresden is a city well worth exploring. With just 48 hours in Dresden, you can immerse yourself in its rich history, admire architectural wonders, and experience the vibrant atmosphere of this captivating city.

Whether you’re drawn to the historical charm of the Altstadt, the cultural offerings of the Zwinger Palace, or the artistic vibe of Neustadt, Dresden has something for everyone. So pack your bags, follow this itinerary, and embark on an unforgettable journey through Dresden’s captivating past and vibrant present.

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