Bohemian Switzerland National Park is one of the Czech Republic‘s most popular national parks. Less than 120 kilometers from the hustle and bustle of Prague, you’ll find an unsuspected haven of peace and nature. An exceptional place, which we would like to present to you in detail in the rest of this article.
Where is the Bohemian Switzerland National Park?
Bohemian Switzerland National Park (known in Czech as Ceské švýcarsko) is several hours north of Prague. It lies close to the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. On the other side, you’re officially in the Saxon Switzerland National Park.
The Bohemian Switzerland side is rather light and hilly. Its magnificent forests are much appreciated. On the Saxon Switzerland side, on the other hand, the landscape is more lunar, with large canyons.
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How do you get there?
Getting to Bohemian Switzerland Park isn’t all that difficult.
From Prague, it takes between 1h45 and 2h by car. You can also take public transport, starting with the train to Decín.
From there, you can go by bus or cab. Alternatively, you can drive to Liberec and then travel at your leisure.
What to do in Bohemian Switzerland National Park?
In the rest of this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the main activities you can enjoy when you visit the heart of the Bohemian Switzerland National Park in the Czech Republic!
1. Admire the rock formations
On the Czech side of the park, in the heart of Bohemian Switzerland National Park, you can marvel at the countless breathtaking scenery. One of the most popular destinations is the lookout point overlooking the canyon, or the old Dolsky Mlyn mill.
Another popular spot is the rock formations at Tiské Skály. This is a veritable labyrinth of 30-metre-high sandstone rock faces. If you’re feeling brave, don’t hesitate to climb the (admittedly rather steep) metal ladders to the ruins of Šaunštejn Castle.
2. the Kamenice riverbank and gorges
In the heart of the Bohemian Switzerland National Park, you can also discover the sumptuous landscape of the river banks and the Kamenice Gorge. These offer the chance to discover canyons and mountains, right next to the water.
For a more relaxing route, you can also take a short boat trip between the villages of Hrensko and Srbská Kamenice. An opportunity to discover the surrounding area at your own pace.
3. Pravcická Brána
A natural rock formation, Pravcická Brána rises over 26 meters to the top of a hill. You may have seen it in several films, including The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
To get there, it’s a one- to two-hour walk. Once on site, however, it’s impossible to climb the arch. In 1982, the government decided to ban climbing in order to preserve the site.
You’ll also be close to Falcon’s Nest Castle (Sokolí hnízdo). It once belonged to Prince Edmund Clary-Aldringen. It now serves as a restaurant and photo gallery.
4. Bastei bridge
The Bastei Bridge is not technically on the Czech side of the Bohemian Switzerland National Park, but rather on the German side. However, it is easily accessible from Decín, particularly by bus.
Once there, you’ll need to walk for another hour or so to reach the bridge. The bridge rises to 305 meters above sea level. The Bastei Bridge offers one of the most breathtaking views you’ll find of the Elbe mountains.
At the top, you’ll find a restaurant with panoramic views and a gigantic observation platform. We recommend a visit, especially when the sun is setting.
5. Walking along the Elbe
The Elbe is the heart of Bohemian Switzerland. The river flows through the park, feeding streams and gorges, before continuing on to Germany. All along the way, you’ll find lovely paths, cycle tracks and magnificent forests.
6. Ruzovský Vrch
Ruzovský Vrch is the most famous mountain in Bohemian Switzerland. Its highest point is… 619 meters high. In other words, it’s a very big hill. You can easily reach its summit, as there are several hiking trails. As for the climb, there’s nothing really complicated about it.
At the top of the hill, visitors will find the remains of a watchtower and a restaurant, both destroyed by fire and abandoned decades ago. Today, the hill is part of a protected area and no new buildings may be erected there.
It’s possible to camp in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park. Be careful, though. You can’t camp everywhere, and only a few areas are open to the public. The Mezní Louka camp comes to mind, just a few minutes from the path leading to the Pravcická gate.
Ceská brána is a larger campsite (a little further on) offering grassy areas for pitching a tent. You can also leave your caravan here. If you’re feeling the cold, you can also rent a chalet!
What are the best hikes in Bohemian Switzerland National Park?
Unsurprisingly, summer is the most popular tourist season. For a more leisurely trip to Bohemian Switzerland, we recommend early spring or late autumn. The best hikes in the park are:
- The hike to Pravcická Brána: this is the best-known and most classic hike in the park; in the space of a day, you’ll have done it all. You’ll pass through Hrensko, the Gabriela Trail and the Pravcická Gate.
- Brtník Icefall Hike: 14 kilometers long (one way only), this hike takes you all the way to the Kyjov Valley. A “green” trail at first, the route then becomes more demanding. Well worth the effort.
- The 20-kilometer hike: this is the longest and most complex hike in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park. A signposted 20-kilometer loop that starts in Hrensko, leads to the Kamenice River and then to the Pravcická gate.
3 things to remember about Bohemian Switzerland:
- Bohemian Switzerland National Park is a haven of peace and nature for those who want to get away from Prague.
- Hikes, rest and relaxation, walks, runs, climbs… You can do whatever you like in this park of the Bohemian Swiss!
- It’s just a two-hour drive from the Czech capital. It’s quick and easy to get there, and there are plenty of hotels to welcome you!