After finally visiting the Bastei Bridge I collected all of my tips for your visit down below. You’ll also find the route of the small hike we went on with directions and explanations in case you’re wondering how to explore it best.
But wait… WHAT ACTUALLY IS THAT?
The Bastei is the most famous rock formation in Saxon Switzerland which makes it to be one of the main tourist attractions in the area. The Bastei Bridge runs through those rock formations and leads to the ruins of Neurathen Castle (one of the largest medieval rock castles in the region).
Not far from Bastei Bridge you can find the famous gorges called „Schwedenlöcher“. Both sights are connected by a nice trail so it makes sense to visit both.
TIPS FOR VISITING BASTEI BRIDGE AND SCHWEDENLÖCHER
TIP #1 – GO THERE EARLY
If you’ve seen the Bastei Bridge in pictures you’ll probably dream about a rough, mystic vibe with that monumental Bridge covered in fog at sunrise. Well… it’s absolutely recommendable to go there at sunrise! Not only because the light will make it look a lot more magical – but it’s also way more peaceful. As the Bastei Bride is one of the most famous sights in that area of Germany you’ll find yourself in the middle of tourist crowds during the day.
We parked our car at 9 am on a Sunday and arrived at the Bastei Bridge around 45min later and let me tell you – I was shocked. There were so many people I couldn’t see the bridge itself anymore. Since it’s easily accessible there are many groups arriving per bus directly in front of the bridge so be prepared to be anything else than lonely up there when going during the day.
TIP #2 – CHOOSE THE RIGHT PARKING SPACE
Depending on how you want to visit the Bastei you can choose between a few different parking spots to start your visit. There’s parking directly in front of the Bastei Bridge but during the high seasons, it can get difficult to find a free spot. If you don’t mind walking there is another parking lot around 3.5 km before the one mentioned, from which one you can also take a shuttle service.
If you’re planning on going on a small hike anyway we’d recommend parking your vehicle at one of the parking spaces outside the city of Rathen as most hiking routes start from there. Rathen offers parking on the south side of the Elbe River which requires you to hop on a short ferry ride to cross the Elbe that separates the two parts of the city.
As you might arrive early or just don’t want to be dependent on a ferry service like us I got you covered: Parking at the Wanderparkplatz am Gamrig it is!
Wanderparkplatz am Gamrig
DE – 01814 Porschdorf
This one is already located on the „correct” side of the river and it only takes a short walk into the city of Rathen from where you will start your route. It took us around 45 minutes from the parking space up to the bridge.
TIP #3 – CHOOSE THE RIGHT TRAIL
As already mentioned above there are many different starting points for your individual route.
If you’re coming to see the Bastei Bridge only, just park your car at the nearest parking spot mentioned earlier and directly walk onto the bridge – no effort required.
For some more spectacular views, you just walk around a little following the signs to the viewpoints. On the other side of the bridge, you’ll find Neurathen Castle which will spoil you with some great views for a small entrance fee of only 2€.
If you want to walk the route including the Bastei Bridge and the Schwedenlöcher there are two common possibilities: Start at the Amselsee, hike up the Schwedenlöcher, and finish your walk at the Bastei Bridge – or you do that same route vice versa.
Starting in the city of Rathen we went to see the Bastei first, which is the easiest route to choose since you’ll reach your altitude already in the first meters up to the Bastei (so many stairs!!) and can make your way down through the Schwedenlöcher in a more relaxed way. The people that crossed our way after starting their roundtrip at the Schwedenlöcher were so exhausted after a few meters already. Many underestimate that part but still, it’s quite long, and only walking uphill for 1,5 hours can get very challenging. That’s exactly why we chose to walk in the other direction.
Of course, there are many more routes for example leading to the city of Wehlen (Malerweg) or some really long hikes through the whole Nationalpark. If you spend some more time there I’d recommend you check out the official website for some more routes to eg. Kuhstall or the Lilienstein.
TIP #4 – WALK UP TO THE VIEWPOINTS
Besides walking over the bridge and enjoying the fantastic view of the rocks, there are many more viewpoints around the area of the Bastei Bridge which allow you to actually see the Bridge itself combined with the surrounding nature. The views are spectacular so you should definitely go!
The most common viewpoints are:
- Neurathen Castle (2€ Entry fee)
- Bastei Aussicht (Sep 2020: closed due to security reasons)
(Wehlsteinaussicht, Pavillonaussicht, etc. are great as well but you won’t see the Bridge from there just FYI!)
Total distance: around 7.5 km
Time: 4 hours (we took many pictures, walked slowly, and had a picnic though)
Parking fee: 5€ (Wanderparkplatz am Gamrig)
Fitnesslevel: normal Not suitable for small kids!
Part 1: Rathen – Neurathen Castle
Starting at our parking lot we walked around 10 minutes to the center of Rathen (simply follow the signs) and started our hike. Be aware that this first part is the most exhausting one since it’s many stairs in a short time. Along the way, you’ll have fantastic views into and over the Elbe Valley.
Part 2: Neurathen Castle and Bastei bridge
Shortly before arriving at the Bastei Bridge, you’ll find the entrance to Neurathen Castle on your right side. If you don’t want to visit the castle you simply walk on and find yourself standing on the Bastei Bridge in just a minute. It can get quite crowded here and I’d definitely recommend seeing the castle first – it’s not only been the emptiest viewpoint we’ve found but also offered beautiful sights over the sandstone mountains in a more calm surrounding.
We crossed the Bastei Bridge and looked for the most famous viewpoint, the Ferdinandstein. You’ll find this one if you’re heading right directly after crossing the bridge. The view really is amazing! BUT: There are also many tourists waiting in line and the stairs and platform are quite narrow.
Part 3: Bastei Bridge – Schwedenlöcher
Now as you’ve stood on the famous Bastei and probably took some epic pictures from the viewpoints it’s time to explore the Schwedenlöcher. First, you’ll cross a huge space where you’ll find a restaurant and a hotel (most people just drive up there, walk on the bridge, take pictures, walk back and drive home). Follow the road until you’ll find a sign for the „Schwedenlöcher“ leading you into the woods on your right-hand side. From here, we’ve mostly been alone since most tourists only come for the Bastei itself.
Attention: You’ll need proper shoes and a jacket for that part!
Part 4: Schwedenlöcher – Rathen (via Amselsee)
From now on you’ll walk downhill following the signs and simply enjoying the beautiful nature. It’s getting quite cold in there so make sure to wear a jacket. At some point it’s been so cold we could see our breath! (It was a sunny day with 25 degrees celsius!!)
At the end of the trail, you’ll walk along the Amselsee where you can rent a boat (the lake is very tiny though) or finish your experience with some fresh-caught fish at the restaurant there. Walking further along the street you’ll reach your starting point (where you’ll also find some delicious ice cream, yum!).
I hope that’s giving you a good overview of what to expect and how to visit the Bastei according to your desire. I’m curious about your experiences there so let me know in the comments which trail you chose and how you liked it!
Either way, I hope you have a wonderful trip!
See you soon,