Prague is one of Europe’s most spectacular cities and as such it is filled with tourists year round. However, with a bit of luck and a few tips from a local you can escape the annoying crowds in the center while taking an awesome day trip from Prague.
Being in the Czech Republic (or Czechia as it’s now being called), and seeing ONLY Prague is not enough to understand true Czech life and mentality. Prague certainly has a lot to offer, so much in fact that very few travellers feel the need to explore the rest of the country. And that’s a shame!
One of the perks of our country is its considerably small size which makes many awesome destinations easy to reach from the capital, and perfect for a day trip from Prague. One of the most unique of these places is Bohemian Switzerland. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city or you are a nature and hiking enthusiast you should visit Bohemian Switzerland national park.
Don’t let the name fool you. This incredible park is not actually IN Switzerland.
Bohemian Switzerland national park (sometimes called Czech Switzerland) used to be a sea a few millions of years ago. When the sea drew back the sand, the wind and water alongside with a little bit of time created incredible sandstone towers, arches, canyons and many other formations in the unbelievably beautiful landscape of this national park. Despite becoming a popular destination for tourists and climbers, the nature in the park remains intact, and pristine.
Bohemian Switzerland national park offers enough sites to keep you busy for at least a week. But if your time is limited, check out the following list for the truly MUST-SEE places within and around the park.
The biggest attraction in Bohemian Switzerland is undoubtedly Pravčická Gate, the symbol of the national park. It is the biggest natural arch in Europe and the second biggest in the world.
It is impossible to get to Pravčická Gate by car, the only way to get there is by foot.. But not to worry, it is an easy 45-minute walk through the forest from Hřensko, a border city and the lowest point of the Czech Republic.
The hike is pretty mild with only the last part going a little uphill – don’t give up and just wait until you see the amazing natural sights waiting for you at the end.
The trip to Pravčická arch is one of the best hiking trips in the area and you can do it together with the gorges of Kamenice.
Gorges of Kamenice
On your way back from from Pravčická arch it’s a good idea to extend your trip to the gorges of Kamenice. Although, the gorges alone would be worth a day trip from Prague.
Eons ago the Kamenice river created a fairy tale canyon, and since 1890s there is an easy hiking trail along it. Two parts are impossible to cross on foot so there is an interesting sightseeing boat ride provided.
The first gorges is called the Wild Gorge, and as its name suggests, it is the one where the nature stayed wild and untouched. The second one is called the Edmund Gorge or Silent Gorge where you can take a boat ride and listen to the hushed sound of silence. A perfect outdoors experience for kids, or anyone everybody with wild or poetic imagination!
The national park continues over the border to Germany where it’s not called Bohemian Switzerland national park anymore but Saxon Switzerland national park instead with
Bastei being the highlight of the region with its impressive sandstone bridge over the cliffs.
The renown scribe Goethe once described it as such:
“Here, from where you see right down to the Elbe from the most rugged rocks, where a short distance away the crags of the Lilienstein, Königstein and Pffafenstein stand scenically together and the eye takes in a sweeping view that can never be described in words.”
The trip to Bastei is really easy, it’s only 40 km away from Dresden and you can get there by car in no time. Check out the first viewpoint on the left and you will see the bridge in its entire beauty. The entry to the bridge is free and it is open all year long.
The bridge leads to the 11th century rock castle Neurathen where the admission is not free but still worth a visit. However, the best views over the surroundings are for free so if you prefer that over the adventure on the stairs and a tour of the castle, you will be satisfied.
The majestic Elbe Canyon is the largest sandstone canyon in Europe.
The Elbe Canyon is located between the cities of Děčín and Hřensko and it’s perfect for hiking, cycling or boat trips. A boat ride let’s you enjoy the views on the way to Bad Schandau or Dresden in Germany. There is a hiking trail at the top of the cliffs which offers amazing views from uphill. The most famous viewpoint on the trail is called Belveder and in the past it served as an unusual concert venue for the aristocracy. Now it’s “only” the best place for watching the river and its canyon.
The cycling path goes along the river all the way up to Germany and apart from the great views there is a surprise in the form of a unique asphalt cinema. Just bring your bike and you can watch a movie!
Tisa Rock Labyrinth
The Tisa Rock labyrinth is not a part of Bohemian Switzerland national park but it’s located near the village Tisá, not far away from it. From the southern side, the rock formation resembles a wall, from the other side the forces of nature divided it into many columns, towers, gorges, caves and squares so you feel almost like in a rock city. There are two sightseeing trails where you can experience a bit of fun and adventure.
All climbers will love this place, but even if you are not into extreme sports you should visit the labyrinth for a quick hiking trip from Prague. Trust me, the shapes of the rock formations are extremely entertaining, especially when you follow the signs with the names they were given in 19th century. You will have a chance to see for example the Shoe of Napoleon, the Cave of Monsters or the Dancing Bear.
And for all of you dieters out there, there is a Test of Slenderness. Go check out the Rock labyrinth and find out for yourself what that means.
There you have it folks ,5 places you should definitely NOT miss when visiting Bohemian Switzerland. Follow the link to learn more about this park, and to book a day trip from Prague to Bohemian Switzerland