Posted Date: May 7, 2021
Is a day trip to Meissen worth it? Most definitely.
In 2019, we spent 2 nights in Dresden and did a couple of day trips to nearby towns. Meissen was by far our favorite town to visit.
With its picturesque streets, colorful buildings, and gothic castle overlooking the Elbe river, Meissen is one of the most charming towns in Saxony, Germany. There is plenty to do here to fill up a half-day or full-day trip from Dresden.
Not only is Meissen home to the oldest porcelain factory in all of Europe, but it’s also home to the oldest castle in Germany. There is so much history in such a small place!
The Best Things to Do in Meissen
Here are the best things to do if you have one day in Meissen.
Walk up to Schlossbrüke (Castle Bridge)
Start off your day trip to Meissen by making your way up to the Castle Bridge. To get there, walk through the old town and follow Burstrasse up to Hohlweg and climb the steps until you get to the bridge.
Once you are on the bridge, you will see the Castle Gate, which is the entrance onto the castle grounds. From here, you will have an excellent view of the charming street you walked up (Hohlweg), and the valley down below.
Tour Albrechtsburg Castle
Albrechtsburg Castle is considered the oldest castle in Germany and is a must-visit on your day trip to Meissen. Over 1,000 years ago, the castle was just a wooden fortress built on top of a hill overlooking the Elbe river and valley.
In the late 15th century, the fortress was converted into a castle and eventually became home to the Meissen porcelain factory in the 18th century founded by Augustus the Strong.
You can take a self-guided tour through the castle and visit many of the reception rooms painted with vibrant murals. On your tour, you will be given a “HistoPad”, which is a tablet that shows you images of what the room looked like back in time.
We loved this on our tour, as it was a way to transport you to the past while actually being in the room. It’s incredible how much a castle can change over time.
To visit, you can either purchase a ticket to just the castle, or you can purchase a combined ticket. The two combined ticket options are castle + cathedral or castle + porcelain factory. More info on tickets and opening times here.
Visit the Meissen Cathedral
Next to Albrechtsburg Castle is the Meissen Cathedral. Recognizable by its tall black gothic spires, the church was originally built in the 10th century, while the spires were recently added in the 20th century.
Once inside, you will be able to walk through the beautiful nave and appreciate the gothic architecture.
You can purchase a combined ticket with the castle tour or pay separately to visit the cathedral.
Wander Through Old Town
Make your way back down to the old town and wander through the picturesque streets. Meissen feels like a town that has been plucked right out of a storybook, so it is fun to walk around for a bit and get lost in time.
If you’re hungry, you’ll find plenty of cafes with outdoor seating in Marktplatz – a square at the center of the old town. It’s also where the Rathaus (city building) is located – a beautiful white building with a deep red roof.
We opted to stop at a quaint cafe for launch called Grüner Humpen zu Meissen on our way down from the castle. We got sauerbraten – a popular german dish made of roast beef and vegetables.
If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll want to make time to try the famous Meissen dessert – a Meissner Fummel. This dessert is a thin, delicate pastry that you traditionally eat with a cup of coffee. You can find this at Zieger Konditorei on your way down from the castle.
Climb the Bell Tower at the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady)
Just a one-minute walk from the Rathaus is the Frauenkirche. Originally built in 1205, this now gothic cathedral has opened its bell tower to tourists. The ascent is only 193 steps and offers stunning panoramic views of Meissen.
You’ll be able to get a close look at the porcelain carillon at the top – the oldest one in the world. The carillon plays 6 times a day.
The bell tower is open Monday – Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM and Sundays from 12 PM to 5 PM. The cost to climb the tower is €2 per person.
Tour the Meissen Porcelain Factory
Meissen is the birthplace of European porcelain. In the 17th century, porcelain from Asia was especially popular among the European aristocracy.
Augustus the Strong particularly loved Asian porcelain and wanted to be able to manufacture his own porcelain in Europe.
After many years of trial and error, a team of chemists discovered how to create porcelain. In 1710, Augustus the Strong opened up the first and now oldest porcelain factory in Europe in Albrechtsburg Castle.
Meissen porcelain was produced in the castle for over 150 years until it was moved to a separate building.
Today, you can tour the Meissen porcelain factory where you can watch a live demonstration of how they make the porcelain. You can also visit the museum to see the incredible porcelain creations throughout the years.
The museum is about a 15-minute walk from the old town. Tickets are €12 per person. For more information on hours and opening times, you can visit the official site of Meissen porcelain.
If you have more time in Meissen
This castle also doubles as a winery. You can take a tour of the castle and have a wine tasting outside in the vineyards on the castle grounds.
The views of Meissen from Schloss Proschwitz are apparently incredible. Visit the official website for more information.
Steamboat Tour from Dresden
If you want to have a more adventurous day trip to Meissen, then I would recommend the steamboat river cruise from Dresden to Meissen. On this tour, you’ll ride along the Elbe river and pass beautiful scenery along the way.
Once you arrive in Meissen, you’ll have time to visit Albrechtsburg castle, wander around the streets, and visit the porcelain museum. More info on the tour here.
How to Get to Meissen
Meissen is easily accessible by car or train. If you are driving, there are plenty of parking lots scattered around the city. Meissen is about a 35-minute drive away from Dresden.
Getting to Meissen by train from Dresden is very simple. Just hop on the S-Bahn from either Dresden Neustadt or Hauptbahnhof and the train will take you directly to Meissen’s S-Bahnhof.
The ride is about 35 minutes. You can visit the S-Bahn site online for timetables and price information.
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