19 Best Things to do in Dresden with Teens

No Comments

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

If you’re looking for amazing things to do in Dresden with teens, you won’t be disappointed. With a rich history, awe-inspiring architecture, and vibrant cultural scene, Dresden offers so many experiences to captivate the hearts of both young and old.

dresden Church of our Lady (Frauenkirche)

19 Best Things to do in Dresden with Teens

The city of Dresden and the state of Saxony sponsored my visit to the area. Many thanks to all involved for a phenomenal press trip! All opinions are mine.

Welcome to the enchanting city of Dresden, Germany, nestled on the banks of the picturesque Elbe River. From magnificent palaces and world-renowned museums to delightful parks and charming Christmas markets, Dresden is a must-visit city on your European Vacation Bucket List. Let us show you countless reasons why Dresden is the perfect destination for families seeking to make beautiful travel memories together. 

Where is Dresden

Dresden is located in eastern Germany, specifically in the state of Saxony. After Leipzig, it’s the second largest city in Saxony. Dresden is situated on the banks of the Elbe River, approximately 19 miles north of the Czech Republic border. It’s less than five hours to Dresden from Munich by car, two and half hours from Berlin, and two hours from Prague. With an international airport and a large Deutsche Bahn train station, it’s easy to get to Dresden.

Related: 21 Family-Friendly Things to do in Leipzig, Germany

Dresden’s public transportation system is easy to use so you won’t need a car to get around Dresden, but if you plan to visit other cities or take day trips from Dresden, you might want one. If you plan to rent a car while you’re in Germany, make sure to read these tips on driving in Germany.

Brief History of Dresden 

Dresden, Germany is the famous capital of Saxony, known for its stunning baroque architecture, historic landmarks, and many art treasures. During the 16th century, Dresden was the home of the Electors and Kings of Saxony who built many spectacular buildings during the Renaissance and Baroque era to show off their region’s prosperity. 

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries under the reign of Frederick Augustus I, Dresden experienced a Golden Age. The city’s rulers were enthralled with Versailles during this time period and built even more elaborate buildings turning Dresden into one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Dresden became one of Germany’s most important cultural centers and was called the “Florence on the Elbe.”

Dresden’s Destruction

However, Dresden suffered horribly during WWII when Allied bombers completely leveled most of the beautiful and historic downtown area during controversial fire bomb attacks. The 40,000 tons of bombs that were dropped on Dresden also killed more than 20,000 citizens. Its famous domed church, the Frauenkirche, the palace, and most of the beautiful buildings were left in ruin.

After WW2, Dresden was part of the German Democratic Republic located in East Germany. The East German government did attempt to restore some buildings during this time, but they faced a lot of challenges. Materials were hard to come by and money was scarce. During this time, international travel was very limited. The ruined Frauenkirche was left as a war memorial and most rebuilding efforts focused on utilitarian housing.

dresden altstadt

Rebuilding Dresden

Thanks to a massive fundraising campaign after German Reunification, many of the historical buildings in Dresden have now been rebuilt to their pre-war splendor. The Frauenkirche was finished in 2005, 60 years after it was destroyed and 4,000 original stones were used to rebuild it!

The Zwinger Palace, the Semper Opera House, and Dresden Castle have also all been rebuilt. However, some reconstruction is still ongoing so you’ll have to keep going back to see the city when rebuilding efforts are finally finished. 

dresden at night

Dresden’s UNESCO World Heritage Status

The Dresden Elbe Valley was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2004, but Dresden has a unique position to be the only European city to lose that status. Just five short years after Dresden was inscribed on the World Heritage List, it lost that distinction due to a new four-lane bridge that was built over the Elbe River.

According to UNESCO, the Waldschlösschen Bridge “marred the view of the city’s magnificent baroque palaces” and necessitated its removal from the coveted list. Despite that loss, Dresden is still a beautiful city and a place every person should visit. Its tale of destruction and the effects of war are important lessons for us all to learn.

Hotel Penck Dresden

Where to Stay when You Visit Dresden

If you’re looking for a unique experience, stay at the Penck Hotel. This 4-star art hotel is located a short walking distance to downtown Dresden and is full of original art by the famous German artist, A.R. Penck. Born in Dresden shortly before World War II, Penck was able to make his way out of East Germany after his departure was paid for by Cologne gallerist Michael Werner.

It was completely remodeled in 2019 and features 174 guest rooms, a pool, delicious breakfast buffet, bar and restaurant, conference rooms, and more.

The rooms are super interesting and made me laugh. I showed pictures to my kids and they said they’re ugly – it’s definitely a unique decor I have never seen in a hotel before.

Penck Hotel bathroom

But, you will enjoy comfortable beds, space-age esque bathrooms, hidden closets, and peekaboo windows from bathroom to bed. It’s a bit hard to describe the rooms so you’ll just have to look at the pictures. They also all feature original art by Penck.

Warning: if phallic art is not your style, you might want to skip this hotel. I thought it was pretty entertaining, but it might not be for everyone. The hotel itself describes its major art piece as a “colossal, obscene, naked sculpture on the roof” that shows a middle finger pointed at the City Hall right next door.

Dresden Historic Altstadt

According to Dresden Magazine, the Altstadt (literally Dresden’s Old Town) is one big museum. Everywhere you look, you’ll see something else waiting to be explored. You can easily spend three days in downtown Dresden alone, more if you have the time. Here are the best places you have to visit when you head to this cultural icon.

inner courtyard at the dresden palace

You will love exploring the Altstadt city center. It has lots of fun shops to explore! And so many lovely cafes! Here are a few of the top things to see in Dresden Altstadt.

Royal Palace (Residenzschloss)

A top must-visit attraction is the Dresden Royal Palace, one of the oldest buildings in Dresden. The Royal Palace was just about completely destroyed in 1945, but it’s been rebuilt for us all to enjoy once again! When you visit, you can explore almost 800 years of history as you visit the State Apartment and museums. It’s home to one of the largest art collections in Europe: the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. 

Procession of Princes Mural (Furstenzüg)

Procession of Princes Mural (Furstenzüg)

You’ll also want to take an up close and personal look at the impressive Procession of Princes Mural. Made up of 25,000 Meissen porcelain tiles, this impressive work of art is found on the back of the Stallhof on Schlossplatz Square, and was so lucky to have survived the Dresden firebombing. It features the history of the Wettins, Saxony’s royal family, and shows 35 noble men on horseback plus many other people instrumental in their care. 

It was originally completed as a sgraffito (a type of Italian artwork that is made from scratching different colors in plaster or clay) between 1872 and 1876. However, it didn’t last long so it was transitioned to Meissen ceramic tiles between 1904 to 1907. It is the largest porcelain mural in the world and very impressive.

Walk out on Brühl’s Terrace (Brühlsche Terrasse)

Overlooking the banks of the Elbe River, you’ll find Bruhl’s Terrace. Nicknamed the “Balcony of Europe,” this terrace was built in the 16th century as part of the city’s original defense fortifications. You’ll enjoy great views of Dresden’s famous landmarks, the River Elbe, the bridges, and Dresden’s Neustadt area on the Right Bank. 

Loschwitz Bridge

Make sure you look for the Loschwitz Bridge, nicknamed the Blue Wonder because of its light blue steel. It was saved by two brave citizens in 1945 when Nazis wanted to blow it up in the second world war. It’s been a Dresden icon for more than 125 years, since 1893.

Church of our Lady (Frauenkirche)

Church of our Lady (Frauenkirche)

One of the highlights of the Altstadt experience is visiting the famous Frauenkirche. This iconic Lutheran church has a remarkable history and serves as a symbol of Dresden’s resilience and restoration. As happened to most buildings in downtown Dresden, it was also destroyed in WW2 and left in ruins by the GDR government. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, it was rebuilt to its former grandeur using the original building plans from the 1700s. It was just finished in 2005.

When you visit, you can admire its stunning interior and also climb the dome to the viewing platform where you’ll see stunning views of Dresden’s skyline. It’s still an active church so you may be able to attend a service or concert too, if that is of interest.

Dresden Cathedral

Dresden Cathedral

When I first saw the Dresden Cathedral, I thought it was in the middle of a rebuild because the bell tower looks incomplete to me. But it’s not – that’s just the design. This remarkable church is Dresden’s youngest Baroque building as well as the largest church in Saxony. Among its features are 78 statues representing historical and Biblical figures that span the top of the building. It is also the final resting place of August the Strong, Elector of Saxony from 1694, King of Poland, and Grand Duke of Lithuania. 

semper opera

Semper Opera House (Semperoper)

Dresden’s iconic opera house is a beautiful site, especially at sunset. Its grandeur and elegance make it a prominent landmark in the city. If you have the opportunity, catch a performance here and have an unforgettable family experience!

zwinger gate

Zwinger Palace

One of the main tourist attractions in Dresden is the Zwinger Palace. I’m not sure if palace is the right way to describe the Zwinger, but there is a lot to see here.

The name “Zwinger” is a German word which means “an enclosed area between walls,” traditionally used for fortification. It’s more of an ornate garden complex and exhibition space to house the orangery for the court of Augustus the Strong.

When we were there, the Zwinger Palace gardens were under construction. But when it’s finished, this will be a great place to explore.

Kids and teens will also enjoy the Virtual Reality Zwinger Experience where they can learn about the construction and experience the largest royal wedding of the Baroque age. 

Crown Gate (Kronentor)

Don’t miss the majestic entrance gate leading into the Zwinger courtyard. The gilded crown on top of the entrance symbolizes the royal power and magnificence of the Saxon rulers. I wish the gardens wouldn’t have been torn up while we were there. I would love to see them in all their glory!

Nymph's Bath Fountain (Nymphenbad)

Nymph’s Bath Fountain (Nymphenbad)

Another beautiful spot at the Zwinger is the Nymhenbad – a fountain in the shape of a large seashell. It’s another popular spot and a site to behold!

I do recommend visiting both of the museums. The Historic Green Vault showcases the prized possessions of the Saxon rulers, including exquisite jewelry, ornate carvings, and luxurious objects made of gold, silver, and gemstones. One of the most famous exhibits in the Green Vault is the Dresden Green Diamond, a 41-carat natural green diamond – one of the most valuable gemstones in the whole world. 

Dresden Museums You Shouldn’t Miss

With more than 31 museums including the State Art Collection, there are probably more museums than you have time for in Dresden. You definitely don’t want to miss the Historisches Grünes Gewölbe (Historic Green Vault) or the Türckische Cammer (Turkish Chamber) exhibits! The New Green Vault and the basement rooms were the only part of the palace that weren’t destroyed in the war and the treasures you can see here are truly magnificent. Here are a few more museums we recommend in Dreden,

The Green Vault (Grünes Gewölbe)

The Green Vault is one of the oldest museums in Europe and is a must-visit for families looking to explore the city’s rich history and culture. The museum is divided into two parts: the Historic Green Vault and the New Green Vault and you need separate tickets to visit each part. Due to a shocking robbery in 2019, security is exceptionally tight. Only two people at a time can enter through the doorway to the Historic Green Vault and photography is not allowed. 

The New Green Vault, on the other hand, focuses on displaying items from the Baroque and Rococo periods. This part of the museum offers a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of the rulers and the artistry of the time. Admire the intricate details of the silverware, porcelain, and other decorative items that reflect the grandeur of the era.



Named after the Saxon King Albert, you’ll find this modern art museum on Bruhl’s Terrace. If you like art, you’ll definitely want to peruse the impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, and other works of art from the Romantic period to the present day. 

The Albertinum houses the Old Masters Picture Gallery (Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister) said to be one of the best collections of European art from the 15th to the 18th centuries. 

Bundeswehr Military History Museum

Bundeswehr Military History Museum (Closed Wednesdays)

Another noteworthy thing to do in Dresden includes a visit to the Military History Museum. This museum, which is located on a German military base, takes an interesting approach to the subject of war.

The new architectural perspective drives a lateral wedge through historic building while the exhibits show the effects war has on people, the landscape, animals, and more. I would definitely take my tweens and teens here and I know they would get a lot out of it. I would probably not recommend a visit for young children.

If you don’t have a car, you’ll either have to take a taxi or navigate public transportation to get to the museum. It’s not to take the streetcar but you will have to transfer.

Open on Monday from 10am-9pm and Tuesday to Sunday from 10am-6pm. Closed Wednesday. Find information about the Military History Museum here. 

Camondas Chocolate Museum Dresden

Camondas Chocolate Museum? Yes, please! Did you know that Dresden was the former chocolate capital of Germany? Me either, but I’m all for learning more. Their motto is “chocolate is not just chocolate” so if you like chocolate, you’ll want to visit so they can teach you what real chocolate tastes like! Open daily from 11 am to 6 pm, you’ll also enjoy ice cream, cacao, and their sweetshop too!

Dresden Christmas Market

If you visit Dresden during the Christmas season, you’ll have to go to its famous Christmas market, Advent on the Neumarkt. I haven’t been, but I can just imagine the holiday season in this magical city. Sold as one of the oldest and most beautiful Christmas markets in Germany, I can’t wait to see it first hand! 

dresden skyline

River Sightseeing Cruise

No visit to Dresden is complete without exploring the Elbe River. Boat trips on the Elbe are some of the best ways to see the stunning landscape, vineyards, and castles around Dresden.

We took a one-way trip from Pillnitz to Dresden, but there are lots of options for round-trip cruises departing from Dresden. Last boats depart at 5 pm, so make a reservation and have fun on the water! The Weiße Flotte Sachsen GmbH has been cruising the Elbe since 1836 and their narrated tours are sure to be a hit.

Visit the Weiße Flotte Sachsen GmbH website to learn about boat tours.

Dresden germany

Kunsthofpassage Singing Drain Pipes

If you have time to visit the trendy Neustadt area, make sure to swing by the Kunsthofpassage Singing Drain Pipes. Inspired by the Rube Goldberg concept, this building literally sings when it rains. We didn’t get to see it, but I will be back because this is something I’d really like to see!

Dresden Restaurants You Can’t Miss

We didn’t eat at as many restaurants in Dresden as I would have liked, but here are two we did eat at and I highly recommend them both!

Eat at the Pulverturm Restaurant

Pulvertum means gunpowder tower and that’s exactly where you’ll eat when you choose a meal at the Pulverturm Restaurant. This unique setting offers Saxon specialties like Suckling Pig and Sauerbraten, medieval decor, and a really fun dining experience with live musicians and so much more! If you’re feeling really brave, enjoy the “Condemned Man’s Last Meal” served in the dungeon!

The Pulvertum is open daily from 11 am to 1 am. The restaurant seats 400 people, but you might want to make a reservation anyway. 

Eat at the Anna Restaurant (Closed Tuesdays)

Located in the Royal Palace inner courtyard, the Anna Restaurant is a lovely place to enjoy a delicious meal while you take in the detailed sgraffito artwork on the outside of the palace buildings. If the weather is nice, eat outside in the courtyard but if it’s not nice, inside is also very cute. 

Day Trips from Dresden

There are lots of day trip options from Dresden. Here are a few that we recommend! Make sure to check on Viator if you would like to take trusted guided tours.

Dresden is amazing and I am so glad I got to visit! I can’t wait to go back. Here you been? What did you enjoy most?

Ready to travel? Use these helpful links to book your stay!

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

You May Also Like:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *