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Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Self guided walking holiday in Saxon Switzerland
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Highlights

  • Exploring the unique and photogenic sandstone formations of ‘Sachsische Schweiz’
  • Walking up to the world-famous rocky viewpoint of the Bastei, formed over a million years ago by water erosion and standing 194m above the river Elbe
  • Crossing the Barenstein rock outcrops to the impressive fortress of Konigstein
  • Visiting the Pravicka brana, the largest natural rock arch in Europe!
  • Rewarding yourself with a glass of cool German beer or wine as you relax after a fantastic day’s walking

Saxon Switzerland, or the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, is one of the most captivating of parts of eastern Germany. Saxon Switzerland lies either side of the River Elbe south of Dresden and crosses into the Czech Republic; the contrast between riverscapes and dramatic rock outcrops makes for a unique countryside.

Much of the route follows the Malerweg or Painters Trail. Saxon Switzerland was much favoured by the artists of the German Romantic school, such as Caspar David Friedrich and this trail was very much inspired by walks popularised by these artists. This is one of four prime walking areas covered in the BBC TV series German Wanderlust featuring Julia Bradbury.

Here you will find river landscapes, fantastic weathered rock outcrops, flat-topped and offering superb views over unspoiled forests and across to castles and fortresses. This walking tour will introduce you to much of the finest countryside in this fascinating corner of Germany and the Czech Republic.

Over six walking days enjoy a classic loop trail from Bad Schandau, which is easily reached from Dresden or Prague (a great excuse to extend your stay!), with no more than 18km to walk each day. You’ll also enjoy occasional ferry crossings across the Elbe river between charming German towns and villages as part of your tour.

On Day 6 you’ll cross the border and venture into the Czech Republic, walking to the Pravcicka brana, the largest natural rock arch in Europe, before returning to Bad Schandau.

Your holiday includes 7 nights accommodation in 3 star hotels, pensions and guesthouses in rooms with private facilities, 7 breakfasts, luggage transfers, return rail travel from Krippen to Schona, 24/7 emergency support, maps, detailed route notes, and an information pack.

DAY 1: Arrive in Bad Schandau

Bad Schandau is perched right on the edge of the Saxon Switzerland National Park, in the Elbe sandstone mountains. Just 6km from the Czech border, the town dates back to the 14th century, and is home to many timber-framed houses and typically Germanic architecture.


Dresden, Prague or Berlin Airports are gateway hubs into this part of Germany, and are served by a variety of low cost and international airlines. Intercity trains are available from the cities’ main train stations to Bad Schandau.


The train station in Bad Schandau is a short ferry ride across the river from the town.


Overnight: Elb Hotel***, Bad Schandau


The Elb Hotel is well-located in the heart of Bad Schandau, offering a warm welcome to guests.


DAY 2: Hohnstein Castle and walk to Rathen

The walk starts with a steady climb up the side of the valley to Brand which offers breath-taking views over the dramatic landscape of Elbe sandstone hills.


Continue upwards to the imposing ruins of Hohnstein Castle. From here there is a more relaxing descent through idyllic valleys back to the Elbe river at Rathen.


If you prefer, you can take the bus from Hohnstein to Rathen (payable locally).


Overnight: Hotel Amselgrundschlossen, Rathen


Walk: 17km, ascent: 581m, descent: 574m, 5h30


DAY 3: Bastei viewpoint, walk to Konigstein

This morning, begin with a walk up to the world famous rocky viewpoint of the Bastei, then return to the river at Stadt Wehlen.


Take the ferry across the river, then walk via the Bärenstein rock outcrops to the impressive fortress town of Königstein, where you will overnight.


Overnight: Hotel-Restaurant Neue Schaenke***, Konigstein


If you fancy a break from walking, why not enjoy a game of mini golf or a massage at tonight’s hotel! The restaurant serves delicious and typically Saxon culinary creations, so it’s a great idea to relax with a beer or glass of wine and a dish of the region.


Walk: 14km, ascent: 600m, descent: 475m, 5h30


DAY 4: Barbarine rock needle, Pfaffenstein, walk to Gohrisch

Today starts with a walk through forest to the famous Barbarine rock needle. Then you walk to the top of the Pfaffenstein, from where you will enjoy fine views to the Lilienstein.


Your day ends at the pretty spa village of Gohrisch. Why not sit back and relax with ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’ at one of the village’s little cafés—satisfied in the knowledge that you’ve earned a treat.


Overnight: Pension Villa IrenePark Hotel Margaretenhof ***or Waldparkhotel, Gohrisch. Please note that the Pension Villa Irene does not have twin rooms.


Walk: 11km, ascent: 405m, descent: 350m, 4-5hrs


DAY 5: Empire of Stones country, Gohrisch, Papstein summit

Your route lies through countryside known at the ‘Empire of Stones’. First climb to the summit of Gohrisch mountain, then continue the hike on to Papstein, where you’ll enjoy lofty views over forested hills and patchwork of fields and villages.


Continue to the villages of Cunnersdorf and Kleingiesshubel to end back at the river Elbe at the pretty town of Krippen.


Overnight: Hotel Erbgericht***, Krippen


Walk: 10km, ascent 300m,descent: 400m, 4-5hrs


DAY 6: Pravcicka Brana rock arch, Edmundova Souteska Gorge boat trip

Today you begin your adventure by taking a train and cross the border into the Czech Republic (don’t forget to bring your ID, although this is still in the Schengen area!).


Cross the river by ferry to Hřensko and walk to the Pravčická brána, the largest natural rock arch in Europe. Make sure you have your camera at the ready!


Descend to the photogenic valley of the tranquil Kamenice river, which flows between lush rock faces. Continue back to the valley of the Elbe at Hřensko and return to Krippen.


Overnight: Hotel Erbgericht***, Krippen


Walk: 15km, ascent/descent: 476m, 5hrs


DAY 7: Schramstein rocks, Kuhstall cave, Lichtenhainer waterfall

Cross the Elbe by ferry and walk to the Schramstein rocks. Please be aware that today’s walk involves a number of very steep rocky paths and sections where the route requires you to use iron steps in the rock.


On leaving the rocks you walk through fine woodland to the cave at Kuhstall. The cave is also know as the ‘cow stall’ cave and was the subject of paintings by the Romantic Artists.


Continue to the valley of the Kirnitzsch. From here you return to Bad Schandau, either along the path by the river, or using the historic Kirnitzsch valley trams.


Overnight: Elbhotel***, or Aparthotel am Schlossberg****, Bad Schandau


Walk: 16km, ascent: 431m, descent: 340m, 4-5hrs


DAY 8: Onward travel

Check-out of your accommodation and make your own way home.


Please get in touch with us if you would like to purchase train tickets for Deutsche Bahn in advance (at a supplement).


Additional Nights and Extensions

You can add additional nights at any point along the walk or at the start/end of your journey.

Accommodation

The accommodation on this walk is a combination of 3 star hotels and guesthouses. Some hotels do not have an official rating. All offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and an authentic experience. Please note that hotels in this region of Germany do not tend to have ‘true’ double or twin rooms; 2 x single mattresses, each with their own bedding, are usually found placed together on a double bed frame. The Pension Villa Irene in Goehrisch does not have twin rooms. Please contact us if you would like to discuss your requirements. Thank you.


Accommodation Location

During the high season, you might be booked into alternative accommodations which are not listed in the description. Any alternative accommodation will be of the same or better standard as those described.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable. This holiday is available for solo walkers.


Availability

This trip is available from the beginning of April to end of October, to start on any day of the week.


 ** Unfortunately availability for the 25th until the 28th of May and the 2nd to the 5th of June 2017 is already full due to a local holiday**


Time of Year

Traditionally July/August has always been the most popular time of year because the theory goes that the weather is better. Although we believe any time between April and October offers a wonderful experience.  


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable. This holiday is available for solo walkers.


Grade & Terrain

This trip is graded Easy-Moderate. Daily distances increase on some days and the terrain may be rugged underfoot with some hills but not too strenuous, perfect for those with a relatively good level of fitness. The most you'll walk in any one day is 17km.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps 

You will be provided with detailed walking route notes and maps to make your way each day, and have telephone support and back-up of our local partner and UK office teams, should you require any assistance.


Baggage Transfers

Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask that you limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person. 


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity, emergency evacuation and hospital care. 


General Information

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and trousers), sun hat and sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months, lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack. 


Getting to Saxon Switzerland

Bad Schandau is perched right on the edge of the Saxon Switzerland National Park, in the Elbe sandstone mountains. Just 6km from the Czech border, the town dates back to the 14th century, and is home to many timber-framed houses and typically Germanic architecture.


By Air

Dresden, Prague, or Berlin Airports are gateway hubs into this part of Germany, and are served by a variety of low cost and international airlines.


By Train

Intercity trains are available from the cities’ main train stations to Bad Schandau; Berlin (2h50, direct service), Prague (1h46, direct service) and a local service is available from Dresden (30-45 mins, direct service). The train station in Bad Schandau is a short ferry ride across the river from the town. We offer a booking service for tickets from German rail (Deutsche Bahn) in the UK before you leave. More information can be found at www.bahn.co.uk

Getting to Saxon Switzerland


Bad Schandau is perched right on the edge of the Saxon Switzerland National Park, in the Elbe sandstone mountains. Just 6km from the Czech border, the town dates back to the 14th century, and is home to many timber-framed houses and typically Germanic architecture.


By Air

Dresden, Prague, or Berlin Airports are gateway hubs into this part of Germany, and are served by a variety of low cost and international airlines.


By Train

Intercity trains are available from the cities’ main train stations to
Bad Schandau; Berlin (2h50, direct service), Prague (1h46, direct
service) and a local service is available from Dresden (30-45 mins,
direct service). The train station in Bad Schandau is a short ferry ride across the river from the town. We offer a booking service for tickets from German rail (Deutsche Bahn) in the UK before you leave. More information can be found at www.bahn.co.uk or contact us to arrange tickets.


Included

  • Accommodation for 7 nights in 3 star hotels, pensions and guesthouses.
  • 7 breakfasts.
  • Daily luggage transport of 1 bag of up to 20kg per person as required.
  • Return rail tickets from Krippen to Schöna (Day 6).
  • Detailed route descriptions and pre-departure information pack.
  • Maps of the walks.
  • 24-hour assistance by telephone.

Excluded

  • Travel to and from Germany and start/end of the walk.
  • Lunches and dinners.
  • Drinks & snacks.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Ferry crossings (payable locally only).
  • Personal expenses such as drinks, telephone calls, extra transfers (such as by train or boat during the walk), tips, etc.
  • Any items not specifically mentioned in the program.

Extras

  • Single room supplement(s) if applicable.
  • Solo walker supplement if applicable.
  • Additional nights.

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as the region is very popular over the Summer months. However, we will always try our best to accommodate your plans. 

How fit do I need to be?

This trip is graded Easy-Moderate. Daily distances increase on some days and the terrain may be rugged underfoot with some hills but not too strenuous, perfect for those with a relatively good level of fitness. The most you'll walk in any one day is 17km.

How do the baggage transfers work?

Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. We ask that you limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person. 

What equipment do I need? 

Your detailed information pack will be sent to you after you book. This has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking/trekking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack.

What is the best time of year?

Traditionally July/August has always been the most popular time of year because the theory goes that the weather is better. Although I believe any time between April and October offers a wonderful experience.

What happens if I can't walk a stage?

You can use public transport or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop. 



 




Fun but challenging

4

We enjoyed our walk very much however I don't think it should be rated as Easy to Moderate. There is a lot of up and down every day. The hotels were great and the scenery spectacular. I do have a bad fear of heights and tried to get a handle on that issue before signing up for the trip. I was lead to believe that there were alternate routes to avoid that problem on the 2 days that issue was identified. In the case of the Bastei that was true but the final day of hiking it is not an option but requires doing your own hike altogether. It would have been nice to have an option outlined for us instead of having to figure it out by trial and error. It worked out but it was frustrating. I tried calling the local agent in Dresden and she was no help in identifying an alternate option. So we came up with our own plan. At least the maps supplied to us were good and helped us make our own Plan B. All part of the adventure.

Rita

Seattle,WA

Wonderful Hikes- A great adventure

5

This was our 3rd adventure through Macs and by far the best hiking! It was challenging, varied and many beautiful views. I was a little nervous when I read about metal ladders and steep steps but it was great even though I am somewhat afraid of heights. We did all the challenging options and it was fun and really added to the adventure. Would definitely return to the area. Highly recommend.

Canadian Mac Adventure Fans

Canada

Some tough walking through beautiful countryside

4

This would have been a 5 star walk but for the length of the second day of walking - a tough day with a stated 600 metres of ascent didn't need for the hotel to be a further 128 metres up from the endpoint of the day's walk. This could be turned into an advantage if the walk went up the Lilienstein the next morning - the Lilienstein was visible on most days of our walk so the views from the top are probably fantastic.

Back of the pack

Worcestershire

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Great Hike But Tougher Than Advertised

3

The hike was well organized and accommodations ranged from nice to very nice. All hosts were wonderfully accommodating and the breakfasts were outstanding. However, I believe that the hike itself should have been rated a notch more difficult. All-in-all, it was a neat experience in a unique section of Europe.

Kentucky Jay

Kentucky, USA

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Scenic Trek

5

This was an absolutely fantastic trip! Everything was very well organized and accommodation at each place was nice. The route notes were adequate and there was enough information on things to be done on reaching a location. We have done other treks with Macs and continue to enjoy each trek - though would have to admit that this is one of the most scenic treks done!

Happy Wanderer

India

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Would Go Back To Walk Those Trails Again and Again!

5

This is a lovely relaxed walking tour with daily maximums of no more than 14 miles. Across rolling wooded countryside often in dappled shade that softened the effect of the week of warm, sunny June weather we enjoyed. Each days walk would cross over a rocky massif but have no fears as all are tamed with proper steel stairs and ladders, never vertical and never exposed. The accommodation is of a high standard and the local menus are excellent. Route finding is straight forward on long establish pathways and the villages and restaurants are all picture postcard. The start and end point of Bad Schandau is a beautiful little village and with a couple of add on days here we managed easily to devise some of our own additional full day walks, such is the number of paths and quality of mapping. For us, this walking tour ran like clockwork and was probably our most memorable walking tour to date ... we will return to Saxony!

Iain G

Ayrshire, Scotland

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Great hiking in Saxon & Bohemian Switzerland

5

Great scenery in the Elbe mountains with detailed route directions that were easy to follow. The indicated route times were realistic. There were warnings about some of the metal ladders on ascents and descents, but we found that none were dangerous and provided some excitement. Overall, all the logistics were well organised, and we did not experience any problems.

R&S hikers

Johannesburg

true

Beautiful

4

I really enjoyed my trip. I had never completed something like this before and was so proud of myself. I did misread the directions a couple of times but easily worked it out and got back on track. Also a few times things were not as well sign posted as it has been described in the direction and I was unsure that I was walking in the right direction but it always worked out. Some of the accommodation was old and run down and didn't have wifi. Don't expect there to be much going on in the towns that you stay over night some are so small that I couldn't even find a shop to buy some snacks in. but with that said the walk is about the being outdoors and walking through the forests and enjoying nature and the amazing views once you had reached the peak. I really enjoyed the trip and would definitely recommend it to others!

Mel

Melbourne, Australia

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Fantastic trip

5

This was a great all round trip. The walking was not strenuous but veryaried and a good day out. We would recommond taking all the detours as they are worth the effort. Scenery was fantastic. Hotels were all good especially the Waldpark in Kurort Ghorish.

Gary and liz

Bonnyrigg

Special

5

We have used Mac's for Stevenson's Trail, Hilltop Villages, Alsace Wine Trail, and Medieval Castles, and for sheer awe inspiring, beauty Saxon Switzerland is well in front. Stevenson's Trail was a challenge (we are not young any more) Hilltop Villages was all about the stunning villages, but if you want a walk for sheer unadultered beauty, go Saxon Switzerland. Mind you we have not done Pecos de Europa yet. That is in two weeks.

RLB

Annecy France

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Saxon and Bohemian Switzerland

4.6 19

100.0

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