March 1, 2021

Saxony: an opportunity to return to the steam age

Bringing tourists back to the good old days of steam age with an adventurous journey inside Saxony by water and rail : this is a key Saxon selling point as the region is home to the world’s oldest and largest fleet of paddle steamers and numerous steam railways. 

Industrial culture on water
The history of Dresden’s paddle steamer fleet is as enthralling as it is long. The first stern-wheel steamboat linking Hamburg and Dresden began service in 1834. Three years later the first German passenger steamboat called «Königin Maria» was build in Dresden. Today, the world’s oldest paddle steamer fleet sails the Elbe between Diesbar-Seusslitz and Bad Schandau. These old-timers are lovingly pampered, with seven of them in service since the 19th century! The «Diesbar» has a steam engine dating back to 1841. It sails along the vineyards of the Saxon Wine Route. Another steamer, the «Stadt Wehlen», celebrated its 160th anniversary in 2017.

A trip on a steamboat is a exceptional and unforgettable experience, with many Saxon treasures to be discovered such as the Pillnitz Palace or the Saxon Switzerland National Park.

Railway nostalgia in Saxony
Saxony is also the land of steam trains. The 500-km network of Saxon narrow-gauge railways was once the largest in the world, providing tours to enchanting destinations.

Five narrow-gauge railways are still active today. Some meander along idyllic rivers such as the Weisseritz, while some, like the Fichtelbergbahn, climb along steep mountains. Three former narrow-gauge railways also operate as museum railways. The Dampfbahn Route is a 750-km steam railway themed holiday route that can be travelled by road, connecting 68 railway experiences throughout Saxony. This rail heritage is cared for by numerous clubs, interest groups and museums. They are all part of Saxony’s deep and ongoing fascination for steam locomotives.

Saxony: an opportunity to return to the steam age

Photo: Paddle steamer in front of Pillnitz Palace – Even Augustus the Strong preferred to travel to Pillnitz by ship. Today, an unforgettable Dresden experience includes a trip on one of the historic paddle steamers of the Sächsische Dampfschiffahrtsgesellschaft (SDG) to its summer residence. (Photo: DWT / SDG)

Saxony is the Official Culture Destination of ITB Berlin NOW 2021. The most important meeting point for immersing in Saxony’s cultural offerings is the digital Culture Café from 9-12/3/21 with interviews, videos, music and presentations.

Saxony: an opportunity to return to the steam age