Where to Stay in Dresden

SD › Best Places to Stay in Dresden
Updated: April 19, 2023
By Santorini Dave

Our Favorite Dresden Hotels

• 5-star: Suitess
• 4-star: Steigenberger
• 3-star: B&B am Schillerplatz
• For Couples: Indigo
• For Families: Maritim

An ornate gothic church and clocktower on a sunny day.

Most of Dresden’s best attractions, like Hofkirche and Residenzschloss, are in the Alstadt.

The Best Areas to Stay in Dresden

The state capital of Saxony, Dresden was almost completely destroyed in World War II and since has been painstakingly rebuilt, with much of the work taking place since German reunification in 1990. Today it’s one of Europe’s greatest showcases of baroque architecture, including the “Florence on the Elbe” a stunning ensemble of elegant palaces, mansions, and beautiful churches. Much of this was commissioned by “Augustus the Strong”, ruler (or “elector”) of Saxony from 1694 to 1733. You’ll hear about Augustus everywhere in Dresden, though the city’s golden age was relatively short-lived. Dresden makes for an intriguing two or three-day break, with hotels to suit all budgets, and you’ll generally find rates much lower here than in Berlin (two-and-a-half hours north by train).

Dresden Neighborhoods

Almost everything you’ll want to see is in the reconstructed Altstadt (Old Town): the Frauenkirche, the Albertinum gallery, Hofkirche cathedral, Residenzschloss and Grüne Gewölbe (Green Vaults), the Semperoper, and the art museums inside the Zwinger. There are plenty of restaurants here, but it does feel a bit like staying in a museum compared with the districts across the river, and hotels tend to be high-end.

Across the Elbe to the north is the Neustadt (New City), though this too dates back to the 18th century and suffered far less damage in World War II. The Innere Neustadt (Inner New City) is anchored by the Goldener Reiter statue and pedestrianized Hauptstrasse, with several old churches and a few museums occupying the remaining palaces and mansions. There are some good hotels here, convenient for both sides of the river.

You’ll get a better understanding of contemporary Dresden in the Äussere Neustadt (Outer New Town) further north, the city’s premier nightlife district; also known for its hip galleries, indie shops, and cafés. The main attractions here are the Kunsthofpassage, a warren of interconnecting courtyards creatively decorated by local artists, the Pfunds Molkerei, a historic dairy adorned with beautiful hand-painted tiles, and Daniel Libeskind’s stylish extension of the Museum of Military History. Dresden’s best hostels ande budget hotels are in Äussere Neustadt.

Further out to the east, along the river, the adjacent neighborhoods of Blasewitz and Loschwitz are primarily residential and much quieter places to stay, with a smattering of cheap family-run pensions that let you feel like a local. There are some interesting sights here too, from the panoramic images inside the Panometer, to Friedrich Schiller’s house and Schloss Albrechtsberg; the two districts connected by the “Blaues Wunder”, a handsome old bridge over the Elbe.

Dresden Travel Tips

  • Dresden Airport is around 7 miles northwest of central Dresden, linked to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) in the city center by S-Bahn train, with a travel time of around 25 minutes. It’s a relatively small airport serving a handful of European destinations. There’s little point in staying near the airport; it’s easy to reach and the nearest hotels are not great.
  • Though hotels and major tourist sights usually have English speakers on hand, you’ll find fewer multilingual locals in Dresden than in Berlin – don’t assume staff working in shops and restaurants will understand you. Try to learn a few words, key phrases, and numbers in German before you go.
  • There are several tourist passes on offer for Dresden, as always only a good value only if you intend to do a lot of sightseeing in a short amount of time. The Dresden City Card (in 1 to 3-day iterations from around €15 to €30) offers discounts at numerous restaurants, museums, and shops, plus free public transport; the Dresden Regio Card (from €25) extends similar coverage to the surrounding region; and the Dresden Museums Card (two days for €22) includes free entry to 16 museums plus various discounts across the city.
  • Sächsische Dampfschiffahrt operates ferries and cruises on the Elbe River (one-way to Meissen from €14). Trips depart from the Terrassenufer in the city center, near the Augustusbrücke.
  • It’s easy to explore the Altstadt on foot, but DVB operates an excellent integrated system of trams and buses to get between the north and south banks of the city and outlying sights. A single ticket is €2.70, a four-card strip for single journeys of up to 2km is €6.20, and a one-day pass is €6.90.
  • Bike rental is available through bikeshare schemes like MOBIbike and MietOn. Bicycles are a convenient and fast way to get around Dresden and along the Elbe (it’s mostly flat terrain, with lots of bike lanes).
  • Free wi-fi is available at Dresden Airport, and at cafés and museums through the city itself. Visitors can also access free wi-fi at hotspots throughout the city – look for the “Dresden” network.

The Best Places to Stay in Dresden

A large stone bridge across a wide river, lined by a pedestrian walkway.

The Augustusbrucke bridge spans the Elbe River, connecting the Altstadt and Neustadt.

Best Neighborhoods in Dresden for…

  • Best Place to Stay for First Timers/Sightseeing: Altstadt
    If you’re only in Dresden for a short time and want to visit all the main sights, it makes sense to stay in the Altstadt, where all the showstoppers will be in walking distance, from the cathedral and Zwinger to Albertinum and Residenzschloss. The hotels right in the center tend to be expensive, but there are plenty of midrange options around the edges, especially in the modern shopping area between the Altmarkt and the main train station further south.
  • Best Neighborhood for Nightlife: Äussere Neustadt
    Dresden’s nightlife is second only to Berlin, with a huge amount of variety packed into the streets of Äussere Neustadt. The heart of the scene is the intersection of Görlitzer Strasse and Louisenstrasse (aka the “Assi-Eck”) where students gather in the summer to hang out and drink cheap booze, though it can also be fun to frequent the beer gardens along the Elbe (usually open May–Sept only). Highlights include live venue Alter Schlachthof, jazz club Blue Note Dresden, bar-restaurant Bottoms Up, student favorites Groove Station and East–German themed Ostpol, and the late-night café at Kulturzentrum Scheune, among many others.
  • Best Neighborhood for Food and Restaurants: Altstadt
    There’s plenty of good food in Dresden, with the Altstadt tending toward traditional German,and the Neustadt offering a more contemporary and international scene. For most visitors the Altstadt will be a lot more convenient. Try Restaurant Moritz and Ven for gourmet dining, Kastenmeiers for seafood, Alte Meister Café and Kunst Café Antik for historic ambience, and the Sophienkeller and Pulverturm for traditional German and Saxony specialties.
  • Best Neighborhoods for Local Vibe: Äussere Neustadt or Blasewitz
    Äussere Neustadt is quite a contrast to the Altstadt, with many more locals and students, and a grungier, alternative vibe. The restaurants here are a lot more international, from Turkish and Vietnamese to Indian and Italian, and it’s also the city’s main nightlife hub. The stores are more alternative too (we like Tranquillo Outlet, Morgenland Dresden, and the shops in the Kunsthofpassage). On the other hand, staying east of the city center in residential Blasewitz will give you a better idea of how most locals live, especially if you stay in one its cozy family-owned pensions. Favorite spots out here include the historic SchillerGarten for German food and beer, Charlottes Enkel for coffee, and Stresa for contemporary Saxon food. Neugrunaer Casino has a great beer garden.
  • Best Neighborhood for Shopping: Altstadt
    Though you’ll find more independent and alternative stores in Neustadt, the Altstadt and the area around it serves as the city’s prime shopping district for locals. The open-air Altmarkt features arts and crafts markets throughout the year (and a Christmas Market in December), while the huge Altmarkt-Galerie Dresden is the city’s premier indoor shopping mall. The streets leading to the main train station south of here – Seestrasse and Prager Strasse – are essentially one giant open-air mall (the GALERIA Dresden department store is here), while Centrum Galerie Dresden is smaller shopping center on route, with Primark one of its anchor tenants.
  • Most Romantic Neighborhoods: Altstadt or Loschwitz
    While it’s hard to beat the Old Town for sheer beauty and stunning architecture (especially along the Elbe at sunrise or sunset, when the day-trippers are gone), the bucolic district of Loschwitz further up the river is an extremely romantic place to stay. The neighborhood is studded with ivy-strewn villas from the 1800s and several palaces, one of which is a luxury hotel (Schloss Eckberg). You can stroll across the “Blaues Wunder” bridge and take the Schwebebahn Dresden, a historic cable car, up the hill for gorgeous views back across the city, or just follow the footpaths along the Elbe.
  • Safety in Dresden
    Dresden is generally very safe by global and even German standards, though the usual precautions should be taken at night, especially around the main train station (Hauptbahnhof).
An ornate white stone building with a glass dome on the top.

Alstadt’s Lipsiusbau gallery is also known as Zitronenpresse (“Lemon Squeezer”), because of the distinctive shape of its glass cupola.

The 6 Best Neighborhoods in Dresden for Tourists

1. Altstadt (Old Town)

The Old Town is where Dresden’s regeneration is most startling, anchored by the Neumarkt town square and the gorgeous Frauenkirche, Germany’s largest Protestant church. It looks authentic, but the original was flattened in 1945 – this accurate reconstruction was only completed in 2005. From here you can wander along the Brühlsche Terrasse, the garden on top of the ramparts overlooking the Elbe (duck into the Festung Xperience below the ramparts to learn more about Dresden’s Renaissance-era fortifications). Nearby is the Albertinum, one of Germany’s top art galleries (comprising Galerie Neue Meister/New Masters Gallery and Skulpturensammlung/Sculpture Collection). The adjacent Lipsiusbau is used for temporary exhibitions, its nickname “Lemon Squeezer” (Zitronenpresse) deriving from its distinctive glass cupola.

Back on Neumarkt you’ll find the Dresden Transport Museum, while the 335-foot-long Fürstenzug frieze on nearby Augustusstrasse comprises Meissen-porcelain tiles depicting Saxony’s rulers from 1123 to 1904. Augustusstrasse Leads to Schlossplatz, dominated by the beautiful Hofkirche (or Kathedrale), Saxony’s Catholic heart, and the Residenzschloss, the home of the electors and kings of Saxony (aka the House of Wettin) until 1918. (Most of this was also rebuilt after the war.) The highlights here are the so-called Grüne Gewölbe (Green Vaults), treasure houses of precious artworks collected by Augustus the Strong in the 18th century (there are two sections, the Historisches Grünes Gewölbe and the Neue Grüne Gewölbe). Also in the palace, Augustus’s Türckische Cammer (Ottoman Turkish collection), and the Rüstkammer collection of arms and armor.

Nearby Theaterplatz is home to the stunning Semperoper opera house and the Zwinger complex of buildings, built as a palatial recreation area for Augustus the Strong – and today home to the exceptional collection of old masters in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (there’s also the Porzellansammlung, said to have world’s largest collection of porcelain, and the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon of historic scientific instruments). South of Wilsdruffer Strasse there are far fewer historic remnants, with the Altmarkt bordered by East German throwback Kulturpalast (which maintains its Communist mosaics), and mostly modern buildings. The exceptions are the towering Kreuzkirche and Rathaus (city hall), while the nearby Stadtmuseum chronicles city history. Dresden’s primary park, the Grosser Garten, runs southeast from the Altstadt, containing a miniature steam train, Volkswagen’s Gläserne Manufaktur (“Transparent Factory”), and the 17th-century Palais Grosser Garten.

The Altstadt is the best place to soak up Dresden’s history, if not its contemporary life. You’ll find luxury hotels in the center, and better deals on the edges, but all much cheaper than Berlin.

2. Innere Neustadt (Inner New City)

Innere Neustadt (Inner New City) on the north side of the Elbe was rebuilt as Augustus the Strong’s Baroque “new town” after a fire destroyed the original in 1685 (the new district was completed in 1736). Cross Augustusbrücke and you’ll see Augustus himself, immortalized in the so-called “Goldener Reiter statue”. To the east stands the city’s oldest Renaissance building, the Jägerhof, now home to the Museum für Sächsische Volkskunst (museum of Saxony folk art). To the west along the river is the 18th-century Japanisches Palais, another grand mansion built for Augustus and now containing the Museum of Ethnology. From here you can stroll north along leafy Königstrasse, lined with Baroque townhouses and the elegant Dreikönigskirche (another artfully rebuilt church).

The wider and pedestrianized Hauptstrasse runs north from the Goldener Reiter statue, but this is far less attractive, bordered by mostly modern East German era buildings. One exception is the Kügelgenhaus, preserved as the Museum der Dresdener Romantik to commemorate Dresden Romantic painter Gerhardvon Kügelgen. (Kügelgen was tragically murdered in 1820, at the age of 48.)

3. Äussere Neustadt

Äussere Neustadt (“Outer New Town”) lies just beyond the old city walls, today stretching north from Albertplatz and Antonstrasse. This neighborhood is a lot more dynamic than the rest of the city center, and is primarily known for its bars and clubs, as well as its alternative vibe, hip galleries, and indie shops and cafés. The main attraction is the Kunsthofpassage, a warren of interconnecting courtyards between Görlitzer Strasse and Alaunstrasse creatively decorated by local artists. Closer to Albertplatz is the Erich Kästner Museum, dedicated to the popular German author of children’s books, and Die Welt der DDR, a museum of everyday East German life set in a typical housing block and apartment.

Further out along Bautzer Strasse is Pfunds Molkerei, a small but mesmerizing dairy shop elaborately decorated top-to-bottom in hand painted Villeroy & Boch tiles. A bit further along the same street is Gedenkstätte BautznerStrasse, a sobering museum set in the former prison operated by the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police. To the north is Dresden’s excellent Museum of Military History, an old armory building dramatically bisected by a modern extension designed (by Daniel Libeskind) to look like a silver arrowhead; it also contains a viewing platform. The innovative museum tackles the causes and consequences of war, with special attention to the German military.

Dresden’s best hostels and budget hotels are located in Äussere Neustadt.

4. Friedrichstadt (Messe Dresden)

Friedrichstadt lies just west of the Altstadt (beyond Könneritzstrasse), on the south bank of the Elbe. Once a major industrial district, its main claim to fame is being the cradle of the “Die Brücke” movement of German Expressionist artists, founded in Dresden in 1905 along Berlinerstrasse (nothing remains of the original studio). Today Friedrichstadt is best known for the Messe Dresden trade show complex, and the Motorenhalle contemporary art center. It’s also worth seeking out the 18th-century Palais Brühl-Marcolini, now serving as a hospital but still home to the Fountain of Neptune (Neptunbrunnen), Dresden’s most famous decorative fountain; hemmed in by modern apartment blocks it’s a reminder of how much the city has transformed over the last 100 years. The mosque-like building with a glass dome near the river is actually a cigarette factory, built in 1909 and known as Yenidze – it primarily houses offices today.

There are only a few hotels here, just across the Könneritzstrasse from Altstadt and easily walkable.

5. Blasewitz

The largely residential Blasewitz district lies east of the old town along the south bank of the Elbe, known for its “Gründerzeit villas” (townhouses built from 1870–1914), traditional beer gardens, and restaurants. Highlights include SchillerGarten restaurant on the river (a supposed hangout of playwright Friedrich Schiller himself), and the nearby historic Loschwitz Bridge, also known as “Blaues Wunder”, built in the 1890s. Away from the river in the heart of the neighborhood stands the Versöhnungskirche (Church of Reconciliation), a beautiful Art Nouveau church, plus a hands-on technology museum (Technische Sammlungen) that might appeal to kids. In the far south of the district it’s worth making time for the Panometer, a former gasworks with inner walls now wrapped with 360° panoramic paintings of Dresden by artist and architect Yadegar Asisi. The paintings alternate between “Baroque” Dresden from 1697 to 1763 (inspired by Canaletto’s paintings of the city), and the post-WWII bombed-out cityscape.

Blasewitz is much quieter than the city center, its hotels (mainly cheap family-run pensions) spread out over the neighborhood.

6. Loschwitz

On the other side of the “Blaues Wunder” bridge from Blasewitz lies the largely residential district of Loschwitz, its hills studded with 19th-century villas that survived World War II. Highlights include the Schwebebahn, a historic cable car (built in 1901) that glides up the hill to a panoramic viewpoint and restaurant (Café Schwebebahn). You can also tour the Leonhardi Museum, a beautiful half-timbered mill converted into an artists’ studio by Eduard Leonhardi, and the Schillerhäuschen, where Friedrich Schiller lived and wrote in the 1780s. The area has three lavish palaces: the Schloss Eckberg is now a luxury hotel, while it’s possible to tour the neighboring Lingnerschloss (which has a beer garden and restaurant) and Schloss Albrechtsberg (built for Prince Albertof Prussia in the 1850s), overlooking the Elbe.

This is the most rural feeling of Dresden’s neighborhoods, with accommodation options limited to a few inexpensive family-run pensions and the luxurious Schloss Eckberg.

More Dresden Neighborhoods

We’ve covered our favorite neighborhoods to visit and stay in more detail above, but with more time the following districts are worth checking out, as well. Also consider day trips out to Schloss Moritzburg (a lavish palace built for Augustus the Strong), and the beautifully preserved small medieval town of Pirna.

  • Pillnitz lies along the Elbe southeast of central Dresden (best reached by boat, bus, or bicycle). The main attraction is Schloss Pillnitz, the grand palace and gardens built as a summer retreat for Augustus the Strong in the 1720s. Its two wings, the Wasserburg and the Bergpalais, now serve as the Kunstgewerbemuseum (a period decorative arts museum). The main “Neues Palais” acts as the historical Schlossmuseum, but the surrounding park and gardens are as much an attraction as the baroque palaces. The best hotel here is the upscale Schlosshotel Pillnitz.
  • Meissen is the home of world-famous Meissen porcelain – most folks visit to tour the illustrious china factory founded by Augustus the Strong in 1710 (aka the Porzellan Museum). But Meissen also boasts a pretty medieval old town, Albrechtsburg castle, the Gothic Meissen Dom cathedral, and the historic Frauenkirche overlooking the Elbe. It’s an easy daytrip from Dresden via boat or S-bahn, but Hotel Goldener Löwe, Pension Burkhardt, and the Schwerter Schankhaus & Hotel are all good places to spend the night.

Read More

About Santorini Dave

Santorini Dave Author Bio. Santorini Dave was started in 2011 by a guy who loved Greece, travel, and great hotels. We're now a small team of writers, mapmakers, videographers, and researchers on a mission to deliver the most helpful travel content on the internet. We specialize in Santorini, Mykonos, Athens, and Greece and recommend the best hotels, best neighborhoods, and best family hotels in top destinations around the world. We also make hotel maps and travel videos. I can be contacted at dave@santorinidave.com.