Germany wouldn't be Germany without its zesty beer havens. Altstadt's biggest Biergarten is part of the Elbe-side Italienisches Dörfchen, a neo-Baroque Theaterplatz complex from 1911, on the site of a "little village" for Italian workers who were hired to construct the Catholic Hofkirche and other grandiose 18th-century projects.

A riverfront perch on the nearby Brühl Terrace accounts for the popularity of Radeberger Spezialausschank, serving premium Radeberger Pils beer. Or quaff Radebergers at mealtime in the centrally situated Altmarktkeller, a quintessentially cavernous German beer cellar-but with a Saxon-Bohemian twist; buxom waitresses also lug steins of Krusovice beer. Similar Czech influences imbue food and drink (such as Prague's Staropramen beers) at Wenzel Prager Bierstuben on Neustadt's Königstrasse.

In west-side Neustadt, Watzke Brauhaus contains an 1880s ballroom and a 20th-century microbrewery adjoining a river-view beer garden. For a countrified alternative, follow Bautzner Strasse to Neustadt's eastern edge, where Brauhaus am Waldschlösschen has it all: a hunting-lodge-turned-brewery, beer-hall restaurant, kitschy music, and high-up Biergarten for panoramic views of the Elbe meadows and Altstadt's silhouette.