The city of 65,000 inhabitants is located in the southwest of Saxony. It is the largest city in the Vogtland region of Saxony and the fifth largest city in the state.
Word has long spread that the largest cities in Saxony are also glamorous metropolises. The state capital Dresden with its wealth of art and culture, the colorful and fun-loving Leipzig and Chemnitz, recently confirmed as European Capital of Culture 2025, are destinations in a class of their own. But there is much more urban charm to be discovered in the state's diverse regions, and even the lesser-known towns and cities are full of exciting attractions - here are some good examples.
The city of 65,000 inhabitants is located in the southwest of Saxony. It is the largest city in the Vogtland region of Saxony and the fifth largest city in the state.
Annaberg-Buchholz is located in the Ore Mountains on both sides of the Sehmatal valley. The district town has just under 20,000 inhabitants.
The mountain town with a good 40,000 inhabitants is located midway between Dresden and Chemnitz. It is the seat of the world's oldest technical and mining university still in existence.
The town of 16,500 inhabitants is located in the southwestern Ore Mountains. The "Pearl of the Ore Mountains" has become a popular tourist destination.
With a population of around 90,000, Saxony's fourth-largest city is located in the southwest of the state. Hard coal was mined here and in the surrounding region for almost 800 years.
The fourth largest city in Saxony has a good 28,000 inhabitants. It is located in the North Saxon Plate and Hill Country 25 km southeast of Leipzig and about 16 km south of Wurzen.
Located in the north of Saxony on the western bank of the Elbe River, the city has about 20,000 inhabitants. In the old town, numerous architectural monuments of the late Gothic and Renaissance have been preserved.
The city of 28,000 inhabitants is located at the exit of the Elbe valley basin on the Elbe and its tributary, the Triebisch. The city is internationally famous for its porcelain, the first European porcelain to be produced since 1708.
The wine, villa and garden city with its eight historic village centers and two villa quarters has a population of around 34,000. Radebeul is also called Saxon Nice because of its charming location.
The city, which has a good 38,000 inhabitants, is located at the upper beginning of the Elbe valley widening. It is surrounded by the West Lusatian hills and mountains in the north and by the foothills of the Osterzgebirge mountains in the south.
The historical capital of Upper Lusatia with about 40,000 inhabitants is also the largest city in the district. It sees itself as the political and cultural center of the Sorbs.
The easternmost city in Germany is located on the Lusatian Neisse River on the border with Poland. The old town of the city of 56,000 inhabitants has been exceptionally well preserved.
The Lessing town of Kamenz is located about 40 km northeast of Dresden and about 30 km northwest of Bautzen. It has just under 17,000 inhabitants.
The town of 25,000 inhabitants is located in the extreme southeast of Saxony in the border triangle of Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. It gives its name to the Zittau Mountains, which lie to the south.
The Vogtland, southwestern tip of Saxony, is known for its particularly warm hosts - to be experienced for example in the beautiful Plauen. However, the city offers not only a great hotel industry and gastronomy, but also a widely famous attraction: it is home to Plauen Lace®. Particularly successful works of filigree embroidery can be admired in the German Lace Museum, and traditional machines are also used to embroider for visitors. But there is much more to marvel at here: the historic city center with the Luther and St. John's churches including the convent building, for example, the Old Town Hall with its Renaissance gable, cultural centers such as the Malzhaus and the Vogtland Museum, or the collections of charming "Father & Son Stories" by the famous Plauen cartoonist Erich Ohser (1903-1944). Young visitors will also enjoy the Syratal leisure complex with a small train and the enchanting petting zoo.
North to the Vogtland one of the most charming German low mountain range landscapes adjoins: The Ore Mountains offer not only paradisiacal hiking trails, but also beautiful places full of culture and enjoyment, as well as exciting evidence of a great mining history. In the mining and Adam Ries town of Annaberg-Buchholz for example, the large hall church St. Annen and the mountain church St. Marien with its "Miner's Nativity" tell of the former wealth. Mining has left numerous other traces, for example the Ore Mountains Museum with the visitor mine "Im Gößner" or the important cultural monument "Frohnauer Hammer", which is one of the most famous excursion destinations in the region. Ore Mountain folk art can be admired in the "Manufacture of Dreams" with its lovingly carved pyramids, angels and figurines - and the memory of the local arithmetician Adam Ries (1492-1559) is honored in a museum.
With a cheerful "Glück auf" greet each other today as yesterday in the Freiberg. At that time as an expression of hope for rich silver finds and a happy homecoming from the depths of the mountain, in modern times out of love for Germany's designated silver city with a historic center and magnificent patrician houses. More than 800 years of silver mining brought wealth and splendor to the town, and the history can be impressively traced in the "Reiche Zeche" training mine and the town and mining museum. Meanwhile, in St. Mary's Cathedral with its "Golden Gate," the most powerful Silbermann organ in the world resounds. And right next door in the finely restored Freudenstein Castle, the beauty of the underground world is presented in a special way: The unique mineral collection "terra mineralia" offers visitors an overwhelming variety of colors and shapes of crystals.
Just like Freiberg as well as the mining landscapes Buchholz and Annaberg-Frohnau also includes the town of Schwarzenberg to the UNESCO World Heritage region Montanregion Erzgebirge/Krušnohoři. Large ore and tin finds had once made the town rich. In the listed old center with the striking St. George's Church, the PERLA CASTRUM museum in the town castle shows exhibits from that time, a good piece of world heritage and mining tradition is also told in the Erlahammer manor house. For those who prefer an even more vivid experience, take the mine train to the Pöhla visitor mine, whose tin chambers are the largest in Europe. A tour with the "Erzgebirgische Aussichtsbahn" (Ore Mountain View Railway) is much more airy, and in the Schwarzenberg Railway Museum you can marvel at gleaming locomotives from the old days. Other local highlights include events with world stars on Saxony's largest open-air stage.
Not the mountain, but the automobile has Zwickau made famous. The engineer August Horch (1868-1951) founded the Horch and Audi companies here, making Zwickau a cradle of German automobile production - the attractive exhibition in the Horch Museum at the original site documents this exciting history. Two other great men left their mark on the town of their birth. Music lovers from all over the world visit Zwickau for the International Robert Schumann Choir Competitions and the Robert Schumann Days, and memories of the musician (1810-1856) are on display in the house where he was born. 40 works by the important Zwickau expressionist Hermann Max Pechstein (1881-1955) can also be admired on site in his museum, among other places. Visitors should also not miss the council school library, the priests' houses, the magnificent Art Nouveau hall in the concert and ball house "Neue Welt" and the opulent Art Nouveau baths.
This beautiful vacation region stretches from the northwest to the southeast of the state and is full of facets. For example, in the valley area around the Mulde River - a left tributary of the Elbe - with its protected floodplain landscapes. Among the urban beauties here are Grimma, a veritable picture book of architectural history - Grimma's historic center has rightly already been named the most beautiful old town in all of central Germany. In addition to finely restored town houses and magnificent buildings such as the Renaissance town hall and the monastery and Frauenkirche churches, there are many collections worth seeing, such as the district museum on the history of the town, the museum in the Haus Energie in Wilhelm Ostwald Park or the publisher's museum Göschenhaus with a classicist garden. One stop on Saxony's Luther Trail is the ruins of Nimbschen Monastery, where Katharina von Bora, later wife of the reformer, once lived as a nun. A trip on an excursion boat or an old cable ferry across the Mulde River brings a breath of fresh air to the visitor's nose.
As the most important station of the Saxon Luther Way lures the Lutherstadt Torgau, located on the left bank of the Elbe, attracts visitors from all over the world. It was once a political center of the Reformation and the place where Martin Luther worked. Many traces lead here to the great reformer and his wife Katharina von Bora, so the castle church was consecrated by him in 1544 as the first Protestant sacred building. In addition, Torgau is one of the most beautiful Renaissance towns in Germany, and anyone strolling through the center can enjoy many magnificent buildings. For example, the town hall with its valuable round bay window, the mayor's Ringenhain House, the town church of St. Mary with its Passion altar, or Hartenfels Castle, which is considered the largest comprehensively preserved German castle of the early Renaissance. Torgau also made history in April 1945, when U.S. and Soviet troops met here on the destroyed Elbe bridge for a first handshake - the "Monument of Encounter" is a reminder of this.
Upstream it goes to Meissen. The most beautiful vineyards extend all around; vines have been cultivated on the great Elbe River for over 850 years. Strolling through the winding alleys and small passages of the Mediterranean-style city with its artfully renovated facades, you will find countless quaint (wine) bars. However, Meissen has become famous above all for the fine porcelain produced here. The first production site of the "white gold" was the late Gothic Albrechtsburg Castle in 1710, and an exhibition recalls its history. Particularly worth seeing is the MEISSEN® manufactory with its world of experience, which includes the most comprehensive collection of Meissen porcelain as well as a show workshop. Attached are also a beautiful restaurant and café. Fine ceramics also play a special role in Meissen's Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) on the market square - a porcelain chime is regularly heard from its tower.
Also in RadebeulA little further up the Elbe River, not far from the state capital of Dresden, much revolves around winegrowing. For connoisseurs, a visit to a cozy wine tavern should be just as much a part of the program as a walk through the high vineyards. Particularly attractive destinations are the once electoral Hoflößnitz wine estate with its small museum and the Spitzhaus staircase, whose 397 steps lead high up into the mountain, or the Schloss Wackerbarth adventure winery, which produces excellent wines. The town is also famous for the busy writer Karl May (1842-1912), whose novels reached millions of copies and who lived locally for a long time - his former private house "Villa Shatterhand" is now a museum worth seeing. Also worthwhile is a visit to the Landesbühnen Sachsen with its wide repertoire or a ride on the Lößnitzgrundbahn from Radebeul to Moritzburg - the wagons are pulled by old steam locomotives.
The culturally rich Pirna extends southeast of Dresden on the banks of the Elbe River and is also known as the "Gateway to Saxon Switzerland". You can arrive in style from the state capital by paddle steamer. The original medieval town center with its magnificent Gothic and Baroque portals is a paradise for culture lovers, for example the town hall, St. Mary's Church with its Renaissance altar, or the historically valuable birthplace of the enterprising monk and Luther opponent Johann Tetzel. The Sonnenstein Fortress, famous for its sculpture summer, is enthroned on a rocky plateau. The court painter Bernardo Bellotto, known as Canaletto (1722-1780), produced eleven works of art of Pirna, including his famous "View of the Market Square". A detour to the northern suburb of Graupa, where a Richard Wagner museum and the composer's largest monument are located, is also worthwhile.
The east of Saxony with its great nature is a popular vacation destination for cyclists, hikers and water sports enthusiasts. But Upper Lusatia also surprises with a tremendous wealth of cultural treasures. For example, in the over 1000 year old Bautzen, also known as the city of towers. Its city wall, preserved almost in its entire length, with a total of 17 towers and bastions, provides a unique medieval flair. Among the landmarks are the ingenious pumping station "Alte Wasserkunst" and the St. Petri Cathedral with its cathedral treasure as East Germany's only simultaneous church - since 1542 Catholics and Protestants have shared the choir room and nave here for their devotions. While the Bautzen Museum celebrates the great history of the region with interactive stations, dark days of the past are remembered in the Bautzen Memorial. The culture of the Sorbs enjoys a special status here - the tradition of the West Slavic people, who live predominantly in Lusatia, is celebrated, among other things, in the German-Sorbian Folk Theater and with special Easter customs.
The name European City Carries Goerlitz It is only a stone's throw to the Polish sister city of Zgorzelec on the other side of the border river Neisse via the Old Town Bridge, which is a symbol of a Europe that is growing together. The old town of Görlitz with its many traditional restaurants (good Silesian cuisine) and about 4000 monuments is a historical synthesis of the arts - when visiting the Wilhelminian and Art Nouveau facades, medieval hall houses and walkable fortifications, one can hardly get out of the amazement. The Renaissance town hall with its striking tower on the lower market square, the Silesian Museum, the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul with its ingenious sun organ (the pipes are arranged radially around golden sun faces), and the "Holy Sepulcher" as a faithful replica of the holy sites in Jerusalem are among the other highlights. Visitors can find out why the European city is also called "Görliwood" on a special tour - it takes them to the filming locations of numerous Hollywood movies.
The greatest son from Kamenz has left many traces locally. For example, every two years in January/February the traditional Kamenz Lessing Days take place in honor of the poet and enlightener Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) with many cultural performances. In the Lessing Museum and in the Lessing Memorial, visitors can learn more about the life and work of the great master, and in the "Goldener Hirsch" inn, the site of Lessing's baptism ceremony, visitors can dine excellently today. The town is also characterized by the three town churches, the monastery church of St. Annen, the main church of St. Marien and the neighboring Catechism Church, all close to the market square. Not far away, the Museum der Westlausitz (Museum of West Lusatia) attracts visitors with its exhibition on the history of the city and the Elementarium, which deals with the flora and fauna of the region, among other things, in six themed worlds. A little to the west of the city lies the Hutberg with a botanical treasure: an open-air stage is surrounded by hundreds of rhododendron plants and azaleas.
At the foot of the Zittau Mountains in the border triangle of Germany-Poland-Czech Republic stretches the 750 year old city of Zittau. Strolling through the historic town center, you can admire many magnificent architectural monuments. The town hall, built in 1840 in the neo-Renaissance style according to plans by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, is located on the market square, not far from it is the church of St. Johannis with its distinctive lookout tower, the monastery church with its collection of epitaphs, the old Zittau salt house and the butcher's bastion with its flower clock in the former town fortifications. Unique in Europe are the permanent exhibitions of two medieval lenten cloths: The "Great Zittau Lenten Cloth of 1472" can be admired in a huge display case in the Church of the Holy Cross Museum, and the "Small Zittau Lenten Cloth of 1573" in the Cultural History Museum in the Franciscan Monastery. If you then feel like a change of pace, you can take a ride on the Zittau narrow-gauge railroad pulled by steam locomotives into the nearby mountains.
Cover photo: One of fourteen city beauties in Saxony - view across the Spree to the Nicolaikirch ruins in Bautzen © Peter Wilhelm
Financed with funds from the Free State of Saxony
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