The Elbe Sandstone Mountains
When we were looking for something to do on the journey across northern Germany from our previous stop at Burg Eltz heading towards Czechia, I had no idea where to go. I did some googling and came across so many photos of Basteibrücke (known as the Bastion Bridge or Bastei Bridge in English) which is situated in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. The Mountains are part of the Saxon Switzerland National Park – yeah, a little confusing considering it’s actually nowhere near Switzerland!
Most of the National Park lies in Germany, but the other 1/4 or so is in Northern Czechia (even more confusing is that the NP is known there as Bohemian Switzerland). The most famous part of the National Park is the Bastei Bridge so we spent a few hours exploring the area there.
These amazing rock formations were made millions of years ago from sandstone deposits at the bottom of the sea that used to lay there. Over time as the sea retreated and tectonic pressure over time hardened the deposits and as the Elbe River ran through the area, this helped to carved out the the current landscape. As you can imagine, there’s thousands of hikes to do in the area and plenty of climbing opportunities due to the smooth rock formations.
The area has been a big place for tourism for over 200 years, so with wooden huts selling beer and bread set up in the early 1800’s, later being upgraded to an inn and later a hotel and resort that stands now. A wooden bridge was built in the early 1800’s for access over to the old castle that was built on the rock formations nearby, and then later in 1851, the sandstone bridge that is still standing today was built for the increasing number of tourists to the area. The famous bridge is 76m long and over 40m high with 7 arches and a number of viewing platforms. Although access to the bridge is free, you can pay €2pp for entry to the castle ruins which apparently has really good views of the bridge too!
I couldn’t get over how busy it was there! We did arrive around lunchtime, but the walk was so quiet. We didn’t realise there’s two car parks and just parked up in the first one that we saw which ended up being the park and ride one, but it was a lovely little hike. There’s a load of viewpoints where you can get pictures of the bridge, the river and the bastei rocks.
It was totally an instagram vs reality situation though – I headed up this huge rock with a staircase to get some photos of the bridge, and by the time I’d finished, there was suddenly a massive queue with everyone pushing to get their photos! It was insane – and the bridge was packed like sardines too! The photos didn’t turn out too great because of the mid-day sun, so if you have time, it’s definitey best to get there first thing in the morning or at sunset!
How to Get There
There’s two carparks for the Bastei Bridge – one right at the entrance to the resort area (yes, surprisingly there’s a whole resort there with a hotel, restaurants, gift shops which we weren’t expecting), or you can park further out in a large carpark and either walk the 3.5km through a lovely forest which takes around 30-40 minutes, or take the shuttle bus for € each. We parked in the carpark further away and hiked to the viewpoints, then got worn out so took the shuttle bus back haha! Parking costs €3 for up to 3hrs parking, or €5.50 for over 3hrs parking but entry to the bridge is free.
I’d definitely recommend a stop here if you’re nearby. It’s an hour or so journey from Dresden, or you can take a day trip from Prague easily too! Have you been?