During my recent stay in Prague, Czech Republic, I did a one-day hiking trip into the northern part of Czech Republic and the Saxon-Bohemian Switzerland National Park with Northern Hikes. This easy, full day adventure took me into two different countries and showcased the beauty of the rugged central European mountains.
Day Trip To Saxon-Bohemian Switzerland National Park
A small luxury minivan picked us up from our hotel in Mala Strana, Prague on the morning of the trip. The drive to the Gorges of the River Kamenice, located in the Decin region of the Czech Republic, took about an hour and forty minutes. During our van ride, the guide, Nicole, shared with us bits and pieces of history and pointed out interesting landmarks along the way.
The Bohemian Switzerland National Park
Upon arriving at the River Kamenice, we explored the deep, dark forest on foot for about thirty minutes. Then, under the shaded trees and steep sides of the gorge, we took a dinghy ride down the river. During the twenty minute ride, we floated through the sandstone canyon, past rugged rocks and weirdly-shaped ones, through narrow passages and a fairy-tale landscape. We even saw some water birds eying the trout!
After our hike and boat ride, we went to a traditional Czech restaurant located near the national park. We got to taste traditional Czech foods, like roast pork and dumplings, as well as some local beers.
The Saxon Switzerland National Park
Our final stop of the Bohemian Switzerland tour was a part of the park located on the German side, where the Kamenice River empties into the Elbe. We got to see the famous mountain bridge called Bastei, sandstone towers, and the Neurathen medieval fortress ruins. Our guide pointed out several viewpoints, with excellent views of the Elbe River, and shared some of the history with us.
Bastei is a 194m tall bridge that spans the Elbe. The sandstone bridge links several of the towering jagged rocks, but it is not the first bridge to span the gorge. In 1824, a wooden bridge was built for visitors to traverse; the current bridge was built in 1851. The mountains at Bastei are incredibly rugged and are popular with climbers and hikers. It is a main attraction for visitors in Prague, Dresden, and Rathen, the nearby spa town. And despite the sheer cliffs and the steps, it is an attraction for everyone.
Neurathen was a medieval rock castle, carved into the steep sides of the Bastei. Unfortunately the only remains are the parts that were carved out. All other ruins are long gone.
Once back in the van, we returned to Prague. From this part of the park, it is about a two hour drive to the city. The entire day was very easy, even the hike at the Bastei, and it is a great day trip idea for families. I really enjoyed it because I got to see another part of the Czech Republic that I wouldn’t have seen from Prague.
Northern Hikes, Beyond Sightseeing
The company we went with is called Northern Hikes and they specialize in tours to the Bohemian Switzerland National Park. Our guide was a local woman named Nikola, who spoke very good English. She was knowledgeable about the region and the history and very helpful with any questions we had.
Northern Hikes also has a number of other day trips from Prague, like their most popular, hiking the Bohemia Switzerland. This trip focuses on the First Zone, the most protected portion of the park. It is on Czech side of the park we went to, and includes a 10 kilometre hike! In August 2018, they are launching a coffee and photography hiking day trip. This promises to be popular as well, since it will highlight not just the incredible landscape of the park but also local coffee and photo tips on how to best photograph the national park.
In the winter, they run tours out to the Bastei bridge and the Tisa labyrinth, where the Narnia movies were filmed, and also to the Pravcicka Gate, the largest sandstone arch in Europe. These hikes are a little more strenuous since they take place in the winter and on natural hiking trails.
Lunch is included in every tour they host, as is round trip van transportation to your hotel in Prague.
I really enjoyed this day trip with Northern Hikes. I recommend that if you’re in Prague and want to get out of the city, you should experience this unique and fun day trip to the northern national park in the Czech Republic!
I was a guest of Northern Hikes but as always opinions are my own.