Many Berlin travelers plan on spending a few days in Dresden. The cities are only 120 miles apart and both have a range of historical, off-beat, and unique attractions. Not far from the Czech border, Dresden is famous in history and literary circles for the devastating bombing it endured during World War II, later fictionalized in Kurt Vonnegut's classic novel, "Slaughterhouse-Five." Today, it's a hip and charming city with a burgeoning art and music scene.
Luckily, there are many options on how to get from Berlin to Dresden so you can experience them both. The easiest way is by train, which is affordable, fast, and the most comfortable option. Last-minute tickets may jump in price, but if you're flexible with your departure date and time, even those can be inexpensive. The bus is the cheapest option and only takes an hour longer than the train, making it ideal for travelers on a budget. If you've rented a car and want to road trip through Germany, it's a scenic drive on Germany's renowned highway system.
How to Get from Berlin to Dresden
- Train: 1 hour, 59 minutes, from $20
- Bus: 2 hours, 55 minutes, from $9 (cheapest option)
- Car: 2 hours, 120 miles (193 kilometers)
- Flight: 3 hours, 30 minutes, from $84 (with layover)
Taking the train is a great way to get from Berlin to Dresden and probably the most comfortable. Trains run all throughout the day and tickets start as low as $20 for a one-way trip if you book in advance, as ticket prices fluctuate based on demand. You can usually arrive at the station and purchase a ticket for the train you want, although you may be paying a premium to do so.
Not all trains are direct, and the high-speed Intercity Express train includes a transfer in Leipzig. For the shortest trip, choose the direct train to Dresden which takes just under two hours. Trains leave from Berlin's Central Station (Berlin Hpf) and arrive at either Dresden-Neustadt or Dresden Central Station (Dresden Hpf). Both Dresden stations are centrally located but on opposite sides of the river, so disembark at whichever station is closest to your accommodations.
You can book train tickets, look for special sales, and reserve a seat on the Deutsche Bahn (German rail service) website. The website is user-friendly and in English, and the simplest way to make your reservations.
The cheapest option to get from Berlin to Dresden is by bus, and although it's not always the most comfortable method of transportation, tickets can be a bargain at $9 from FlixBus. The journey takes almost three hours depending on where you get on the bus and where you get off, but the Alexanderplatz station is the most centrally-located point in Berlin. Other options for catching the bus in Berlin include the airport and the Berlin Central Bus Station—which is not actually very centrally located. In Dresden, your arrival options are the Neustadt Station or the Dresden Central Station, just as with the train.
Comfort levels are boosted by bus services like wifi, air-conditioning, electrical outlets, free newspaper, sleeper seats, air-conditioning, and—of course—toilets. Coaches are generally clean and punctual, just like most things in Germany.
If you prefer renting a car and driving from Berlin to Dresden, you’ll be on the road for about two hours, barring traffic. This can be the best option for families so they can comfortably travel together and save money. Or it can just be your excuse to drive on the world-famous Autobahn.
Base rates vary wildly depending on the time of year, duration of the rental, the age of driver, destination, and location of rental. Shop around to find the best price. Note that charges usually do not include the 19% Value Added Tax (VAT), registration fee, or any airport fees (but do include the required third-party liability insurance). These additional fees may equal up to 25% of the daily rental.
A few things to remember:
- The legal driving age in Germany is 18, but usually, drivers have to be over 21 to rent a car. Depending on the company, they may pay a premium until the age of 25.
- Reserve your car in advance (14 days beforehand ideally) for the best deals.
- German cars usually come with a manual transmission (gear shift). If you prefer an automatic transmission, ask the rental company and most can accommodate you. This may—like so many things—result in an extra charge.
Getting there is easy: Just follow the Autobahn A13 from Berlin to Dresden. There are plenty of signs to Dresden along the way, and you'll be able to Ausfahrt (exit) right into the city center.
You can fly from Berlin to Dresden, but this may be the worst option. Travelers must stopover in a central German city, such as Düsseldorf, which makes the trip long (between three and five hours) and expensive. The most reasonable options for transportation between Berlin and Dresden are undoubtedly the train, bus, or car.
What to See in Dresden
Dresden is called "Florence of the Elbe," because its charm and magic evoke the Tuscan Renaissance city, but with the dreamy Elbe River passing through its center. Take a stroll through the city and admire all of the Baroque architecture, especially the Church of Our Lady Cathedral and the Zwinger Palace. The Procession of Princes is the largest porcelain mural in the world, consisting of over 25,000 individual tiles produced in the nearby town of Meissen. If you're visiting in the summer months, a river cruise down the Elbe is a relaxing way to take in the scenery. After sightseeing in the historic center, cross the river into the Neustadt neighborhood, known for its art galleries, vintage stores, cocktail bars, and many Biergartens. Try a locally-made Dresden beer, and don't forget to accompany it with a warm and steamy pretzel.