Word has long since 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.

Less known are the smaller towns between the Vogtland and Upper Lusatia, but they are authoritative as places in Saxony steeped in history. Therefore, it is not surprising to find a wealth of cultural attractions and special features there. Whether romantically situated along rivers or in the middle of mountain ranges - the cities could not be more different.

Table of contents
City beauties on the Elbe and Mulde rivers
1. Meissen
2. Radebeul
3. Pirna
4. Grimma
5. Torgau
City beauties in Vogtland and Ore Mountains
6. Plauen
7. Annaberg-Buchholz
8. Freiberg
9. Schwarzenberg
10. Zwickau
City beauties in Upper Lusatia
11. Bautzen
12. Goerlitz
13. Kamenz
14. Zittau

Plauen

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

Annaberg-Buchholz is located in the Ore Mountains on both sides of the Sehmatal valley. The district town has just under 20,000 inhabitants.

Freiberg

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.

Schwarzenberg

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.

Zwickau

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.

Grimma

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.

Torgau

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.

Meissen

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.

Radebeul

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.

Pirna

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.

Bautzen

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.

Goerlitz

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.

Kamenz

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.

Zittau

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.

City beauties on the Elbe and Mulde rivers

1

Meissen

With its numerous gothic and renaissance buildings is Meissen one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Germany. It invites you to linger, stroll and enjoy. With narrow streets, houses surrounded by vine leaves and charming restaurants and wine bars, Meißen nestles on the banks of the Elbe. Here, where King Henry I built a fortress on a rock in 929, is now the cradle of Saxony. 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, whose history can be easily explored with the HistoPad. Nevertheless, a visit to the MEISSEN® manufactory with its world of experience should not be missed in order to get to know the elaborate processes of porcelain production and to discover extraordinary works of art made of porcelain in the museum. After an eventful day in Meissen, it is best to relax in one of the restaurants on the Burgberg with a glass of Meissen wine and a view over the roofs of the city and the neighboring vineyards.

By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Meißen: Plan arrival.

2

Radebeul

Also in Radebeul, a little further up the Elbe, 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 Wackerbarth Castle adventure winery, where Germany's second-oldest sparkling wine cellar was once founded. 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 home "Villa Shatterhand" is now a museum worth seeing. A ride on the Lößnitzgrundbahn, affectionately called the "Lößnitzdackel" by the locals, will take you from Radebeul to Moritzburg, where you can visit the famous hunting lodge of Augustus the Strong of the same name.

By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Radebeul: Plan arrival.

3

Pirna

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 originally preserved medieval town center with its magnificent Gothic and Baroque portals is a real paradise for culture lovers, e.g. 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.

By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Pirna: Plan arrival.

4

Grimma

This beautiful vacation region stretches from the northwest to the southeast of the state and is full of facets. The valley area around the Mulde - a left tributary of the Elbe - is characterized by protected floodplain landscapes. Among the urban beauties here are Grimma, a veritable picture book of architectural history. Grimma's historic center was rightly 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 House of Energy 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. On a trip by excursion boat or old cable ferry across the Mulde River, a fresh breeze blows around the visitor's nose.

By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Grimma: Plan arrival.

5

Torgau

As the most important station of the Saxon Luther Way attracts the Lutherstadt Torgau 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. For example, the castle church was consecrated by him in 1544 as the first Protestant sacred building. Torgau is one of the most beautiful Renaissance towns in Germany. If you stroll through the center, you can enjoy many magnificent buildings, such as the town hall with its valuable round oriel, 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.

By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Torgau: Plan arrival.

City beauties in Vogtland and Ore Mountains

6

Plauen

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. 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, 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.

By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Plauen: Plan arrival.

7

Annaberg-Buchholz

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 the large hall church of St. Annen and the mountain church of St. Marien with its "Miners' Nativity" tell of the former wealth. Mining has left numerous other traces, as can be seen in the Ore Mountain Museum with the visitor mine "Im Gößner" or in the important cultural monument "Frohnauer Hammer". Ore Mountain folk art can be admired in the "Manufacture of Dreams" with its lovingly carved pyramids, angels and figures. Adam Ries, the father of modern arithmetic and probably the most famous inhabitant, is also honored in memory in a museum.

By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Annaberg-Buchholz: Plan arrival.

8

Freiberg

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.

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9

Schwarzenberg

Just like Freiberg as well as the mining landscapes of Buchholz and Annaberg-Frohnau, the place counts 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 displays exhibits from that time. A good piece of world heritage and mining tradition is also told in the Erlahammer manor house. If you like it even more vivid, take the mine train to the Pöhla visitor mine. Its tin chambers are the largest in Europe. It gets much airier on a tour with the "Erzgebirgische Aussichtsbahn" (Ore Mountains View Railway), which takes you over scenic heights and valleys spanned by large bridges. In the Schwarzenberg Railroad Museum you can marvel at gleaming locomotives from the old days.

By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Schwarzenberg: Plan arrival.

10

Zwickau

Not the mountain, but the automobile has Zwickau made famous. The engineer August Horch (1868-1951) founded the Horch and Audi companies here. Thus Zwickau became a cradle of German automobile production. The August 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), among others, can be admired in his museum. 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.

By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Zwickau: Plan arrival.

City beauties in Upper Lusatia

11

Bautzen

The east of Saxony with its magnificent nature is a popular vacation destination for cyclists, hikers and water sports enthusiasts. However, Upper Lusatia surprises with a tremendous wealth of cultural treasures. For example, in the over 1000 year old Bautzenalso known as the city of towers. The city wall, preserved in almost its entire length, with a total of 17 towers and bastions, provides a unique medieval flair. Among the landmarks are the 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 and nave for their devotions. The culture of the Sorbs enjoys a special status in the region. The traditions of the West Slavic people, who live mainly in Lusatia, are celebrated in the German-Sorbian Folk Theater and with special Easter customs.

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12

Goerlitz

The name "European City" is Goerlitz rightly so: 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 growing together. The old town of Görlitz with its many traditional restaurants (good Silesian cuisine) and about 4000 monuments is a historical work of art. 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.

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13

Kamenz

The most famous 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 Enlightenment philosopher 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. The "Goldener Hirsch" inn, the site of Lessing's baptism ceremony, is still an excellent place to dine today. Kamenz is also characterized by its three town churches, the monastery church of St. Anne, the main church of St. Mary and the neighboring Catechism Church, all located near the market square. Not far away, the 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.

By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Kamenz: Plan arrival.

14

Zittau

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 monuments. The town hall, built in 1840 in the neo-Renaissance style according to plans by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, stands on the market square. Not far from there you will find the church of St. Johannis with its distinctive lookout tower, the monastery church including a collection of epitaphs worth seeing, the old Zittau Salt House trading post and the Fleischerbastei with its flower clock in the former city 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 are in the mood for a change, you can take a ride on the Zittau narrow-gauge railroad pulled by steam locomotives into the nearby mountains.

By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Zittau: Plan arrival.

Cover photo: One of fourteen city beauties in Saxony - view across the Spree to the Nicolaikirch ruins in Bautzen © Peter Wilhelm

In collaboration with Tourismus Marketing Gesellschaft Sachsen mbH

High culture, great landscapes like the Ore Mountains or the Saxon Switzerland, great cities like Dresden and Leipzig are just a few of the many good reasons for a Vacation in Saxony.

 

Financed with funds from the Free State of Saxony

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