After visiting Prague, our plan was to venture into Germany as we made our way to the UK. That plan didn’t last long. We made it to Dresden, our first stop, and then changed our plans completely. Instead of continuing on toward the UK, we’d turn around and head south instead. The weather in southern Europe is nicer, the fruit is better, and it would be more affordable than travelling around the UK. We honestly only thought about it for a few minutes before we decided to forgo our UK plans. Sunshine and watermelon aplenty? The choice was easy.
Another complication is that we’d be forced to stay in the UK for three months (because legally I need to be outside the Schengen area for at least that amount of time) and we knew the summer heatwave in the UK wouldn’t last forever. Spending August, September, and October where there’s minimal sunshine and lots of rain didn’t sound appealing to us. Plus, Kuba lived in Scotland for 10 years and I spent nearly a year there. We’ve only been outside of Scotland for just over a year so we’d rather explore elsewhere.
We didn’t change our minds until the end of our time in Dresden. When we arrived, the weather wasn’t so nice. It was cold (compared to the 30-degree days in Czechia), windy and rainy. Actually, the weather was similar to Scotland weather for most of our time there. Maybe that’s why we were quick to change our minds about our UK plans… 😉
We spent 5 nights in Dresden. Luckily, we were able to camp in our van for free along the Elbe River. Kuba found this free parking area near the Sportpark Ostra thanks to the Park4Night app. (Seriously, this app is so useful! We use it in every city we visit.)
This parking lot was like a little camper van city on the weekend. Lots of camper vans frequented this lot and it looked like several of them stayed there permanently. It was just behind a paid parking area (we thought we had to pay at first) but after asking another van couple, we verified it was completely free to park there. Woo!
We liked parking our van there because it was free, quiet, and close to the city centre. We’d walk along the river and be in the city centre in 20 minutes or so. The only negative is that there were no public toilets near the parking lot.
We bought most of our food from Kaufland in the Elbepark shopping mall by Ikea. We’d drive there, load up on food and head back to our spot along the river. We also shopped at the Rewe in the Altmarkt-Galerie mall in the city centre.
We frequented Starbucks in Dresden because they had soy milk, decaf coffee, wi-fi, and free toilets.
I hoped the public libraries in Dresden would offer free wi-fi like the libraries in Czechia, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The wi-fi in Starbucks wasn’t too fast either, but at least it worked. Uploading videos in Dresden was pretty stressful because I could only upload them through my phone’s hotspot. It would take half a day if not the entire day (I kid you not, over 24 hours!) to upload one video.
If you happen to know of any decent free wi-fi spots in Dresden, please let me know! 🙂
None of the public toilets in Dresden were free. Typically, we’d have to pay €0.50 to use them which seemed expensive compared to the more affordable (or completely free) public toilets in Czechia. The toilets at Starbucks were free and unlocked so that was our favourite option. I was disappointed that we even had to pay to use the toilets inside the Altmarkt-Galerie mall. The toilets in the Elbepark shopping mall were free, but since it wasn’t within walking distance from where we’d park, it wasn’t a real option for us. We definitely made sure to use their toilets whenever we were there shopping for food, though, because we were tired of paying for toilets in the city centre.
We did laundry at an Eco Express laundromat. We didn’t want to walk there so we drove and parked the van at the Netto grocery store across the street. They had a time limit posted but we just kept an eye on our van from the laundromat window. 😉
Sights Worth Seeing
Dresden’s city centre is small and cute. The majority of the city centre was destroyed in WW2 when the US and British forces bombed it but it’s been reconstructed beautifully.
My favourite sites in the city centre are the Frauenkirche, The Fürstenzug, and The Zwinger.
Frauenkirche is a massive Lutheran church in Dresden’s city centre. It was destroyed in the WW2 bombings of the city but now it’s completely restored, inside and out. It’s free to enter but if you’re willing to pay extra, you can climb to the top for views of the city. (We decided to be cheap.)
Fürstenzug, meaning “Procession of Princes,” is the largest tile mural in the world. It depicts rulers of Saxony. (Saxony is one of sixteen states of Germany.) This is free as well since it’s on the outer wall of the stables courtyard of the castle.
The Zwinger used to be a palace but now it’s an impressive garden and museum complex. It was also destroyed during WW2 but has since been rebuilt. Entry into the garden area is free. You can also walk along the top of the walls surrounding the gardens.
Most grocery stores, malls and shops are closed on Sundays in Germany. Restaurants and cafes are usually open but in general, I think it’s smart to stock up on food before Sunday.
Busking in Dresden is legal but the busking situation is weirdly organised and strict compared to the other cities we’ve visited. Kuba busked a few times but was told by city officials that he needs to sign up online (on their app) and reserve a busking space in advance for free. The maximum time for busking in one location was 30 minutes, and not all locations were conveniently located in the city centre. No permits were needed, which was cool, but Kuba still prefers a more laid back and less regulated approach to busking. People in the city enjoyed his music, though, so the vibe was still good and he had a good time.
Surprisingly, we had difficulty finding recycling bins while in the city centre. We found large recycling bins behind some restaurants but we weren’t able to locate any bins along pedestrian areas or in the main square areas. Perhaps Dresden sorts all of their rubbish thus eliminating the need for separate recycling bins? I’m not sure. (If you have any insights on this, please let me know!)
In the end, we’re glad we had the chance to experience Dresden even if it was only for a few days. I recommend checking it out if you’re in the area because the city centre is very cute. We only saw a fraction of it because we never walked across the river to explore the other side. We’ll just need to save that for the next time we pass through Germany! 🙂
Don’t forget to check out our Dresden vlogs:
If you follow our vlogs, you’ll know that this post is super delayed! My apologies!! Now that I’ve switched to weekly videos instead of daily ones, I have time to tighten up my blog. In the future, I plan to post weekly on here as a complement to the weekly mini-documentaries. So thank you for reading, for subscribing, and for watching our videos. We appreciate you!! 🙂