Hiking to the Bastei Bridge from Kurort Rathen, in Saxon Switzerland National Park, Germany

Over the spring break, as part of a larger train trip through Germany, we spent some time in Saxon Switzerland National Park. Despite the name, this gorgeous national park is located in eastern Germany along the Czech border about a 9 hr 30 train from Zürich, Switzerland. While at the park, we did some biking and we hiked to the Bastei Bridge (photo above) and through the Swedish Holes, about 6 km with 215 m ascent/descent. The first time I saw a picture of the Bastei Bridge, I knew that I wanted to see it. I am so glad that we went, it was even more beautiful in person. I highly recommend spending time in this park.

Detail Summary

Where:Saxon Switzerland National Park
Kurort Rathen, Germany
Train/Bus:Zürich HB -> Kurort Rathen, Germany – 9 hr 30 min

Closest City is Dresden, Germany
Dresden, Germany – > Kurort Rathen – 35 min
What:Bastei Bridge/Swedish Holes (Schwedenlöcher) Loop

Trail Marking
Bastei Weg -> Schwedenlöcher -> Amselsee -> Kurort Rathen
Skill:Bastei Bridge/Swedish Holes Loop from Kurort Rathen
Easy – About 2 hrs 15 min
Length 6 km, Ascent/Descent 215 m
CostBridge view/fort
2 Euros/adult

Kurort Rathen Ferry Crossing
2 Euros/adult

Additional Info
Route Plan on Komoot – Basteibrücke – Schwedenlöcher loop from Kurort Rathe

Getting There

This hike starts in Kurort Rathen. If you arriving by train, you will need to walk from the train station down to the ferry station and take the ferry across to the other side. It costs 2 Euros per adult for a roundtrip crossing. We were staying at a hotel in Kurort Rathen, so the cost of the ferry crossing was covered by our guest card.

Once you have crossed the river, it is a short walk through town to the Bastei Weg. There are maps and signs posted, so it was very easy to find our way.

The Trail

The trail starts with a hike up through the forest. After about a kilometer we came to the first viewpoint over the river.

As we got closer to the bridge, the sandstone formations became more dramatic, as did the views over the river.

This loop is very popular with tours and school groups and at 10 am on a Thursday in early May, the trail was rather crowded. We went back after dinner and it was much less crowded and I was able to get some pictures as the sun was setting. So pretty!

Just before crossing the bridge, there is an entrance to a paid area where you can walk through the remains of Neurathen Castle (basically a cistern and a few walls). It is, I think 2 euros per adult, and a short trek on narrow walkways. I would skip it if you are afraid of heights, but if not, there are some great views here of the bridge and the rock formations making the entrance price worth it.

After leaving the paid area, we crossed the bridge. When we hiked over the bridge in the morning, it was very crowded and I didn’t take a picture of the bridge as we crossed it. When we came back later, I made sure to do so, and luckily the crowds had gone.

Right after crossing the bridge, there is a side-trail to the right that leads to the viewpoint where I took the pictures below. When we first hiked this path, we took a peek down the path, but didn’t go the entire way to the viewpoint. That was a mistake. I really wanted to get the classic picture of this bridge and so I made sure to return later in the day to get the pictures I wanted.

Although we missed the viewpoint above on the first hike up, we did make sure to take the detour up to the viewing platform in picture one below. This platform is by the restaurant and hotel and it was extremely crowded. You can’t see the bridge from this platform but there are great views of the river.

After passing the hotel, we followed the trail towards the Schwedenlöcher (Swedish Holes.) We also made sure to take all detours to Ausichtpunkts (Scenic Viewpoints).

When we reached the Schwedenlöcher, the trail weaved through the sandstone formations as it descended. We passed a lot of people hiking the trail up in this direction who were quite worn out from all the steps.

After leaving the Schwedenlöcher, the next waypoint was the Amselsee, a small narrow lake. It looks like you can rent boats in the summer, but they were not open yet in May.

After passing the Amselsee, we simply followed the signs back to Kurort Rathen.

When we reached Kurort Rathen, we were at the end of the hike. This was a really interesting hike with some unique rock formations and the bridge is really special. The entire landscape seemed like if Utah and New York state had a baby. A very worthwhile hike, and highly recommended.

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