I wrote “viewpoint areas” intentionally, as it is, in most cases, not just one viewpoint. Due to the local landscape character: rich sand-stone formations scattered in the forest alongside the Elbe River, it is never just one peak you climb up to and spend five minutes making pictures. The long sandstone ridge, winding along the Elbe Canyon (by the way, Europe’s biggest sandstone canyon!), provides many different angles and altitudes to view the romantically rugged, post-volcanic landscape of the North Bohemia.
1. TISA ROCK TOWN VIEWPOINTS
The famous sandstone region of Tiske steny lies a bit further from the Elbe River, enveloped in a dense, mostly pine-tree forest, right now (June) abundant with free blueberries! Thanks to the newly built bit of the D8 highway, it makes an easy one-day trip target, even from Prague. There is even a group of local experts from Northern Hikes specializing in this discipline, picking up tourists from their Prague hotels and driving them in comfortable vans all the way up here to spend the day away from the city hustle, in the “wilderness”.
Tisa has recently also become one of the most favorite Czech areas for Instagrammers. Ever wondered where the beautiful “sun-catching” pictures by @Kubajsczcom come from? And just like @Kubjsczcom comes here all year round, so does the beautiful Bohemian Switzerland “ambassador” Sabinka aka @sabinkabednar. She likes to sit on top of the many sandstone viewpoints and watch the evening or morning sunlit landscape or she just comes to chill out with the two loves of her life (her dog and her boyfriend:). Once you get here yourself, you will understand why.
It is easy to reach, not difficult to hike, but still pretty fairy, wild and no view is ever the same! You hop from one sand-rock peak to another and the quick-changing weather and the different seasons take care of the diverse and so very photogenic arrangement. Lately, many people come here in the winter too, because of the famous Chronicles of Narina movie. Parts of it were shot here. The snow-covered sandstone maze did the magic for the director of the movie, Andrew Adamson, and it will do it for you too!
2. MARIINA VIEWPOINT
“Picturesque” is probably the best word to describe the little shed on top of the high-rising sandstone rock
You will get here following the red trail from Jetrichovice, a favorite holiday spot in the heart of the Bohemian Switzerland National Park. There are many accommodation possibilities, which is good, because that makes it easy for you to get up to the viewpoint before the sunrise and catch some of the best shots of the beautiful surrounding landscape getting a generous bath in the gentle foggy colors of the morning light.
This is especially true in the fall season, when the delicate atmospheric coloring is underlined by the earthly shades of the autumnal forest. The world-famous landscape photographers like e.g. Martin Rak or Mike Clegg love the spot and like to come back for the guaranteed diversity of the fruitful photo-harvest.
Want an insider tip? Mariina viewpoint is a great place for stars shooting. It is high above everything else, there is not much light smog around because you are in the middle of the forest, all is calm and peaceful, waiting for the click of your shutter.
3. THE ROSE RIDGE – ON THE EDGE OF THE ELBE RIVER CANYON
Guys, I know I will probably make you envious, but I just have to come clean on this: I see the Rose Ridge (Ruzovy Hreben) from my bedroom window! And it really gets pink! Regularly. In the early mornings and in the late afternoons. It is a monumental formation of sandstone walls, towering right above the Elbe Canyon.
You can reach it simply by walking from the city of Decin. Just find the trail leading to the favorite city viewpoint from the table mountain Kvadrberg and then continue walking the red trail on the top of the ridge. It stretches all the way to the German border (Hrensko/Schmilka), and offers quite a lot of impressive viewpoints. You will notice quite a few odd, chiseled stones, scattered along the trail, apparently a ruin of something that used to have an important function, a reminder of the fact, that this trail is one of the oldest in Europe and had once been a well-kept route. It is therefore not a surprise when I tell you, that the international trail E3, connecting the Black and the Northern Sea runs through here. Incredible, right?
Bird-lovers and bird-watchers will be excited to hear that this place is a natural habitat of the wild falcon. So, if you are lucky, you get to experience his magnificent flight over the Elbe Canyon. Way more dignified than One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest:).
This is really a great all-day trip, only, be advised that there are not too many refreshment possibilities on the way, so don’t forget to take a picnic along or whatever else you need to make you happy and hike-able all day long! Like the local coffee and outdoor enthusiasts from the Bohemian coffee house, who took along an entire coffee-making apparatus just to enjoy their coffee ritual up here on the pinkish ridge, overlooking Europe’s deepest sandstone canyon!
4. THE BASTEI BRIDGE
Bastei is the most man-crafted viewpoint of all the 5 mentioned here. It is a majestic stone bridge built among the high-rising walls of the natural sand-rocks, connecting a few of them in order to get a better view of the Elbe Canyon. By the way, the very first European man-built structure for the sole purpose of tourism.
Once you step foot on the bridge, it makes you feel like walking towards King Arthur’s citadel. But of course it is in Germany, so forget about the round table and go check out the many different viewpoints up here. I chose this place even though it is not part of the Bohemian Switzerland, but actually already lies on the Saxon side of the national park.
Not that there would not be more sites to recommend on the Czech side of the border, but simply because I think you would hate me if you came this close and then, back home, found out there was a chance to see the famous Bastei Bridge and you didn’t go. So go. And don’t forget the camera. And do get up early to catch the sunrise, as in the morning atmosphere, with no crowds, there is a huge potential for the best Instagram story you ever did! People did that here centuries back. People like Hans Christian Andersen or Caspar David Friedrich, and many other famous romantic artists. Without a car parked on the nearby parking lot! And despite that, some of the most inspiring work came out of their contemplation up here on Bastei.
5. CAROLAFELSEN VIEWPOINT
Ok, since we are already on the other side of the border, let’s round the big five with another German viewpoint. Carolafelsen is a great spot to overlook the famous local phenomenon: the table mountains! A residue of the wild volcanic (pre)history, table mountains make this area really unique
The fun thing about Carolafelsen is that even though it is not too large, it offers many little plateaus, so you can be sure to find your own private viewpoint even though many tourists like to come up here in the season. As a bonus to the table mountains (like e.g. the Groβer Zschirnstein), you will also get the incredible view of the Schrammsteine, an imposing, tight formation of sharply shaped sandstone walls, towering right across the Elbe Canyon. With a bit of luck, you may experience a brusque change of weather, sudden rainbow connecting two table mountains on the horizon, freshly washed by a short summer thunderstorm.
Local instagrammers like @janikastankova come here especially for the Golden hour when the late evening setting sun says good night to the world with the last warm splash of golden light. Janika is definitely not an early bird, so it suits her lifestyle and she comes to Carolafelsen every weekend to do both, enjoy herself as well as inspire her Instagram followers with great visual story telling.
Well, you see, like I mentioned at the beginning: in Bohemian-Saxon Switzerland, you don’t really have the highs and the lows like everywhere else. Around here, you climb on top (geomorphologically as well as emotionally and spiritually) and you stay on top. Usually for a few hours. Days. And sometimes, sometimes you stay for life. Like in my case.