When trying to think of a name for my blog way way back in 2015, (yup, it’s been a while), I thought about including my obsession with mountains, beaches, AND forests all in a single name.
Sadly, I didn’t think names like “Fern to Seaweed” or “Moss to Algae” had quite the same ring to them as the final pick, Snow to Seas. I justified the choice by explaining that Snow to Seas could cover anything and everything from (and between) snowy mountain peaks to salty turquoise seas.
While I have more than a few posts dedicated to Alpine Adventures and vacations along the Mediterranean Sea, I decided it was time to dedicate one solely to the trees.
So “into the woods, it’s time to go…”
(See what I did there? FYI I was once in a children’s production of Into the Woods, and I proudly played the role of a forest mouse).
Now back to the main topic:
Bohemian Switzerland National Park is located in northeastern Czechia (aka the Czech Republic) and is approximately a 1.5 to 2 hour drive from the country’s capital, Prague. Throwing “Into the Woods” into the mix felt like the perfect fit, because the national park is worthy of being home to the most spectacular of fairy tales. The park’s never-ending forests and and breathtaking views are actually SO magical that Bohemian Switzerland was used as a filming location for the Chronicles of Narnia film: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Like planning a visit to Sonogno, Switzerland or a day trip to Hallstatt, Austria, ever since discovering the destination, I had this underlying feeling that Bohemian Switzerland would be one of those hard-to-get places. I was convinced that figuring out the best way to explore the National Park would be a whole adventure of its own. Fortunately, once we arrived in Děčín, a Czech city immediately south of Bohemian Switzerland, we quickly learned that visiting the National Park would be A LOT more straightforward than expected (with some trial-and-error involved first of course).
So to make your trip planning process as simple as possible, here are 12 things you need to know before visiting Bohemian Switzerland National Park in the Czech Republic. 7+ sites to see and activities to do have been included too!
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1. You’ll need more than just 1 day in Bohemian Switzerland
I’ve seen countless posts describing the National Park as the perfect day trip from Prague. However, there are so so sooooooo many incredible trails to wander and jaw-dropping sites to see in Bohemian Switzerland. Each landmark and trail requires an time investment, and some popular sites, such as the Pravčická Brána and Tisa Rocks are almost 30 km apart. I recommend spending at least 2 or more days in the area in order to get a true taste of Bohemian Switzerland.
The view from Pravčická Brána. The hike up to this landmark takes nearly 1 hour (not counting the walk to the designated trail entrance from Hřensko).
2. Consider starting your adventures in Hřensko
Hřensko is a small and picturesque village on the easter edge of Bohemian Switzerland National Park. Some of the park’s most famous sites and hiking destinations, such as the Pravčická Brána and the Gorges, are easily accessible on foot from Hřensko.
Views of the Silent Gorge right by Hřensko
3. It’s worth planning a loose itinerary ahead of time
On top of the distances between some of the most popular sites, each hike on its own isn’t a quick walk through the park. Also, some landmarks have limited hours of operation (Pravčická Brána closed at 6:00 pm in the summer). Considering which places you want check out each day, when, and it what order will definitely help you get the most out of your time in Bohemian Switzerland.
TIP: Since many sites close just before sunset, the earlier you start your day, the better!
It’s also worth noting that if you’re driving, where you park your car is probably where you’ll leave it for the day (rather than picking it back up after visiting one site and driving over to the next). Why?
- There isn’t an over abundance of parking spots available at sites surrounding Hřensko. It’s not worth the risk of being unable to find another spot even if it’s closer to the next attraction on your list
- Not all trails will take you in a perfect loop. For example, a trip through the Silent Gorge and then the Wild Gorge in Bohemian Switzerland will take you from Hřensko to Jetřichovice. These two villages are almost 14 km apart. Fortunately, public transportation in the form of a bus can get you back to your starting point (more on that soon).
4. Best time to visit Bohemian Switzerland
If you’re more of a casual hiker like me, I would recommend visiting the National Park between late Spring and early Fall. During this time, trails are in their best condition, and you won’t have to worry about packing additional gear for more extreme conditions, such as ice, snow, and cold.
It’s also worth noting that some attractions, such as the Gorges, are only open from April to October.
Exploring the tops of the Tisa Rocks – can’t imagine the tops of these formations being as easy to access during the winter
5. It’s is still quite a bit off-the-beaten-path
It might seem a bit unexpected for me to say that visiting Bohemian Switzerland during peak travel season is actually a good idea. However, the park can still be considered a bit of a hidden gem. Even in the middle of the summer, the crowds don’t compare to the multitude of people you’ll find exploring Hallstatt in Austria, Lago di Braies in Italy, and even the Triberg Waterfalls in Germany.
“Natural” stone steps up the Tisa Rocks
More GORGE-ous views (ok, someone needs to stop me…).
6. How to reach Bohemian Switzerland
From Prague, Czechia
I’m not going to deny the fact that driving to Bohemian Switzerland from either Prague, Czechia or Dresden, Germany is the easiest and fastest means of getting there. The drive from Prague to Hřensko using highways takes less than two hours (and just over two hours if you stick to country roads).
TIP: If you plan on taking a car onto Czech highways, don’t hop on without a vignette. Buying a 10-Day vignette (a removable sticker for your car’s windshield) from a gas station will cost you only about €12.50, and it let’s you use all of the country’s highways within that period of time. It’s totally worth it if you plan on doing a lot of driving.
Thinking about driving a rental car in Europe? Check out my post covering 14+ you need to know before renting a car in Europe here!
By Public Transportation
Sometimes it’s not about the destination, but about the journey…
Or so the saying goes…
It’s a fact that getting to Bohemian Switzerland National Park/Hřensko takes longer by public transportation than by getting in a car and driving straight there.
If public transportation works best for you, the easiest way to get to Bohemian Switzerland from Prague is by catching a train to Děčín. The train journey takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes. From Děčín, you can catch the 434 bus to Hřensko. The bus ride takes between 30 – 40 minutes.
From Dresden, Germany
If you happen to be heading over to Bohemian Switzerland from the other side of the border (Dresden, Germany to be precise), the drive will take you just over an hour.
By Public Transportation
You have two options if you’re planning on taking public transportation from Dresden to Hřensko. You can either take the train to Děčín (approximately 45 minutes) and then grab the 434 bus. Alternatively, you can board the train from Dresden to Bad Schandau, which will also take about 45 minutes. In Bad Schandau, a seasonal ferry runs to and from Hřensko. Generally, it operates from late April to early November, and this scenic boat ride takes approximately 1 hour.
For more information about the river ferry: click here.
You can check out public bus route itineraries in Czechia by clicking here.
|READ MORE: 14+ Tips and Tricks for Renting a Car and Planning a Road Trip in Europe|
7. Getting around Bohemian Switzerland
In addition to driving between different sites in Bohemian Switzerland National Park, the 434 Bus can take you to and from some of the top attractions in and around Hřensko. However, taking a combination of the 432 bus and 452 bus from Děčín is necessary in order to reach Tisa and the nearby Tisa Rocks.
If you’re feeling up for a bit of adventure, organized cycling tours (and just plain old bike rentals) are a popular way of exploring the area too.
Hiking up to see Pravčická Brána.
8. It’s very affordable
Yup, Bohemian Switzerland National Park is not an expensive place to visit, so it’s definitely a perfect destination for budget travelers. Admission fees to popular sites, such as the Gorges and Pravčická Brána range from €2.50 to €3.50. Parking for the whole day in Hřensko cost us €5.00.
Meals out cost us roughly €10 – €12 (approximately $10-$12 USD), and as expected, groceries were even less.
Rooms for 2 at some of the most highly rated hotels, guesthouses, and more are less than $100 USD per night. You can check the accommodation options out for yourself on Booking.com.
9. Bring cash
It’s hard not to get straight to the point here. Many establishments, including ticket booths and even restaurants, do not take any form of card payments. Make sure to always have cash on hand.
That being said, if you’ve been doing any Euro country hopping prior to popping into Czechia, some places, such as parking lots and ticket booths, in Bohemian Switzerland will accept Euros in addition Czech Koruna. However, I would recommend always having Czech Koruna just in case.
10. Pack and wear the right gear
A trip to Bohemian Switzerland is going to include A LOT of walking, quite a bit of hiking, and taking in endless mind-blowing views. Wearing supportive shoes with a reliable grip is essential along with clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Sure, you may break into a bit of a sweat while hiking, but we did find the paths around the Gorges to be a bit muddy due to all the surrounding water and shade.
As always, pack a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated and have your camera, whether it’s an old faithful DSLR or a phone, ready to go.
Almost all set and ready to go (please don’t mind the shoes).Every heard of #BohemianSwitzerland? SPOILER: It's not in Switzerland! Find out why this Czech National Park needs to be on your travel #bucketlist! #VisitCzechia Click To Tweet
11. Don’t skip any of these top sites
The Tisa Rocks, also known as the Tiské Stěny, are a maze-like collection of towering rock formations that you can wander around and climb.They’re one of Bohemian Switzerland’s most popular attractions and are located on the western edge of the National Park.
And yes, the Tisa Rocks were used to portray Narnia in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Tiské Stěny from below.
Tiské Stěny from above. Honestly, being able to climb these rocks and enjoy the views from the top was one of my favourite experiences.
Pravčická Brána / Pravčická Gate
Pravčická Brána is yet another mind bogglingly amazing rock formation and Narnia filming location in Bohemian Switzerland. It’s actually also Europe’s largest natural bridge and arch!
It’s possible to visit the gate on foot from Hřensko, and the hike from the Czech village will take you just over an hour.
The one and only Pravčická Brána.
Gorges of Kamenice
The two famous gorges in Bohemian Switzerland are known as the Silent Gorge, also called the Edmund Gorge, and the Wild Gorge, occasionally called the Divoká Gorge. They can be found along the Kamenice River and easily accessed from Hřensko. Exploring these the gorges feels stepping into an enchanted forest. The surreal cliffs, moss-covered rocks, and copious amounts of other greens make you feel like your eons away from modern civilization.
Sections of both gorges can only be crossed by boat. Undeniably, the highlight of each gorge visit is a 15-20 minute ride on a simple boat powered by a ferryman maneuvering a large pole (see below).
Views of the Silent Gorge from the boat.
As a heads up, it’s worth knowing that these sites and attractions aren’t open to the public every hour of the day or every day of the year.
For Pravčická Brána’s and the Gorges’ hours of operation: click here.
The Tiské Stěny don’t have their own website in English. For the moment, they seem to be open during all four seasons of the year from roughly 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.
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12. It’s not quite the same as Saxon Switzerland National Park
When looking up things to do in Bohemian Switzerland, you’ll definitely come across a list featuring the sites mentioned above and more – including one such attraction called the Bastei Bridge. Bastei may only be a 30-minute drive from Hřensko, but it’s over in Germany and part of Saxon Switzerland National Park.
In a nutshell, Saxon Switzerland lies adjacent to and is the German counterpart to Czechia’s Bohemian Switzerland National Park.
It’s hard to deny the fact that Bohemian Switzerland pretty much has it all:
- Breathtaking and one-of-a-kind experiences
- VERY affordable accommodation, transit, admission, and food options
- Few crowds
It’s popularity may slowly be growing, but the National Park is definitely still the perfect off-the-beaten path destination for anyone who is a fan of spending time outdoors.
Have you ever been to Bohemian Switzerland National Park? Would you like to go? Share your thoughts, tips, and experiences in the comments section below!