While we’ve managed to take a few day trips since moving to Germany over a year ago, we had yet to take any overnight trips. When my husband had time of work a couple weeks ago, we decided it was time! And with a 1 year old, nonetheless! So, off we went and embarked on a 6 hour, cross-country journey and spent 2 nights in beautiful Dresden, Germany!
Visiting Dresden, the state capital of Saxony, has been on our mind for a long time! We visited the city back in 2013 and my husband knows Dresden very well, but I still wasn’t sure how I felt about travelling with our little one. Eager to get out and do something after a few months of barely leaving town, I finally felt ready! While there are pros and cons for travelling with kids, the experience made me more confident for our next adventure.
The last day-trip we took was to Limburg all the way back in January! It really crazy to think about how much has happened in the world since then. It seems like a completely different time!
Travelling in a Pandemic
Up until last week when there was another COVID-19 outbreak here in Germany, the virus spread was slowing down for time being. Because of this, it didn’t feel too risky to travel, and we were also able to get a good rate on an apartment rental that was walking distance from Dresden’s beautiful Altstadt (Old town). Of course, getting a good hotel rate was not the first thing on my mind. We still took extra precautions like sanitizing our hands regularly and masks are mandatory in Germany as well.
As far as eating out went, we decided to avoid restaurants and only get take-out. In Germany, and I’ve heard in Canada as well, when dining in, you have to provide your personal information so that you can be contacted in case of an outbreak. I think it’s a great system and part of why Germany has fared relatively well during this pandemic.
I’m a huge fan of road-trips, but the thought of travelling after having our daughter did make me a bit nervous. Thankfully, the drive went smoothly and we only stopped twice both ways! Of course, we were armed with toys to keep her busy as well as some upbeat kids music for desperate times. You really don’t realize how disturbing some kids songs can be, however, until you’re an adult!
One of the things I love about driving through Germany is the fact that there are so many different routes to take. Coming from Canada where there are usually only 1 or 2 ways to get somewhere, it’s quite nice having options! Not only are there different routes when taking the Autobahn, but there are also the longer, more scenic, Landstrassen (country roads) as well.
Our Visit to the City
While looking for a place to stay, I knew it would be important to find somewhere within walking distance to the Altstadt (old town). No one wants to have to spend half the time driving through a city, and this way we could just park our car and walk everywhere during our visit.
For our first afternoon in Dresden, we walked around for a little bit before getting take-out Döner and going to our apartment rental for dinner. It was good to get fresh air, but we were also quite tired from the drive.
Everyone who has kids will know that packing for a young child can take up so much space. One of the ways I lightened the load was to find a place to stay that already had a travel bed for our daughter. I was able to request this during booking and paying the extra €10 per night was definitely worth it.
The Next Day…
The next morning we were all up quite early after a warm night and Germany is not known for it’s air conditioning! It’s always nice to get an early start while it’s still cool outside anyways. We got our coffee and fresh buns with cheese from the local bakery and began our walk through the Altstadt.
Since the city was almost completely destroyed during the second World War, it’s quite impressive to see how it’s been rebuilt to feel as if it’s authentic. Walking through the Altstadt and making your way to the Neumarkt where the rebuilt Frauenkirche stands is quite beautiful.
After admiring the Frauenkirche, we made our way past the Fürstenzug, which is a massive mural made from Meissen porcelain. The mural, which was completed in 1876, shows a processions of the Saxon rulers dating back to 1127.
We then made our way past the Hofkirche, which is Dresden’s catholic Cathedral, completed in 1751 and enjoyed a walk along Brühl’s Terrace, also known as ‘The Balcony of Europe. Brühl’s Terrace is a long promenade that overlooks the river Elbe. It’s a great spot to relax, but there are also some beautiful buildings to see, including the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts.
Once we enjoyed the architecture, we made our way through the shopping district and ended up at the Hauptbahnhof (train station) where we took a train back to where we were staying. It was easy to buy tickets and navigate where we were going. The 2 minute train ride cost €8, but it definitely beat walking half an hour with a hungry child!
Time for a Drive…
After lunch, it was starting to get warm, so we decided to take a drive and enjoy the car A/C. We visited Schloss Moritzburg (Moritzburg Castle) and then took a scenic drive through the Sächsische Schweiz (Saxon Switzerland).
Both days had an early ending since E usually goes to sleep around 7pm. It somehow didn’t even cross my mind that we wouldn’t see the city at night, which is the downside to travelling with young kids. But I still think we used our time wisely and saw quite a bit of the area during the day.
The Landmarks We Visited
There is so much to see in Dresden and the surrounding area and the 2 nights we spent there wasn’t even close to being long enough! Thankfully, since we live in Germany, we know we’ll be back. If you’re planning from abroad, however, and Dresden seems of great interest to you, make sure you give yourself enough time to see what you want to see. If you are only passing through, walking through the Altstadt and spending your day doing that is a great way to get to know the city just a little bit.
During our trip, we decided we wouldn’t visit any museums. With the combination of the pandemic and also having a very active 1 year old, we mostly kept our activities outside. Dresden does have many interesting museums, however, and you can find a list of them here.
The Dresden Zwinger
The Zwinger is a baroque building, constructed by Augustus the Strong in the early 1700’s. During World War 2, like most of Dresden, the Zwinger was almost completely destroyed. The reconstruction of it started after the war and was finished and re-opened to the public in in 1963. It is now a museum and home to world-famous Meissen Porcelain among other beautiful artwork. You can check out the museums English website here, though if you’re looking for more history on the building, wikipedia is the better bet.
The architect behind the building was Matthäus Pöppelmann. Augustus the Strong also used him to help with a remodel of Moritzburg castle, which I talk about below.
The Dresden Frauenkirche
Besides the Zwinger, one of the most notable buildings in the Dresden is the Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady). Originally built in 1743, the church was completely destroyed in World War 2 and lay as a pile of rubble until reconstruction started in 1994. It took 11 years to complete the rebuild and around 3,800 of the original stones we used in the rebuild of the Lutheran church. The church has a great website with lots of historical information about it that you can see here.
Just outside of the Frauenkirche is a statue of Martin Luther, the most prominent figure from the Protestant Reformation Not far from Dresden, at Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, is where he translated the bible from Greek into German. We have yet to visit, but it’s on my bucket list!
Only about 13km outside of the city is Schloss Moritzburg. It was used as a hunting lodge (very different from what a Canadian might refer to as a hunting lodge), but also a love shack. Though I don’t think you’ll hear a historian call it a ‘Love Shack’… The castle named after Duke Moritz of Saxony was built on an artificial island and completed in 1546.
Like I mentioned earlier, 2 nights in Dresden is really not enough. But I do feel like we were able to make the most of our time considering we had a 1 year old with us! We even managed to stop in Weimar on the way home, which I’ll save for another time!
If you have kids, let me know in the comments what it was like the first time you took them travelling and perhaps a piece of advice you have to share!
Thanks for stopping by and hopefully I’ll be back again sooner rather than later!