Special means of transportation
As usual in a mountain region, there are special means of transportation like cable cars and funicular etc. in the Erzgebirge. They are not included in the transportation networks (VMS, VVO) but many of them are covered by Erzgebirgscard (not horse-drawn carriage rides). Some examples:
The funicular from Erdmannsdorf up to Augustusburg is a convenient mode of transportation if you travel by public transportation and want to get to castle Augustusburg. The valley station is right next to Erzgebirgsbahn train stop Erdmannsdorf, from the top station it is still a 10 minutes walk uphill to the castle. We didn't pay attention to operation hours - big mistake: On Mondays it starts at 1 pm. Ugh.
There are two options to get from Oberwiesenthal to the top of Mt. Fichtelberg: cable car, actually the oldest in Germany, and chair lift. I took both and must say I enjoy the chair lift more - co-operating weather and no fear of heights are essential.
After 1990 Deutsche Bahn closed several railway routes in the Erzgebirge, but on one of them trains do still run occasionally: Between Annaberg-Buchholz and Schwarzenberg. It is called "Erzgebirgische Aussichtsbahn", and as the name promises the views are very beautiful. Quite famous is also the viaduct in Markersbach, the iron construction looks like it's made of matches.
In the past centuries several postal roads ran from Saxony right through the Erzgebirge mountains to Bohemia. On a couple of them you can do carriage rides in historic postal horse-drawn carriages. Check in Tharandt and Oberwiesenthal e.g.
- Hiking and Walking
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
There are still four narrow-gauge steam trains in operation in the Erzgebirge region: Weisseritztalbahn from Freital via Dippoldiswalde to Kurort Kipsdorf in the Eastern Erzgebirge, Fichtelbergbahn from Cranzahl to Oberwiesenthal and Pressnitztalbahn from Steinbach to Jöhstadt, both in the Upper Erzgebirge, and another one in the Western Erzgebirge from Schönheide to Stützengrün.
Weisseritztalbahn and Fichtelbergbahn are running daily, about every two hours, and they are included in the public transportation networks VVO resp. VMS (surcharge if traveling with single trip/day tickets, not with weekly/monthly tickets). Pressnitztalbahn and the train Schönheide to Stützengrün are operated by historic societies and they run only on weekends and special occasions. All of the steam trains are covered by Erzgebirgscard, though.
If possible, do try to ride one of those steam trains. It's big fun, especially for younger (and much older ;-)) kids! All the routes are very scenic. While Fichtelbergbahn runs through the highest parts of the Erzgebirge with wide open valleys and panoramic views, Pressnitztalbahn and Weisseritztalbahn run along narrower valleys, the latter even with tunnel, lots of bridges, you see more rocky patches - very romantic.
For more information on Fichtelbergbahn see my page on Kurort Oberwiesenthal, please. You find detailed information on Weisseritztalbahn on my pages about Freital and Dippoldiswalde.
- Historical Travel
- Family Travel
Getting to the Erzgebirge mountains by car is a good option if you want to visit smaller towns and places that are located some distance from the towns. The motorway A4 runs parallel to the foot of the Erzgebirge mountains in the north always near the cities Zwickau, Chemnitz, Freiberg, Dresden. The motorway A17 Dresden-Prague even goes over the eastern Erzgebirge mountains.
From the motorway exits main roads run higher up in southern direction into the mountains: B93 from Zwickau to the Western Erzgebirge, B95 from Chemnitz to the Upper Erzgebirge, B174 from Chemnitz to the central Erzgebirge, B170 from Dresden to the Eastern Erzgebirge. Fewer roads run in west-east direction, parallel to the main crest of the Erzgebirge mountains: B101 from Freiberg via Annaberg to Schwarzenberg, B171 from the Eastern Erzgebirge via Olbernhau and Marienberg to the Upper Erzgebirge (Annaberg). There is a dense network of smaller roads to each and every small town and village also, of course.
Be prepared that the roads are windy, sometimes narrow, and if not so then they are major thoroughfares like B174 which was recently reconstructed with huge bridges, partially with divided lanes, leading over the mountains from Germany to Czech Republic - and these attract much truck traffic.
In winter the road conditions can be tricky. Actually, they mostly are: The Erzgebirge is quite snow reliable which is good for skiing, but bad for driving. Expect snow covered roads, sometimes ice, although they do plough and salt as best as they can. And it is often foggy, the mountains may even be in clouds.
You better avoid driving to the Erzgebirge on weekends and during school holidays, especially in winter; it tends to be crowded then.
As for parking: You mostly pay for parking, especially in towns and at the sports (skiing) resorts. And after huge snowfall there it happens that parking lots are unavailable until they are cleared of snow, which can take time ...
- Skiing and Boarding
- Road Trip
Public Tranportation networks
The public transportation in the Erzgebirge is sufficient. Buses and Trams run frequently from the cities Dresden, Chemnitz and Zwickau to the towns and villages in the mountains. If you plan to visit small towns and villages you better have a close look at the schedules, because these are served less frequently.
The network VVO operates in the Eastern Erzgebirge, while the VMS network operates in the Central and Western Erzgebirge. Their tariff systems are different. You will rarely change forth and back between both areas, only around Freiberg/Frauenstein it is necessary. If so, you can buy tickets in the buses, though.
Please note that the Sachsen-Ticket is valid for trains in both networks, in buses only in the VMS network, the VVO doesn't accept it in buses. Also, if you use the Erzgebirgs-Card, then it is valid as day ticket for the whole VMS network, but not in the VVO network.
Beside the websites I listed below you can also use www.bahn.de for schedules. To get fares you better go to the respective networks' website.
- Budget Travel
Railway - Müglitztalbahn
Another railway in the Erzgebirge region is Müglitztalbahn, operated by Städtebahn Sachsen (SBS), which is a private company and not linked in any way to Deutsche Bahn. SBS runs a number of rail routes in the region east and south of Dresden. Strictly speaking, Müglitztalbahn starts in Heidenau and runs along the Müglitz valley to Altenberg, the main town in the Eastern Erzgebirge. However, the commuter trains S1 and S2 connect Dresden and Heidenau, travel time is only 14 minutes, so you can say that it is Müglitztalbahn, which Dresdners take to get to their nearest Erzgebirge area.
The train ride is very scenic: You pass a number of castles and small towns, lovely wide and lush valleys alternate with rocky and narrow patches, tunnels and bridges make it an interesting ride, and after Geising the train climbs up to Altenberg offering panoramic views.
The trains run hourly from Monday through Friday, only every two hours on weekends. The whole route is in the VVO public transportation network, their rules and fares apply. Unlike in trains operated by Deutsche Bahn you can buy tickets from the conductor on the train here, a big advantage.
- Budget Travel
Railway - Erzgebirgsbahn
The towns in the Erzgebirge mountains are linked by railways with cities at the foot of the mountains (Dresden, Freiberg, Chemnitz, Zwickau). Please note that these railroutes run along the valleys up toward the main crest of the mountains - parallel, but they are not linked with each other once they reach the higher regions. This is done by buses.
One of those railways is Erzgebirgsbahn, which is a subsidiary company of Deutsche Bahn. It operates four routes in the Erzgebirge region: One is from Zwickau via Aue and Schwarzenberg to Johanngeorgenstadt, a few trains over the main crest of the mountains to Karlovy Vary/Czech Republic.
The other three routes originate in Chemnitz: One goes in southwestern direction to Aue, where it connects to the Zwickau - Johanngeorgenstadt route, another runs to Flöha and along the Zschopau valley up to Annaberg-Buchholz and Cranzahl, where you have direct access to the narrow-gauge steam trains to Kurort Oberwiesenthal. Last but not least they operate the trains via Flöha to Olbernhau.
The rides are quite scenic - romantic valleys with views of castles in the lower parts, more mountain views in the upper parts.
Trains run basically hourly with a few exceptions - see websites for detailed schedules. All the trains are part of the VMS public transportation network, their rules and fares apply. Single trip, day tickets, family tickets etc. are available.
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Getting to Johanngeorgenstadt
This small place might not be on your road map.
Coming by car, take Autobahn 72 (Chemnitz-Hof) and leave at Reichenbach, drive on federal road 94 southwards. Turn left in Rodewisch on road 169. After 8km turn right towards Eibenstock/Johanngeorgenstadt. After 25km you arrive Johanngeogenstadt. Do not forget winter equipment between November and March!
Trains opperate from Zwickau Hbf (Main Station) every hour to Johanngeorgenstadt.
Getting around by sleigh
Walking in the winter wonder land is great but to avoid wet cold feet why not to do a tour in a two-horse open sleigh? In Johanngeorgenstadt you have the chance to hire a sleigh for a few hours. In the early 1990s I had the chance to have a ride and it was a great experience. I am not sure how much it once was - my parents paid.