A Guide to Exploring Saxon Switzerland National Park

A stone bridge at Kirnitzsch Valley
A stone bridge at Kirnitzsch Valley | © Tama66 / Pixabay
Anwesha Ray

Whether you see it as a day trip or explore it over several days, Saxon Switzerland National Park is sure to enthral you with its unique landscape.

At the Saxon Switzerland National Park, you get a chance to bond closely with untamed nature, explore ancient architecture and take selfies against the backdrop of one of the most gorgeous bridges in Germany. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting this part of the country.


The Saxon Switzerland National Park, one of 16 national parks in Germany, is located in the Free State of Saxony in the eastern part of Germany. It is around 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) southeast of Dresden, the capital city of Saxony. The national park is a part of a natural area approximately 710 kilometers squared (274 square miles) in size.

The craggy rocks of Saxon Switzerland National Park

How to get there and get around

The nearest airport to Saxon Switzerland National Park is Dresden, but other nearby airports include Prague and Leipzig. From each of these airports, you can catch train connections to the national park. Deutsche Bahn closely connects Saxon Switzerland National Park to the rest of Europe. Regional trains leave from Dresden approximately every 30 minutes and stop at the towns of Pirna, Obervogelgesang, Stadt Wehlen, Kurort Rathen, Königstein and Bad Schandau, which are all close to or part of the national park. An immensely enjoyable way of getting to the national park from Dresden is on a cruise boat, which gives you the opportunity to enjoy pristine nature en route. Of course, you can also choose to drive to Saxon Switzerland National Park.

The most popular ways of getting around in the national park are nostalgic paddle streamers, steam boats and diesel boats. Moreover, you can opt to take the Kirnitzsch Valley tram, that runs largely on solar energy and connects many of the points of interest in the park.

A stone bridge at Kirnitzsch Valley

Where to stay

Many travelers see Saxon Switzerland as a day trip from Dresden. However, if you wish to explore the national park in more detail and enjoy its quiet beauty once the tour buses have left for the day, you can base yourself in Pirna, Obervogelgesang or Bad Schandau. Each of these towns has plenty of options in accommodation and gastronomy suited to all tastes and budgets.
Apparthotel Steiger, Hotel Grundmühle, Biohotel Helvetia and Parkhotel Bad Schandau are some of the popular hotels that serve as great bases to explore Saxon Switzerland National Park.

Historic houses of Pirna

What to see and do

Bastei Bridge

Bastei, an imposing rock formation, is the most famous landmark in Saxon Switzerland National Park. What adds to its uniqueness is the Bastei Bridge, which seems to have merged naturally with the craggy rocks, making for a surreal sight. Travelers are welcome to stroll along the bridge and enjoy panoramic views of large stretches of the national park. Best of all, entry is free.

Bastei Bridge

Königstein Fortress Festung

When in Saxon Switzerland National Park, make sure that you visit Königstein Fortress. At this ancient fortress, you can walk the footsteps of kings and princes, and learn about the time it was used as a prison. A walk around this fortress also offers unforgettable views of the park.

Explore on foot or bike

There are numerous hiking and biking trails in Saxon Switzerland National Park. Just pick one suited to your interests and stamina and hit the road. One of the most popular hiking routes is Painter’s Way (Malerweg Route). There are several guided biking and hiking tours, as well as bike rental services in the region.

Rejuvenate and have fun in pools

Saxon Switzerland has several pools and saunas that not only offer relaxation, but hours of fun for the family. The most popular of these is ‘Toskana Therme’ (Tuscan spa), located on the banks of the River Elbe in Bad Schandau. Ambient light and sound add to the already intoxicating experience of floating in salt water.

Mariba Freizeitwelt in Neustadt, with its 1,300 square meters of warm pools, over 4,000 square meters of lawns and a 3,500 square meter sauna is a favorite haunt for families. On the other hand, Geibeltbad Pirna earns major brownie points with kids for its thrilling water slide.

View over Elbe Valley from the Saxon Switzerland National Park
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