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Best of Saxon and Bohemian Switzerland

Best of Saxon and Bohemian Switzerland on Foot


The Elbe Sandstone Mountains (also called Saxon Switzerland) are one of Germany’s most beautiful regions, located just a few miles from Dresden and expanding into Czechia. They were named by two Swiss painters who were impressed by the similarity of the area to their own country’s landscapes. In the Romantic Era, many painters from Switzerland and England discovered this region with its beautiful wilderness.

On this itinerary, you will take in the best parts of Saxon Switzerland (in Germany) and Bohemian Switzerland (in Czechia). Part of the route follows the Malerweg (Painters Trail). You will pass by bizarre rock formations, walk through ancient woods and picturesque valleys alongside the winding Elbe River.

During your walking holiday, you will see famous sights such as the Bastei viewpoint and bridge near Rathen, the Königstein Fortress and the rock arch Pravčická Brána (the largest natural stone bridge in Europe), as well as lesser-known attractions such as Schrammsteine and Paffenstein with the Barbarine rock needle.


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Day 1: Arrival Bad Schandau

Welcome to the Elbe Sandstone Mountains! You travel individually to Dresden, and from there, you will easily reach by train Bad Schandau, a beautiful 14th-century spa town. If you arrive early, you can do a short hike on the Caspar David Friedrich Trail or do some sightseeing or relaxing in the local Toscana thermal bath.

Day 2: Bad Schandau – Hohnstein –  Rathen | 18 km

Walk uphill through the Saxon Switzerland National Park to the impressive ruins of the Hohnstein Castle, passing the Brand viewpoint – the “Balcony of the Saxon Switzerland National Park”. Before reaching the castle, you will ascend through the Wolfsschlucht gorge to the Hockstein. You will then arrive at Rathen with its natural theatre and the beautiful Amselsee lake (you can also take the local bus from Hohnstein to Rathen).

  • Walking for the day: 18 km, 5-6 hours ↑485 m ↓485 m
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel or guesthouse in Rathen (Hotel Amselgrundschlösschen or similar)

Day 3: Rathen – Wehlen – Königstein | 14 km

Start the day with a walk up to the famous Bastei bridge and viewpoint. Here you can enjoy a magnificent view over the Elbe river valley and the Table Mountains of Saxon Switzerland. Continue your tour through the Höllengrund and Wehlener Grund to the picturesque town of Wehlen. Here you will cross the Elbe river by ferry and soon reach the rock formation Rauenstein. Via staircases and ladders you will climb to the top of the rock offering stunning views including the Bastei Rocks. The next highlight is the famous Königstein Fortress. After visiting the castle, you will continue your walk to the town of Königstein.

Day 4: Königstein – Pfaffenstein – Gohrisch | 11 km

Today you start your walk on shady forested paths to the Paffenstein with the famous rock pinnacle Barbarine. This over 42-meter high rock is the best known freestanding rock in the German part of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains and is one of Saxon Switzerland National Park’s landmarks. At the top of the Pfaffenstein, you can enjoy a fantastic view of the Lilienstein massif. Via Muselweg, you then reach the spa village of Gohrisch.

  • Walking for the day: 11 km, 4-5 hours ↑400 m ↓260 m
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel or guesthouse in Gohrisch (Hotel Erblehngericht or similar)

Day 5: Gohrisch – Papststein – Krippen/Bad Schandau | 10 km

After a short warm-up, you walk gently uphill, crossing meadows and fields. You make your way to the top of the Gohrisch table mountain (448 m) and Papststein (451 m). Beautiful scenery will reward your effort. An old mill serving great food is worth a break before you continue towards the pretty town of Krippen.

  • Walking for the day: 10 km, 4-5 hours ↑320 m ↓480 m
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel or guesthouse in Krippen (Hotel Erbgericht Krippen or similar) or Bad Schandau

Day 6: Hrensko – Pravčická Brána Rock Arch – Hrensko | 17 km

In the morning, you will go by train from Krippen/Bad Schandau to Schöna and take the ferry to Hrensko into the Czech Republic. The walking path leads you to the rock arch Pravčická Brána, the most massive natural rock arch on the European continent. Take the boat through the beautiful gorge of Edmundsklamm and finish the walking tour in Hrensko, where you will again board the ferry and travel back by train from Schöna to Krippen (train tickets included; ferry/boat fees not included).

  • Walking for the day: 17 km, 5 hours ↑440 m ↓400 m
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel or guesthouse in Krippen (Hotel Erbgericht Krippen or similar) or Bad Schandau

Day 7: Bad Schandau/Krippen – Schrammsteine – Lichtenhain Waterfall – Bad Schandau | 14 km

Today you take the walking path to the Schrammsteine cliffs. A part of the route includes very steep ascents on rocky trails and involves using metal stairways. You walk on forest paths along the Affensteig trail and then follow the Malerweg Trail (Painter’s Path) you will reach the Lichtenhain waterfall. From here, you take the bus or the famous Kirnitzschtalbahn (historical tram – ticket not included) back to Bad Schandau.

  • Walking for the day: 14 km, 6 hours ↑400 m ↓350 m
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel or guesthouse in Bad Schandau (Hotel Albergo Toscana or similar)

Day 8: Departure or Onward Travel

The tour ends after breakfast. Departure or extend your stay with more days in Bad Schandau or Dresden.

What to Expect


You will spend 7 nights in 3-star hotels or comfortable guesthouses. All rooms are with en-suite facilities. NB! Twin rooms are not available at the hotels. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour. Upgrade to a deluxe version at a supplement.

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Upgraded deluxe accommodation in Bad Schandau (4 nights) – Hotel Elbresidenz Bad Schandau

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.


Breakfast is included. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. Dinner is available either from the restaurant in your accommodation or restaurants in the village near your hotel.

Difficulty & terrain

This holiday is appropriate for walkers with a good fitness level; total walking is 80 km, on average 5-6 hours per day. On Day 7, part of the route includes some short but steep ascents on rocky paths and involves the use of metal stairways (read more about difficulty grades). The trails are very well maintained and waymarked. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available from April until October, except between 19-22 June. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date in the season – so please indicate desired beginning date when booking. The climate in the region is continental, cold and temperate. Depending on location and altitude, temperatures vary, but in the June-September period, the daily averages are 15 – 25°C. Spring and autumn are cooler with occasional rain. Expect the weather to change rapidly during the day.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

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By plane

Our recommended arrival airport for this holiday is Dresden.

By train or bus

You will arrive at Dresden airport. Take the modern airport shuttle train. The platform is situated in the basement of the terminal (signs will indicate the direction). The train S2 (direction: Dresden Central Station) takes about 15/17/20 minutes to get to Dresden Neustadt/ Dresden Mitte and Dresden Central Station. The airport shuttle train leaves half-hourly at xx.17 and xx.47. Single Ticket: 4.10 € per person. You continue by train to Bad Schandau, or you can use the Omio planner above.



  • Detailed road notes and maps (1 pack per room)
  • 7 nights in 3-star hotels or guesthouses (only double rooms available)
  • 7 breakfasts
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days
  • Train tickets for the hiking days
  • Phone assistance by our local office/representative


  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Other public transport
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • Supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room / single use of a double room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Hiking with a dog is possible on request. Any additional costs are payable on the spot only
  • Upgrade to deluxe accommodation, which includes 4 nights at a 5-star hotel in Bad Schandau – Elbresidenz Bad Schandau, entrance to Toscana Therme Bad Schandau
  • Extra nights in Bad Schandau and Dresden