Czech Switzerland is an amazingly beautiful corner of nature in the northern part of the Czech Republic, not far from the Elba River. Here you can see waterfalls, rivers, sandstone mountains, grottoes, silver ore mines, canyons and mountains. Also in the national park there are several ancient castles and a picturesque mill.
Park “Czech Switzerland”, also known as “Bohemian Switzerland” or “Saxon Switzerland” (as the Germans call it) is located near the Czech border with Germany and 136 km from Prague. It covers an area of 80 square meters. km
The park was founded in 2000 with the aim of protecting and preserving the unique natural landscape in the area. The pride of the park are rare rock formations of sandstone, a dozen ancient trees and rare plant species.
According to historians, thousands of years ago, hunters and fishermen lived on this territory, the tools of which people still find today. In the Middle Ages robbers and murderers settled on this territory, and in the 17-18 centuries the richest clans of the Czech Republic erected castles and fortresses here.
In the 19th century, the future national park gradually became a popular holiday destination for both local residents and foreign guests. Since the 1950s, Czech Switzerland has been developing as an independent tourist attraction.
What to see in the park
Pravčycy Gate is the most recognizable landmark and symbol of the Czech Switzerland National Park. Since the end of the 19th century, hundreds of tourists come here daily to take a look at the unique sandstone cliffs (and they took hundreds of thousands of years to form!). The height of the gate reaches 16 meters and the width is 27. As many believe, this is the most picturesque and unusual place in the park.
It is interesting that in 2009, the Pravchitsky Gates fought for the title of one of the 7 wonders of the world, but could not reach the final. And this happened fortunately, because back in 1982, due to the large number of travelers, the leadership had to close the top of the rock for visiting.
When approaching the sights, you will surely pay attention to the science trail, or, as it is often called, a trot path. There are a dozen stands made of wood, which show animals and birds that can be found in this area.
Please note that the observation deck, which is located on the Pravchitsky Gate, is closed in bad weather for independent travelers.
Schaunstein Castle, standing on the rocks, was built in the early 14th century by one of the most influential dynasties. However, after some time the fortress was abandoned, and fugitive robbers began to settle here.
Due to the fact that for almost 500 years no one has looked after the castle, it is in a deplorable state: 2 out of 3 bridges leading to the fortress were destroyed, and neither furniture nor personal belongings of the former residents were preserved in the building itself.
In the courtyard there was a well and a suspension bridge (restored). This attraction is worth a visit in order to feel the atmosphere of the Middle Ages and learn something new about the history of the Czech Republic.
Falkenstein Castle, like the previous fortress, is rocky. It was built at the end of the 14th century as a military fortress, however, robbers settled here in the middle of the 15th century. In the 17th century, the fortress was completely empty. They began to take an interest in this area in the 19th century – here students liked to relax and have fun.
Despite this, the castle is well preserved. For example, in the building you can see the original stone altar and some interior items of that time.
Souteski streams are two small picturesque small rivers (Tikhaya and Dikaya), which flow into larger rivers. Tourists are advised to rent a boat and go on a water trip. The flow in the rivers is not turbulent, so it makes no sense to worry about safety.
During the water promenade, you will see several waterfalls, a dozen small bridges crossing the river in the most unexpected places, a mill, as well as beautiful rocks and bizarre trees. On average, a walk lasts 30-40 minutes.
Dolsky Mlyn or Dolsky Mill – perhaps the most romantic place in the entire park. In the Middle Ages it was very popular among traders and artisans, and the mill was a symbol of economic stability.
In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Dolsky Mlyn became famous thanks to the film “The Haughty Princess”, before the shooting of which not only the mill was restored, but also the surrounding area was improved.
However, time takes its toll, and the mill is gradually collapsing. Lovers still love to come here, and travelers admire the picturesque nature of this attraction.
Ruzhovsky Vrh or hill is a small mountain, the height of which reaches 619 meters. Due to the large number of viewing platforms located on this mountain, it is very popular with tourists.
Previously, there was an observation tower on the mountain (19th century) and a small hotel (20th century), but due to the difficult economic situation in the 30s. 20th century, everything was abandoned. Interestingly, even the ruins were not left of the former buildings.
It is interesting that the famous storyteller Hans Christian Andersen, who has visited these places more than once, called the hill “Czech Fuji”.
Belvedere is the oldest and most visited observation deck in Czech Switzerland. It looks like a huge terrace, knocked out in a rock and weighing over a cliff. You can get to it either on foot or by transport.
Do not forget to make a couple of beautiful photos of Czech Switzerland from this observation deck.
Wolf’s board – a monument carved in stone with mysterious inscriptions dating from the 16-17th century. According to legend, one hunter killed two wolves at once in a day, and decided to perpetuate this achievement. Now next to the stone is another plastic plate on which there is a translation of the text into English and Czech.
Interestingly, the descendants of the forester to this day live near these places.
The Czech Republic has been considered the leader in silver mining in Europe for several centuries. One of the main deposits was in Yirzhetin pod Yedlova. Work has not been carried out here for more than 200 years, and tourists are happy to receive tourists in the mines. The largest and most popular is the mine of St. John the Evangelist, which can be accessed only in the warm season.
Tours are held daily at 10.00 and 14.00. Travelers wearing helmets and picking up flashlights can walk through the gallery, which is 360 meters long.
The falcon’s nest is perhaps the most beautiful castle located in the park. It was erected in 1882 as the summer residence of the Clary clan, in which the princes received only the most honored guests.
Now on the ground floor of the building there is a restaurant (the only one in the park), and the second floor is used as a historical museum. According to tourists, the prices in the restaurant are very high, and the choice of dishes is not large. But all this is more than paid for by the incredible views that open from the panoramic windows of the restaurant. As for the museum, it is dedicated to all the attractions that can be seen in the park.
As in all national parks, in Czech Switzerland there are several walking tourist routes for independent travelers, however, you have to choose one:
- Grzensko – Pravchitsky gate. The length of the route is 15 km. Time – 5 hours. From the center of Grzensko we set off on our own to the Kamenice River, by boat we get to the Wild Gorge. After a short excursion (15-20 minutes), we independently go to the Pravchitsky gate (we pass the village of Mezhna). Then we head to the Ultimate Meadow and overcome another 4 km along the forest path. The end point of the route is the intersection of Three Springs. In addition to the above attractions, on this route you can see on your own: the Falcon Nest castle, Dolsky Mlyn, the Wolf’s board and Schaunstein castle.
- Grzensko – Wild Sauteski – Ultimate Meadow. The length of the route is 12 km. Time – 4.5 – 5 hours. This is the most popular and picturesque route that starts in the small town of Grzensko. After that, you will independently climb one of the observation platforms (a beautiful view of the Elbe) and you will walk through the forest for the next 3-4 km. Next is a golf course and another observation deck (Janovská). After tourists awaits the river Kamenice and Souteski. In 15-20 minutes you will be transported by boat to the other side of the river, from which in 10-15 minutes you will independently reach the Wild Gorge. The final point of the route is the Ultimate Meadow.
- The right bank of the Labskego canyon. The length of the route is 15 km. Time – 6 hours. The most difficult route in Czech Switzerland. It starts in the center of Decin. From here you can walk to the observation deck in 15 minutes, from which a small town will be visible in full view. After – a forest path that will lead you to Kamenice. From there we again climb to the top of the cliffs and enjoy a beautiful view of the Elbe and canyons. After ourselves, we set off for the main observation deck of the park – Belvedere.
- Decin is the wall of Pastyrkou. The length of the route is 5 km. Time – 1.5 – 2 hours. A great option for independent travel for beginners. The route starts in the center of Decin, where tourists climb to the observation deck. After – an hour-long tour of the castle and garden in Decin. Climbing the wall of Pastrykou, which offers a beautiful view of the sandy cliffs and rivers.
Tip: you need to decide on the route of independent travel in Czech Switzerland in advance, since the starting points for each are different. Also adequately assess your strengths: the landscape in the park is mountainous, and you cannot complete the route in the middle.
How to get from Prague
National Park Czech Switzerland (Czech Republic) and Prague are separated by 136 km. If you go to the park without an excursion, then getting to Czech Switzerland from Prague is better like this:
- You need to catch a train at Prague Central Station and get to Decin. At the Decin Central Bus Station, take bus number 434. Get off at Khrzensko station. Total travel time is 2.5 hours. The total cost is 30 euros.
- You must also catch a train at Prague Central Station and get to Decin. After that you need to walk to the pier (less than 1 km) and take the steamer, which runs along the Laba River. Next, you need to independently walk another 500 meters to the city of Grzhensk. Total travel time – 2 hours. The total cost is 20-25 euros.
You need to purchase train tickets (run every 3-4 hours) at the ticket office of the Central Railway Station in Prague. A ticket for the ship and the bus can be bought from drivers.
Answering the question of how to get to the Czech Switzerland National Park on your own quickly and without transfers, I regret to have to say: no way. If the above options are not suitable, it is better to think about purchasing an excursion from a travel agency.
Also, many experienced travelers are advised to get to Czech Switzerland from Prague by car: it is both fast and very convenient.
- Opening hours: 9.00 – 18.00 (June-August), 9.00 – 16.00 (January-February), 9.00 – 17.00 (March-May, September-December).
- Admission: 50 CZK.
- In addition, in the park you can buy a guided tour “Edmund Gorge” (80 CZK for adults and 40 for children) and rent a boat on your own.
- Official website: www.ceskesvycarsko.cz
- Remember that it is forbidden to go off the trails in the park, as this can be dangerous.
- If you want to spend more than one day on an independent inspection of the national park, it makes sense to stay at the Labe and U Lipy hotels, which are located a few km from Czech Switzerland. Double room prices start from 660 CZK per night.
- Do not forget to take a map with a detailed description of the tourist routes of the park at the entrance.
- Please note that the boat crossing to the Legal Gate is paid (5 euros).
- Remember that even if you travel by car yourself, you still have to walk. For example, in order to get to the Legal Gate, you need to leave the car in the parking lot and walk a little over 1 km.
- Travelers are advised to bring food and water with them – the prices in the restaurants are very high, and the choice of dishes is small.
Czech Switzerland is one of the largest and most beautiful national parks in the country, which everyone can visit independently.
Walk in the park Czech Switzerland: