In the beginning of May Lu and me decided to visit this park together with my parents who were just visiting from Slovenia, despite the fact that we were initially supposed to go as a family of three – which we were not anymore. Still, this was no reason to sit in a corner and cry all the time. Getting out of the house, exploring something new and catching some fresh air was wonderful. After STOPPING IN DRESDEN FOR A DAY on the way to the park, we spent 2 nights in an apartment in a little town called GOHRISCH and went on a few hikes. We were really surprised how nice the park was and I can most definitely say that it´s ONE OF MY FAVOURITE GERMAN NATIONAL PARKS I´ve been to! Read more and check out the photos to see what I´m talking about ;).
HOW TO GET THERE
I´d say the best way to visit the park is on a road trip coming from (or going through) Prague and on to Dresden and the rest of Germany or some other northern EU country. Dresden is just 45min drive away, Prague around an hour and a half. The park is situated directly ON THE BORDER and stretches all the way into Czech republic, where it is called NARODNI PARK ČESKE ŠVYCARSKO.
The biggest AIRPORT besides Prague is LEIPZIG/HALLE. Excluding Dresden & Leipzig, the park is quite far away from all the big German cities, Berlin being the closest one with 250km distance.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK
With its over 90 kilometres large area between the town of Pirna and the Czech border, this eastern German national park full of STUNNING ERODED ROCK FORMATIONS and GORGES offers endless HIKING TRAILS, CYCLING ROUTES and CLIMBING ROCKS. It suits adventurers as well as families, as there are lots of different hiking paths, from easy to more demanding. You can also take a BOAT RIDE on the RIVER ELBE, which marks the park´s border on one side.
It also has a unique variety of some SPECIES and over all we found it to be an extremely INTERESTING and FASCINATING PARK, no wonders it is said to be one of the best in Europe. The best way to discover it is to either settle down in one of the villages and make day hiking trips, or you pack everything and walk the famous MALERWEG (Painters way), which takes days. Malerweg has SEVERAL SECTIONS, so make sure you do your research before you go and get some maps. The are no entry fees to the park!
WHAT WE SAW & DID
As I already said, there are MANY HIKING TRAILS, so it´s really not easy to choose which one to take, if you only have 2-3 days time. We chose to hike up to the SCHRAMMSTEINE LOOKOUT, which is one of the most visited points in the park. It was a nice sunny day and we were keen on stretching our legs, Lu was in a good mood and ready to do the same so we drove for about 20min and found a parking space close to the SCHRAMMSTEINBAUDE (it was not easy, so be there early in the morning! There are buses from Bad Schandau in case you do not have your own car) and started walking. Just after a few minutes we saw a glimpse of the first SANDSTONE ROCK and that was already a good sign ;).
At the beginning the PATH IS HARMLESS and not steep at all, it takes you through nice woods full of blueberries and is perfect for little kids as well. There seem to be sooo many ways so you really NEED A GOOD MAP. Unfortunately the SIGNS along the way are not 100% clear, sometimes there are many, sometimes there are none and we were often unsure if we are on the right way. Asking others didn´t really help as most of them were confused as well.
And here it was, THE FIRST ROCK. We went around it and observed THE CLIMBERS, most of which were from Czech republic. It looked like fun but totally out of my league. Here, the hiking path also got a bit different and we often had to jump over a couple of rocks etc. So nothing for a stroller ;).
Right, so AFTER A FEW KILOMETRES we came to the FUN PART OF THE HIKE – CLIMBING THE LADDERS turned out to be super exciting for Lu. It was a bit slippery & wet because it was raining the night before. Mud was sticking under the shoes so it made sense to be a little more careful. This section was organised as a ONE WAY HIKE, so that people going back down the ladders would not be in the way for those going up and vice versa. Only right under the top there was one part where the “traffic” was going both ways ;).
More amazing places on the way, with so much sand on the floor it looked like a beach ;).
And finally, the LOOKOUT. The views on the mighty FALKENSTEIN ROCK & surrounding landscape were amazing and we were lucky to have clear skies. After enjoying a moment resting our legs at the top we took the LADDER LOOP WAY BACK DOWN and took the same way back from there. The whole hike was 9 KILOMETRES LONG and Lu did it with no complaining which was great! His legs were a bit tired in the evening though ;).
As we started the Schrammsteine hike early in the morning, we still had enough time to make a stop in BAD SCHANDAU in the afternoon, before going back to the apartment. We were a bit surprised to pay 5€ for a large beer in this part of Germany, but hey, it seems to be pretty touristy over here, so that´s okay. Lu was even still fit enough to play at a local town playground and after a short walk along the Elbe we went back and cooked dinner.
Otherwise there are lots of HOTELS & APARTMENTS in Bad Schandau, plus a big INDOOR SWIMMING and lots of other fun things to do. Book your accommodation well in advance if you wish to stay here and are visiting over a weekend or public & school holidays.
BASTEI & BASTEIBRÜCKE BRIDGE
The next day, we were all set to visit the FAMOUS BASTEI, which is an almost 200 metres high ROCK FORMATION above the ELBE RIVER, in the so-called ELBE SANDSTONE MOUNTAINS. They were formed by water erosion and are today a TRADEMARK of the national park. Again, it was a sunny morning, perfect to go out.
But this place is not only known for its rock formations, but for its remaining BRIDGE, which was built on spot already in 1824, with wood. The one today is made of SANDSTONE and you can walk on it, admission free. Not far from the bridge there is a HOTEL, RESTAURANTS & SHOPS. It must be great to sleep here and enjoy the sunset & sunrise over the bridge!
There is a SMALL ENTRY FEE if you want to walk around more and see the famous bridge from different angles & VIEWING PLATFORMS – I can only recommend you to pay this extra €, because the views are truly fantastic! I´ll let the photos speak for themselves ;).
It is not uncommon in Germany that such natural areas are used for CULTURAL EVENTS and OPEN AIR THEATRES are very popular. This one, called RATHER FELSENBÜHNE is considered one of the most beautiful of its kind and you can go listen to operas and musicals in the summertime.
ONE LAST SHOT OF THE BRIDGE and we were off – we still had one place to visit on our list before heading back home. If you are ever in the near, this is a place you certainly should not miss to visit! It´s one of a kind and we found it very interesting. And it looked kind of not like Germany ;).
And here it is, this massive fortress, called FESTUNG KÖNIGSTEIN on German – it is one of the LARGEST HILLTOP FORTIFICATIONS IN EUROPE, rising around 240 metres above the river Elbe. Being over 400 years old and consisting of over 50 BUILDINGS it also hosts the SECOND DEEPEST WELL IN EUROPE.
There is a big PARKING GARAGE before you start walking (or you take the small train) towards the upper station where you purchase TICKETS and take an ELEVATOR to the fortress. This place was packed with visitors as it was 1st of May and a NATIONAL HOLIDAY and unfortunately the weather has gotten worse and the wind was blowing more and more so it was not extremely pleasant. Despite that, we did walk all the way around, along its walls and made a circle. You can easily spend a couple of hours here if you visit some of the buildings turned into MUSEUMS.
One of the views on the river Elbe and the surrounding landscape. Visiting the castle is surely worth the entrance fee, but take your time to visit some of the museums – they all looked interesting, you can also buy freshly baked bread and have a traditional lunch. This was THE END OF OUR THIS YEAR´S 1st OF MAY TRIP, there were only good 3 hours of driving on the highway left. This was a wonderful little trip, which showed us once again Germany has beautiful corners and despite the weird situation right now, we managed to enjoy it!
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