Dresden is split into two distinct banks by the river Elbe. The northern side (or right bank) is the Neustadt, or New Town, so-called even though much of its construction is older than the Altstadt, or Old Town, on the left bank. The city's highlights are fairly rigorously segregated by geography: Most of classic Dresden's museums and notable architecture are in the Altstadt, as are the majority of its luxury hotels. Dining and nightlife, on the other hand, are largely concentrated in the Neustadt. Shopping was formerly the province of the Neustadt, but the new Quartier Frauenkirche high-end mall in the middle of the Altstadt has recently changed that balance. To the west of the Altstadt, Dresden becomes a bit dreary and commercial, eventually turning into a large industrial area. To the east, however, along the Elbe, are the upscale old suburbs of Loschwitz, Blasewitz, and, uphill from the Neustadt, the Weisser Hirsch neighborhood of villas and boutiques.
WHEN TO GO
Dresden is a fascinating place to stroll, but rain is common year-round. The weather is best from May to October, when tourist events and folk festivals are at their height.
HOW TO GET THERE
The nearest airport is Dresden-Klotsche, six miles north of the city (49-351-8810; www.dresden-airport.de). There are no direct flights from the U.S., but American Airlines, Lufthansa, Continental, and other airlines offer connections via Frankfurt. Flying time is approximately seven-and-a-half hours from New York, ten hours from Chicago, and 12 hours from Los Angeles. A taxi ride from Dresden airport to downtown costs about $24. Better yet, the S-Bahn railroad costs $3.50 and will get you there in just 20 minutes.
Much more appealing than the indirect flights and long taxi ride, however, is arriving by train. Dresden is most frequently visited as part of the Berlin-Prague-Budapest circuit, and is easily reached by the luxurious, efficient, and inexpensive German train system. Trains leave Berlin every two hours and take two hours; Prague is another two and a half hours away. Frankfurt, one of Europe's busiest airports and most frequent hubs, is a five-hour train ride from Dresden. Arriving via train allows you to see the lush, hilly Saxon countryside, including the Elbe river valley, before you pull into the lovely wrought-iron 19th-century Hauptbahnhof (main station).
Though car rentals are widely available, the public transportation system is generally the best way to get around town. A Dresden City Card costs about $30, is valid for 48 hours, and offers unlimited access to trams, ferries, and buses—plus free admission to 12 museums. Contact 49-351-49-19-21-00 or visit www.dresden-tourist.de for additional information.
Germany's American tourist office is located at 122 E. 42 St., New York, NY (212-661-7200). More information can be found at www.dresden-tourist.de or www.visitdresden.com. American, Canadian, British, and European Union citizens with valid passports can visit Germany for up to 90 days without a visa.View Germany Factsheet