Saxonian Switzerland, Dresden
This is a wonderful side trip to see something not usually found in Germany. The rock formations are about 600 feet above the Elbe river and formed over one million years ago resulting in jagged rocks with erosion in between them. For 200 years this has been a drawing attraction and the first bridge built in 1824 to traverse across a gap, and later in 1851 and solid sandstone bridge was constructed. The rocks were a defense position for the inhabitants back in the 1200's, bring high up and steep cliffs to climb.
This Switzerland Park encompasses this site and bounds the Czech Republic to the south.
Entry is 10-7PM almost daily, and the fee to enter is 1,50 Euro to Neurathan defense fort (now gone-but some replicated), and parking is 3 Euro
Some people walk the 2+ miles to the entrance for sport instead of waiting for a crowded shuttle bus. Perplexing is that a lot of people come here, and stay right in the center by the shops and do not venture onto the walk paths; just came to eat and buy. Walking the paths can become crowded and in summers, I am not sure I would want to come here for that reason. But views are wonderful, and the total walk can be between 2 miles round trip to 4 miles RT.
it is not really off the beaten path, but the Sächsische Schweiz (Saxonian Switzerland) is a little outside of Dresden.
Take the tram to Rathen and then follow all the tourists who want to see this beautiful place!
Perhaps the strongest fortress in the history of Saxony, this near impenetrable structure is ideally situated on the top of a sheer 750 foot sandstone formation that seems to rise vertically from the Elbe river below. The impressive grounds can fill a couple hours stroll on a nice day, but on a bitterly cold one in January, the exhibits failed to hold our attention and the views were obscured a bit by clouds. Still, just seeing this massive 750 year old building is worth the short ride out there. The most popular event is the medieval Christmas market on weekends in December. If you are heading out to the Elbsandsteingebirge, it's worth stopping here too.
That is what I most like around Dresden. Usually the first place I take all my friends to is Bastei and it really worths visiting. One can take a S-bahn till Kurort Rathen and then use Ferry boat to get on the opposite side of the Elba. The views from the top are great and the narrow path between cliffs is beautiful.
Koenigstein is usually the next one for my friends. The old fortress on the top of mount.
But my favorits are areas called Schrammstein and Affenstein. Walking on the top of cliffs is amazing!
On the pic you see the Castle Koenigstein and the popular rock Lilienstein. Koenigstein is the name of the castle on the rock and the name of the village too. It´s a must to visit both! Castle Koenigstein is easy for walikng - it´s not so high. But for the rock Lilienstein you need good shoes and should be very because it´s a long and high way for hiking.
Papstein is one of the many rocks in Saxonia Switzerland where you can walk to the top. It´s near from the village Papsdorf, Gohrisch and Koenigstein. From the top you have a great view to the popular rocks Barbarine, Pfaffenstein. There are many parkingplaces for starting the hiking tour. I can recommend everybody to make such hiking tour. You will have wonderful views from different rocks or just enjoy the great natur in the woods.
The Königstein Fortress was first meantioned in a document of 1241. It has been a medieval castle, later a monastery and finally a fortress. In the 16th century it became a state prison and in the following centuries it saw kings and emperors like August the Strong, Tsar Peter I. and Napoleon. The fortress is situated on a tabel mount in a height of 361m (1184 ft). From the walls of the fortress you have a fantastic view of the Elbsandsteingebirge (Elbe Sandstone Mountains). It is an ideal point for both lovers of military history and nature.
The Sächsische Schweiz or Saxony's Switzerland, Saxony's renowned National Park, is also its most beautiful asset. Formed during the Cretaceous period, between 1444 and 66 million years ago, by sediment deposits that grew over the course of time to up to 600 meters, the Elbsandsteinbegirge (sandstone mountains) has been the playground of nature lovers for some two hundred years. With over 1200 hiking paths and some 1100 peaks, the park offers something for everyone. The romantic intermingling of man-made structures and those of nature is perhaps its most intriguing feature. It's just a short drive from Dresden and well worth the effort to get out there.