Bohemian Switzerland, a unique mountains in the Czech Republic

Lizet Wesselman - 29/02/2024

Bohemian Switzerland, a unique mountains in the Czech Republic

Lizet Wesselman - 29/02/2024

In the northern part of the Czech Republic lies Bohemian Switzerland, an impressive natural area that is part of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. This region gets its name from the sandstone rock formations and deep gorges reminiscent of the alpine landscapes of Switzerland. In 2000, Bohemian Switzerland was officially declared a national park to protect its unique natural beauty. A beautiful area for hikers, which is easily accessible by public transport.

What is Bohemian Switzerland exactly?

The name “Bohemian Switzerland” dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries when Swiss artists such as Adrian Zingg and Anton Graff discovered this remote area. They saw strong similarities to the mountainous areas in their own country and nicknamed it “Switzerland of Bohemia” – the historical name for this region of the Czech Republic. The poetic name stuck and was officially adopted when the national park was established. On the other side of the border, in Germany, you will find “Saxon Switzerland” with the same mindset.

The highlights of Bohemian Switzerland

With its impressive rock formations, deep canyons and vast forests, Bohemian Switzerland is popular among locals for outdoor adventure activities such as hiking and climbing. Tourists are also increasingly finding the area, but it still remains a bit of a hidden gem. Perhaps also because it is so big that enough people can walk around without it seeming crowded. There are numerous marked hiking trails running through the park in varying lengths and levels of difficulty.

Side note: in 2021, there was a major fire in the area and some routes are still closed as a result. There will be a sign at the start of the route and you can also see which parts are closed via the app “Mapy.cz“. So it is wise to check this in advance!

Pravčická Brána
The Pravčická Brána (pictured) is the largest natural sandstone arch in Europe and the iconic symbol of Bohemian Switzerland. At 21 metres high and 26.5 metres long, it is an impressive natural wonder. This is the most famous route, and therefore the most touristy. It is the red route, and a fairly easy route. The beginning does go up a bit, but after that it is flat and easy walking. To get to the arch, you pay around €5 entrance fee in high season. Between November and April, it is free.

Edmund’s Gorge (Edmundova Soutěska)
This narrow gorge, cut by the Kamenice River, offers unique views. Part of the gorge can only be visited by boat, sailing past steep rock walls. The gorge can be reached from the village of Hřensko. It is an easy hike, but especially beautiful in autumn!

Mariina Skála and Rudolfův Kámen
These vantage points offer breathtaking panoramic views of the entire park. Mariina Skála, a rocky point with a wooden lookout hut, and Rudolfův Kámen, known for its beautiful sunsets, are perfect places to pause and enjoy the surrounding nature.

Lesser known places in Bohemian Switzerland

Kyjovské Údolí
The Kyjovské Údolí (Kyjov valley) is a lesser-known but stunning area in Bohemian Switzerland. This remote valley offers a peaceful setting with dense forests, rocky gorges and babbling brooks. It is an ideal place for hikers who want to avoid the crowds and experience nature in all its peace and beauty.

Lynx’Path/Gabriela’s Trail
This trail is simple, mainly through open plains but incredibly fun with children. It is a trail with all sorts of activities and information to learn more about the flora and fauna in the area. And yes, that includes the Lynx.

Hidden Caves Route
This route takes you past some of the hidden caves of Bohemian Switzerland. Start your tour at the village of Hřensko and follow the paths that lead you through dense forests and past hidden caves. Along the way, you will pass spectacular rock formations and small, quiet caves that are worth exploring.

How walkable is Bohemian Switserland?

Bohemian Switzerland is suitable for everyone. I have seen little kids running around on flip-flops like it was nothing. Now Czechs have grown up with it so it’s easy for them too, but many routes are flat or have stairs built in. There are certainly also challenging routes that are a bit less well maintained, with hefty climbing heights and worn stone steps. There are several websites and apps where you can check out the routes, but here are some examples.

Sample routes Bohemian Switzerland
Gabrielin Steig: An easy hike leading to the Pravčická Brána. This route offers beautiful views and is suitable for all ages.
Rundweg Großer Zschirnstein: A medium-difficult route that leads you to the top of the highest mountain in Bohemian Switzerland, with panoramic views over the whole area.
Kamnitzklamm: A more challenging hike along the Kamenice River, with a mix of forested paths and impressive gorges.

Brtnický hrádek: Deze route leidt je naar de ruïnes van een oude burcht, verborgen diep in de bossen. De wandeling is middelzwaar en biedt een mix van natuur en geschiedenis.
Růžovský vrch: Een wandeling naar de top van deze uitgedoofde vulkaan biedt een spectaculair uitzicht over de omliggende bossen en bergen. De route is uitdagend, maar de beloning boven is de moeite waard.
Tisá Walls: Een minder bekende maar prachtige locatie met indrukwekkende rotsformaties die je uitnodigen tot klimmen en verkennen. De wandelroutes hier variëren van gemakkelijk tot middelzwaar.

How to get to Bohemian Switzerland?

Bohemian Switzerland is quite easy to get to by public transport. The train from Berlin to Prague takes you past the area, with different stops. Easiest is to get off in “Děčín” and take busses from there. You can also get off at “Schöna” on the German side. Here you can take a ferry across the Elbe river, from where you can walk to “Hřensko”, from where a lot of trails start. You can also take the bus that drives through the park.

This is the same bus that you would take from Děčín, which goes about every hour. But it doesn’t always stop everywhere, so it’s worth it to check the exact times to you stop properly. The bustimes are available on the busstops and the google maps times are pretty accurate as well. You can pay in the bus, with cash! Or book your tickets online on IDOS. However, IDOS is only available in Czech. 

European Sleeper to Bohemian Switzerland
Are you coming from The Netherlands, Belgium, France or the UK? Then it’s worth looking into the sleeper train from Brussels to Prague, that stops in Děčín. You’ll arrive in Děčín around 9.30am, giving you a rested full day to explore the area. The train starts at Brussels, the same station where the Eurostar trains from Paris and London stop, so you can easily connect on your trains from France and the UK. You can also hop on at Amsterdam central station or even Schiphol if you fly in from other continents.

Are you just doing a daytrip to Bohemian Switzerland? Then you can either do one of the many tours available (usually combined with the German side), or simply take a train directly from Dresden, Berlin or Prague. This takes 2 hours max and tickets can be booked through Deutsche Bahn

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