Bastei Bridge, Germany - TOP tips to visit the Jewel of Saxon Switzerland!

Located just outside the Saxon city of Dresden, Bastei rock formations have enthralled travellers for over 200 years now. And the prime attraction within the mountain formations is Bastei Bridge - a sandstone bridge which connects these beautiful formations and gives some fantastic views to the mountains around and Elba river below.

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Bastei Bridge

However, the history of the Bastei goes back much longer. The Rock formation was first identified in 1592, though it was much later in the early nineteenth century that it started to become a popular destination for the tourists. Very soon huts came up selling food and beverages to the tired visitors. Early on a wooden bridge was built, which was later replaced by the current sandstone one. Steps were also built to access it more easily, especially in the last part of the trek.

This part of mountains is also called Saxon Switzerland (Bohemian Switzerland on the Czech side).


My trip to Bastei

Bastei was not even a part of my original Saxony itinerary, but that was certainly not a reason to skip it. So the day I landed, I left my bag at the hotel and started for the mountains without taking any rest. My friend told me how to buy the ticket, where to get off, and I took off! It was winters, so the day would get over quickly, and so I was pretty much racing against time.

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Train to Bastei Bridge

So I took the train, and after quite a bit of challenges, and a short boat ride, I was ready to start my trek! Quite intelligently, I had taken my tripod also with me, but it became a pain to climb up the rocks with it. The hike isn't much, but it easily takes about 45 minutes, so it's recommended that you take water and maybe something to much on as well.

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Sandstone formations at the National Park
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A couple enjoying the view...
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Hike to the bridge - lots of fall colors...

And finally when I reached the bridge, I was simply enthralled! This is the image of Saxony in my mind, and I was here - just a few hours after landing! The trip had started on an absolutely fantastic note :)


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Bastei Bridge at sunset

Keeping up with my passion of connecting with the locals and doing short interviews, I spoke to a few there and collected their dreams as well. Following are some of them :)

Silke



Sibylle




By the time I came down, it was pitch dark  and very very cold - remember this was December end in the mountains of Germany. I walked through the lovely town of Rathen and felt miserable that I wasn't spending my night here. Despite the cold I wasn't the only traveler, and there was also a Koren couple I chatted up with as we braved the cold and waited for the train. I hadn't yet taken a German number so had no clue when the next train would come, but it did come in a while and I happily sat in the train and enjoyed my ride in warmth.

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My train for the return journey....

Bastei beyond the Bridge

Even though the Bastei bridge is the most popular destination in the Saxon Switzerland National Park, there is much more to see and do there:
1. Rock climbing: It's something which has been developing at a great pace here. All the rocks are soft sandstone and it's generally hard to climb these, especially if you are used to some rock climbing before.
2. Boat ride to the mountains: It prefect to travel to the rocks on a boat from Dresden - more details below.
3. Trekking around in the hills: Bastei bridge is only a small part of the mountains and there are numerous hikes and trails all around. In fact, even from Rathen, you can either take a short walk (like I did) or take the longer and more beautiful hike across the forests.
4. Visit to Felsenburg Neurathen - the largest Rock castle of Saxony. It's mostly in ruins, but still worth a visit.

To reach Bastei from Dresden

Bastei rocks are located at a distance of 19 miles (30km) from capital of Saxony, Dresden. I traveled by train, but the more interesting way is to take a boat to the mountains in Elba river.

Train: Start from the Dresden central station, Dresden Hauptbahnhof and take a train towards a small village called Rathen. The journey takes about half and hour and there are about 11 stops. A one way trip trip costs Euro 13. Rathen in itself is a stunning little town full of lovely chalets and cafes and you can spend quite some time here itself, so it's worthwhile to spend sometime here before of after the hike. So get off at the station of Rathen and walk towards the river bank. There is no bridge connecting the two sides, and the only way is to take a ferry which are quite frequent. Once you are in the village the way to the Bastei bridge is quite straightforward and in 30-45 mins you will be on top.

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Town to Rathen from the ferry

The other option is to take the train S1 to Pirna and then a bus (#237) to Bastei directly. This is especially good if you are keen to see the Bastei but don't have the time to hike.

Boat: Take a boat directly from Dresden to Rathen or to Welhen. If you go to Rathen you can start the hike immediately, while from Welhan you will need to take another bus which will take you all the way to the top.

Self-drive: The third option is, of course, to simply rent a car (unless you have your own) and drive.


To eat at Bastei

There is Panoramic Restaurant which is called so because of the great views it offers. With a history of more than 200 years, the place surely does know how to keep the guests happy :)

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The majestic river Elba

I only took coffee there, but have been told that they have good stuff to eat as well!

Practical tips

1. Carry water
2. Wear hiking shoes, at least
3. Keep a few hours to explore, there is much more beyond the bridge
4. The place is kids friendly. You can also take your pets along :)

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People enjoying the view from the rocks...

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Disclaimer: I was in Germany on invitation of the German Tourism and Saxony Tourism. All views above are my own and based completely on my personal experiences.

Comments

  1. Such a beautiful place. Nice frames, Sid.

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  2. Must place, both in Hindi as well as English

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  3. Amazing place to spend.Great photos.:)

    Cheers,
    Sriram & Krithiga

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  4. Your pictures are so nice !! Now i live in Germany, and last month I visited Dresden, Bastei bridge. Thank you for your great picture today.

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  5. Nice blog thanks for shareing instersting information about selfdriving .

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