Hiking in Saxon Switzerland


When we visited Dresden one year ago there barely remained time for a short trip into Saxon Switzerland. I remember that we were impressed by the picturesque and rugged landscape that is so different from the gentle hills of other parts in Germany. Ever since I waited for a chance to return with more time to hike in the sandstone mountains along river Elbe. Together with a friend I loaded a car and off we drove to Saxony to the small city of Rathen. We found accomodation in an apartment on the top floor of a distillery ‘Geist von Rathen’ with our own terrace and view onto the river Elbe.

fall in saxon switzerland

Autumn was already in full progress with colorful foliage but still warm enough for hiking when we arrived. We decided to hike several segments of the Malerweg trail that covers multiple highlights of Saxon Switzerland and is easily accessible.

sunrise at bastei bridge

On the second day we set our alarms to 6am to watch the sunrise from Bastei Bridge. The ascend was difficult that early in the morning while it was still dark but I can recommend to everyone who wants to visit Bastei to do the same. During the day the bridge is hardly visible because it is so crowded due to the tourist masses while we only saw a few other people waiting for the sunrise just like us.

bastei bridgebastei during sunrisesunrise over river elbesunrise at bastei saxon switzerlandmorning fog at basteisunrise saxon switzerlandsunrise at bastei rockview over river elberathen from above

The view back to Rathen, the starting point of our hike. The small city is seperated by the river and the opposite sides are only connected by a ferryboat that rides back and forth between both shores.

sandstone mountainsin the woodsmalerwega view in saxon switzerlanda bench in rathen

The view to the opposite side of river Elbe and Bastei at the end of a long hike.


On the next day we chose Bad Schandau as the starting point for another section of our trail. Our goal for that day was a rock formation called ‘cowshed’, a large rock with an arch that was used to shelter cattle back in the days. On the other side of the arch lies a natural balcony with a beautiful view over large areas of Saxon Switzerland.

stairs inside a giant rock

Within the arch lies a steep crack with a narrow staircase that leads to the top of the rock formation. Once at the top the view rewards for the claustrophobic climb.

walden and civil disobedience

While in Iceland I found this beatiful hardcover book of ‘Walden and Civil Disobedience’ by Henry David Thoreau that became my read for travels now. I guess since ‘Into the Wild’ and the release of ‘Walden Magazine‘ the book gained new attraction among travellers.

destillerie rathen

The total lunar eclipse coincidentally took place during the same time we were in Saxony. I set my alarm to 4am to take some photos just to realize that the Elbe Valley was foggy and offered no vision of the sky at all. To make the best out of my early leap out of bed I did some long time exposures of Rathen by night instead.

rathen by nightelbe in the morning fog

On the day of our departure the fog still didn’t lift and so we passed through Rathen one last time during ghostly silence.
I am pretty sure it won’t be the last time I visited Saxon Switzerland and the Malerweg trail.