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Help me plan our first trip to Prague, Dresden and Berlin!

Help me plan our first trip to Prague, Dresden and Berlin!

May 7th, 2019, 05:33 AM
  #1  
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Help me plan our first trip to Prague, Dresden and Berlin!

Help me plan our first trip to Prague, Dresden and Berlin!When our son invited us to join him and his family in the Dolomites for a week in July we were thrilled! We love to travel and look for any excuse to explore new destinations and cross off those places on our bucket list. So we decided that this would be a good time to visit Prague and Berlin before joining our son. The addition of Dresden was added as I began preliminary research on the two locations. We have purchased one way flights from NY to Prague and will be returning back with our family from Milan. Our plan is to spend 4 days in Prague, 3 in Dresden and 6 in Berlin before flying into Milan, renting a car and driving to the Dolomites.

Whew!

Now I need your help in selecting things to do, sightseeing suggestions, where to eat ( wife is a Pescatarian--no meat, chicken or shellfish), locations to stay ( airbnbs, hotels,B&B's), pubs, museums, street art ( wife is a photographer specializing in shooting graffiti/streetart), listening to live music (all types of music). We haven't made any reservations yet so we are not locked into the number of days we will be spending there although we will stick to only the 3 locations.

Let the suggestions flow like the wine we intend to drink everywhere!
allyboy is offline  
May 7th, 2019, 09:25 AM
  #2  
 
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Well just about train tickets - assume going by train 1st part and you need no cars once in those cities. Book Berlin-Dresden and Dresden-Prague or v.v at www.bahn.de/en - German Railways site - www.seat61.com has loads on doing that yourselves online - general info rickstves.com and BETS-European Rail Experts. sit on east side of train going south of Dresden to get the best views of the awesome Saxon Switzerland red-sandstone cliffs topped by forts at places.

Last edited by PalenQ; May 7th, 2019 at 10:01 AM.
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May 7th, 2019, 11:10 AM
  #3  
J62
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
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Dresden is definitely a logical choices as it's ~half way between Prague and Berlin. I used to travel to Dresden once or twice a year for business but it's been a while. Other than business hotel (Hilton) personally I never enjoyed a lot of in-city sightseeing in the city. Any guidebook will give you the standard sights to see.

Rather, my favorite experiences in the area are all outside of the city. The aforementioned sandstone cliffs (Saxon Switzerland) area for hiking, dinner at a winery in Radebeul, picnic lunch to Moritzburg, as well as various excellent restaurants scattered all over the area.

Here are some in / near town things I've enjoyed over the years.

Drinks and dinner at Schillergarten, next to the "Blue Wonder" bridge.
Visiting the Panometer (panometer.de)
Open air concert or film night along the banks of the Elbe dresden.filmnaechte.de
Schweinshaxen und ein Mass at Watzke brewery. - there is better food elsewhere...
Drinks and dinner at Spitzhaus, also Radebeul. For the view.
Texas line dancing at the Karl Mai saloon, also in Radebeul (we used to stay in that suburb) - if you're into wild west (US) fiction, look up karl mai. - interesting to see how his writing shaped the cultural opinion of many German readers.
Biking along the Elbe towards Pirna

Hopefully our local Dreden expert, Ingo, will see this thread and chime in.
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May 7th, 2019, 12:24 PM
  #4  
 
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An easy day rip from Dresden goes to nearby Meissen, home to one of Europe's first ceramic porcelain manufacturers - imported from China - see ceramics factory and museum and trek up to the fine castle high on a hill. Nice regional town too - just a short train ride from Dresden so can do something else like take the tram to Radebuhl to enjoy what J62 mentions.
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May 8th, 2019, 12:24 AM
  #5  
 
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For Prague: Take a look at Hotel Kampa Garden. It is just over the Charles Bridge, and is a quieter location, but very close walking to the sites. We actually stayed in apartments near here. I wasn't totally happy with the manager of the apartment so I can't fully recommend it. But my cousins just went to Prague in October 2018. We looked at Mala Strana and she decided on Kampa Garden. She loved it. They then went to some small towns. And afterward, they stayed in another part of Prague at the Hotel Elite, which they really did not like as well. They were sorry they hadn't gone back to Kampa Garden.

As to things to see in Prague: The Headliner is a visit to the castle. Following that, the visit to the Jewish synagogues is incredible. Of course, I loved the ancient clock and the Old Town Square. Who wouldn't? I would also throw in that St. Agnes Convent Museum might be the most well done medieval art museum after the Cluny. Moving, interesting, and the setting was great.
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May 8th, 2019, 12:27 AM
  #6  
 
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The train ride from Prague to Dresden is very scenic, especially the parts along the Labe/Elbe river through the Ceske stredohori mountains (Lovosice - Usti nad Labem) and Bohemian-Saxon Switzerland (Decin - Pirna). Try to find seats on the right side of the train for best views. Or in the dining car - the Czech (or Hungarian) trains that run this route still have pretty good food and at very reasonable prices - you can just have a coffee, glass of wine or beer if you want, or breakfast (I had the latter and it was very good). The train ride Dresden - Berlin is plain boring IMO.

As the "local expert" <blushing> for Dresden, let me suggest some sights and things to do there. First off, 3 nights means 2 full days plus maybe the first afternoon. I guess you will take an early train to Berlin, so no time on that last day in Dresden. You can either stay right in the city centre/old town or a bit in the outskirts, the green 19th century residential areas which are far less touristy and nicer (cooler temps) especially in July. Public transportation is sufficient, it only takes 15-20 minutes by tram to the old town (every 10 minutes during the day, less frequent by night of course). And there are lots of sights in the outskirts anyway. We need a price range for recommendations, too.

You might want to stroll through the compact old town for two or three hours, seeing the highlights like Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), Royal Palace, procession of princes mural, catholic cathedral, Semper Opera house, Zwinger, along Brühl's Terrace. Drop into the churches, the Renaissance courtyard of the Royal Palace (former stables/Stallhof), the little courtyard of the Royal Palace where the ticket counter is. If you want to visit museums, there is a huge variety of them. Check www.skd.museum for the State Art Collections - so called *musts* are the (New and Old) Green Vault and the Picture Gallery Old Masters, the Armoury and the Porcelain Collection. It all depends on your interest, of course, and you certainly cannot see them all. Other, non-art museums that are worth seeing are e.g. the Hygiene Museum (no, it is not just about hygiene, it is about humans and life in general) www.dhmd.de and the Military History museum Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr - START

Sort of a *must* is also a ride with the paddle steamers on the river. Highly recommended is the route from the old town along the residential areas, vineyards and castles upstream, passing Blue Wonder bridge and ending at Pillnitz Palace and Gardens. The latter is very beautiful, Baroque Chinoise architecture with nice gardens - the grounds cost a small fee to enter, if you want to see the museum of decorative arts in the Palace you must pay some Euros more. You can take the bus 63 back to Schillerplatz, from there tram 12 to the city centre.

As a graffiti/street art photographer your wife would probably enjoy a walk through the Äußere Neustadt district (19th century district, "Outer New Town") from Albertplatz along Alaunstraße, through Kunsthofpassage, along Görlitzer Straße to Martin-Luther-Platz, ending at Pfund's Dairy Shop. https://kunsthof-dresden.de , www.pfunds.de (don't miss the mustard shop next to Pfund's, tasting included!) It is a vibrant, quirky area with lots of ethnic restaurants, cafes, artisans' shops, clubs, favourite nightlife area of the locals.

I doubt you will have time for day trips, unfortunately. As J62 wrote, the National Park Saxon Switzerland is the most popular destination of the locals, for hiking, cycling, free climbing (which was 'invented' here), walks in the nature ... Maybe you can squeeze in a wine tasting in Radebeul, the town adjacent to Dresden where J62 used to stay. Even better if you find time to hop on the narrow-gauge steam train in Radebeul that takes you to Moritzburg with beautiful Palace and park, set on a small island in an artifical small lake (and don't miss the nearby cute Pheasant's castle.) Meissen with beautiful old town, castle and cathedral plus famous porcelain manufacture is another good option.

As for restaurants - what would you prefer? Which price range? Regional, ethnic, gourmet? Wine, beer? The variety is huge, so recommendations are hard to give.
Ingo is offline  
May 8th, 2019, 12:33 AM
  #7  
 
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A couple of street art examples in the Outer Neustadt district:


Near Pfund's Dairy Shop


At Bischofsweg.


Near Martin-Luther-Platz
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May 8th, 2019, 01:07 AM
  #8  
 
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For seafood, our favorite in Dresden is Kastenmeiers, a short walk from the Frauenkirche. https://kastenmeiers.de/
https://kastenmeiers.de/de/142874-English-menu

Pricy for Dresden, but not outrageously so. Wherever you dine, do try the local wines (and beer)!

Last edited by WeisserTee; May 8th, 2019 at 01:10 AM.
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May 8th, 2019, 01:39 AM
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Weisser Tee, did you notice Kastenmeiers has moved from Kurländer Palais to the Kempinski Taschenberg Grand Hotel? They just started a sort of test run "pre-opening", and the comment of a friend who had dinner there was not too positive
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May 8th, 2019, 01:48 AM
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I had heard something about a move but not all the details. Why did they leave their handsome old premises? Who is there now? As for the disappointing experience, daumen gedruckt that it’s moving pains and not a permanent change ☹️
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May 8th, 2019, 02:09 AM
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I heard that the lease for Kurländer Palais is up coming fall and the owner's new offer was *way* too much for Kastenmeier. As the manager of Taschenberg Grand Hotel is a good friend (and was not too happy with the restaurant crew), they decided to move. Rumour is that Kastenmeier had to keep some of the Taschenberg staff in addition to his own, and so far they don't get along too well. Yes, let's hope (and there is a good chance) it gets better.
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May 12th, 2019, 07:24 AM
  #12  
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Thanks you to PalenQ for your train info and Dresden suggestions; for your Dresden suggestions; 5 alive for your hotel recommendations and Prague suggestions; Weisser Tee for your beer and wine suggestions and Ingo for all of your wonderful recommendations!

I have reserved the Agnes Hotel in Prague ( 4 days) and Bulow Palais ( 3 days) in Dresden.

Ingo: Regarding restaurants: my wife is a vegetarian ( no meat, chicken and shellfish) and so we are always on the lookout for a good place to eat without considering the price.

We are also very interested in the arts and love attending live music and theater events. I had been told that we should attend a production of Don Giovanni at The Estates Theater, however, the only one that will be on the nights we are there is the Prague Summer Nights production.

Which area in Berlin would you suggest for us?
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May 12th, 2019, 08:34 AM
  #13  
 
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I agree with 5alive about the Hotel Kampa Garden Kampa Island is a great place to stay. I like to describe it as a quiet oasis in Prague that is an easy walk to most anywhere. The hotel very near the Charles Bridge and adjacent to a park where at dusk you can sit on a bench and watch Old Town light up. My wife follows the same diet as yours and had no problem. Kampa Island has some nice restaurants too A favorite was across from the hotel and about half way to the bridge.
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May 12th, 2019, 09:57 AM
  #14  
 
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Bülow Palais is a very good hotel. I had dinner with American friends only a few weeks ago in their Michelin-starred restaurant - fantastic! They also have a bistro restaurant with good food (and business lunch specials). There are plenty restaurants near the hotel. Your wife will not have a problem finding vegetarian food - basically every restaurant has such dishes, the number of vegetarians is growing in Germany, too. One of my favourites is L'Art de Vie (had lunch there just last Monday). LOTS of choices for vegetarians. The previously mentioned vibrant nightlife district "Äußere Neustadt" (Outer New Town) is only a 5-10 minutes walk away (walk up Königsstraße and cross Albertplatz and, voila, there you are.) It has and endless number of restaurants, most of them, if not all, have vegetarian options. Just stroll and drop into one if it appeals to you ... here is a list. One of my favourites there is La Casina Rosa, one of the best Italian restaurants in the city (Upper end of Alaunstraße.) Completely vegetarian is Scheunecafe.

In the old town I recommend Alte Meister e.g. There are several restaurants right on Neumarkt square, quite touristy of course. Classico Italiano was always good. An excellent Italian restaurant is Da Miri behind Taschenbergpalais Grand Hotel. Very good is also Palastecke, in the western corner of Kulturpalast at Altmarkt square.

However, we locals mostly go to restaurants in the residential districts/outskirts. Like Schillergarten next to Blue Wonder bridge. Or Villa Marie on the other side of that bridge. Or just to a beergarden (Schillergarten has one, too.) Or Körnergarten across the river there (granted, the latter has not much for vegetarians, just salad or Pasta) ...

As for music - In July is usually summer break in theatres/opera houses. Did you check the schedule for Semperoper in Dresden? They finish the season relatively late. And after that a very good production of
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May 12th, 2019, 10:07 AM
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Sorry, hit the <post> button too early ...

WEST SIDE STORY takes over. Definitely attend a performance during your visit, whether it's WEST SIDE STORY or an opera earlier. www.semperoper.de

Down by the river,only five minutes from your hotel, two festivals take place in summer: FILMNÄCHTE AM ELBUFER (movie nights by the Elbe river, with concerts, movies daily, shows) and PALAISSOMMER (in the park of Japanese Palace, from yoga over plein-air painting and art performances to concerts.) The latter is free. There will for sure be concerts, shows etc. in Dresden in July, but not many of them are listed yet. You may want to ask at the Tourist Information or grab a free journal like DRESDNER.
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May 14th, 2019, 12:21 PM
  #16  
 
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Not a ton of vegetarian food in Prague, but there are two great vegetarian restaurants I've been to: Clear Head (Lehká hlava) in Old Town and Radost FX in the Vinohraday neighborhood. Radost doubles as a night club, but the restaurant (during the day) is delicious!
For street art, you'll probably want to visit the John Lennon Wall, unless that's considered too touristy! I've also seen interesting street art (although I'm by no means an expert) in the Zizkov and Holesovice neighborhoods.
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May 14th, 2019, 02:27 PM
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So so nice to have an OP say 'thanks' so much - is appreciated!
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May 15th, 2019, 01:31 PM
  #18  
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Looking for a hotel in Berlin. My son has said that we would like staying in Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain areas. Any info on the Leonardo Royal Hotel or any other places?
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May 15th, 2019, 05:33 PM
  #19  
 
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The two areas you mentioned are a long way from major museums and Brandenburg Gate
I always stay in Mitte.
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