Saxon Switzerland National Park
The Elbe Sandstone Mountains in Saxon Switzerland National Park in Germany is one of the top day trip options from Dresden. Located only 30 kilometers southeast of Dresden, the national park offers a wild landscape of soaring limestone pillars, walking trails and stunning views straight down to the Elbe.
The most famous landmark in Saxon Switzerland National Park, and one of the most photographed sites in the country, is the Bastei Bridge connecting the massive rocks and offering beautiful scenic views over the Elbe below.
Located approx. 14 kilometers northwest of Dresden is the Schloss Moritzburg, a remarkable castle, originally built in the 1500s as a modest hunting lodge. Sat on an artificial island, its interior never fails to amaze its visitors, featuring walls wrapped in gold-gilded leather, hunting trophies and paintings, and ornate baroque decorations which have remained very well preserved.
This stunning palace was given its present form between 1723 and 1736, complete with lush symmetric French gardens surrounding the castle, Baroque statues and a small pink Pheasant Castle which is also worth exploring.
Another great day trip from Dresden, Meissen, Germany is a perfect change of pace, as this little romantic, picturesque town is just 16 miles (25 kilometers) away by S Bahn. Top sights include Albrechtsburg Castle, which towers above the town, the Frauenkirche (“Church of Our Lady”) and its charming old town.
Meissen is also famous for its porcelain and ceramics production, so make sure you check out the Porcelain Manufactory, offering tours in English and an opportunity to watch skilled artists at work.
Saxony’s largest city is surprisingly cool, often referred to as the new hip and cheap Berlin. Although it deserves much more than a day-trip, a visit to Leipzig from Dresden is perfect for those on a tight schedule.
Leipzig's Altstadt is well worth exploring, with its impressive Saxon architecture, Old Stock Exchange, Panometer, Gohlis Palace, City Hall, and St Thomas Church. Be sure to also check out Leipzig's array of museums, Monument to the Battle of the Nations and its excellent street art.
Located just under an hour by train from Dresden, Gorlitz is a picturesque, historic river town known for its stunning Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture.
This small town is a favourite in Hollywood, thanks to its architecture that escaped much of the damage that other German cities endured during WWII. It has been used multiple times in Hollywood movies, including the Book Thief, Monuments Men and The Grand Budapest Hotel.