Berlin is an amazing, vibrating city and I enjoy so much to live here. But the city also consumes a lot of energy and sometimes I really feel the need to get out into nature. That´s why last weekend I decided to go to Saxon Switzerland with my boyfriend for some hiking and adventure.
A hiking weekend in Saxon Switzerland
Saxon Switzerland (German = Sächsische Schweiz), is a national park about 3 hours away from Berlin and 1 hour from Dresden. The park is only a few kilometers away from the Czech border where the park aligns to Bohemian Switzerland National Park (Czech = České Švýcarsko).
Where to stay
I consulted an expert who knows the region very well and he suggested me to go to Kirnitzschtal which is a bit less touristic part of Saxon Switzerland. He also suggested me to stay at Neumannmühle Berghütte & Wirtshaus which offers simple guestrooms and a backpacker´s room which has space for some sleeping bags. The advantage of Neumannmühle is that you can start to hike right away since the guesthouse is located within the national park. There is a rustic restaurant as well with plain fare. In the evenings they always do a campfire outside.
Unfortunately we didn´t get a room at Neumannmühle anymore and I had to check for alternatives. (We did go for dinner there anyway and it was good!). Since I booked last minute and the weather was supposed to be nice, there were not many cheap options available anymore. Typically you can find hotels, guesthouse and apartments in Bad Schandau or Schmilka but in our case the only good option with a lower price was a hotel in Sebnitz.
Hotel Steiger Sebnitzer Hof
Hotel Steiger Sebnitzer Hof (Website) is a 4* hotel in the small town of Sebnitz, about 10 km away from Kirnitzschtal. We arrived on Friday after the Check-in time (normally it´s possible only before 21:30pm). I informed the hotel before that we will be late and it was not a problem. There was a telephone number that we could call and an employee came and gave us the key.
We didn´t expect much of the hotel (just a bed to sleep really) and were positive surprised. The hotel offers themed rooms such as “New York” or “Beach“. We got the “London” room and it was decorated with a picture of the wedding of Kate Middleton & Prince William :-), London pictures and souvenirs, tourist cameras and British styled furniture. We paid 60€ per night / room, no breakfast included. There is a nice spa area with a pool, a steam bath and a sauna as well. Opening times on the weekend for the spa is only 16:00 pm – 20:30 pm (not open on Sundays!). We were lucky and came back on time and it was the perfect way to end the hiking day, relax the muscles and get some rest.
Here are few recommendations about what not to miss to bring for your trip:
- Hiking map of the region. I bought the map “Hintere Sächsische Schweiz” (Sachsen Kartographie) for 5,90€ in Amazon. Although I have to say that we got a little lost on the way sometimes, but maybe that´s just me that I didn´t understand the map correctly ;).
- Take some food with you since inside the hiking area I saw only one beer garden at Kuhstall that was not opened yet when we got there (it opens at 11:00 am). I took fruits, some bread, cheese, nuts and some chocolate bars. Don´t forget to take enough water with you! The hike can be exhausting. Along the river Kirnitzsch there are a few beer gardens and the Neumannmühle to get some food, but I suggest to do that for finishing the tour since its outside of the hiking area.
- Hiking shoes are not a must, but recommended. The track can be difficult.
- A jacket or pullover, especially on the higher rocks it can be windy and cold.
- We saw a few people that also were equipped with climbing protection such as ropes and carabiners. We also found out later why and would have wished to have some ;).
We went to Neumannmühle on early Saturday morning and arrived there by 9:00 am. I knew that there is a parking on the opposite and there were still many free parking spots. I guess if you arrive by 10:00 am it´s also still fine. You have to pay 3€ for an all-day parking ticket. Make sure to bring coins.
After studying the map a bit and checking the highlights, we decided to first hike to Kuhstall (all the highlights of the park have a name that you can easily find in the map and that you will also see on the trail signs). Somehow we took a wrong road in the beginning and after a while the trail was blocked with some fallen trees (probably happened during a storm). We didn´t want to go back all the way so we climbed down, over or around the trees and finally could continue. What an adventurous start! In the end we realized that it was not a hiking trail because it seemed that no one walked here in a long time. But with the help of Google Maps we could still find our way to Kuhstall ;).
Kleiner Winterberg & Idagrotte
We continued the hike towards Kleiner Winterberg (going up the stairs was really exhausting) and then walked further to Idagrotte. The Idagrotte was my highlight of the tour. The last part before getting there looks a little bit scary (there is only a very small path next to an abyss, but there are some iron rings that are hammered into the wall that you can grab to feel more safe).
The view from Idagrotte is incredible. We took a break in the sun, rested and ate some snacks. I never wanted to leave anymore :).
After Idagrotte we continued to Carolafelsen which also offers a pretty view. Next stop was supposed to be Häntzschelstiege but we missed it and got lost at Affensteine before turning back and searching Häntzschelstiege again.
We thought that Häntzschelstiege is a short-cut going back to Neumannmühle. We were wrong. The fixed rope route starts in a very narrow crevice where you have to climp up a ladder. So far so good. But once you are going up the ladder there is no way to return. It´s a one-way road since you will have people behind you and you can´t just turn back because it´s so narrow. We were not really prepared for what was coming now.
Not for everyone
After climbing up 2 ladders you have to continue climbing but not on the ladder anymore but instead going to the left, inside the crevice with only a few iron steps that are hammered into the stone and an iron rope that you can grab as security for your hands. One wrong step and you can fall very deep down. No security. I really got scared. For sure this is not for people that are scared of heights.
We somehow managed to do it and to climb up the rocks. Once you can stand on top there are a few more obstacles to take such as jumping over another crevice with only one iron rope to hold (and again, once wrong step and you´ll die ;). My legs were shaking and I started to panic. I knew I couldn´t go back and that I had to continue. In the last crevice I got stocked and couldn´t move anymore because I was too scared. A hiker behind me luckily calmed me down and helped me. Wow, I was so happy to be on safe ground afterwards! This part definitely is not for everyone! But on the other hand I was proud that I made it and overcame my fears. It´s a pitty I didn´t take more pictures up there, but I was too busy and scared to think about it ;).
After Häntzschelstiege and almost 20km of hiking we decided to go back to Neumannmühle and have some nice dinner. How good the food tastes after a day like this :)!
Hřensko & Prebitschtor
On Sunday we decided to go to the small town Hřensko just behind the border of Czech Republic and hike up to Prebitschtor (Czech = Pravčická brána). There is not much to do in Hřensko. We parked the car in one of the many paid parkings (prices vary between 1€ – 1,5€ the hour), had some pancakes for breakfast (typical in Czech Republic and in German called “Palatschinken”) and started the hike. From the last parking at the end of the town it´s about 5km to Prebitschtor. The first 2 km you have to walk along the street before you go into the woods and start going up.
Prebitschtor is the largest natural sandstone arch in Europe. There is a restaurant as well where you can enjoy a cold beer and some snacks with the beautiful view towards Prebitschtor. You have to pay an entrance fee of 3€ per person. Three view points offer stunning perspectives of the landscape, the rocks and the woods. It is a wonderful place and really worth the trip!
It was a great trip to Saxon Switzerland and I hope I can repeat it. Next time I have to see the Bastei, one of the main attractions of the area. I normally like to leave one sightseeing point open, so I have a reason to come back :).
More related articles: