Hiking in Saxon Switzerland

Ragged rocks and wild canyons

More than 1,200 km of hiking trails of varying degrees of difficulty – from gentle walking paths to steep climbing treks, from the very quiet to the most thrilling – meander from one famous destination to another, linking the Bastei to the Kuhstall (Cow Shed rock archway) and the Königstein Fortress.

Schrammstein Region by FRANK EXSS

Schrammstein Region by FRANK EXSS

The romantic “Malerweg”. The “Malerweg” (Painters’ Way) guides you through the fascinating, rocky landscape of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains and connects the region’s most beautiful places. It dates back to the 18 th century when, on returning from the region left of the Elbe (downstream), hikers spread the news ofthe wooded, wild and romantic canyons, bizarre rock formations and breathtaking views. It is not surprising that Adrian Zingg and Anton Graff, from Switzerland, were wooed by this picturesque world. Their sketches and paintings enticed many artists down the years to come to the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, including such famous names as Romantics Caspar David Friedrich, Carl Gustav Carus and Ludwig Richter. They all followed a special route, which started at the Liebethaler Grund, led through the Bastei Massif and some of the most striking summits of Saxon Switzerland and ended at the “Prebischtor” (Prebisch Gate), in what is today the Czech Republic. This route became known as the “Malerweg” and still remains today. The Way leads through places, such as Pirna and Königstein that provided the inspiration for artists such as Robert Sterl and Bernardo Bellotto, also known as Canaletto. In the “Schweizer Haus” (Swiss House) on the Bastei (Bastion), you can  admire the works of numerous artists. Today, the Painters’ Way is 112 km long. To have enough time to admire the many attractions and natural wonders along the way, the route is best divided into 8 stages. Of the total length of the trail, 68 km lead mainly through the National Park. Narrow paths that run between wild canyons and rugged rocks lead to the most beautiful lookouts via steps of stone, wood and steel that have been either carved out of living rock or build into the landscape by man. One trail leads to the mighty rock massif known as the Bastei. It towers 190 m above the Elbe and affords a breathtaking panoramic view over raised rock needles, deep canyons, surrounding table mountains and the wonderful Elbe Valley. The path continues past the “Felsenbühne Rathen” (Rathens’ Rock Theatre) and into the pristine inner reaches of the National Park. The 44 km stretch on the opposite (left) side of the Elbe leads past the Koenigstein Fortess – for which you should allow at least two hours for a visit – towards Pirna and affords particularly beautiful views over the Papststein and Pfaffenstein peaks.

Hike. The rangers of the National Park of Saxon Switzerland or official National Park guides offer tours with different themes, none less fascinating than the next, several times a week. The tours offer visitors a deep insight into the relationships between nature and history. Tip: Package deal “Hiking without luggage”

Elbe Sandstone Mountains by FRANK EXSS

Elbe Sandstone Mountains by FRANK EXSS

Are you planning a hiking tour spanning several days? With our package deals, we can help you to enjoy your holiday from beginning to end. Your hosts will look after the details of your visit, including multiple accommodation and luggage transfer.

Hiking parking spaces. A limited number of parking spaces are available at the hike starting points. We recommend you arrive by public transport.

Hiking-friendly accommodation along the “Malerweg”, extensive directions and further hiking:
The “Malerweg” Brochure or at http://www.malerweg.de
Guided hikes: for dates and times, see http://www.nationalpark-saechsische-schweiz.de or consult the
National Park administration schedule, which is published yearly
Package deal “Hiking without luggage”: bookings via the Tourism Association of Saxon Switzerland



Saxon Switzerland – A Miracle of Nature between Dresden and Prague

If you were looking for a holiday by the sea, you are about 100 million years late …

Over time, the sea of the Cretaceous period evolved into the romantic landscape of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, where wild canyons and sandstone stacks, tors and mesas serve as the hallmarks of Saxon Switzerland. In southeastern Saxony, some 30 km from Dresden and 150 km from Prague, rugged mountains and sweeping river valleys form the backdrop to a 760 km² adventure playground stacked with natural wonders. At the heart of this dramatic gift of ancient history is a vast National Park: as far as the eye can see, lush, green nature spills from the fossilised Cretaceous sea through which the River Elbe has carved its course.

Experience Heaven in the National Park

National Parc Sign by Mandy Krebs

National Park Sign by Mandy Krebs

The National Park of Saxon Switzerland offers endless ways to spend your holiday. The 93 km2 region between Pirna and the Czech border is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe. More than 700 summits are available to rock climbers, while for those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, there are 400 km of marked trails, steep treks, paths and an abundance of cycle routes through the National Park. Nearby resorts and spas serve as oases for those who seek a cure or simply want to be pampered. Travellers, from families to adventure-seekers are transported to a quirky and wildly romantic world. The crystal clear waters of the Elbe’s tributaries flow quietly through valleys forged between mighty table mountains. Salmon, otters and kingfishers are at home here. Lynx prowl woods that retain the feel of primeval forest, while hawks, black storks and eagle owls soar and hover high above steep canyons …

From Switzerland with love
The name Saxon Switzerland is no coincidental reference to the alpine feel of the landscape. About 200 years ago, Anton Graff and Adrian Zingg, painters of the Romantic period, visited Dresden. Excursions into the magnificent mountain-like landscape reminded them of their homeland, Switzerland. Impressed by the breathtaking sandstone formations, they came to a conclusion: such a masterpiece of nature should bear the name of “Switzerland”. In letters home, they declared “Greetings From Saxon Switzerland“ – and the name stuck.