Post Summary: What To See At Bohemian Switzerland National Park
Traveling around Europe, we’ve noticed a trend. It’s common to city-hop: Prague to Vienna, Vienna to Budapest, Budapest to Zagreb…
You get the picture.
Berty and I have been following this trend lately as we’ve traveled around Europe for the holidays. We’ve loved it, but coming from the Pacific Northwest we were yearning to see the forest again. So when we got in touch with Northern Hikes and discovered they run day trips from Prague to Bohemian Switzerland, we were already lacing up our boots!
Bohemian Switzerland National Park is located just two hours north of Prague. We heard about their famous sandstone arch, Narnia-like (but actually) scenery – this place seemed like a breath of fresh air to Berty and me!
In this post, we’re sharing pictures from our day in hopes to inspire you to venture out of the city and explore more of the Czech Republic!
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Bohemian Switzerland: A Breathtaking Day Trip From Prague
Northern Hikes run several tours throughout the year. We took a winter hike tour, which included hiking to the Pravcicka Gate in Bohemian Switzerland, and then crossing the border into Germany to see the Bastei Bridge (German: Basteibrucke) in the Elbe Valley of Saxon Switzerland.
Here’s our story…
We were picked up at 8:00am in a van by our guide, Marek. Northern Hikes focuses on small, intimate groups – no larger than 8. This creates a more personal experience when hiking, and it’s a lot easier to connect with nature when you’re not in a large crowd. To our surprise, we had only one other couple come with us for the day – five of us total!
Another perk of the tour was the free wifi available in the van. For international traveler bloggers like us, it was important to take videos and share them on our instagram stories!
Bohemian Switzerland Hike (Czech Republic)
After a two-hour drive, we arrived at the trailhead right outside the village of Hrensko. We walked alongside the road for about 10 minutes until we made our ascent into the dense forest. Marek pointed to the highest point we could see ahead of us and said “that’s where we’re going!”
The trail was easy – beginning hikers could easily accomplish it. The path was clear, and about halfway up it turned into winding hairpin turns, with each trail getting higher and higher up the mountain. Every so often, we would stop to have Marek tell us about huge sandstone shapes, the natural erosion, and wildlife we could see around us.
After about an hour of hiking we arrived at the Pravcicka Gate. Also called the Pravcicka Brana, this is the largest natural sandstone bridge in all of Europe.
The arch was originally open for tourists to walk across, but because of heavy erosion, they closed access to it. You can still view it from the park’s many viewpoints though. This way it can be preserved for generations of hikers to enjoy!
(Pictured above is our awesome guide, Marek!)
Just below the sandstone arch is a vacation hotel that was built in 1881, called the Falcon’s Nest! (How epic is that name??)
It had a total of 50 beds, but has now been converted into a period-preserved restaurant and gallery of photos from the past. The beauty of the hotel has been preserved for visitors to enjoy still today.
We found it incredible that such a grand chateau was built in the middle of the forest!
Behind the hotel was a set of stairs with access to several viewpoints. At the top, you could see in all directions, including the border to Germany. We gawked at the towering sandstone pillars – there were so many to see!
Marek was so patient with us when we stopped to take hundreds of pictures. This was our first time hiking in another country, and now we’re already mapping out our next epic places to hike! (We’re heard hiking in Ireland is pretty epic!)
After some time up at the viewpoints, we made our descent to have lunch in Hrensko. We enjoyed a meal of classic Czech soup, stuffed potato dumplings, ribs, and cabbage. The five of us spent time getting to know one another, and had a lovely break in between adventures.
Basteibruke Hike (Germany)
Our second stop of the day was an attraction called Bastei Bridge (or Basteibruke in German). It’s arguably one of the most beautiful places in Germany!
I pulled out our passports to be checked at the border crossing, but to our surprise, we just breezed through without hesitation from the border guards.
In this area, we didn’t hike but rather walked to a set of scenic overlooks. This landscape’s jagged rocks were formed by water erosion millions of years ago. They reminded us of something out of the movie Avatar!
Over 200 years ago, a wooden bridge was constructed to connect the rocks together for visitors. Over time, they replaced the wooden bridge with a sandstone bridge, which is what we see today. The bridge is 40 meters (131 feet) above the ground and about 76.5 meters long (250 feet) walking from end to end.
There are several scenic overlooks, similar to the ones in Bohemian Switzerland National Park. When we visited the Bastei Bridge, it was a very foggy and moody day. We’d love to come back during a clear day for a sunrise or sunset!
We spent some time walking across the bridge and soaking in the view all around us. Fun fact: this bridge was the subject for many painters in history! The most known painting is called Felsenpartie im Elbsandsteingebirge by Caspar David Friedrich.
The Bastei Bridge area boasts the most stunning views in all of Saxon Switzerland. You can obviously view the bridge and sandstone pillars from several viewpoints, but you can also see the Elbe river when you walk across the bridge.
After we wandered around the Bastei Bridge’s many overlooks, we made our way back to the car for the return trip. The journey to Prague was about 2 hours but it seemed pretty fast with the in-van wifi.
Our guide Marek dropped us back off at our hotel and we were exhausted and happy from our day! When we return to Czech Republic in the future, we want to explore with Northern Hikes again – they offer so many tours and we want to try them all!