Bohemian Switzerland associates with mystical landscapes of pine forests and picturesque valleys, majestic rock towers, gates, walls, gorges, rock towns and labyrinths of mountains. In addition, here you can see the unusually beautiful canyon of the river Kamenice.
České Švýcarsko is the Czech part of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, a fantastically delightful corner of nature, located in Northern Bohemia near the border with Germany. There is everything you need for a full active rest: pristine dense forests, canyons, quaint rocks, mountain rivers, picturesque valleys with rare plants.
Geographers believe that this unusual structure and beauty this area owes to the sea, the waters of which covered this territory in prehistoric years. Over time, the water receded and thanks to the influence of nature and wind, now we can admire such a unique natural landscape.
The National Park “Bohemian Switzerland” was founded on January 1 in 2000 and covers an area of almost 80 square kilometers. The park is located at the northern border with Germany and continues in the German territory with the name “Saxon Switzerland”. The aim of creating was to preserve the natural beauty of local places. The main wealth of the park is unique rock formations from sandstone, covered with green islands of well-preserved old forests and rare plants.
The landscape of the national park represents these deposits, pressed into cliffs that cracked under the influence of wind, rivers, temperature changes, creating stunningly picturesque cliffs, rocky towers, canyons, arches and windows. The most famous of them is the Pink Hill, the highest in Czech Switzerland.
The forest covers almost all of its territory, mainly with coniferous-birch forests. Since the soil on the latter is either poor or absent, here grow only very viable representatives of the flora. The fauna of the national park is also rich, because the landscape creates ideal conditions for nesting of many species of birds and mammals.
History of Bohemian Switzerland
The first inhabitants of Bohemian Switzerland were hunters, fishermen and gatherers. They roamed the area and arranged settlements near water streams. People still can find their tools, pieces of coal and dishes. Much later, Bohemian Switzerland was partially settled by farmers and here was a trade caravans’ route.
In the 13th and 14th centuries the Bohemian kings invited colonizers from the territory of modern Germany. The latter built villas, stone castles, engaged in logging, began to produce glass and coal. But, since the forests were dense and there were no broad plains in Czech Switzerland, the life of these communities was not so easy. The last remains of those abandoned settlements were ruined in the 20th century.
The beginning of the tourism development of the region was laid in the second half of the 18th century. Romantic artists who lived in Dresden began their first travels by what later was called Saxon Switzerland. In the 19th century landowners from local estates, as well as the first tourist agencies began to increase the attractiveness of the region for travelers step-by-step. At that time the first walking trails, restaurants, hotels, observation platforms and lookout towers appeared.
Pravčická braná is a natural sandstone arch, which is by the way the largest in Europe. In addition, it is the main attraction of Bohemian Switzerland. Pravčická braná is impressive even from a long distance, not speaking about its greatness when stand nearby. The arch span is 26.5 m and the height is 16 m. It is the largest rock arch in Europe.
You can get here only on foot, from the town of Hřensko or from the village of Mezná. These tracks were laid in the 19th century. It is known that Hans Christian Andersen visited the place twice. Moreover, the location appeared in one of the films of the series “The Chronicles of Narnia”.
Falcon’s Nest Castle
Next to Pravčická braná you can find a summer castle Falcon nest. Today it houses a restaurant with an old but stylish interior and a photo exhibition about the beauty of nature in Bohemian Switzerland. From the castle pad tourists also can enjoy wonderful views. Although in fact, the castle is a small cozy hunting lodge, which was built by the Clary-Aldringen clan in 1882.
At the present time, in the castle on the second floor there is the only museum of Bohemian Switzerland. On the ground floor there is a restaurant with original wooden walls that have been preserved and with the same original ceiling paintings.
Tolstejn is the ruins of a medieval castle with an extraordinary view of the surrounding countryside of the Czech National Park. The castle was the residence of local baron robbers, which changed quite often. The very first mentioning about the place dates back to 1337.
The rock castle Saunstejn also belonged to a bandit. Now this is a fabulous ruin in a dense forest. You can climb steps through the narrow rock tunnel to reach the top and enjoy fantastic view over park. The castle was built in the first half of the 14th century and belonged to the Vatenbergs, and later Berků z Dubé. Strengthening the royal power reduced the military importance of the fortress.
The last mention of it dates back to 1490. After the Thirty Years’ War, deserters and robbers settled in this place, and a new name – Lupežnický Castle (Loupežnický) – stuck to it.
The castle is now a stone ruin. The upper pad consists of several parts, that are connected by bridges. On the site you can climb stairs, arranged in the cracks. The place is natural historical, easily accessible and equipped for tourists thus is a must to visit.
Rock castle Falkenstein is one of the most popular places in the park of the Bohemian Switzerland. Unlike Saunstejn, everything remains as it was long time ago. Skalní hrad Falkenštejn is a unique tourist site, 5 kilometers north of the village of Jetřichovice.
The first written mention dates back to 1395. The purpose of construction is military-strategic. Interest in the rocky degrees of Falkenstejn revived in the 19th century. As a center of tourism, it finally formed in 1852. All the surrounding space was cleared and equipped with walkways. In the castle there are traces of a chapel with a stone altar.
In the deep gorge of the Kamenice river with two rivers you can take a ride on a boat or try hiking. Canyon to the small river Kamenice is an extremely fairytale corner. Going down on Divoka Souteska is a quiet 250 meters’ journey in a nice and romantic setting. The second Souteska is twice as long and faster. Before you open a beautiful waterfall, falling directly from the cliff.
Interestingly, this is a controlled waterfall. In the ordinary state it is just a rock over the river while the caretaker opens the damper when a boat with tourists swims by. The water in Kamenitsa is very clean, if you look closely, you can see the trout in the river.
Not far from the village of Na Tokani you will find the hiking trail leading to the Narrow staircase. Mouse hole (Myší díra) is a narrow staircase to the top of the cliff, which attracted tourists since the 19th century. The duration of the walk is 3-4 hours. All hiking trails are marked.
Although there are no tourist attractions on the Ruzovsky hill, it opens up a magnificent view on the forest. There are many observation points, from which you will see a stunningly beautiful nature.
Růžovský vrch is a huge basalt volcanic cone. Hans Christian Andersen, who visited these places several times, called this mountain “Czech Fujiyama”.
Belvedere lookout point
The Belvedere viewing platform (skalní vyhlídka Belvedér) is a rocky terrace overlooking the Laba Valley. The site is located at an altitude of 130 meters above the river level and is located on a hill near the village of Binovec, 3 km south of Hřensko. Near the terrace is the hotel “Belveder”.
On the way from Belvedere to Decin there is another viewing platform Rosa Crest. It is a large rock that rises on the right bank of Laba at 420 m.
Where to stay
The city was founded in the 13th century by Przemysl Otakar II and for a long time was the geographical gate of Bohemia. Today it is a modern city with the charm of antiquity. Decin was formed in 1942 from two separate settlements (in German they were called Tetschen and Bodenbach). The new settlement Tetschen-Bodenbach from 1947 got the name Decin. In 2006 it received the status of the city.
Now the river port of Decin has an important transport value for the whole of the Czech Republic; through the city there is a railway line connecting Berlin, Dresden and Prague.
This is another beautiful spa town in Czech Switzerland, located on the border with Germany on the banks of the river. Hřensko is a very nice and hospitable border town, where everything suits for tourists: hotels, guesthouses, restaurants.
All best places to eat are situated in the towns near Bohemian Switzerland. If you choose Decin as a place to stay, here is the list of top reviewed restaurants:
- Viadukt (Address: Anenska 329/7);
- Pizzeria Ciao Ciao (Address: Teplicka 365/60);
- Nautilus (Address: Zelenicka 1540);
- Ceska Koruna (Address: Masarykovo Nam. 60/7);
- U Pristavu (Address: Labske Nabrezi 669/2);
- Rodinny Penzion U Karlu (Address: Rozany 43);
- Pastyrska Stena (Address: Zizkova 236/6);
- Kocanda (Address: (Address: Rytirska 77/2);
- Fabrika (Address: Obloukova 1413/3);
- Restaurant Na Tocne (Address: Janov 4).
But if you have decided to stay in Hrensko, there are also many restaurants to dine in:
- U Fořta (Address: Mezná 37);
- Pravcicka Brama (Address: Hřensko 82);
- Maya Inn (Address: Hřensko 18);
- The Dragon Inn (Address: Hřensko 159);
- The Crab House Restaurant (Address: Hřensko 28);
- Penzion Vlasta Hřensko (Address: Hřensko 150).
How to get from Prague to Bohemian Switzerland
There are no direct buses or trains to the place, but here is the instruction how to get to the closest point.
Prague – Bohemian Switzerland by bus
Travelling by bus takes 2.20 hours and tickets cost approximately 20-30 Euro. At the Prague main station take the K476 bus to the Budweis stop. From here there are still 9 kilometers, so it is better to take taxi and enjoy the surrounding beauty.
Prague – Bohemian Switzerland by train
Take the train from Prague main station to Decin. It will take you approximately 2 hours and from Decin take the bus to Hrensko, which is the closest stop to Bohemian Switzerland. You can buy tickets or find timetable here – Czech Railways.
Prague – Bohemian Switzerland by car
Going there by car is probably the most convenient way as it takes only 2 hours and gives more freedom. The distance between Prague and Czech Switzerland is 157 kilometers. You will need 13 liters of fuel, which is about 15-20 Euro.
Bohemian Switzerland review
This corner of the Czech Republic represents a unique and at the same time historic area of natural beauty. If you love hiking so this is the place where you can feel all the majesty of the country. Besides, we offer tours with a local guide who will help you to enjoy it in full.