For those with plenty of time to spend in Dresden, there are some fascinating and beautiful places nearby that are just perfect for a full day trip. Although Prague is an easy bus ride from the city, the charming and picturesque towns and villages close by, especially around the spectacular expanse of Saxon Switzerland, make for worthwhile visits before you finally decide to leave Germany. Whether you are into fairy-tale palaces, scenic trails or interesting royal gossip, you will find something intriguing that will keep you happily occupied throughout your exciting jaunt.
Schloss Pillnitz is one of the most popular day trip destinations from Dresden. It is home to the palace complex of August the Strong featuring three castles complete with splendid gardens and tales of his many mistresses. Explore the splendor of the Waterside Palace, known also as the Wasserpalais, where the graceful Elbe flows a few meters away. Then go uphill to the nearby Upper Palace or Bergpalais where you can soak up the superb views of the river and the lush surroundings.
These two structures house the Arts and Crafts Museum showing a vast collection of exhibits from the 13th-20th century. Continue on your way to the New Palace or Neues Palais, connecting the other two palaces to the west side of the complex. The New Palace is also home to the Palace Museum which is worth checking out for those interested in the area’s history. Also located onsite is a sprawling Baroque flower garden covering about 28 hectares of land area. It is best visited during the summer months when more than 30,000 blooms great the eye with an explosion of vibrant colors. The camellia tree in the area is of particular interest because of its age – no less than 230 years old.
Another popular day trip from Dresden is the beautiful Meissen located about 18 miles away. Its 500 year old castle offers some of the best panoramas of the Elbe River and the surrounding vineyards. The site is popular for the exquisite porcelains produced right onsite from the castle factory.
Next up is the town of Konigstein located on the left bank of Elbe, home to one of the largest fortifications in Europe – the Konigstein Fortress. It is a delight to explore with its impressive defensive structures, a massive well – second deepest in the continent – and breathtaking views of the river and the picturesque countryside. The area’s long history as a prison and its open-air military museum will surely tickle the fancy of visiting history enthusiasts.
Finally, cross to the right bank of the Elbe and visit the country’s popular spa town of Bad Schandau. It is also the gateway to the Saxon Switzerland National Park. The Sandstone Mountains tower above the lovely town and its five beautiful quarters. One of the most popular attractions in the area is the Botanical Gardens and the spa facilities of the Kirnitzsch Valley. While there, ride the Bad Schandau elevator to its towering height of 52.26 meters for the magnificent views of the entire Saxon Switzerland. There are also plenty of interesting trails to take from the valley for those on the lookout for a highly satisfying scenic hike.