River Elbe, Dresden
Dresden is built on either side of the Elbe River.
We were in Dresden on 22 and 23 October, departing for Berlin on the 25th of October 2015.
We booked ourselves onto a 90 minute cruise of the Elbe River for 3pm one afternoon.
There are cruises to various destinations available, and cruises to celebrate various events available. There are cruises within the Dresden vicinity and also to the Czech Republic.
There are also different timetables depending on the season.
We were on a salon ship called the August der Starke.
The company also has some historic paddle boats too.
The cost for our particular cruise was 16 Euros.
There were some large villas along the river bank, and some houses had small vineyards.
Our tour had recorded information in German and English.
It was a relaxing journey, and the architecture of some of the villas was beautiful.
The company has a website with four language options (German, English, Russian and Czech) here: https://www.saechsische-dampfschiffahrt.de/
We bought our tickets down by the river, near where passengers board and disembark from.
Undoubtedly, the nicest way to get to Schloss Pilnitz is by Paddle Steamer. It’s not the only way mind you, but definitely the best. Because I had other ideas on the way back I didn’t buy a return ticket and it’s worth checking out the Sachsische Dampfschiffahrt website (see below) to see if the return boats fit in with your plans.
The trip takes 1½ -2 hours going upstream but is quicker coming back. Boats depart from Terrassenufer and you have a good view of Dresden’s skyline as the boat pulls away.
As you leave the city centre behind and approach Loschwitz you’ll need to position yourself on the port side of the boat (left hand side for us landlubbers) in order to view the Elbschlosser, the collective name given to 3 Elbe Palaces that are situated above a bend in the river.
The first of these is also probably the most impressive. The Albrechtsberg Palace was built for the Prussian prince Heinrich von Hohenzollern whose private life didn’t quite fit in with his Prussian position and decided he would be better off living here out of the limelight.
Around about the same time (we’re talking of the 1850s here) he had a villa built next door for his chamberlain, Baron Von Stockhausen. The building was later acquired by the Dresden industrialist Karl August Lingner and is both known as Villa Stockhausen and Lingnerschloss.
Built in the English Tudor style in 1861 for businessman Johann Souchay, Eckberg Palace is the last of the trio and is now a luxury hotel.
As soon as the 3 Palaces are behind you the Blaues Wunder Bridge comes into view. This is another Dresden icon and I’ll be writing a separate tip about it.
Passing under the bridge the journey starts to feel less urbanised, even if you can’t ignore the imposing TV Tower on the skyline.
There’s no mistaking Schloss Pilnitz when you get there and it’s a wonderful way to arrive.
If your time is restricted in Dresden I would still urge you to take this boat trip if you can fit it in. It’s a really pleasant journey, not too long, plenty of interest and the boats are an absolute delight - and there’s still the palace to see when you get here.
The best views of the old town are from the opposite (Neustadt) riverbank. A plus are the several gardens along the river, starting at Marienbrücke with the garden of the Japanese Palace, the gardens of Hotel Westin Bellevue, the Staudengarden next to the building with Saxony's Prime Minister's office and finally the rose garden. The promenade runs beyond that until Waldschlösschen, offering views of private gardens belonging to beautiful villas along the way.
I personally like the views from the garden of the Japanese Palais best. There is a little hill there, a former bastion of the fortifications, from where you have the most amazing views of the old town (see pic 2). Another favourite of mine is the garden of the Hotel Westin Bellevue, a rather formal garden with lots of azaleas and rhododendron that are in bloom in May. Equally beautiful is the cherry blossom in early April.
The next stretch between Augustusbrücke and Carolabrücke is not much designed, mostly lawns where younger crowds hang out and relax, play soccer or frisbee on sunny days. The free and close views of Brühl's terrace and Frauenkirche are stunning, though.
The so called Staudengarten (bush/shrub garden) was recently reconstructed after original plans from the early 20th century. Nice, but it takes some more time. Very beautiful is the rose garden, though, that follows next. Sculptures and flowers make it a great place to hang out. The cafe (see restaurant tip) is an additional reason to go there.
In case you don't want to walk that far you're invited to cycle - the whole promenade is part of the Elbe river cycling trail.
For the first time it was mentioned in 1275.
The bridge was constructed in various details since 1727 up to 1907. The Augustus Bridge is properly named the "Friedrich August Bridge". Crossing the river Elbe, the road bridge connects Dresden-Neustadt in the east (left bank) with the historic area of the city (right bank) of Dresden in the west.
After damage in 1907, rebuilding started on the bridge and in 1910 almost was built up anew.
The Elbe flows right through the middle of Dresden and is really an integral part of the city. In front of Bruhl Terrace between Augustusbrucke and Carolabrucke, there are paddle steamers bumper to bumper waiting to bring people on the river cruises that Dresden is justly famous for. They weren't doing much business when I was there but it was easy to imagine how pleasant it would be, in different weather conditions, to cruise to Pillnitz Castle and view everything from the water. One of these river boats is a theatre, a few seemed to be offering restaurant services and all were decorated for Christmas.
The best views in town are from the Augustbrucke. This is the perfect spot to take photographs of the Old Town and to look at the skyline of the New Town on the other side. The river bank on the Neustadt side has been developed as a park with a great cycling/jogging path but the wide expanses of green look very natural , more like a field or flood pain than a park. Ducks and river birds were clucking along the verges and the whole thing reminded me more of a Dutch landscape painting than a city park.
From Augustbrucke you can see the high rise blocks in the distance and are reminded that the city is not just all about the old town. Whichever way you look, upstream or downstream, the broad curve of the river, the graceful arching of the many bridges and the city enveloping it on either side, will make you glad you came. For icing on the cake cross the Augustusbrucke at sunset and you will never want to leave
Along the Elbe river, on the opposite site of the "old town", you find lots of grasslands. It's perfect for walking, inline skating, or riding by bike. I enjoyed strolling around there, and you have a great view on the old town with its well-known skyline!
This tip is not about Dresden but as you shouldn't miss it while you are in Dresden and as it is only 30 kms away I decided to put it here. I am talking about the beautiful "Sächsische Schweiz", a strange landscape full of spectacular sandstone rocks south of Dresden.
We went here for a half-a-day-trip and enjoyed it so much, we couldn't stop taking pictures. The place where we went to is the most touristy place in "Saxonian Switzerland", a bridge called "Bastei". It's located not far from a town called Rathen.
The first thing you see at Bastei is a terrible hotel and restaurant complex and hundreds of tourists. Walk on and you will get to the lookout points overlooking the river Elbe and the strange rock formations with great views! Once you get to the "Bastei" itself, it gets scary. At least for people who are scared of heights like me. At first it felt terrible to cross the Bastei bridge which is located between several hight rocks. Underneath you is nothing but a deep gorge.
When I got more adventurous we went into a different complex, the Felsenburg Neurathen (You have to pay admission for this one). In here you cross the most scary bridges between many more rocks and I was shaking for at least 30 mts while we walked around here. Even after all that time it's hard to imagine that people actually lived here in the middle ages, using the rocks as their fortress.
Maybe the climbers, who were enjoying free climbing at its best on all rocks around us, can imagine how living in a place like this is possible....
UNESCO put 18 kms of the the beautiful Elbe valley "Elbtal" onto their world heritage list in 2005. This "scenic" route reaches from Schloss Übigau northwest of Dresden to Pillnitz castle in the southeast. We saw the bit between Dresden's old town and Pillnitz from aboard a boat on the river. It's definitely a beautiful area! Along the river you will find some castles as well as numerous gorgeous villas, little chapels, green fields and strange funiculars.
According to UNESCO the Elbe valley combines architecture and landscape perfectly. The river flows through the city centre of Dresden but it's not walled in as in other cities with big rivers.
Currently there are quite a few discussions going on about the valley. The city planned to build a new huge bridge, the Waldschlösschenbrücke. Its location will help traffic in and around Dresden flow. Its location, however, might take away the UNESCO heritage status as it would destroy the city views from the valley.
Sun was shining and we wanted to do something relaxing. Everybody had told us that a boattrip to Pillnitz castle would be nice. As all three of us loved boattrips it was an easy decision: We had to get onto one of the reconstructed pedal steamers cruising the river!!
We were a bit late during the day so to get off at the castle was out of question. We went there, saw it from the river, stayed on the boat and went straight back to Dresden. The whole trip took almost three hours and those were absolutely wonderful. For different reasons: Caro and I enjoyed the nice views of Elbe valley, its castles, villas and rowers as well as a drink and a overall relaxing time. I was the only one to enjoy the very local dialect of the guy speaking the commentary and all his stories I think. Thomas fell in love with the boat "Stadt Wehlen" itself. It was built in 1879 (scary thought, huh?) and used steam and pedal to get from A to B. There even was a machine operator working on the boat! It was hard to get back Thomas' attention as soon as he'd found out ;)
There are other trips as well but I really recommend the one we did. It's a great way to explore the Elbe valley which is on UNESCO's world heritage list.
The best place to get a good idea of what the term Elbflorenz refers to is on the Augustusbrücke (Augustus Bridge). It's the bridge nearest to the centre and if you cross it, Dresden in all its splendour will present itself to you!
This pleasant city park stretches along the banks of the Elbe River in Dresden Altstadt. This is an excellent choice for flood plain land. Most of historic Dresden was under water during the catastrophic flood of 2002. By the time I visited in April, 2003, repair of flood damage and cleanup was complete. Very impressive work considering the devastation done.
The park is heavily used. Every night it is littered with trash which is promptly cleaned up the next morning.
River Elba mentioned in many historical chronicles and it was significant border in many historical activities. I was a little disappointed about sizes of Elba. Experts say that it is so flat because the summertime.
The Elbe valley around Dresden is a fairytale landscape dotted with castles and palaces, perhaps none more romantic and breathtaking than Semper's Albrechtsburg, siting atop a series of terraces over the Elbe. The romantic garden makes for a lasting impression.
From the bridge called the Blue Wonder, Bridge in Dresden-Loschwitz »Blaues Wunder«,we started walking towards the center of the city. Along the way you meet a lot of people who live in Dresden who enjoy this walk also, people flying dragon kites and walking dogs, riding their bikes. We saw a rowing team practicing up and down the river, and the three castles on one side, who I was told in summer is very pretty because the vines are all green.
Along this area was important battles during WWII. Many things were destoryed here but they were built again like the old.
Dresden is much focused around the famous river Elbe, so why not take a steamer ride on its waters with Saxon Steamership Company. When I was there in October 2003 there was much construction going on to make another bridge across the river, but one could still have a relaxing ride. It might be completed by now.
For more about how to book such a trip, visit there website Boat Rides. In summer is especially a good time, and already they have fares listed for different themed cruises, here Price Information. Prices are rather good I thought, price for one way trip from Dresden to Pillnitz is 9€ for example. The summer cruises which can include meals and refreshments, roses for the ladies (why do only they get?! :-) range between 20 to 30€ depending on age, children are less expensive.