Amazing scenery and out-of-this-world rocky landscapes make Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland National Parks a great day trip from Prague and a paradise for photographers.
If you’ve never heard of Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland National Park, you are excused; the place was practically unknown until the end of the 18th century. In fact, there wasn’t even a proper name for it.
This first changed with the era of Romanticism namely thanks to the Dresden Academy of Art. Two inspired Swiss painters found the picturesque region southeast of Dresden in Saxony similar to what they knew from their homeland, so they named it Saxon Switzerland. Over time, Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland have been adopted as the name for this area full of natural wonders and wild beauty.
Sandstone rock walls, deep gorges, and steep hills make this place incredibly scenic. Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland National Parks offer amazing and dramatic nature as well as whole bunch of picture-perfect locations. Believe me, you will find some of the most stunning Instagram locations in both the Czech Republic and Germany.
I visited Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland National Park as a multiple-day trip from Prague. Joined by a group of German Instagrammers and a fellow Czech blogger, we experimented with photography, chasing the best Instagram locations.
These are the highlights and our favorites from Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland National Park.
01 | Mary’s rock
The small town of Jestrichovice is surrounded by viewing points: if you have to choose one, definitely go for Mary’s rock. Its altitude of 428 meters gives you the possibility to see nearly all Bohemian Switzerland in a 360-degree panorama. It’s hard to reach but indeed one of my favorite places in the area. On the top, there is a viewing platform with a small cabin where you can hide from the wind. Some adventures even sleep there overnight.
Capture it: In order to reach the top, you will have to do 6km kilometers steep hike including iron stairway leading to the top. We did it for the sunrise (the best time of the day to get the perfect shots), so it meant hiking in the darkness. If you want to do the same, bring a headlamp, comfortable hiking boots, and warm clothes. It’s chilly up there!
02 | Bastei bridge
This iconic man-made bridge simply must be mentioned as one of the most photogenic places in Saxon Switzerland. Connecting two jagged rocks formed by water erosion over one million years ago, Bastei is attractive for the human eye as well as for the camera lens. There you can enjoy wonderful panoramic views over neighboring mountains. On a clear day, the Elbe river, Lilienstein mountain and Königstein fortress can be seen from there.
Capture it: You will need a wide angle lens to capture Bastei bridge. The best pictures are taken from the viewing point on the left side before entering the bridge, but there is just enough space for one or two photographers at the same time. Another great view of Bastei is from the ruins of Neurathen castle. Sunrise is the best timing; you will have the best light and get to photograph the bridge without any people around.
03 | Edmund Gorge and Kamenice river
Although Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland National Parks are all about the rock formations and hiking, a boat trip in the rocky canyons of Kamenice river also provides great photography opportunities. The boats are old school, without a motor, so you really get to experience the beauty of nature. The trip through Edmund Gorge is 960m long and takes around 20 minutes; the Divoká Gorge is 450 meters long and can be traveled through in around 15 minutes.
Capture It: The place is very popular so you should try to avoid the tourist crowds. Pick a weekday instead of the weekend. I highly recommend you to join the first boat of the day (around 9 am). It’s still a bit chilly but your chances for unobstructed scenery are pretty good. After finishing the boat trips, there is still some hiking in nature included and the surroundings is truly amazing.
04 | … and of course, this legendary house
There is no way of you can focus on pictures for Instagram and skip this wooden house in Edmund Gorge. When traveling from Hrensko, you will find it once you finish the boat trips. The house actually serves the purpose of selling the tickets for the experience. If you are lucky, there will be smoke going up from the chimney, too.
Capture it: There are at least three positions from which you can get great pictures of the house. The classical shot is from the nearby river, where you can capture the most atmospheric shot.
05 | Pravcicka gate
Pravcicka gate (Pravčická brána in Czech), the biggest natural arch in Europe, makes for another highlight and a great place to capture photographs. The views are simply breathtaking! It has become a symbol of Bohemian Switzerland and has been featured in the film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. There is a variety of hikes leading to Pravcicka gate; the shortest one is from Hrensko (3 kilometers).
Capture it: The location is a touristy spot and its gate is closed overnight, so you might not be able to go there for the sunrise. However, sunset is great, too. There are several viewing platforms to make the photographing easier.
06 | Old Gasworks house in Hrensko
The lowest situated town in the Czech Republic (110 meters), Hrensko is a small town at the Czech – German border and the starting point for boat trips to nearby gorges. Hrensko itself is not that pretty, with one and only one exception: an insta-famous historical house built in 1905. The place is called Old Gasworks and served for production of Acylene gas once used for lighting. Being abandoned for a long time, it has been returned to life and you can rent rooms to stay there.
Capture it: The best pictures are taken from a small hill right beside the house. There is no fence so you can get closer to the facility and try to capture the best shot.
Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland National Park day trip from Prague
- It’s one of those places that you can visit any time of the year. Autumn is great for the colors, while summer is good for adventure sports and climbing. Winter makes the background into a snowy white fairy tale.
- There are no entrance fees for the park. You should however prepare to pay a small fee when visiting some of the sights (such as Pravcicka gate) or taking boat trips. The best is to have cash in both currencies – EUR and CZK. In restaurants and hotels, it is standard to pay with a credit card.
- Bring a wide angle lens, tripod, and outdoor clothes. You will have to reach most spots on foot and climb a bit from time to time.
This trip was in partnership with the Prague office of the German National Tourist Board.