As mentioned in the respective transportation tip, cycling along the river is an excellent option to get to Rathen. The village is actually at one of the most popular cycling trails in Germany, the Elbe cycling trail (Elberadweg) which runs along the Elbe river from the Czech border (Schmilka on the right bank/Schöna on the left bank) to the North Sea beyond Hamburg. If you want to you even cycle from/to the river head in the Krkonose mountains in the Czech Republic.
Reasonable cycling day trips from Rathen are Pirna and Dresden downstream, Bad Schandau and the Kirnitzsch valley or Decin/Czech Republic upstream. You can take the commuter or regional trains back to Rathen if you're too tired.
Another option, more challenging and thus for trained cyclers, are the paths from Niederrathen northeast toward Ziegenrücken, gaining altitude first. You can cycle from there to the Polenz valley (a small river) and follow the valley to Bad Schandau where you meet the Elbe cycling trail again.
Equipment: There are two places in Rathen where you can rent bicycles and equipment:
Right bank (Niederrathen):
Pension "Zum Talwächter"
Waltersdorfer Berg 17
daily 8 - 18 h
Left bank (Oberrathen):
Lindenhof Rathen GmbH
Der kleine Laden
daily 9 - 17.45 h
Reservations in advance are highly recommended since the bicycles rent out quickly.
Did you know that free climbing was first ever done in the sandstone massifs of Saxon Switzerland? Yep, in 1890. And when Saxon climber Fritz Wiessner emigrated to the U.S. in the 1930s it was 'exported' to North America.
Free climbing means the climber uses only hands, feet and other body parts (the latter can look funny - LOL) to get up to the summit, ropes and other forms of climbing protection are only for preventing falls.
The sandstone formations around Rathen are climber's paradise. On sunny days you can watch hundreds of people, from young kids to pensioners in their 70s and even 80s climbing the rocks. If you want to try it yourself you better hire a guide. I don't know of someone in Rathen, but there is a good climbing school in neighbouring Porschdorf, website see below. And don't worry, you don't have to climb up massifs like those on the picture - they start much easier :-)
Equipment: You can rent the equipment from the guides.
- Mountain Climbing
Gamrig is a small sandstone formation that you can hardly call a "mountain." The highest point has an elevation of only 253 m above sea level. And yet, it is a fantastic viewing point. Pic 1 has the view of Gamrig (middle of the picture) from another viewpoint at the road Bad Schandau - Rathewalde (S 163).
From Rathen - elevation 120 m at the Elbe river - it is just a 20-30 minutes walk up to the foot of the Gamrig rock formation. Here the ascent (+10 minutes) starts, fairly easy, no iron ladders or stairs, even doable for those with fear of heights (pic 2). Once you reach the plateau, however, you need to be careful because it is rugged and you better don't stumble!
The view is stunning. Pic 3 has the view southeast with Ruzova hora in the Czech Republic in the background, the sandstone mountains near Bad Schandau in the middle. Pic 4 shows the view southwest with Mt. Lilienstein and fortress Königstein. Pic 5, last but not least, has the view northwest toward Rathen, the Elbe river and Bastei.
Equipment: Solid footwear recommended. Bring food for a picnic!
- National/State Park
- Hiking and Walking