The Elbe Sandstone Mountains
Only few years ago I would say that Saxon Switzerland is probably some region of Switzerland. Because, for what other purpose would the word „Switzerland” be here ?! What was my surprise when I discovered that Saxon Switzerland is actually located in Germany. Going to Erasmus to Leipzig, I studied the map and the surrounding area thoroughly. When I discovered the mysterious land of the Elbe Mountains (called the Saxon Switzerland), I knew that I had to go there as soon as possible! Three weeks after arrival to Leipzig, I fulfilled my dream. 🙂 Wonderful rock formations and the amazing surroundings of the Elbe are a favorite holiday destination for people living nearby. Sandstones create truly original shapes here, and idyllic houses look like a place from a fairy tale! How to plan a perfect day in this place? And above all how to fit two countries in one day? I will show you in this content! 🙂
How to get to Saxon-Switzerland?
In my case the route was simple, because I was traveling from Leipzig, where I was on my second Erasmus. What’s more, I even had the opportunity to go to Saxon-Switzerland two times. 🙂 In both cases, I traveled by German rail (Deutsche Bahn) on a group ticket. You can read about the types and functionalities of railway tickets here. Each time we were waiting for a compulsory change in Dresden. You have to change to S-bahn S1 towards Bad Schandau (shortened route) or Schöna. The S-bahn route itself is a real treat for travelers, because there is something noteworthy at almost every S-bahn stop. Therefore, a separate content will be created regards this topic! 🙂 Our S-bahn journey lasted 20 min and we got off at Kurort Rathen stop.
I also know that Bastei can be reached from the other side – you don’t have to climb uphill, as is the case with Kurort Rathen. There is also a bus here, whose final stop is called Bastei. As you can see, there are many ways to get there, but I checked only one version. 😀
We are located exactly at the foot of the greatest attraction of Saxon Switzerland, namely Bastei. However, prepare for a few suprises once there. Generally, I must admit that Germany surprised me with this solution. Well, in this place there are not so many bridges… and in Rathen Resort there is not even a one! 😀 Therefore, to cross the river, we have to take the ferry. JOKE. 😀 If it was still a ferry crossing, I would see some sense in it, but it is a small boat crossing, which doesn’t last longer than 3 minutes. Why is there no bridge here? Hard to say. They mention something about floods and unfavorable terrain. I suspect that they really want to make money on tourists, because you have to pay 2-3 euro for round way.
Kurort Rathen is a small, charming village, with well-kept houses, guesthouses and restaurants. It is worth coming here in the spring, when the juicy green grass grows, which adds incredible charm to this place! The village is very well marked, so you will definitely find Bastei. Get ready for a short walk uphill. It is written on the board that the route takes about 45 minutes, but for me this designation is already for „older” people. You will reach the summit in 25 minutes. 😀
Saxon Switzerland – but why Switzerland?
Even the walk along the Kurort Rathen gives you the impression that you are in Switzerland. Especially in spring when the local grass is juicy and green. It is not surprising that the Swiss artists in the 19th century said that the area of the Elbe Mountains reminds them of the Swiss side. The name became popular so much that it stayed in the language forever. Although, apparently, some Germans are not satisfied with the words Switzerland in this name, but they were not able to change it 🙂 Finally, they think that their Saxon Switzerland is much more beautiful and incomparable to Swiss views.
Several dozen minutes later we were already at the top of Bastei. During my first visit to this place, the weather was playing huge tricks. It was the last weekend of April, which turned out to be exceptionally unfriendly. That day we experienced a beautiful sun, heavy rain, and even a snow blizzard. 😀 A week later I visited Bastei wearing only t-shirt… 😀
The views here will not disappoint you unlike weather. I compared this place to the miniature and green version of the Grand Canyon. Wonderful sand formations, the beautiful Elbe valley and the mass of tourists immediately reminded me of a visit to the Grand Canyon. The Entrance to Bastei is completely free. Although entering one point costs a few euros. What’s so unusual about him – I don’t know. There are a lot of viewing platforms on Bastei and each of them offers different views, so you will be satisfied without this paid entrance! 🙂
The stone bridge on which you will pass, has already been created in the nineteenth century and replaced the old wooden bridge.
Königstein Fortress and other rock formations
Saxon Switzerland is not only the famous because of Bastei. Many rocks in the area have their names and they resemble various animals. From donkeys to bees. Be sure to also pay attention to the amazing view of the Elbe valley. The red S-bahn train going down below would be perfect for the frame of the Harry Potter movie. 🙂
The Königstein Fortress is another attraction of Saxon Switzerland. We were only admiring it from afar because we didn’t decide tocome closer. Apparently the first mention of the stronghold in this place dates back to the 13th century and since then the fortress has never been captured!
Time to change the country! 🙂
With the great mood we came back to Kurort Rathen. Our next goal was Pravcicka Brana. The plan was easy. We grabbed tasty curry wurst at one bar and then we caught the train towards Schöna. Let’s move to the second part of this day but it will be in a separate content, because we move to another country, namely Czech Republic!
Now let me ask you if you already have been to Saxon Switzerland? 🙂
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