Our Travel Specialist, Kevin Johnson, experienced the ease of rail travel in Germany when visiting Dresden and Leipzig recently. Here’s why he’s eager to spend more time in both destinations…
For this trip, we travelled to Germany with Ryanair from Stansted. With regular flights and excellent rail connections, Berlin, Dresden and Leipzig can easily be combined into a multi-city break.
We flew into Berlin Schoenefeld airport on the south side of the city. From there, it is just a two-hour journey by road to Dresden. There is also the option of a rail connection on the S-Bahn service to Berlin Sudkreuz station and then onto Dresden with German rail.
Our first stop in Dresden was at the International Christmas Market, north of the river Elbe. Here, we met Rudiger Zopp who is famous for his traditional Stollen, which we sampled before washing it down with some gluhwein.
We checked into the Maritim Hotel Dresden where our rooms overlooked the Elbe. Maritim hotels are of 4*+ standard and offer their famous breakfast long with excellent facilities including a restaurant, gym, swimming pool and conference centre. A selection of rooms ranging from Comfort to Executive is available, along with adapted rooms.
Our evening walking tour of Dresden included the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Master’s Picture Gallery). It displays around 750 paintings from the 15th to the 18th centuries and includes major Italian Renaissance works, as well as Dutch and Flemish paintings. The gallery is located in both the Zwinger and Semper Building, the former being a palace built in Rococo style.
The tour took us past the Catholic Hofkirche; the Fürstenzug, a mural depicting a mounted procession of the rulers of Saxony; onto the Teressenufer riverside promenade; and to the Frauenkirche. This church displays some original parts along with the reconstructed centre section.
From Dresden, riverside paddle boats offer trips up the Elbe. A wide shoreline on the north side of the river becomes a grassy meadow in summertime, offering a unique picnic area for both locals and tourists.
We visited the Christmas markets in the Neumarkt and Altmarkt before making our way to the Alte Meister restaurant. Here, we were treated to a traditional Dresden menu that featured veal and quince.
Loving Our Time In Leipzig
The following morning, after walking to Dresden Neustadt station, we transferred by rail to Leipzig. This is a comfortable journey on Deutsche Bahn of just under an hour, travelling through gently rolling Sachsen countryside. Wherever possible, a seat reservation is recommended as routes can get very busy at times.
Leipzig main station was a hive of activity as it has a shopping centre incorporated into it. The station is located just to the north of the city centre, a distance of approximately 250m from Augustusplatz and the Opera House. From Augustusplatz, the Old City centre is accessible in minutes.
Our walking tour began on the 28th floor of the Panorama Tower from the offices of the tourist centre, a vantage point to which we would return later in the day for a night time view.
It seemed as though there was a Christmas market around every corner. There are so many alleyways to explore, even thoroughfares within small shopping centres. In any city, I would recommend a walking tour to fully appreciate its history and the location of the buildings and areas of interest.
We visited the churches of Nicholas and Thomas. Both were magnificent buildings, however, the church of Thomas was much quieter than Nicholas. St Thomas is renowned for the Thomas Boys choir which was formed in 1212 and performs three times a week. Johann Sebastian Bach was cantor of St. Thomas Church and directed the choir for nearly 30 years. He was responsible for the city's church music until his death.
We walked through the Specks Hof and Marktplatz with the old town hall and were shown the Coffe Baum museum. I did not realise that the people of Leipzig are known as "Kaffeesachsen" (Coffee-drinkers of Saxony). Coffee has been part of the local culture since the 17th century and the city boasts a number of coffee houses with a long tradition of serving the people of Leipzig.
Afterwards, we made our way to the Auerbachs Keller for lunch. Auerbachs Keller was established in the 15th century and is associated with the German writer Goethe, who was a frequent visitor. There are also references to the legendary magician and astrologer Johann Georg Faust and his barrel ride with Mephisto. The food here is traditional of the Saxony region, with the most popular dish being homemade beef roulade.
Our visit to Leipzig included a private tour of composer Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s house. The house has been decorated and furnished in the style of the period. We were also treated to a private piano concert featuring the music of Mendelssohn and Bach. Some of our group were apprehensive beforehand, however, we all thoroughly enjoyed our cultural interlude.
After free time enjoying the various Christmas markets and more gluhwein, we were transferred to Leipzig airport for our flight home. This is a journey of around 20 minutes.
I would like to see Dresden again to fully appreciate the work that has gone into restoring its heritage. Also, Leipzig has a number of parks and a canal network that I would like to explore further.
It is also worth noting that Prague is situated just an hour from Dresden and is, therefore, ideal for a multi-city holiday.
If you would like to visit any of the destinations to which Kevin travelled, we can tailor-make a trip to your own requirements. Whether you wish to enjoy a European city break in one place or plan a holiday to various different cities, we can piece everything together for you. Call us on 0800 988 3369 today.