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Bohemian / Saxon Switzerland Hike

I've seen photos of the area, which look spectacular. I am on my own, don't have a car, and would love to do a day trip to the area. I've seen a hike listed with NorthernHikes, which looks quite lovely, gets good reviews, and is a bit pricey. Northern Hikes also gets great reviews.

https://www.northernhikes.com/tours/65/bohemian-switzerland-from-prague

Wondering if anyone has done the hike on their own, how feasible it is, and if it's possible to get there from Prague without a car?

Posted by
865 posts

I don't know Northern Hikes, but I know the area very well. What they offer is the usual tour to the most visited sights of Bohemian Switzerland, Pravcicka Brana and the Kamenice Gorge. That's something you can do on your own, since you basically just have to follow the tourist hordes. Would be ~30€ I guess. The advantage of the tour is that they apparently use their own bus, which means you save some time.

If you do it on your own you can print out this map (page 2, zoom in):
http://www.npcs.cz/sites/default/files/user_files/1_DE/Nationalpark/Downloads_Flyer/Willkommen_im_NP_B%C3%B6hmische_Schweiz.pdf

Apart from that hiking on your own is difficult, since the mountains are so compact and unusual that you usually need a good map for everything but the two most popular places, i.e. Pravcicka Brana (+ Kamenice Gorge) and the Bastei Bridge on the German side. The linked map above is not good enough for the rest of the mountains!
The day trips I found from Prague or Dresden always feature only these two mentioned sights plus Königstein fortress, so you don't have much choice anyway. There are local tours that start daily at different parts of the mountains, but as far as I can tell only in German and/or Czech. This would cost you around 50€.

Posted by
147 posts

Hi Martin,

Thank you. I have to admit I am not the best at map reading and would prefer staying on the well trodden paths, if I go alone.

There is a train to Decin and a bus to Hrensko from there, and am assuming the hike is within close distance from the bus station. It looks like it might take 3 hours or so - based on connections. I searched Trip Advisor earlier and found a post from someone who advised against doing it as a day trip, because of the time involved (I was wanting to do the 16 km hike), as he thought it was too much to fit into a day.

Open to other thoughts....

Posted by
865 posts

You can either take the train to Decin, and the bus from there, or travel only by train and take the regional train from Decin to Schöna, or backtrack from Bad Schandau to Schöna, and take the ferry to Hrensko on the other side of the river in both cases. Whatever you choose, it will always take 2:30 to 3 hours. Travelling by car saves quite a bit of time, since Hrensko is not very well connected. That's the main advantage of the tour in this case. You win ~2 hours, and don't have to worry about getting lost. But it's really simple. You follow the trail marked with a red bar from Hrensko via Pravcicka Brana to the village of Mezni Louka, from there the green bar to Mezna, and from there via the Kamenice Gorge back to Hrensko.

BTW: it also takes 2:30 to get to Rathen, with one train change in Bad Schandau. From Rathen you could visit the Bastei area, which is a bit easier if you do it on your own. And the touristic infrastructure is better. I also think the Bastei area has the bigger Wow factor, but in Hrensko you see two sights, the arch and the gorge. So, it's up to you...

Posted by
147 posts

I did it! You're right, Martin, it was doable. In spite of my apprehension of going alone (particularly the day before my departure flight), I couldn't resist and went solo. Here are a few notes from my experience. Hope they're helpful to others.

I decided to go to Decin and try my luck getting to the Bohemian Saxon Switzerland National Park and, while I encountered a few snafus (see below), I made it! I did it solo, so it's doable. I did the 12 km hike and it was gorgeous.

I had seen one of the hikes listed through northerhikes.com when I was researching and thought it looked beautiful. The option I was most interested in was there 16 km hike. Price was €160, so a significant expense. I was nervous going solo, as the connections seemed a bit iffy, and I was leaving for Italy the next day, so needed to ensure I got back to Prague in time for my flight. When I decided to take the plunge and pay for the hike, the days I was available were fully booked. So, I decided to try it.

Tips for going on your own:

1) Buy your ticket to Decin at the main railway station. The information desk can give you timetables to and from Decin.
2) When you exit the station at Decin, walk to your right and you will see a sign for the bus to Hrenko. I believe it's #434.
3). Look for the bus number on the bus' header. I think the bus is blue and says "Bus Lines" on the side. I missed the morning bus, as someone who was trying to be helpful told me to get on the green bus, so hopped on the wrong one (which also had a sign Hrenko on the back, which turned out to be advertisement, and had to wait 3 hours for the next one!) Don't make the same mistake. Look for the bus' number.
4. You can start in Hrenko and walk to Mezni Louka and catch the bus back to Decin from there. Or start in ML and get the bus back to Decin from Hrenko. Hrenko is an easier start. Mezni Louka will get the hardest part of the hike done first. I found it helpful to have hiking poles, but most people I saw on the hike didn't have them. The views are stunning. Be sure to walk to "The Gate."
5. Check the time tables for the bus heading back to Decin to ensure your trip back.
6. It took me about 3 hours to do the 13 km hike, including the 1 k to "The Gate."
7. Don't believe everything you hear (-: I had planned to leave my backpack at left luggage, and just take the essentials with my on the hike (water, a snack, etc). When I got to the train station, the door to the left luggage and information office as locked. I asked someone at the train station about it, and was told they weren't there the day I went, only to find out, shortly before boarding the bus that they had opened. Unfortunately, there was no enough time to repack my bag, so took the heavier pack with me. Moral of the story: pack light and check the facts.

Enjoy the hike. It's spectacular!

Posted by
5 posts

Hi Theresa!
Thanks for reporting back about your experience.It really gave me the confidence that it can be done on one's own(like me who is bad with reading maps).
I started the hike at 9 am and was done with the both PB and two gorges trails by 4 pm on a very hot August day.I did red trail to ML then blue to wild gorge then yellow to silent gorge and back to Hrensko.Trails are easy to follow, buses are regular,clean and cheap.PB was very crowded to admire the tranquil beauty of the arch and surrounding area.
The whole transport cost me less than 15 euros(Return ticket to Prague from Decin and buses in the national park).
It was a wonderful experience and I am glad I did it.