Saxon Switzerland National Park – 13 Important Things to Know

Saxon Switzerland National Park
by OndrejProsicky/DepositPhotos

Saxon Switzerland National Park is situated in the self-determined State of Saxony, east of Germany, along the Czech Republic frontier. The reserve has a total size of 36.1 sq miles (93.5 sq km).

Since the Elbe Sandstone Mountains traverse the border, they are protected by the Saxon Switzerland Nature Reserve in Germany by the Government and The Bohemian Switzerland Nature Reserve in the Czech Republic. 

Despite being nearly totally blanketed in woods, the National Park has jagged shards and stony canyon scenery. Sandstones created by depositions collected on the seafloor over millions of years shaped the area.

The continual shift between magnificent hills, canyons, and forestry regions renders the National Park extremely appealing to photographers from around the globe.

In contrast to most of Europe, the national park has portions of the woods completely devoid of human engagement.

The town in stones is one of the park’s centrepieces. Granite rocks, plateaus, valleys, and peaks combine to form this “town” of stones.

Animals are scarce, yet they do exist. Among the most prevalent type are otters, leopards, and reindeer. Peregrine falcons and crested owls are also excellent wildlife encounters.

1. Saxon Switzerland National Park

The Bastei is the most popular destination in the Elbe Sandstone Hills.

The Saxon Switzerland National Park’s main highlight is a large rock that towers 194 meters above the Elbe River.

A bridge links the sandstones and allows travellers to visit the creation. There isn’t an admission fee, and a neighbouring parking lot is well within walking distance.

Saxon Switzerland National Park
Photo by andreas kretschmer on Unsplash

Most images are captured from a little viewpoint on the Ferdinandstein. The well-known panoramic provides an excellent perspective of The Bastei and the neighbouring tabletop peaks- Lilienstein, Königstein Fortress, and Rauenstein.

Visiting this location in October if you wish to capture an unforgettable shot. The combination of beautiful foliage, early hours of fog, and clear dawn may set a wonderful mood.

The area surrounding The Bastei provides considerably and over one viewpoint.

Taking some hiking paths, for instance, the Malerweg Trail, whilst exploring new viewpoints is strongly recommended. It’s very well good enough to justify it!

2. Western Region

This section comprises the Bastei, Lilienstein, and Polenz Valleys.

Wehlen and Lohmen border it on the northwest, Lohmen and Hohnstein on the northwest, Hohnstein and Goßdorf on the eastern, and Porschdorf, Rathen, and Wehlen on the southeast.

Waitzdorf is wholly included in the western section. The Lilienstein (415 m), Bastei (305 m), Hockstein, and Brand are all significant summits.

The only notable lakes and rivers are the Grünbach and its accompanying lake of Amselsee, along with the Polenz.

3. Eastern Region

The eastern section contains the Schrammsteine Mountains, the Großer Winterberg Peak, the Großer Zschand Basin, and The Saxon Switzerland Hinterland (Hinterer Sächsischen Schweiz).

It is bordered to the southwestern side by Bad Schandau, another spa region in Germany, and Altendorf, and to the northwestern border by Altendorf, Ottendorf, a city on the North Sea coastline in the federal union of Lower Saxony, and Hinterhermsdorf, a suburb of Sebnitz.

It is surrounded on the eastern flank and southern flank by the renowned Bohemian Switzerland Nature Reserve. The Elbe marks the town’s southern boundary through Schmilka to Bad Schandau.

The Großer Winterberg, the 2nd greatest peak in Saxon Switzerland in Saxony, the Kuhstall, the second biggest geological archway in the Elbe Marble Mountains, and the Raumberg are prominent peaks.

The Kirnitzsch represents the only significant stretch of water.

4. Bastei Bridge

bastei bridge

It’s incredible to view the massive, towering mountains called The Bastei for the initial time.

Some measured about 200m in height and had been produced by coastal erosion a million years ago.

They’ve always served as a lure for hikers and vacationers, so much so that a timber bridge was created in 1824 to help individuals visit the region more readily. It was supplanted in 1851 by the present-day stone footbridge.

The Bastei Footbridge in the Saxon Switzerland Nature Reserve is surely a terrific image of a landscape.

This also provides tourists with one of the most incredible viewpoints for seeing the Saxon Switzerland landscape.

The area is remarkable for climbers since there are various mounting spots, including over eight thousand steep climbs.

The mountain footbridge rises 636.4 feet (194 m) over the Elbe River beneath, while the adjacent igneous rocks rise 1,000.6 feet (305 m). This stone town is the national park’s crowning achievement.

The footbridge is essentially a combination of human-made construction endeavours and naturally available rocky outcrops. For nearly 200 years, this has served as a major tourist site in Europe.

A 487-step stairway rises from the basin and into the cliffs. Bridging the Bastei Bridge will take you to Neurathen Castle.

There are numerous overlooks around the Bastei Bridge to enjoy the breathtaking views.

One of the most famous sights was from Neurathen Fortress (Felsenburg Neurathen), which has a network of paths amongst the mountains, which you can tour with a few bucks.

When you have some time, numerous Bastei Bridge treks are highly suggested.

5. Neurathen Castle

It is the biggest rock fortress in Germany’s Saxon Switzerland.

Fragments of the fortress remain, including a reservoir, wood drains, chambers cut into the rock, and some other debris.

The Neurathen Castle remains, albeit in disrepair, contribute to the mystique of the Bastei Bridge.

6. Königstein Fortress

Take advantage of visiting Königstein Fortress when at Saxon Switzerland National Park.

Visitors may tread in the footprints of princes and monarchs and discover well about a period when it served as a jail at this old fortification.

A tour from around the fortification provides a stunning view of the region.

7. Explore on Foot or Bike

In Saxon Switzerland National Park, there are various hiking and bike trails. Simply choose one based on your preferences and strength and take to the road.

Painter’s Way is among the most famous walking trails (Malerweg Route).

There are various guided riding and hiking trips available in the area, in addition to bicycle rental businesses.

8. Hiking Trails

In Saxon Switzerland, you may immerse yourself in the environment. A hiking excursion must be thoroughly prepared before embarking on it.

The Elbe Sandstone Mountains are distinct from other German low mountain groups, including The Alps.

Because of the wide range of natural forms in such a limited region, hikers must be prepared for large altitude fluctuations over small distances.

Hiking trails cross stairwells and ridge pathways.

A small daypack rucksack is recommended for tight parts and cliffs. Certainty of foot and a mind for altitudes are required to arrive safely at your destination.

However, even inexperienced hikers will discover pleasant hiking paths in Saxon, Switzerland.

Get knowledge on it from any of the numerous local visitor centers. There are simply a few hiking routes that are well-labeled with their titles.

The Malerweg Trail, Forststeig, and Panorama Path are examples of such outliers. This tiny number is due to the complex trail network and the numerous hiking paths.

Hiking manuals and hiking excursion suggestions provide safe routes across Saxon Switzerland utilizing existing waymarks or nearby sites.

However, a chart, whether printed or online, is suggested. It can assist you in locating your route if you miss a branch-off or a signpost.

Hikers who rely on GPS must take into account that good reception is not always accessible. The ideal way is to pre-load the GPX track or surveying and mapping onto your smartphone for remote use.

Moreover, it is also recommended to use hiking boots to keep your feet protected while hiking in this area.

9. Topography

The scenery of Saxon Switzerland includes heavily foliated and stony canyons.

The highest point in the park is 556 meters (1,814 feet) above sea level, yet it is just a short walk from the Elbe River Valley at 110 to 120 meters (360 to 390 feet).

Because of its significant vertical divide, it provides a variety of ecosystems and microclimate zones.

The National Park still has certain varieties of woodland that have not been altered by humans, which is unique in Central Europe.

In particular, unique types of boreal forests and canyon forests are threatened in Germany.

Due to the sabulous ground and cracks, many parts in this region are drier than average for the temperate climate.

10. Unique Rock Formations

Saxon Switzerland National Park is Germany’s sole mountain nature reserve, providing some breathtaking vistas of unusual rock formations.

The park has an area of 93.5 square kilometres, so there are plenty of areas to explore.

Saxon Switzerland National Park
Photo by Felix Lemke on Unsplash

Kuhstall (cowshed in English) is a stone arch about 30 minutes climb from Liechtenhain Cascade. The archway is a component of a massive granite structure that includes multiple tunnels and vistas.

Over there used to be a fortress called New Wildenstein, which is now in ruins. It is accessible by tiny stairs (Himmelsleiter or Staircase to Paradise) created in a stone fissure.

It may be frightening, and the slopes are extremely small, so take care as you climb up.

Lilienstein is another big rock in the centre of the woodland near Prossen.

If you arrive by car, you’ll find a parking area next to the mountain from which you may trek for about twenty minutes.

11. Elbe River: View From The Top

Photo by Andreas Haubold on Unsplash

There are several locations in the National Park from which to get magnificent scenery of the Elbe River, with Bastei being among the most renowned and picturesque.

Aside from the renowned footbridge, there are various areas where you may relax and enjoy a birds-eye vantage of the river.

View the ferry sailboats as they traverse the river and explore the little communities along the banks.

It’s all lush, with rocky structures emerging out from treetops now and then.

You may also travel by ferry, which you will most likely need to do at some point to get across the river. Aside from the crossover sites, various tours are offered.

If you’re feeling more daring, you have the option of kayaking down the Elbe and observing the scenery according to your terms.

12. Explanation of The Small Villages

Undoubtedly, the primary motive for visiting a nature preserve is to appreciate nature.

Nonetheless, this park’s 94 square kilometres include these few tiny, distinctive towns and communities.

Every single one is distinct in its way. Bad Schandau is ideally placed in the heart of the protected area, on the Elbe River.

Including its narrow roads and colourful houses, in addition to its handy positioning just at the entrance of the Kirnitzsch valley, this little spa village is a fantastic place for a sightseeing tour.

There is nothing except greenery all around.

Rathen is a 500-person town on the Elbe River, directly beneath the Bastei rocks.

It is accessible by ferries from the village of Niederrathen on the opposite side of the river and is linked by train to Bad Schandau and Dresden.

The small spa resort is popular because of its breathable air and trekking paths, the little pond of Amselsee and the outdoor amphitheatre in the heart of the woods in the Wehlgrund region.

13. The Historical Kirnitzschtal Tramway

The Kirnitzschtal Tramway commenced its operation in 1898 and had already been recognized as a touristic method of transportation.

It has transported passengers from Bad Schandau to Liechtenhain Waterfall via the Kirnitzschtal region in the Saxon Switzerland National Park.

You can travel on a vintage tramway the entire length whilst admiring the breathtaking scenery.

The trams operate on a one-way route, with the signalling poles changing at two spots throughout the journey.

This approach has been around for three decades and has been shown to help prevent mishaps.


If you visit for a single day or spend many weeks, the distinctive beauty of Saxon Switzerland National Park is guaranteed to captivate you.

At Saxon Switzerland National Park, you may commune in the wilderness, see old architecture, and take photos against the background of one of Germany’s finest beautiful bridges.

Every month has something to offer. Summer has become the most favoured season. Nevertheless, you may have some fantastic adventures in the spring and fall as well.

Winter may be bitterly cold, making a few of the hikes impossible to accomplish.

It’s an unforgettable experience and an excellent chance to escape the world’s everyday stresses and reconnect with the wilderness.

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