Bizarre rock formations, magnificent views, colorful autumn landscapes – the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, southeast of Dresden, are without doubt one of the most beautiful national parks in Germany and a haven for outdoor lovers.
While the region offers excellent hiking possibilities all year round, an autumn getaway makes for an exceptional experience due to the colorful scenery.
In this post, you’ll learn about the best hikes, highlights, and viewpoints in Saxon Switzerland, which you can easily explore in less than three days – or include a little trip to Saxon Switzerland in your Germany itinerary!
The Best Hikes & Viewpoints In Saxon Switzerland
1. The Classic Circuit: Bastei Bridge
~ 4.6 km
It is probably the most popular and best-known circuit in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains.
The main highlight on this hike is undoubtedly the famous Bastei Bridge, which is a favorite among tourists from all over the world and one of the most photographed sights in Germany.
However, this hike offers even more photogenic spots including stunning views of the Elbe valley and Elbe river.
Fascinating rock formations and romantic lakes, a small waterfall, and dense mixed forest make this trek unique and a real classic among outdoor lovers.
2. Panoramic Tour: Affensteine, Idagrotte, Kuhstall
~ 8.6 km
This panoramic tour is one of my overall favorite hikes in the Saxon Switzerland Nature Park.
Fairytale deep green and moss-covered landscapes, magnificent views, and a bit of adventure make this trek an unforgettable highlight of your stay.
Start the trek near the Lichtenhainer Wasserfall and follow the Königsweg, which passes just below the Affensteine and offers beautiful views of the rock formations above as well as the forest below.
Located east of the Affensteine, Idagrotte is a picturesque spot worth seeing. It can only be reached via a narrow rock ledge with handles on the rock. At the cave, you can enjoy stunning views of the forest landscape with its exposed rock formations. Probably one of the best viewpoints in the entire national park.
Afterward, you can make your way to the largest rock gate in Saxon Switzerland, the Kuhstall. Climb up the super narrow Himmelsleiter and reach the top of the mountain, from where you have a fantastic view of the whole area around including the Affensteine and Schrammsteine.
3. Easy Tour: Around Stadt Wehlen
~ 3.5 km
This super easy tour starts directly at the market square of Wehlen.
Opposite the church, a small, narrow lane branches off to the right. Follow the trail for a few minutes until you reach the castle ruins of Wehlen.
You can take great photos of Wehlen and the Elbe from up here or simply enjoy the view for a little while.
From the castle ruins, take the trail climbing up the mountain. Follow the path for a good while until you reach the Steinernder Tisch.
At the Steinernder Tisch, you can decide whether you want to continue trekking to the Bastei Bridge or back to Wehlen.
On the way back to Wehlen, take the Schwarzbergweg, which now runs comfortably downhill.
Other Highlights In Saxon Switzerland
In addition to hiking, there are plenty of other ways to get active in the Saxon Switzerland National Park.
Due to the enormous rock formations, the Elbe Sandstone Mountains are popular among climbers from all over the world. If you’re not a climber, you may also rent a mountain bike and explore the region on two wheels.
More interested in cultural experiences?
One of the main attractions is the Königstein Fortress, an iconic monument of European fortress architecture featuring Late Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque buildings.
If you like castles, be sure to include Weesenstein Castle in your itinerary, as well as the Baroque-style Rammenau Castle, which is one of the most beautiful rural castles in Saxony.
The top highlight in the area is, of course, Dresden. Saxony’s capital city offers a wide range of cultural treasures, including numerous museums, a gorgeous old town, and a vibrant entertainment scene.
Where To Stay In Saxon Switzerland
… totally depends on your budget. 😉
As the Saxon Switzerland National Park has become a famous tourist attraction over the past decade, prices in the area are significantly higher than in other parts of Saxony.
If you want to save big time, I recommend crossing the border to the Czech Republic and look for accommodation there. I may recommend this cute villa-style bed & breakfast place!
Getting to Rathen and any other town in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains is only a short drive from the Czech border, so you might want to consider that when searching for a cheap place to stay.
Also, the Czech part of the Bohemian Switzerland National Park is beautiful and totally worth checking out.
Have you visited the Saxon Switzerland National Park? What were your favorite hikes and viewpoints? Share them with me in the comments!