Bastion Bridge

Day Trip to the Bastei Bridge in Saxon Switzerland

Julie Germany 13 Comments

The Bastei is one of Germany’s most unique landscapes. Giant pinnacles of sandstone rock tower over the Elbe River and the green countryside. Spanning these pinnacles is a stone bridge, dramatic in its appearance, as it connects these towers of rock and then seems to lead nowhere.

We visited the Bastei on a day trip from Berlin, combining this site with Rakotzbrucke and the cute German town of Gorlitz. You can also visit the Bastei from Dresden or from Prague, combining this visit with other nearby sites in Saxon Switzerland.

What is the Bastei?

The term Bastei refers to the jagged groups of sandstone rocks located in Saxon Switzerland National Park. Hundreds of years ago, the Neurathen Castle stood on these rocks. Now, not much of that castle remains. It’s the bridge, Basteibrucke (Bastion Bridge), that is the main attraction here.

Bastei Germany

Tourists first started visiting the Bastei over 200 years ago. First, a wooden bridge was built across these sandstone rocks and later, in the mid-1800’s, the wooden bridge was replaced with the medieval looking stone bridge that still stands today.

It’s the view of the bridge and the rocks of the Bastei that attract so many visitors today.

Bastei

Getting Here

The Bastei is located in an area called Saxon Switzerland, 40 km east of Dresden, Germany.

This area, with its green, rolling hills and hiking trails, draws lots of outdoor enthusiasts. Travel south just a little ways and you will be in Bohemian Switzerland, a picturesque area in the northern Czech Republic.

The name can be a little misleading, as the Bastei is located nowhere near the actual country of Switzerland. So how did this area get the name Switzerland? The Swiss artists Adrian Zingg and Anton Graff gave this area the name Saxon Switzerland because it reminded them of their homeland.

Saxon Switzerland Park

The easiest way to get to the Bastei is by car. From Dresden, it is a 50 km drive that takes about one hour. There is a large parking lot near the entrance to the Bastei. Parking costs 3 to 5.50 €, depending on the length of time of your visit. Just before the trail to the bridge are souvenir shops, toilets, a hotel, and a restaurant.

You can also visit the Bastei from Dresden using public transportation. From Dresden, take the S-bahn to Rathen (Dresden Hbf to Kurort Rathen, 33 – 46 minutes, multiple trains per day). Once in Rathen, take the ferry across the Elbe River (2.00€ round trip, visit the Kurort-Rathen website for more information). From Rathen there are hiking trails that take you up to the Bastei. Expect to have a strenuous hike with lots of steps and climbing. We did not do this, but from what I read, it takes many people about 45 minutes of hiking to get to the top.

Cost and Hours

The park is always open and it is free to visitors.

What to Expect at the Bastei

Short hiking trails link the bridge with several viewpoints. The trails are safe, well maintained, and in the steeper sections, have railings added for safety. Some trails are paved and some are dirt hiking trails. Hiking shoes are not necessary; a pair of sturdy walking shoes is sufficient.

Bastei Trail

The highlights of a visit here are the viewpoints and walking across the bridge. The views out over the Elbe River and the table mountains are amazing.

Bastei Day Trip

Bastei Bridge

Elbe from Bastei

Elbe River

The busiest time to visit the Bastei is midday. To avoid the worst of the crowds, visit in the morning or later in the day. Since the park does not close, you can arrive in the late afternoon and then stay for the sunset.

You have the option to visit the Felsenburg Neurathen. This is now an open air museum displaying the remains of the ancient castle that once stood here. There is not much to see as far as ruins, however, the views back to the bridge make it worth it. It costs several euros to visit this section of the Bastei.

Bastei in September

Felsenburg Neurathen

Saxon Switzerland

Is the Bastei Worth It?

Absolutely. Tim and I really enjoyed our visit here. This bridge is so unlike many other places we have visited and the panoramic views are magnificent.

We were here at the very end of September, when trees were just beginning to change color for autumn.

Tim in Germany

It only takes an hour or two to visit the Bastei, so we recommend combining a visit here with one or two other nearby destinations. Other places to consider are Dresden, Konigstein Castle (a hilltop fortress 16 km away), or the hiking trails in Saxon Switzerland and Bohemian Switzerland National Parks.

Or, you could do what we did, and visit the Bastei, Rakotzbrucke, and Gorlitz on a day trip from Berlin.


Comments 13

  1. Hi, thanks for the post! This looks like such a lovely place to visit. We are a couple visiting from Canada and are hoping to visit this spot. We’ll be staying in Berlin for 4-5 nights and Munich for 3 nights. We are trying to figure out if it is best to drive (or train) from Berlin or to stay a night in Dresden and drive (or take public transport) instead. Any insight into whether we should commute from Berlin or Dresden? Any tips would help us make our decision, thank you!

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      Author

      Hello Sarah. It’s a relatively long drive from Berlin, I think it takes 3 – 3.5 hours, mostly on the Autobahn. We preferred to stay in Berlin, just to save us the hassle of booking another hotel and unpacking, packing another time. That is just personal preference but it did work well for us. And we chose to drive, since we also visited Gorlitz and Rakotzbrucke on the same day. Check out our post about this day trip from Berlin if you like the idea of seeing a few more things. Just note that there is no water under Rakotzbrucke since construction is going on. Cheers, Julie

  2. Hello! Your blog is wonderful. I am traveling to Dresden with my two adult daughters and we want to go see this beautiful Saxon Switzerland bridge. We wont have a car and thought we should do a tour but think we may be able to just do a bus up from Dresden explore then go back down. Thoughts? Thank you! 😁

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      Author

      Hello Becky. I don’t know much about using the bus to get to the bridge from Dresden but I know that there is a way to get here by train and ferry. You will just have to hike up the hill from the river (info is in this post). You could do an internet search on how to get between Dresden and the Bastei Bridge by bus to see what your options are. Cheers, Julie

  3. Love your blog. Seems like every new trip I plan I end up stumbling upon one of your blog posts that helps me decide on destinations, activities, etc. Simple question for this one – I’m curious to know what time of day you visited Bastei Bridge.

    Thanks,
    Geoff

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      Author

      I’m glad you keep stumbling onto our website. 🙂 We were here in the late afternoon at the end of September. Beautiful spot! Cheers, Julie

  4. Hi, we are a couple with our infant daughter. We are coming from Prague.
    Can we travel solo or do we need any local guide for the boat ride and visit to Bastei Bridge?

    Thanks,
    Nilotpal

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      Author

      You can do this solo. Just check out the links in the post to help you figure out the public transportation. Once you are at the Bastei Bridge, the visit is very straightforward and the trails and well marked. It’s a very pretty spot…enjoy! Cheers, Julie

  5. WE will be in Prague at the very beginning of October. One of our optional excursions is an 11 hour day trip to Bohemain/Saxon Switzerland (National Parks that takes us to Bastei Bridge and Neurathan Keep, viewing the Elbe and Gorges of Kemenice Dinghy. The price of $187 Per person includes a private guide (max 9 people) , transportaion, snacks, lunch, hiking, and a boat ride. Is it worth going there? We are from the US and may not be back int he area. We are in Prague for 3 full days before we head to Budapest. I liked reading about your experience!

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      Author

      Bohemia Switzerland is a beautiful area and we enjoyed seeing it. However, you have to decide if it’s worth giving up one of your Prague days in order to do this. It sounds like a long day and a relatively expensive day trip. However, early October is a nice time to go (we were there at the very end of September). My inclination is to say that it is probably not worth it for the price and the time. But if you have no plans to come back to this area, maybe it is worth seeing a bit of the countryside. I wish I could tell you which decision to make, but I think you should go with what feels right. Cheers, Julie

  6. Hi guys,
    I absolutely loved your blog. I am planning a Euro trip for parents and thats how i came across this post. My mom suffers from back problem and sciatica and cannot walk a lot. Given this, do you think she’d be able to explore Bastei bridge…? if not bridge, is this view of bridge possible from car park? eagerly waiting to hear from you…
    Keep travelling!
    Preeti

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      Author

      To get views of the bridge, she will have to do some walking. From the car park, it is 0.5 km walk along a paved road to the trailhead. There is a shuttle that you can take from the car park to the trailhead to eliminate this part of the walk (or you could drive her down to this point and go back and park your car). Once on the trail, it’s a series of several downhill and uphill climbs on paved and dirt paths. There will also be some steps. It’s not a lot of walking (probably between 0.5 to 1 km total on the paths to see the best views) and it’s a relatively easy trail, but with back problems this could be challenging for her. It’s your call depending on how bad her back problems are. Cheers, Julie

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