4 Best Things to Do in Bohemian Switzerland National Park

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Bohemian Switzerland is a fabulous day trip from Prague, but it’s even better when you stay there for a night or two. It gives you time to relax, hike, and see a lot more of the area.

There are more things to do in Bohemian Switzerland besides simply hiking in the national park. So when we met our guide Vitek on our second day, we were really looking forward to seeing what today had in store.

ⓘ TIP: We have included trip planning information and more at the end of this article. So, read on!

You Need to Go Hiking in Bohemian Switzerland National Park
Setting sun illuminates Pravcice Arch in Bohemian Switzerland. Text overlay says Bohemian Switzerland, Spectacular places to see.

1. Edmund’s Gorge

“Are you up for Edmund’s Gorge?” he asked. “It will be a long walk, but the boat ride at the end will be worth it. I am sure you will get some good photos.”

That’s for sure. We’d seen images on Google and were already excited.

Unlike yesterday’s hike to Pravcicka Brana, today’s walk was an easy one on semi-flat pavement, so I could focus on our guide. As we walked, Vitek told us that the region had little to offer the world until 1890. That’s when Edmund Clary-Aldringen began offering punting-boat rides on River Kamenice, which runs through the gorge.

Soon, the poor local population were constructing bridges, hewing steps in rocks, building viewpoints, and doing whatever they could to encourage visitors. They embraced Edmund’s dream and before long, folks were acting as mountain guides and hotels and restaurants grew up.

And this is why the gorge was named in his honor.

We dodged rocky overhangs, passed through dark tunnels and crossed footbridges. And all the while, River Kamenice gurgled beside us. I really can’t imagine why they sometimes call it Silent Gorge. It’s anything but.

Eventually, we arrived at a dock and joined some other tourists on a small boat. Our ferryman lifted his pole and punted down the stream, beginning a rolling commentary in Czech. Vitek smiled and rolled his eyes. “I don’t know why they feel they have to keep everyone entertained with lame jokes. Sometimes, I think you can appreciate the gorge better when it’s silent.”

He’s right.

Vitek pointed out interesting rock formations here and there, but he didn’t try to fill up every bit of airspace with endless chatter. We sat in companionable silence and watched the high sandstone walls pass by, covered in moss and ferns. This is truly a magical landscape.

Man using a pole to propel his boat thru Edmunds Gorge, one of the best things to do in Bohemian Switzerland

2. Jetrichovice

Edmund’s Gorge took up most of our morning, so by the time we were back at the car we were all ready for lunch. We asked Vitek to take us anywhere he would recommend. “Great! I will take you to a place I know that serves traditional Czech food.” We’re in.

With such glorious weather, we sat on the terrace at U Nas Restaurant, sipping our Czech beers as we waited for our food to arrive.

Vitek pointed out Mary’s Rock in the distance. “A lot of our guests like to go there,” he said. “But you have to have a lot of stamina. Mary’s Rock is a long climb, but at the end, you get one of the most beautiful views in Bohemian Switzerland.”

Restaurant U Nas has a nice setting and a large menu. Since they specialize in game meat, I ordered the Elk goulash.

The historic town of Jetřichovice is the gateway to numerous hiking trails, as well as sandstone towers that rock climbing enthusiasts dream about. But before you head off for your adrenaline dose, make sure you spend a little time just wandering through this picturesque town. Its numerous traditional style homes have become an attraction in the town themselves.

House with wood siding and red roof, built into a rock in Jetrichovice, Czech Repubic.

3. Dwarf Rock (Trpasličí skála)

A local legend tells of a poor homeless woman, Rietschel, who made her living selling firewood that she gathered in the forest. In summertime, she lived under an overhanging rock, while in winter, she used the money she had saved to buy warm lodgings with compassionate people.

One day, she got caught in a sudden storm. Running for cover under her rock overhang, she fell and got wedged between the rocks. Suddenly, seven little men with pointy hats appeared in the gorge. They helped her out and carried her to her little shelter. Before they disappeared, they placed seven coins on the rock, to help her live out her days in peace.

Inspired by this tale, around the turn of the 20th century two local artists – a father and son – set about to immortalize the story. They carved the figures of a woman and seven dwarves (elves) into the rock, and it became known as Trpasličí skála, Dwarf Rock.

ⓘ TIP: While counting the dwarves you find, look for a little niche cut into the rock. Ernst Vater used to put his beer there when he was working, to keep it well chilled.

One of the dwarves on Dwarf Rock

4. Saxon Switzerland

Cross the border into Germany and you will find yourself in Saxon Switzerland National Park. Okay, so maybe it’s in Germany, not in the Czech Republic, so technically it doesn’t qualify as one of the things to do in Bohemian Switzerland. But so what? This beautiful forest is chock full of incredible formations throughout!

And besides, the two countries know it’s one forest. They work together to manage and protect the entire region, which is almost evenly divided between the two. (Bohemian Switzerland section is approximately 80 square kilometers, while 90 square kilometers are in Saxon Switzerland.)

Just as Pravcicka Gate is the most popular attraction in Czechia’s Bohemian Switzerland, Bastei Bridge is the biggest attraction in Germany’s Saxon Switzerland. The bridge rises to a height of 305 meters (1000 feet), and offers an exquisite spot for viewing the Elbe River.

Rocks and Bastei Bridge in Saxon Switzerland

Named for a fortress that was built on the farthest rocky pillar, Bastei (“bastion”) has been a popular tourist attraction for over two centuries. A wooden bridge was built in the early 19th century so that tourists could get out to the fortress (which was already a ruin by then). Only 30 years later, the locals decided to replace it with a sandstone bridge, and it remains to this day.

The park has been improved over the years to encourage tourism. It now has a nicely paved walkway from the parking lot, which holds everything from snack shops to an organ grinder. At the far end of the walk, you’ll find a building that houses a snack bar, shops, and even a hotel with a restaurant that offers insanely panoramic views of the landscape.

Passing through the building, we came to a beautiful Bastei overlook. We were astounded by the long-range view to the horizon.

ⓘ TIP: If you have the time and energy, you can choose from a number of hiking trails leading off from the overlook in many directions. There are many other viewpoints in the park as well, and some of the trails lead there.

Sunset in Saxon Switzerland

Vitek guided us to a path that led down to the sandstone bridge. It was late afternoon, and the low angle of the sun enhanced the rocks – and the height of the walkway! No worries about falling though, because the bridge is extremely solid!

Finally at the far end, we paid a small fee to enter the castle area. Considering the unrivaled views of this stretch of the Elbe, it was well worth it. A don’t-miss, if you ask us.

After climbing around on the rocks (totally optional, don’t worry), we ventured back to the hotel’s restaurant. We all savored a cool drink as we watched the sun disappear and turn the sky to fiery hues, and drove back in the dark.

Day well spent.

Plan your trip

Getting to Bohemian Switzerland

Whether you are doing a day trip from Prague or an overnight stay like we did, you should adventure into Bohemian Switzerland National Park with a knowledgeable, English-speaking guide. We went with Northern Hikes, which is based in Prague and gets good reviews. Northern Hikes’ specialty is tours to Saxon Switzerland and Bohemian Switzerland, and they deserve their high reviews.

If they are booked, here are a few other options:

Where to stay in Bohemian Switzerland

On the advice of Czech Tourism, we stayed at U Forta. Good choice. It’s not in Hrensko town, but rather further up the hill, which we thought was more convenient. The hotel offers an on-site restaurant with a terrace, free Wi-Fi, and free private parking.

Apart from late arriving visitors, it was a very peaceful place to stay, quiet and cozy. Our only complaint was that their English skills are not top-notch. That’s typical for this area, and Vitek said their English is better than most.

You Need to Go Hiking in Bohemian Switzerland National Park

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Written by Linda

Linda is multilingual and has been to over 50 countries. Her insatiable love of travel, cuisine, and foreign languages inspired her to create As We Saw It, where she documents her trips, shares practical itineraries, and offers insider tips. She’s passionate about helping fellow travelers save time, money, and hassle, and loves to discover new places to explore.

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4 thoughts on “4 Best Things to Do in Bohemian Switzerland National Park”

  1. I am beyond floored by the beauty of this place Linda. Just stuns me. I am booked for a while but WILL do a proper Europe trip soon. As of now, I have spent time in Europe twice; East Side of Istanbul and Cyprus LOL. Not too European.

    • Yeah, Europe has some amazing landscapes, and Bohemian Switzerland is definitely one of them. If you’re into hiking adventures, you’ll be among friends, because Germans love that sort of thing; it’s a huge part of their culture. I can’t wait to hear about your future Europe trip. 🙂

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