A resurrected old town
Dresden was once renowned as the most beautiful city in Germany, and one of the most beautiful in Europe. Then in February 1945 the city was almost entirely reduced to rubble by Allied bombing. Reconstruction of the city’s most iconic buildings only commenced in 1990 after the collapse of communism and the reunification of Germany. This painstaking process took 15 years but now Europe’s most striking Baroque city is almost as beautiful as it was before the war. The old town is now once again one of the most memorable in Europe and if you had no notion of what had happened in the 45 year period between 1945 and 1990 you’d be forgiven for thinking the city had never stopped being as beautiful as it is now.

The most unique scenery in Germany
Saxon Switzerland is an area lying just 18km east of Dresden. Here you’ll find huge sandstone mountains rising from the fields which make up some of the most famous ascents in Europe for climbers. The pinnacles are similar to monument valley but in a forested setting rather than a desert one. Besides climbing, this is excellent hiking territory; though some parts can be tricky. It’s best to spend a couple of days to truly appreciate the stunning scenery but you can easily reach the area by local train in half an hour and hike up to the famous Bastei Bridge, from where you’ll be rewarded with some of the finest scenery in Europe. If you prefer to arrive at a more relaxed pace then take a historic paddle steamer instead of the train.

One of the only two un-UNESCO’d places in the world.
Along with Oman’s Arabian Oryx Sanctuary the Elbe Valley is one of the only two places in the world to lose its coveted UNESCO World Heritage status- The valley is still highlight of any visit to Dresden but it just happens to have a four lane highway across one particular stretch of it these days. Still the valley extends some 12 miles along the river so you’ll probably only notice it if you take a steamboat tour and pass underneath. The valley takes in several palaces, low meadows, and the centre of Dresden with its numerous monuments and parks from the 16th to 20th centuries.

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Superb nightlife
As the regional and cultural capital of Saxony Dresden has abundant nightlife for all tastes. Be that the beach bars or the outdoor cinema on the southern banks of the Elbe or one of the plethora of bars that converge around the historic site of Kunsthof. And of course there is the world famous Semperoper (Semper Opera House), which is one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world and has hosted the likes of Wagner in the past.

Three cities for the price of one
If you’re the type of traveller that likes to pack in as many destinations as possible into each trip then Dresden is the ideal place to base yourself. Not only can you enjoy the city’s abundant charms but it’s eminently possible to take day trips to both Berlin and Prague from here as well. Trains run every 2 hours to Prague and Berlin, taking just over 2 hours to reach both cities and cost from as little as 19 each way. 

Getting there
There may be no direct flights between the UK and Dresden outside of the summer months (and very few inside of them) but Prague and Berlin both have an abundance of budget flights (Germanwings, Easyjet, Ryanair) and are a mere 2 hours by train away, which makes Dresden perfect for a twin or even triple centre vacation, as well as being one of the more unique destinations in central Europe.

Where to stay
Paul stayed in the Swissôtel Dresden am Schloss- adjacent to Dresden Castle and in the heart of the old town. Everything about this hotel is fresh and has a quality feel, from the large elegant rooms to the rooftop restaurant with views over the old town and the spa in a historic stone cellar. Rooms start at an unbelievable £85 per night.