Saxon Switzerland National Park is a National Park in the German Free State of Saxony, near the Saxon capital Dresden. It covers two areas of 93.5 km² (36.1 mi²) in the heart of the German part of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, which is often called (the) Saxon Switzerland (German: Sächsische Schweiz).
The National Park adjoins Bohemian Switzerland National Park in the Czech Republic.
The National Park is the centre of a natural area of almost 710 km² (274 mi²). This region is called Saxon Switzerland and is cultivated by humans in many places. Some smaller towns and villages like Bad Schandau or Königstein in the district of Sächsische Schweiz are part of this region.
The core area of the National Park has a quiescent area of 40% and is covered almost completely by forest. The status of National Park, which grants the highest natural protection in Germany, was established in 1990. It lies – in two geographically separate areas – within the district of Sächsische Schweiz-Osterzgebirge.
Saxon Switzerland is an intensively fissured and rocky canyon landscape. The highest peak of the National Park is at 556 meters (1,814 feet) above sea level, but is only a short distance from the valley of the Elbe river at 110 to 120 meters (360 to 390 feet). It offers several different habitats and microclimate zones due to its strong vertical division. The National Park still hosts some forms of forest without human intervention, which is unusual in central Europe. The special forms of mountain forest and gorge forest are endangered in Europe generally. Because of the sabulous soil and fissures, many places in this area are drier than normal for the temperate zone.
This region includes the Bastei area, the Lilienstein and the Polenz valley. In the west it is bordered by Wehlen and Lohmen, in the north by Lohmen and Hohnstein, in the east by Hohnstein and Goßdorf and in the south by Porschdorf, Rathen and Wehlen. The municipality of Waitzdorf lies entirely within the western region. Important peaks are the Lilienstein (415 m), the Bastei (305 m), the Hockstein and the Brand (317 m). The Grünbach and the associated lake of Amselsee and the Polenz are the only noteworthy bodies of water.
The eastern region includes the area of the Schrammsteine rocks, the Großer Winterberg mountain, the Großer Zschand valley and the hinterland of Saxon Switzerland (Hinterer Sächsischen Schweiz). To the west it is bordered by Bad Schandau and Altendorf and to the north by Altendorf, Ottendorf and Hinterhermsdorf. To the east and south it is bordered by the Bohemian Switzerland National Park. From Schmilka to Bad Schandau the Elbe forms the southern boundary of this region. Important peaks are the Großer Winterberg (556 m), the Kuhstall (337 m) and the Raumberg (459 m). The Kirnitzsch is the only noteworthy body of water.
This is one of the better options for visiting the national park. One of the main international railways run through Bad Schandau. You can therefore get on any train and there will be a way to reach the park. It's always recommended to check Deutsche Bahn for the most recent timetables.
Cars are usually a great option when exploring national parks and this time it's no different. Drive for Bad Schandau and explore from there. A good start would be to visit the main visitor center and plan your trip from there.
The closes larger airport is in Dresden. Large international airports in the vicinity includes Berlin and Prague. You would however still need to catch a train or rent a car to travel the final distance.
When to visit
There is something to do in all the seasons. The most popular times are during summer. However, you can get some great experiences during spring and fall too. Winter can get really cold and some of the hikes would be difficult to complete.
Map of Saxon Switzerland National Park
Image gallery of Saxon Switzerland National Park
Sights in Saxon Switzerland National Park
Some national parks contain more than just natural wonders. This list shows you some of the sights that are located in the national park. This includes museums, cathedrals, bridges, dams and much more.
Visitor/Information centres in Saxon Switzerland National Park
Most national parks have an associated visitor centre to help visitors. They are usually open most of the year but some close in the off-season. You will often be able to find information on all the activities in the national park. A visit to the visitor centre is often recommended before venturing into the park.
Hiking trails in Saxon Switzerland National Park
Almost all national parks have some opportunities for hiking. You can see some of the more popular trails here. You should get local information for detailed information on all trails of the national park.
Most national parks have there own trademarks. This goes for both natural sights and man-made. This section will list any popular sights in nature.
Wildlife in Saxon Switzerland National Park
These sections shows you some of the characteristic wildlife to the national park.
Bears in Saxon Switzerland National Park
No bears in the park
This national park has no bears and you do not need to take precautions.