Hiking in Saxon/Bohemia Switzerland

Old May 7th, 2005, 02:20 PM
  #1  
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Hiking in Saxon/Bohemia Switzerland

We will be staying in Dresden for 5 nights in early June and would like to go hiking in Saxon Switzerland and Bohemia Switzerland. However there are limited info available on this region in English and I need some help.

1. I heard that Stadt Wehlen and Kurort Rathen are both close to the Bastei stone. Can we do a round trip from Stadt Wehlen to Bastei and then on to Rathen (I read that the route via Rathen is more scenic). Which is easier in terms of ascent and descent?

2. Is the Dresden Regio-Card valid for ferries to all the stops in Saxon Switzerland? I'm confused because it said "Free travel on all Elbe ferries except the ferries in Rathen..."

3. The German railway website said there's this ticket called Böhmen-Ticket. What area does it cover? Do we use this ticket to travel to the town of Hrensko in Bohemia Switzerland? Is the town covered in the Dresden Regio-Card? Can we use the weekend ticket to travel to Hrensko as well? Can't understand the website since it's in German...
http://www.bahn.de/d_regional/view/s...n_ticket.shtml
http://www.bahn.de/d_regional/view/s...ech_info.shtml

4. Do we need to bring our passports when we daytrip to Bohemia Switzerland or even Prague?

5. Can we use euros to pay for entrance tickets to the Pravcicka gate or for the boat rides at Edmund's Gorge and Wild Gorge?
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Old May 7th, 2005, 02:41 PM
  #2  
J62
 
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You'll want to take the German train to the last stop in Germany, right before the Czech border. Right from there you can hike up into the hills for a several hour trek, including hiking up to the top of the rock spire in the Saxon Switzerland (Saxische Schweiz)

Let me see if I have any info in my stash. If your goal is hiking, I wouldn't take the ferry except for a scenic excursion out of Dresden.

You won't need your passport if you stay within Germany.
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Old May 8th, 2005, 02:21 PM
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Hiya, I am glad to hear you want to explore Saxon and Bohemian Switzerland. I love to hike there! Now to your questions:

1. Yes, you can do a round trip from Stadt Wehlen via Bastei to Kurort Rathen. The ascent from Stadt Wehlen goes through a narrow valley, slightly ascending, then along the plateau to Bastei, the descent to Kurort Rathen is rather steep, but no problem. I must say that the part Stadt Wehlen - Bastei does not offer spectacular views; you spend the time in the woods, so I would not call it "scenic". The view from Bastei is spectacular (best in afternoon) and the views from the path down to Rathen is partly scenic (views) and partly in the woods again. Don't miss the remains of the former "castle" (not much to see, but you can walk around on/between the bizarre sandstone rock formations) after passing Bastei bridge (entrance left side).

In general this area (Bastei-Rathen) is quite crowded, especially on sunny weekends. For scenic hikes I prefer the Schrammsteine/Affensteine, in the National Park east of Bad Schandau. Anyway, you will get a good first impression; it's an appetizer for coming back ;-)

2. The Dresden Regio-Card is valid for ALMOST all ferries, unfortunately not for the ferry in Rathen (but for the ferry in Wehlen). The reason is that the ferry in Rathen is privately owned and not included in the public transportation network called "VVO". The fee is not worth to mention, though.

3. The Böhmen-Ticket covers (as far as I know) the railways from Saxony into the Czech regions right across the border, as far as Decin e.g.
You don't need the Böhmen-Ticket for the travel to Hrensko. The Dresden Regio-Card is valide for the Suburban Railway S1 which runs from (Meissen-) Dresden to Schöna, which is located right across the Elbe river from Hrensko. You cross the river (and the border) by a ferry, which is again unfortunately not included in the Dresden Regio-Card. The fee is very small, though.

4. Yes, you need to bring your passports for crossing the border into the Czech Republic.

5. Yes, they accept Euro - but be prepared that the exchange rate is a rip-off. You can easily change money in Hrensko, there are some places. 30 Euro are IMO enough for the entrance fee to Pravcicka brana (Arch) and the gorges for two persons and a basic meal in the area.

A hint: The hike from Hrensko via the gorges to Pravcicka brana and down to Hrensko again is quite a long one. It takes some hours!

From my latest experience last year I would not recommend to eat at the restaurant at Pravcicka brana. It was a bit shabby. You better have a meal at one of the restaurants in the small village Mezna louka, located between the gorges and Pravcicka brana.

Let me know if I can help you further. Btw, if you stay for 5 nights in Dresden two hikes and a day trip to Prague would not leave much time for Dresden. And there is much to see here, not to speak of the neighbouring small towns and castles/palaces!
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Old May 8th, 2005, 10:54 PM
  #4  
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Many thanks to Ingo and J62 for the wonderful tips. The information I got here is much more useful from what I learn from the guidebooks (I've been looking through the latest versions of Fodors, Frommers, Let's Go, Rough Guides, Lonely Planet, all borrowed from the library). And yes, I do have loads of questions more to ask.

So...most likely we will take the S-bahn to Rathen and hike to Bastei and back down again. If the scenery is beautiful we don't mind travelling through the same route to and fro. We will probaby omit Prague from this trip and save it for a longer stay in future. That gives us about 3 days for Saxon & Bohemia Switzerland, and maybe 1 day to Meissen & Moritzburg.

I'm thinking 1 day for Bastei plus Bad Schandau, 1 day for Konigstein (fortress & hiking to Lilienstein/Pfaffenstein), and 1 day for Hrensko (yes we're thinking of doing the roundtrip of Pravcicka brana & the gorges).

Can we combine the Bastei trip with an excursion to Bad Schandau's waterfall & surrounding area? I know there's this tram that takes tourists to the waterfall and from there hike around. Can we take a bus from Bad Schandau to Bastei? Or should we cover Bastei first?

What is the best way to cover the fortress in Konigstein, Lilienstein and Pfaffenstein in 1 day? How difficult are the hiking trails to Lilienstein and Pfaffenstein? We're not experienced climbers so I'm wondering if it's better that we just admire the views from the fortress.

Now, back to Dresden, is the Frauenkirche scaffolding removed? I know the opening is in October but we're hoping to see the facade without scaffolding. I remember someone mentioning that we can take a tour to see the progress of the construction and the interior. Is it good?

Thanks again for your help!
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Old May 9th, 2005, 03:21 AM
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First let me give you links to my Saxon Switzerland related pages on Virtualtourist (English):
Bad Schandau:
http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/4166c/12ca7/
Königstein:
http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/4166c/b0ff/
Kurort Rathen:
http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/4166c/ab24/

On these pages you will find some general information and lots of pictures, but of course not answers to your specific questions.

The day Hrensko/Pravcicka brana sounds very nice. It is a "classical" hike and not to miss. The part Pravcicka brana down to Hrensko is not attractive, though, since you have to hike most of it on a road. There is a - not even frequent - bus service to Hrensko: 16:37 leaving from the place where you meet the street, arriving 16:45 in Hrensko, only on weekends (no guarantee for that!).

If I were you I would skip Lilienstein and Pfaffenstein. You underappreciate the distances IMO. I would combine Bastei and Königstein and use the other day for a day hike from Bad Schandau into the National Park. The views from Lilienstein and Pfaffenstein are not very different to the views from Königstein, IMO to see the Lilienstein from Königstein is more impressive than vice versa.

Here is my suggestion:
Take the S1 from Dresden to Köngstein. Hike up to the fortress (45 minutes, the path starts near the church, via Palmschänke) OR get on the red Oldtimer bus called "Festungsexpress", which runs every 30 minutes up to the fortress (a bit overpriced IMO, but it's convenient on the other hand). Visit the fortress, do not take the elevator, instead walk through the gates. Have a quick lunch or picnic on the fortress, enjoy the views. Down to Königstein (either hiking or by bus again). Take the S1 back to Kurort Rathen, take the ferry to the village.

Two options for hiking up to Bastei: either directly (steep) or via the small lake "Amselsee" (rowing boats) and the so called "Schwedenlöcher", a glen with about 700 steps (stairs?). The latter hike is a bit longer - I would recommend it if you plan to go down to Rathen again, so you can do a round tour taking the direct path down. There is also a bus service from the top of the Bastei to Pirna, where you can get on the S1 back to Dresden. Buses leave Bastei 15:44 on weekdays (probably too early for you), 16:23 and 17:53 on weekends. If you decide to take the bus from Bastei to Pirna I would recommend to hike up via the direct (steep) path.

For the day hike from Bad Schandau I suggest you take the S1 to this town, cross the river by ferry (runs frequently), walk along the river promenade until you passed the new spa "Toskana Therme", turn left and walk to the old elevator (a technical monument). This elevator runs upon request and lifts you up 50 m (great views from the top). Hike to the small village Ostrau, see the nice old wooden houses and continue your hike towards the "Schrammsteine", which you can already see from Ostrau - first along the plateau, then down to the guesthouse "Schrammsteinbaude", then up through the glen "Lattengrund" to the "Schrammtor". From there continue to "Schrammsteinaussicht" (signposted, first along the foot of the sandstone rocks, then steeply up with stairs and iron ladders (easy). On the top turn left and walk another five minutes to the viewpoint. Absolutely great scenery, have a picnic there.

Hike down on the other side of the sandstones via "Nasser Grund" glen down to the Kirnitzschtal valley. Take bus or the tourist tram (not included in the Dresden Regio Card) back to Bad Schandau. If there is enough time left you could also take the bus or tram to Lichtenhainer Wasserfall as you mentioned, but it is a joke IMO and not worth to see. The old guesthouse is lovely, though, and famous for its trouts. The reason to go there is to do the short hike (45 min.) to a sandstone rock called "Kuhstall", to enjoy the scenic views from there.

All the hiking trails in Saxon Switzerland are easily doable for hikers, no need to be climbers.

Regarding Dresden, the Frauenkirche scaffolding has been removed last year. You can access the viewing platform on top of the dome (elevator, then stairs). You can look inside the church during your way up (the frescos e.g. are completed, the altar not yet). The fee is a bit stiff (8 Euro) IMO, but the views are of course spectacular. You should know that the area around the Frauenkirche is a big mess at the moment - several buildings are in construction and they pave the square with cobblestones.

Hope this helps, let me know if you have more questions.

Ingo
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Old May 9th, 2005, 07:11 PM
  #6  
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Thank you very much Ingo. I'll definitely take your advice. Btw, I'm curious about your comment on Lichtenhainer Wasserfall. I heard from someone that the water only 'falls' every few minutes. Why is it so?
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Old May 10th, 2005, 01:22 AM
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Lichtenhainer Wasserfall ... it's a very little rivulet, actually the "Dorfbach". They built a small dam to have enough water for a little waterfall. It takes about 15 or 30 minutes (depends) until it is filled up, then they open the dam and the water falls down the few meters.

It is so small that it is funny. And it is a cute relict of the beginning tourism in the 19th century.

Feel free to post again if you have more questions.

Ingo
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