Bastei - the famous viewpoint

Rathen Travel Blog

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Train station Stadt Wehlen

Probably the most famous viewpoint in the whole region is Bastei, a sandstone cliff that towers about 200 m above the Elbe river valley. From here you overlook the bend of the river near Kurort Rathen, the village below Bastei, with wide, green plateaus above the river and flat-top mountains that sit on those plateaus - typical for the region. In the background you see the somewhat higher mountains toward the Czech border, like the Erzgebirge mountains.

Bastei is easy to reach by bus from Pirna (#237 runs hourly) or by car (P+R with shuttle service to Bastei). However, for the full experience you better 'earn' the view with a hike. My favourite is with the start in Stadt Wehlen, a small town with train station in the Elbe river (S1 from Dresden, runs every half hour).

Stadt Wehlen
I crossed the river by ferry (included in the VVO public transportation network ticket that you buy for the train anyway) and after a stroll through the nice town, peeking into the church and buying some candy, walked up the stairs to the hill above the town. The medieval castle that once stood there is long gone, but the views are still very beautiful. From here I took the marked hiking trail that goes up to the wooded plateau where Bastei is, passing a couple of nice viewpoints.

When you're getting close to Bastei you easily realise that it is a very popular place, actually one of the hotspots of tourism in the region. On beautiful days, especially on weekends and holidays, it is terribly crowded. One reason is probably that you can reach it conveniently by bus or car, too. You see a few kiosk stalls selling souvenirs and simple food, but the plateau is dominated by a hotel and restaurant complex from the 1970s, the old "Swiss house" inbetween makes a nice contrast.
Stadt Wehlen
I usually avoid the (slightly) overpriced restaurants and bring my own picnic, but never miss visiting the several viewpoint. The best and most famous one is the "nose", a narrow sandstone plateau that protrudes a few metres and offers spectacular views of the river bend 200 m below, the plateaus and mountains of Saxon Switzerland. A few months ago they found out this "nose" is instable, however, and roped it off. I am afraid it will never be reopened again, there's nothing they can do to stabilise the rock - it's nature, after all, and the sandstone formation is very much exposed to erosion. They think about building a glass structure viewing platform, though. We'll see. So, at the moment you are limited to the other viewpoints - which offer similar views, just not with the thrill of the "nose".

Walking down the steps to the Bastei bridge there's a small path turning left before you reach the bridge, leading to another excellent viewpoint, from where you have the best view of the bridge and the deep glen below.
Stadt Wehlen
A *must*. Next it's time to walk across the bridge, at the other end you enter the area of the former castle Neu-Rathen. Not much is left of that medieval castle, but it's fun (especially for kids) to walk from one bizarre sandstone formation to the other, using wooden and iron ladders etc. There's a small exhibit, too, with a model of the former castle and you can see a ballista (historic sling shot) as well. Admission for this area is 2 Euros or so, but you can skip it if you want.

The trail down to Kurort Rathen is well maintained, with wooden and stone steps, at parts quite steep. A couple of viewpoints make for nice breaks. Kurort Rathen is cute, (almost) car free, and has the usual density of hotels, B&Bs, rental apartments and restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops etc. that you find in touristy small towns.
Stadt Wehlen, Markt square with "Fahrradkirche" (cyclers church)
The setting is very beautiful, of course, in a lovely side valley of the Elbe river, with old houses spread over the hillsides, nice gardens (rhododendron!) and the bizarre sandstone formations towering up behind them. Along the Elbe river is a nice promenade with flowers, benches, cafes, a ferry takes visitors to the other side, also part of the small town Kurort Rathen, with the train station.

Nemorino says:
Too bad about the "nose". But otherwise this sounds like a fine place to visit.
Posted on: Aug 20, 2017
aloneinthecrowd says:
Glückwunsch zu deinem Feature. Ich war vor einigen Jahren im Elbsandsteingebirge und es war wirklich beeindruckend.
Posted on: Jul 15, 2017
Paulovic says:
Congrats on being featured!
Posted on: Jul 15, 2017
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Train station Stadt Wehlen
Train station Stadt Wehlen
Stadt Wehlen
Stadt Wehlen
Stadt Wehlen
Stadt Wehlen
Stadt Wehlen
Stadt Wehlen
Stadt Wehlen, Markt square with F…
Stadt Wehlen, Markt square with "…
Stadt Wehlen, Markt square
Stadt Wehlen, Markt square
Stadt Wehlen, view from the castle…
Stadt Wehlen, view from the castl…
Stadt Wehlen, view from the castle…
Stadt Wehlen, view from the castl…
View from hiking trail Stadt Wehle…
View from hiking trail Stadt Wehl…
View from hiking trail Stadt Wehle…
View from hiking trail Stadt Wehl…
hiking trail Stadt Wehlen to Baste…
hiking trail Stadt Wehlen to Bast…
hiking trail Stadt Wehlen to Baste…
hiking trail Stadt Wehlen to Bast…
Bastei, hotel (left) and Swiss hou…
Bastei, hotel (left) and Swiss ho…
Bastei, the viewpoint
Bastei, the viewpoint
Bastei, the viewpoint
Bastei, the viewpoint
Bastei, view downstream to Stadt W…
Bastei, view downstream to Stadt …
Bastei, view from the self-service…
Bastei, view from the self-servic…
Bastei, view of bizarre sandstone …
Bastei, view of bizarre sandstone…
Bastei, view of the bridge from F…
Bastei, view of the bridge from "…
view from Ferdinandstein in easte…
view from "Ferdinandstein in east…
Bastei, view of Bastei bridge from…
Bastei, view of Bastei bridge fro…
Bastei bridge
Bastei bridge
Bastei bridge
Bastei bridge
Bastei bridge
Bastei bridge
Bastei bridge, eastern end
Bastei bridge, eastern end
entrance to former castle Felsenb…
entrance to former castle "Felsen…
former castle Felsenburg Neurathe…
former castle "Felsenburg Neurath…
former castle Felsenburg Neurathe…
former castle "Felsenburg Neurath…
former castle Felsenburg Neurathe…
former castle "Felsenburg Neurath…
model of former castle Felsenburg…
model of former castle "Felsenbur…
Trail from Bastei down to Kurort R…
Trail from Bastei down to Kurort …
Arriving in Kurort Rathen
Arriving in Kurort Rathen
Kurort Rathen
Kurort Rathen
Kurort Rathen, in the Rhododendron…
Kurort Rathen, in the Rhododendro…
Kurort Rathen, restaurant Altrathe…
Kurort Rathen, restaurant Altrath…
view from restaurant Altrathen
view from restaurant Altrathen
Kurort Rathen, view of the ferry a…
Kurort Rathen, view of the ferry …
Kurort Rathen, , the ferry
Kurort Rathen, , the ferry
Kurort Rathen, ferry and paddle st…
Kurort Rathen, ferry and paddle s…
Kurort Rathen, opposite riverbank …
Kurort Rathen, opposite riverbank…
Kurort Rathen, opposite riverbank …
Kurort Rathen, opposite riverbank…
Rathen
photo by: german_eagle