Allied bombing shattered Dresden in 1945, but the baroque jewel is like a phoenix that’s risen from the ashes. Located on the Elbe River, Dresden is a magnet for culture vultures. In the 1800s, Wagner debuted several works in Dresden, and the city is still known for its opera company. The Alte Meister museum is worth a visit. However, the best museum in Dresden is the city itself; the array of architectural styles is breathtaking. If you’re staying in Dresden for a few days, consider a day trip to the Czech Republic. It’s only 80 kilometers away.
Cologne is unique because it was founded as a Roman colony over 2,000 years ago. Today, interspersed with Gothic churches and modern architecture, you can still see the city’s Roman towers. The Dom cathedral dominates Cologne. After a serious hike (509 steps), you’ll come to the cathedral’s south tower, which is where you’ll find the world’s largest swinging bell. After hiking up the Dom, reward yourself by visiting Cologne’s Chocolate Museum.