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5 Things you need to know about hiking in Saxon Switzerland National Park

I wanted to go hiking in the Saxon Switzerland National Park because of a photo of the Bastei bridge I had seen some years ago. I was fascinated and couldn’t believe that it was in Germany. And when I finally stood there a few weeks ago, a little bit sweaty from the ascent, I had to laugh about my inner child, who in the past thought hiking was 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, consider a hiking trip to Saxon Switzerland National Park. Here are five things you need to know:

Sächsische Schweiz Bastei Bridge surrounded by tall rocks with green trees with hikers crossing the bridge saxon switzerland national park

1. Where is Saxon Switzerland National Park?

Saxon Switzerland is not a part of Switzerland but lies in the German Free State of Saxony. It’s the name for the German part of the Elbe Sandstones Mountains (the other part lies in the Czech Republic and is called Bohemian Switzerland). Saxon Switzerland National Park is in the southeastern part of Germany at the border with the Czech Republic. It got its name in the 18th 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 National Park?

Go hiking, hiking, and hiking. There are over 1,200 kilometers of designated hiking trails in Saxon Switzerland National Park. If you feel like something other than hiking, there are also many cycle routes or climbing opportunities. Some cycling paths have steep ascents, so be careful if you are a beginner. Saxon Switzerland is an adventure playground for climbers.

3. Which hiking trail is the best in Saxon Switzerland National Park?

3 hiking signs showing Malerweg, Waitzdorf, and Kohlmuhle signs for trails in Saxon Switzerland National Park

I’ve been hiking on the Malerweg (Painter’s Way) trail for three days and really loved it. The Malerweg is one of Europe’s most famous hiking trails, and I highly recommend it. There are 112 kilometers of designated paths on the Malerweg, and you can easily split it into 8-day walks. But you can also pick some stages of it, like I did. If you want to carry your luggage only during the day, you can book a tour with (luggage) transport.

You can either stay at one hotel during the whole trip and do day trips. I highly recommend the STEIGER Parkhotel Hohnstein since it is right in the heart of the Malerweg trail for day hikes and it has a pool to relax after a long day of hiking. 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 of designated hiking trails, so you’ll find a path for every fitness level. The hikes I did on the Malerweg were easy and medium to strenuous. It was easy for me, but there were some ascents, and I was nearly running out of breath.

I will never forget the 800 steps from the “Tiefer Grund” to “Brand.” So, depending on your fitness level, you should check how many meters in altitude you have to deal with and if it’s easier to hike “the other way round” (ascents and descents… you know?). I think you need to ascent some trails to experience them fully. 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 want to see the famous Bastei Bridge, you can quickly get there by car.

Green Moss grows along entire wall with sunlight lighting hiking trail

5. When is the best time to go for a hike in Saxon Switzerland?

Saxon Switzerland is still an insider’s tip, but during the weekends, you will already meet many tourists there. Especially the Bastei Bridge can be really crowded then. You’ll barely see anyone during your hikes during the low season. I recommend going there during the week in the fall or spring and skipping the weekends.

Tall pine trees with light shinning through the pines in Sächsische Schweiz Malerweg

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