Bohemian Switzerland National Park Guide
Beautifully set in the north-western Czech Republic, the Bohemian Switzerland National Park is a marvel designed by mother nature. This breathtaking park spans 31 square miles and encompasses majestic rock villages, deep gorges, narrow river valleys, and dense forests. While exploring this vast wonderland through scenic hiking trails, you’ll also come across the largest natural sandstone arch in all of Europe, Pravcická Brána, and over 600 towering mountains.
The Bohemian Switzerland National Park is a prime destination for active and outdoorsy adventures, and for those hailing from concrete jungles.
Here’s a thorough guide that covers all you need to know about visiting the Bohemian Switzerland National Park. From the best time to visit it to the top attractions to see, we say it all!
Where is it Located
The Bohemian Switzerland National Park is located in the Northwest of the Czech Republic in the Ústecký Kraj region. It sits on the Czech side of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, on both sides of the Elbe River.
The west side of the park is marked by the Ore Mountains with the Lusatian Mountains on the east side.
Bohemian Switzerland vs Saxon Switzerland National Park
The Bohemian Switzerland National Park is adjacent to the Saxon Switzerland National Park in Germany. Although both national parks are interconnected, as they share an area located on the border of the two countries, the parks are different.
Also referred to as Bohemian Switzerland, the Czech Switzerland National Park is bordered by the Elbe Sandstone Mountains Conservation Area (CHKO Labské pískovce). While on the German territory, the Saxon Switzerland National Park is surrounded by the Saxon Switzerland Conservation Area.
The Best Time To Visit The Bohemian Switzerland National Park
Late Spring through Summer is the best time for visiting Bohemian Switzerland. Especially from August to September, the weather is at its best, with temperatures peaking at around pleasant 24ºC. Due to the moderate rainfall, the forests flaunt vibrant shades of green, and the landscapes of the park are full of life.
Not to mention that, in the summer, the wild beauty of Bohemian Switzerland is not shaded by the dark clouds of fog, as during spring and autumn.
How to Get There
From Prague, the easiest way to reach Bohemian Switzerland is by car. Take the E55 and Route 62, and you’ll reach your final destination in less than two hours.
You can also catch a train from Prague to Děčín. The train journey takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes. From Děčín, you simply catch the 434 bus to Hřensko, located on the easter edge of the park. The bus ride takes between 30 – 40 minutes.
If you’re coming from Dresden, in Germany, you can drive via B172. You’ll reach the park in 1h10. Alternatively, you can also take the train to Děčín (approximately 45 minutes) and then grab the 434 bus to Hřensko. It’s also possible to board the train from Dresden to Bad Schandau, which also takes about 45 minutes. In Bad Schandau, there’s a seasonal ferry running to and from Hřensko from late April to early November. The boat ride takes approximately 1 hour.
Why Visit It
Natural features come in a spectacular variety in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park. The area is particularly known for its unique rock formations, including the largest natural sandstone arch and the largest sandstone canyon in all of Europe. There, you’ll also come across 601 named mountains in the park, the tallest and most prominent being Růžovský vrch at 2,031 ft in elevation with and 1,076 ft of prominence.
Aside from boasting different rock formations, this protected area plays host to bountiful wildlife. The park is home to natural forests, which are inhabited by rare animal species like the garden dormouse, peregrine falcon, black stork, and Eurasian lynx. There are also numerous species of bryophytes and many rare species of fungi, as well as vascular plants like wild rosemary, black crowberry, and alpine yellow-violet.
Several lookout points spread throughout the park provide visitors with the most stunning views of the area’s beautiful forested mountains rock ridges, canyons, sandstone towers, and tablelands rising.
Top Attractions & Things To Do
Pravcicka Brana Gate
The Pravcicka Brana Gate is, unarguably, the most visited landmark in Bohemian Switzerland. With 52 feet high, 26 feet wide, and 85 feet wide span, it is the largest natural rock gate on the European continent and a powerful symbol of the entire nature reserve.
Pravcicka’s huge dimensions are the result of millions of years of weathering of the less resistant parts of the rock mass, which consists of ashlar sandstone from the Turonian age.
You can hike anywhere between one and two hours uphill alongside rock formations and shaded forest trails to reach the arch.
This natural rock formation is so glorious, that it is featured in several key scenes in the movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Plus, the famous fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen visited Pravcicka Brana Gate twice – in 1831 and 1851.
Pravcicka Brana Gate is also one of the most popular spots for rock climbers in all of Czech Republic
Kamenice Gorge and Edmund’s Gorge
One of the best ways of experiencing the unique beauty of Bohemian Switzerland is by taking a scenic boat trip in the area’s gorges.
There are two must-visit gorges, which are accessible only during the summer months, Edmund gorge (formerly Tichá), and Divoká. They’re framed by a dramatic rock landscape that originated when the Kamenice River cut through the local sandstone.
The trip through the Edmund Gorge takes around 20 minutes, while the Divoká Gorge can be traveled through in around 15 minutes. During your boat ride, you will pass between cliffs with an average height of 328 feet, as well as tunnels and overhangs that delivers a magical feel to the area.
Saunstejn Rock Castle
Saunstejn Rock Castle is the most famous lookout point in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park. Only a few ruins of this former castle remain, but from up there you can indulge in the most breathtaking views of the area, extending from the Kaltenberg, the Lausche, the Rosenberg, over the Hoher Schneeberg to the Ore Mountains.
The castle was built in the 14th century by the Berka z Dube family to protect the Old Bohemian Road. It changed roles and ownership throughout the years until it was eventually destroyed in the 15th century.
Saunstejn Rock Castle can be accessed through a system of ladders, bridges, and walkways with balustrades.
The picturesque village of Jetřichovice, which also happens to be the touristic center of Bohemian Switzerland, is home to Mary’s Rock, one of the best viewpoints in the park. Some 240 steps will lead you to the top of the sandstone hill, and provide you with show-stopping views of the nearby rock formations.
Located east of the River Elbe, the Růžovský vrch is the tallest mountain in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park. At 2030 feet tall, the mountain is easily recognizable thanks to its circular, cone-shaped peak, making it one of the most typical representatives of the mountains of North Bohemia.
At the top of the hill, which is part of a protected area, there’s a lookout tower that rewards visitors with jaw-dropping views of the park’s unique nature.
The Belvedér terrace is the oldest viewing point in Bohemian Switzerland. Nestled in the very heart of the park, the terrace overlooks the Elbe Canyon between Decin and Hrensko, and the 15th-century ruins of the Dolsky Mlyn mill.
While technically located on the German side of the park, the Bastei Bridge is easily reached from Bohemian Switzerland (30 min drive). Both Germany and the Czech Republic are member states of the Schengen Area, so borders are not regulated in the European Union. Surrounded by rock formations, this 1000 feet high road between rock towers offers one of the most stunning views over the Elbe mountains and the surrounding Mardeltelle Valley.
Tiské stěny (Tisa Rocks)
Located at a height of about 1968 feet above sea level, the Tisa Rocks are a maze of 98 feet-high sandstone formations. They form a line of rock outcrops drawn up in an arc and seem as if plucked from a whimsical fairytale.
Tips For Visiting The Bohemian Switzerland National Park
- To take in the most beautiful nature views, and indulge in comfortably warm weather, visit the park during the summertime;
- While a day trip to the park is possible, we recommended that you plan on spending at least 2 or more days in the area;
- Bring cash, as many establishments don’t take any form of card payments;
- Wearing supportive shoes with a reliable grip;
- Located on the easter edge of Bohemian Switzerland National Park, the picturesque town of Hrensko is a great spot to base yourself;
- If you are interested in delving deep into the history of the park and learning about the formation of the rocks, explore the park with a tour guide.
Are the Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland National Parks the same?
No. Although encompassing the same area, these two national parks are different. The Bohemian Switzerland national park is located in the Czech Republic and Saxon Switzerland in Germany.
Where is the Bohemian Switzerland National Park?
The Bohemian Switzerland National Park is located on the Czech side of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains.
What are the most important sights in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park?
The top attractions in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park are:
- Pravcicka Brana Gate;
- Kamenice Gorge and Edmund’s Gorge;
- Saunstejn Rock Castle;
- Mary’s Rock;
- Růžovský vrch;
- Belvedér Terrace;
- Bastei Bridge;
- Tiské stěny (Tisa Rocks).
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