Move over Berlin; Dresden is Germany's cool new youth hub

Move over Berlin; Dresden is Germany's cool new youth hub

Buro city guide

Site: Divya Bala

With the powerfully gritty, youthful spirit of it's new city and the rich history and tradition of it's old, Dresden offers a seriously interesting path-less-travelled

As Berlin's cultural secrets spots become more and more mainstream and prices skyrocket through Munich and Hamburg, the dual-characteristics of the German city of Dresden intrigues.

For the best experience, Buro recommends exploring the history and monuments of old town by day and crossing over to the new town for after dark adventures. Keep reading for a cheat sheet on what to see and do by taking in the best of both worlds, by Divya Bala.


Dresden's Old Town (Landeshauptstadt)

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-Though the old town can sometimes veer toward the side of tourist kitsch, (you might want to avoid restaurants where the waitresses are wearing Leiderhosen) there is beauty in the contrast of historic buildings from the Renaissance, the Baroque and the 19th century that have remained or been reconstructed since the city was devastated by firebombing in the Second World War. Must-sees include Dresden Frauenkirche and the expansive Dresden Castle [Taschenberg 2, 01067 Dresden], one of the oldest buildings in the city.
-Sometimes called 'Old Florence' because of it's impressive art collection, be sure to visit the famous cherub angels of Raphael Sanzio's Sistine Madonna painting, commissioned in 1512 by Pope Julius II and relocated to Dresden's Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in 1754.
-Take your time to explore the surrounding streets which conceal hidden levels of terraces and alleyways dotted with the kind of cute bars and pastel coloured hotels that would make Wes Anderson proud. 

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-For the perfect place to watch the sun go down with an aperitif, head to Café Vis-à-Vis [An der Frauenkirche 5, 01067 Dresden] on a terrace in the old town overlooking the river and the old world steam boats.
-Avoid the bars if you're staying in the old town for the evening, get a bottle of local wine and sit in the park by the river as the locals do on long Summer nights.
-If you've ever wanted to eat authentic Saxon food amongst a collection of shoppable antiques, (it's a specific desire, let's be honest) try Junst Café Antik for  a quaint experience.
-Dresdner Kaffeestübchen [Salzgasse 8, 01067 Dresden] was the home of the chef to King Augustus back in the day and there's a reason the cake here is still so popular today - it's DELISH. Rebuilt to be an exact replica of the pre-raid deconstruction, the cafe is run by the sweetest husband and wife team who make a the typical 'eierschecker' cake with an old family recipe, a kind of light-as-air cheesecake-sponge hybrid dream. PRO TIP: Get your cake and head to the back of the haus to sit by the cute little bird bath. Totally insta-worthy.

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-For those with a generous budget, try the Taschenbergpalais initially built from 1705 to 1708 as a palace for countess Anna Constanze von Hoym. She was the King's mistress and apparently a little demanding so, naturally, it's picturesque and luxe AF.
-Buro stayed in Motel One Palaisplatz - not to be confused with the budget hotel chain in the USA of the same name - this is far from it. Supremely clean and very well located in the middle of the city, it's a beautiful option for those who'd rather spend their well-earned outside the hotel walls.


Dresden's New Town (Das Bunte Dresden)

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Now this is where, in our opinion, it gets interesting. The Äußere Neustadt area, (once called the Bronx of east Germany) has an average age of 33 which means it's bustling and energetic well into the night. The reconstructed churches and kitschy coffee houses of the Old Town give way to sprawling streets lined with bars, kebab shops, vintage boutiques and organic grocery stores. Locals haven't allowed international corporations to settle in so, thankfully, you won't find any McDonald's or Starbucks. The city's youth call this place the Microrepublik and there's a rebellious buzz in the streets, minus the usual dangerous vibes that can come with.

-Alaun Straße is full of vintage shops, take your pick.
-If you visit in early June, there is a street festival in the area called Bunte Republik Neustadt which is a must visit. Locals open up their apartments and homes to sell homemade food and use dumbwaiters to sell alcohol and jelly shots. They put down the basket, you put in your euros, they ravel it back up and put in shots to complete the exchange. 
-Dresden is considered the largest urban gallery in Europe, decorated with works from world-class street artists like Jens Besser, James Barrow and Addison Karl. In the shrub-guarded park behind the Alexander Puschkin Platz bus stop, you'll find Graffiti Flächen, a group of six billboard-size boards mounted on ground level that act as canvases for local crews to gather and get artistic. [Puschkinplatz/Leipziger Straße, 01097, Dresden]

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-On the corner of Rothenburger Straße and Louisenstraße, locals gather in droves to sit, drink and chill - with nary a trouble making intention in sight - and the atmosphere is better than any balcony bar you've ever been to. On a hot Summer night, there are anywhere from 200-300 people just hanging out, there are bands and fire shows at times but really it's just a cool place to people watch.
-For a solid walking tour experience of the surrounding streets, insider tips, some interesting history or even just a little orientation on one of your first nights in, take one of Danilo Hommel's tours, either for nightlife or street art. The guy has lived in the area for an age and is lots of fun to boot. 

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-Kantine no.2 has the best burgers if you fancy a break from Saxon fare. [Görlitzer Str. 2, 01099 Dresden]
-A few streets along and Neumann Eis 1966 is the oldest ice cream bar in Neustadt, done up like a Tiki bar with inventive flavours like cucumber or melon with basil. It's a great place to find Kunsthofpassage [Görlitzer Str. 21-25, 01099 Dresden], an arty little enclave of five courtyards full of ateliers and hidden terrace bars watched over by floors of apartments covered with huge murals of exotic animals. Atelier Vittinghoff is a good one for souvenirs and presents from Dresden without the tack factor.

Hebedas is a must-visit. One of the oldest pubs in the area opened in 1872, it's the dive bar of your dreams. Also, not too far away is Zille [Görlitzer Str. 5, 01099 Dresden], an old world joint with a quiet, dark backroom and a great Bloody Mary Mexicana. For those who wish to continue the night as they started, finish at Katy's Garagea kind of open-air beer garden with a basement dive bar that kicks off after midnight and plays The Libertines.
-For LOLs, the Lebowski Bar plays the cult movie on loop until 3am while serving - what else? - White Russians. [Görlitzer Str. 5, 01099 Dresden]

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