There’s more than just the Elbe … for water lovers, amateur captains and pirates.
At 1,383 m above sea level, the source of the Elbe bubbles from mountains in the Czech Republic. After travelling 364 km, the waters reach the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, spilling into tributaries of the Elbe via ravines that drop between 200 m and 300 m past rock walls and through crevices. A fitting entrance to a world of water that holds something for every visitor: take a leisurely steamboat down the Elbe, set your own pace in a rubber dinghy or take the plunge in one of the region’s many lidos, most to be found in lush, green setting. Set sail on the world’s oldest and largest paddle steamer fleet Steam navigation not only facilitated the transport of wood and sandstone that went into creating the classical cities of Dresden and Prague and many of Saxony’s stately homes but now provides a glorious way for visitors to arrive in Saxon Switzerland. Regular scheduled and special boat services operate between Meißen and Bad Schandau, allowing passengers to alight at a number of stops along the way. Saxon Steam Navigation’s fleet of nine historic steamboats aged between 79 and 128 years old is the only one of its kind in the world.
From April to October you can captain your own rowing boat against a backdrop of bizarre rock formations at Amselsee in the spa town of Rathen.
Gone fishing. Myriad rivers created our unique landscape – and you can fish in all of them. Whether in the Sebnitz, the Polenz, the Kirnitzsch or other kilometre-long river sections, trout can be found in abundance, along with grayling, book trout, bullheads and young salmon, which have been resettled to the area. In cold water so clear that you can see the fish, cast your line and off you go. There are also many overgrown stretches of river, where the catch is just as abundant but not quite as easy to hook. All waters are open for fishing, provided you have a permit. In some areas where trout are being bred, an extra permit is required.
Swimming, spas, saunas, thermal springs. A wealth of healthy pursuits: dive into the warm-water world of Saxon Switzerland, through artificial waves, off high-diving platforms, down gigantic slides, then relax and recover in sauna, spa and thermal spring.
Geibeltbad Pirna Swimming for fun and fitness: gigantic aquaslide, water playground with a boat canal, water jets and various saunas and Turkish baths.
Toskana Therme Bad Schandau Heavenly pleasure: steep yourself in sauna, spa & beauty treatments and sink into Liquid Sound® for an unparalleled bathing experience in colour and light.
Dr.-Petzold-Kräutervitalbad Sebnitz Outdoor swimming pool and great pampering programmes: various saunas and natural health spas that include treatments with “Cleopatra’s milk”, algae, hay and evening primrose oil to moor and mud packs.
monte mare Neustadt Adventure pool with Caribbean flair: take to the local South Seas, let artificial waves wash over you and hold your breath on the brink of shooting down a thrilling 103 m-long slide. When the sun comes out, take the plunge in the great outdoors Summer heat means outdoor bathing.
30°C in the shade, the sun is beating down and you need to cool off? Head for one of the many lidos and
open water swimming areas of Saxon Switzerland for an invigorating experience you won’t forget. Beach volleyball on the banks of the Elbe. Playing volleyball on the beach is not only great fun but gets you fit in the bargain. There are riverside beach volleyball courts at Königstein and Bad Schandau.
If you would like to discover the Elbe alone, a number of unforgettable experiences await you – just ask anyone who has conquered the Elbe in a dinghy, canoe or kayak! Whether alone, in a pair or with a group, you’ll find something for you in a wide selection of boats: from canoes to 20-person rafts and 400 bhp powerboats. After professional instruction, beginners may also take to the water. The Saxon Switzerland stretch of the Elbe boasts five landing stages, while the region offers a variety of “water sportfriendly” accommodation.
Magical rides on crystal clear water
“Obere Schleuse” Hinterhermsdorf. From Hinterhermsdorf, romantic forest paths cut through mysterious and mythical woods and rugged sandstone rocks on their trail deep into the valley. More than 120 years ago locals established boating, in place of wooded rafts, on the dammed waters of the River Kirnitzsch. Today, you can take a truly magical boat trip along 700 m of crystal clear waters. Watch out for rock forms and shapes moulded by wind and weather into the likeness of animals and fairytale figures. After a 20-minute ride, the boat reaches the lock, beyond which the water roars over the dam.
• http://www.saechsische-schweiz.de, http://www.saechsische-dampfschiffahrt.de/en/, http://www.flusswandern-elbe.de
• Information on booking volleyball courts can be obtained at local tourist offices