Saxony (Sachsen) is known primarily for Dresden and Leipzig, the largest cities in Eastern Germany after Berlin. However, the entire region offers fascinating historical and cultural diversity. The castles around Dresden testify to the decadence of Saxony’s Electors, while boxy socialist monuments elsewhere recall the GDR aesthetic. Saxony is also home to the Sorbs, Germany’s only national minority, who lend a Slavic feel to many of the region’s eastern towns.
The stunning buildings of Dresden’s Altstadt look ancient, but most are newly reconstructed the Allied bombings of February 1945 that claimed over 40,000 lives destroyed 75% of the city center. Its Baroque architecture, world-class museums, and Neustadt nightlife make Dresden (pop. 479,000) one of the most celebrated cities its size; backpackers traveling from Berlin to Prague often stop over.
Flights: Dresden’s airport (DRS; 881 33 60) is 9km from the city. S2 runs there from both train stations (20min. 2 per hr. 4am-10:30pm, ‚1,50).
Trains: Nearly all trains stop at both the Hauptbahnhof in the Altstadt and Bahnhof Dresden Neustadt across the Elbe. Trains to: Berlin (3hr. 1 per hr. ‚30); Budapest (1 lhr. every 2hr. ‚64); Frankfurt (7hr. 2 per hr. ‚70); Leipzig (lVihr. 1-2 per hr. ‚17); Munich (7 hr. 1 per hr. ‚27); Prague (2Vihr. 12 per day, ‚20); and Warsaw (8hr. 8 per day, ‚27). Buy tickets from the machines in the main halls of both stations or pay less at the Reisezentrum desk.
Public Transportation: Most of Dresden is manageable on foot, but streetcars cover the whole city. Single ride ‚1.50; 4 or fewer stops ‚1. Day pass ‚4; weekly pass ‚14. Tickets are available from Fahrkarten dispensers at major stops and on the streetcars. For info and maps, go to one of the Verkehrs-lnfo stands in front of the Hauptbahnhof or at Postpl. (Open M-F 7am-7pm, Sa 8am-6pm, Su 9am-6pm.) Most major lines run hourly after midnight look for the moon sign marked Gute-Nacht-Linie.
Taxis: 211 211 or 888 88 88.
Bike Rental: In the Hauptbahnhof. ‚6 per day. Open daily 6am-10pm.
Ride-Sharing: Mitfahrzentrale, Dr.-Friedrich-Wolf-Str. 2 (194 40). On Slesischen PI. across from Bahnhof Neustadt. Open M-F 9am-8pm, Sa-Su 10am-2pm.
Hitchhiking: Let’s Go does not recommend hitchhiking as a safe mode of transportation. Hitchers say they stand in front of the Autobahn signs at on-ramps. To Berlin: Streetcar #3 or 13 to Liststr. then bus #81 to Am Olter. To Prague, Eisenach, or Frankfurt am Main: Bus #72 or 88 to Luga, or bus #76, 85, or 96 to Lockwitz.