Europe, Germany

Dresden and The Saxon Switzerland National Park

Europe Germany

One of my favorite countries to travel to is Germany. It is a beautiful place with breathtaking scenery and wonderful people. I always feel at home when I visit. I have been in the North, West, and South of Germany, but never in the East. So for this weekend trip, I knew I wanted to visit the city of Dresden and the surrounding area.

View of Dresden and the river Elbe

The first day was getting to know the ins and outs of the city. I was pleased to see the familiar sight of the “Ampelmännchen”: a symbol of a tiny man inside the streetlights. I have also seen these in Berlin and its history dates back to the time of former East Germany. They definitely give this region a unique flare, as the eastern region of Germany only has these symbols.

Streetlights in Dresden with the Ampelmännchen depicting green to cross and red to not cross
Streetlights in Dresden with the Ampelmännchen depicting green to cross and red to not cross

It was great to see so many wonderful sights while walking through the city, but sad to think how horribly damaged Dresden was during WWII. Some of the places I visited were the Zwinger, the Royal Palace, the famous opera house of Dresden, and the well-known cathedral. Unfortunately, I only had one full day in the city, so I admired these places from the outside. The first place I visited was a building called the Zwinger. The Zwinger is a museum filled with various galleries and exhibits. From the outside it looks like a lavish palace decorated with many gardens and fountains. I wandered throughout the grounds for a bit before moving on to my next stop right across from the Zwinger: Dresden’s Royal Palace (Dresdner Residenzschloss in German). The Royal Palace is another museum filled with various art collections. The outside architecture is gorgeous and I made sure to take a lot of pictures.

View of Dresden’s Royal Palace

My next stop was a relatively short distance away. The opera house (Semperoper in German) is a beautifully designed and built theater hall in the center of the city. The architecture inside and outside was stunning and at night it was lit up all around. I really wish I had time to see a classical concert there! A must-see sight in Dresden is the famous cathedral, known as the Dresdner Frauenkirche in German. I took a peaceful, short walk along the Elbe to reach it. From afar, you cannot miss it. The top of the church towers over many rooftops. The cathedral is situated in the center of a plaza called the Neumarkt and around it are various fancy restaurants and other shops. Up close and personal, the cathedral is even more stunning and this time I actually did go inside! I was amazed by the intricate details in the architecture. I relaxed for a while there at the plaza until I went across the Elbe River to watch the sun set over the city.

View of the opera house in Dresden
View of the top of the Dresdner Frauenkirche
View of the Dresdner Frauenkirche from Neumarkt

The next day brought even more excitement. I went to visit Saxon Switzerland or the Sächsische Schweiz in German. Saxon Switzerland is a national park not far from Dresden and close to the boarder of the Czech Republic. It is known for its unique rock formations and hilly areas.

Beautiful light rays shining through the trees after a long hike in the Saxon Switzerland National Park

As much as the bustle of city life is fun, I really enjoy visiting and photographing natural landscapes and waterfalls. So when I was researching areas to visit in eastern Germany, I knew I had to go here. One popular attraction here is the Basteibrücke. The Bastei is a medieval looking, stone bridge intertwined between various rock formations overlooking the Elbe River. The walk to the Bastei is not long at all and there is even a hotel situated near the bridge for guests to stay at. I was able to walk across the bridge and even found some strategic spots to take photographs!

View of the Basteibrücke and the Lilienstein Mountain at sunset
View of the Elbe River and the Lilienstein Mountain from the Basteibrücke

I had a great time traveling around eastern Germany. Dresden is a must visit city with many sights and it is not too far away from the capital, Berlin. For nature lovers, I highly recommend taking a trip to the national park. There are a lot of great hikes up to beautiful landscape views and rock formations.