The reason I wanted to go hiking in Saxon Switzerland was a photo of the Bastei bridge I’ve seen some years ago. I was totally fascinated and really couldn’t believe that that’s in Germany. And when I finally stood there a few weeks ago, a little bit sweaty from the ascent, I really had to laugh about my inner child, who in the past thought hiking is one of the most boring things to do, because in that very moment my inner child was whooping. If you want to feel the same you should definitely think about a hiking trip to Saxon Switzerland… here are six things you need to know:
1. Where is Saxon Switzerland?
Saxon Switzerland ist not a part of Switzerland but lies in the German Free State of Saxony. It’s the name for the German part of Elbe Sandstones Mountains (the other part lies in the Czech Republic and is called Bohemian Switzerland). Saxon Switzerland is therefore the most southeastern part of Germany at the border to the Czech Republic. It got its name in the 18. century, when two Swiss artists living in Dresden started calling it Saxon Switzerland as it reminded them of the landscape back home in Switzerland.
2. What can you do in Saxon Switzerland?
Go hiking, hiking and hiking. There are over 1200 kilometers designated hiking trails in Saxon Switzerland. But if you don’t feel like hiking, there are also many cycle routes or climbing opportunities. But I would only recommend these to people who have some experience and are fit enough, as most cycle routes have some pretty steep ascents and Saxon Switzerland might be an adventure playground for climbers, but you need to know what you’re doing if you want to go climbing there.
3. Which hiking trail is the best in Saxon Switzerland?
I’ve been hiking for three days on the Malerweg (Painter’s Way) trail and really loved it. The Malerweg is one of the most famous hiking trails in Europe and I highly recommend it. There are 112 kilometers designated paths on the Malerweg and you can easily split it up in 8 day walks. But you can also just pick some stages of it, like I did. If you don’t want to carry your luggage all day you can book a tour with (luggage) transport.
You can either stay at one hotel during the whole trip and then someone will come and pick you up every morning to bring you to the next starting point for the day hike (that’s what I did) or you can sleep every night in a different hotel on your route and they’ll bring your luggage each day to your next hotel. I think that’s pretty convenient and if you want you can also get lunch packages each day from the hotel.
4. How fit do you need to be to go hiking in Saxon Switzerland?
There are more than 1200 kilometers designated hiking trails so you’ll definitely find a path for every fitness level. The hikes of the Malerweg I did were easy and medium to strenuous hikes. It was easy for me but there were some ascents I was nearly running out of breath.
I will never forget the 800 steps from the “Tiefer Grund” up to “Brand”. So depending on your fitness level you should check in advance how many metres in altitude you have to deal with and if it’s maybe easier to hike “the other way round” (ascents and descents… you know?). But I have to say that I really think some trails you need to ascent to fully experience them. For example the “Schwedenlöcher” are way more impressive on the way up than on the way down in my opinion. Tip for all the lazy ones: If you just want to see the famous Bastei bridge you can easily get there by car.
5. When is the best time to go for a hike in Saxon Switzerland?
Saxon Switzerland still is kind of an insiders’ tip, but during the weekends you will already meet many tourists there. Especially the Bastei bridge can be really crowded then. But during the week, even in high season, you won’t meet that many other tourists. I can just imagine that during low season you’ll barely see anyone during your hikes. I myself would recommend to go there in fall or spring during the week and skip the weekends.
6. What are the odds to meet Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs?
I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a fairy tale figure coming around a corner. Especially in the core zone of the national park, where nature is left to itself, you’re really hiking through a fairy tale landscape. So, ehem, chances are fifty-fifty you’ll meet Snow White. Don’t believe me? Maybe watch the video and we’ll talk then…
Have you been hiking in Saxon Switzerland? Which tips would you add?
Disclosure: This post is brought to you in cooperation with “Simply Saxony“.