Saxon Switzerland National Park, also called Elbe Sandstone Mountains or Elbsandsteingebirge, is an area of outstanding natural beauty just 50km from Saxony's capital, Dresden. Germany's only rock national park, the area received its best known name from two Swiss artists, who decided that the mountainous landscape reminded them of their own mother country. Covering a 93km stretch between the Czech border town of Hřensko in the east and theSaxon town of Pirna in the west, the majestic peaks and cavernous sandstone valleys have lent the park yet another nickname: Germany's Grand Canyon.
With over 1,100 freestanding rocks and 700 full peaks, it isn't surprising to learn that this is the birthplace of free climbing. Expert climbing tutors are on hand to guide novices through the basics of this extreme sport, and there are various tours led by professional mountaineers to help newcomers gain the most from their canyon experience.
On the ground, hikers are equally spoiled for choice, with 1,200km of tracks that cover everything from gentle forest trails to more challenging networks of rock paths. Painters' Way, or Malerweg, is a particular favourite with walkers. Leading hikers along 112km of intricate maze-like routes, it's ideal for a weeklong expedition - keep an eye out for kingfishers, otters and even wild lynx as you wander through the park. Even without superhuman stamina or specialist climbing training, you'll be able to visit iconic sights like the sandstone Bastei Bridge; the lofty Königstein Fortress, 245m above the Elbe River; the ornate church of St. Johanniskirche in Bad Schandau, and the Baroque chapel of Weesenstein Castle.
Keen cyclists will be faced with a whole host of new challenges, with sign-posted cycle paths throughout the park and all along the river. Invest in a good off-road bike and explore the eastern end of the Elbe Cycle Route, or Elberadweg, following the Elbe River from Dresden to Bad Schandau. The full route runs all the way to Cuxhaven and is remarkably smooth, with the route from east to west gently downhill almost the entire way.
Although adventure sports are a huge part of the Saxon Switzerland National Park's appeal, the landscape also lends itself to more sedate pastimes. Take a scenic boat trip along the Elbe to drift past the imposing mountains and dense woodlands in supreme comfort, or book in to one of the region's many health spas and wellness centres, which benefit from the healing powers of both the natural springs and the fortifying Saxony air. The park is also perfect for practising Terrainkur, a form of movement therapy that draws inspiration from the natural world.
Saxon Switzerland National Park benefits from solid transport links to the rest of Europe. There are regular international flights to and from Dresden Airport, with efficient rail links making it easy to travel around Saxony and the surrounding states. The outstanding beauty of the area coupled with such convenient amenities make properties in nearby Dresden notably fruitful investments. To find out more about these real estate opportunities, visit the Engel & Völkers website or speak with our expert advisors at one of the Engel & Völkers Dresden offices.