September 15, 2021

A city guide to Dresden, eastern Germany’s rebuilt cultural masterpiece

Where to go shopping in Dresden

1. Pfunds Molkerei: Hand-painted tiles featuring dancing angels, cherubs, cows and woodland creatures adorn this dairy shop from floor to ceiling. After purchasing some cheese, head to the upstairs cafe for a lactose-laden snack (the cheesecake is particularly good) and a spot of people-watching. Cheese and wine (or milk) tastings are available, as are tours of the dairy — just be sure to book in advance.

2. Hauptstrasse: This tree-lined boulevard in Innere Neustadt, known as the baroque quarter, has shopping opportunities aplenty. Ignore the chain stores and keep your eyes peeled for the passages full of independent shops: try Goldschmiedewerkstatt Barbara Oehlke for handmade jewellery or Blumengalerie Dresden for plants and vases. Afterwards, head to Neustädter Markthalle for pop-up stalls, cafes and a supermarket with an excellent confectionery section.

3. Markets: Most famous for its Christmas markets (including Striezelmarkt, the country’s oldest), Dresden also has plenty of year-round offerings. Elbeflohmarkt (open on Saturdays, pre-pandemic), sells everything from antique furniture to retro posters, while music fans could spend days rifling through records at Schallplattenbörse, a second-hand vinyl market.

Kulturwirtschaft is a disused factory-turned-cultural hub that specialises in decadence.

Where to eat in Dresden

1. Oswaldz: This is a cafe that takes pride in its coffee. Compact, cosy and with a courtyard looking out across the Elbe,Oswaldz stocks several blends from local roastery Phoenix, plus an excellent array of cakes. Come for the flat white and stay for the pastrami sandwiches and raspberry-and-beetroot cheesecake. But be prepared to wait — it’s a popular place, and queues regularly snake down the street.

2. Kulturwirtschaft: Opened last year in Kraftwerk Mitte, a disused factory-turned-cultural hub, Kulturwirtschaft does decadence better than any other restaurant in Dresden. If you can tear your eyes away from the chandeliers, silver vases, velvet armchairs and two grand pianos for long enough to peruse the menu (German with a nod to wider Europe), try the beef roulades with red cabbage and dumplings, or the goat’s cheese tart with roasted vegetables.

3. Atelier Sanssouci restaurant: Michelin-starred Restaurant Atelier Sanssouci serves classic French cuisine in a neoclassical villa surrounded by two acres of manicured gardens. Enjoy your meal with a local Riesling, and then, as the restaurant belongs to the Hotel Villa Sorgenfrei, consider splashing out on an overnight stay and saying yes to that second bottle.

How to experience the city like a local

1. Vineyard visits: Dry whites from Dresden are among the country’s finest, but as a wine region, Saxony’s small size means it’s often overlooked. Its vineyards are as wonderful as the wines themselves: charming, often family-run affairs that serve up mulled white wine in winter and glasses of Goldriesling in summer. Head first to Hoflössnitz estate, with its half-timbered house, before moving on to Schloss Wackerbarth winery for a glass of Bacchus — both are in the suburb of Radebeul, only a 30-minute tram ride from the centre.

2. Feinbäckerei Rebs: At this popular bakery, local favourites include bauernbrot bread, glazed pastries and stollen. The latter is said to have originated in Dresden in 1329 and now has PGI (protected geographical indication) status. Only a select number of bakeries, including Feinbäckerei Rebs, can create these ‘official’ versions, which beat any supermarket imitations hands down.

3. Elbe Valley: Head downstream from the Loschwitz Bridge towards the sleepy meadows of the Elbe, and suddenly the thrum of the city fades away. Crowned by Pillnitz Castle and lined with centuries-old villas, this sprawl of grassland is a prized dog-walking, sunbathing and picnicking spot for locals.

The view across the Elbe to the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts and the Frauenkirche is ...