Saxon Switzerland? Never heard of it? Probably not, as it still is an area quite unknown to many. No, its not actually located in Switzerland but rather in Germany. Saxon Switzerland, or Sächsische Schweiz, is a very rugged yet beautiful landscape that slightly resembles the mountainous regions of Switzerland - hence its name. It is more known by Germans and Czech people (part of it lies in the Czech side known as the Bohemian Switzerland) and is quite a wonderful area to explore. We went on a small hiking adventure here and in the following show you just why you should also consider a visit.
Where exactly is Saxon Switzerland?
Saxon Switzerland is located about 40 kilometers south of the city of Dresden in the state of Saxony in eastern Germany. It actually is a national park and, together with the Bohemian Switzerland, forms the Elbe Sandstone Mountains - a very beautiful and unique geological formation.
Hiking, Cycling, Rock-Climbing
So what is so particularly interesting about this area? Hiking! If you enjoy the outdoors and love trekking and hiking this place surely is something that you will enjoy. Rocio and myself really do enjoy hiking and we are happy to find a place to follow this passion which is actually not far from our home in Berlin.
The entire area of Saxon Switzerland offers thousands of kilometers of treks and trails along with cycling routes (Elberadweg) and various rock-climbing opportunities. As we are more into hiking we decided to follow some nice trails that will lead to the area's most iconic and beautifiul spots.
The most famous trail of them all is the 'Malerweg'. It actually is one of the most picturesque trails in Germany with around 112 kilometers in total length and leads you through a very diverse and fascinating landscape. If you have the time (and power) to follow this 8-day trail you can do so. Alternatively, you can just follow pieces of it and take smaller detours in between. Have a look at the official tourism site of the Sächsische Schweiz to get more info on this.
We decided to rather take smaller tours in between and spread it across 3 days. In the following we listed some of our favourite areas and most iconic spots in Saxon Switzerland as a reference for planning your hiking trips.
Pfaffenstein & Barbarine
The Pfaffenstein is a table hill located west of the Elbe River and close to the town of Königstein. It is considered as a miniature version of the entire Saxon Switzerland as it reveals all the features of the area's unique landscape: stunning views, rugged mountains, hidden caves & wild forests. It also has a an observation tower and a small restaurant on top. Make sure to reward yourself with some amazing dark beer once you make it to the top!
Once you reach the top you can have a nice view of the Barbarine - a 43-meter-high, free-standing rock formation and one of the main symbols of this area.
The Bastei Bridge
The Bastei Bridge ist the most famous landmark of the entire area. It is a rock formation around 200 meters above the Elbe river. There was a bridge constructed here in 1824, connecting the tall rock formations. It has developed itself to become a tourist attraction and now even hosts a restaurant and hotel. From here you can enjoy some breathtaking views across the Elbe valley.
Another attraction of Saxon Switzerland is the Fortress Königstein. It is located above the town of Königstein (also a great place to stay to explore the area). It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe and a very impressive construction. It is nestled on a rock-plateau 240 meters high. It is over 400 years old with ramparts of over 1800 meters. It also has a 150-meter deep well - the second deepest well in Europe.
It is worth to visit for a half-day and enjoy some nice views from the top. Also, there is a museum in which you can learn about the fortress's impressive history along with some nice restaurants.
There are several unique rock formations to be found in Saxon Switzerland. One of the nicest views is across the Schrammsteine - a very jagged group of rocks. They are bordered by the Kirnitzsch, the Elbe valley and the Affensteine. There also is a viewing platform from which you can see most of the surrounding formations. Its a nice hike up and is definitely worth the effort.