Everything you need to know about planning a day trip to the Bastei bridge in Saxon Switzerland

There are some spots on earth that are so stunning, they appear to be a computer-animated and hardly real. The Bastei Bridge in Saxon Switzerland, only a short day trip from Dresden, is one of them: A daredevil bridge spans over a group of 190-meter tall rock needles, while the mighty river Elbe forms a generous bend the background. So insane!

The famous Bastei Bridge in winter - just a short day trip from Dresden
The Bastei Bridge in winter

Seriously guys, if you are visiting Dresden (make sure to read my guide) a quick day tour to Bastei Bridge is a real no-brainer. No matter if you are visiting in summer or winter, the ancient sandstones will impress you like no other! The best part: There isn’t even an entry fee for the national park!

Classic view of the Bastei Bridge in Spring
Classic view of the Bastei Bridge in Spring
Impressive rock formations on the other side of the Bastei bridge
Impressive rock formations on the other side of the Bastei bridge

Here’s what to expect:

Visiting the Bastei Bridge

Another view of the Bastei bridge
Another view of the Bastei bridge

The Bastei Bridge is a truly unique tourist attraction that dates back to the early 19th century. Back then, the first tourists came to admire the awe-inspiring view, and very soon the first wooden bridge was built (1826).

One of the many little viewing platforms on the Bastei Bridge and a beautiful view of Saxon Switzerland
One of the many little viewing platforms on the Bastei Bridge

In 1851 the wooden bridge was replaced with a more durable one built with sandstone. 76 meters long, seven arches and up to 40 meters high – this is the mighty Bastei Bridge. It serves no purpose whatsoever, other than letting tourists admire the panorama of Saxon Switzerland from the various viewpoints. 1,5 million people come to visit each year.

The Bastei Bridge and the remains of castle Neurathen in Saxon Switzerland, near Dresden
Bastei Bridge and remains of castle Neurathen (on the left)

Yet, the Bastei is way older and more important than these numbers suggest. During the medieval times, first mentioned in 1289 AD, a castle abutted the mighty rock needless behind the current Bastei Bridge: The Castle Neurathen (“Felsenburg Neurathen”)

Reconstructed walkways of Castle Neurathen right behind Bastei Bridge in Saxon Switzerland
Reconstructed walkways of Castle Neurathen (and a catapult to the right)

Nothing remains of the original castle these days other than the foundations, as it was built with wood, rather than stone. Not too much is known about the little castle, and sources name it a ruin as early as 1530.

A sketch of how Castle Neurathen once looked like
Sketch of the old castle

Yet archeologists worked hard to convert the scant remains into an open-air museum. Ever since 1984 the ancient walkways are reopened, giving you a little glimpse of what Castle Neurathen must have looked like in ancient times. The Entrance fee is 4 Euros – the only part of the Bastei that is not free.

One of many iron walkways in Castle Neurathen, bastei bridge

Fun fact: The name Bastei derives from an Italian word “bastia“, which means bulwark (and bastia derives from the Germanic word bastjan, to build).

View of the River Elbe from bastei bridge
View of the River Elbe

I want to be quite honest with you, though. The main reason to visit the Bastei Bridge are the views and not the castle. While walking the actual bridge is fun, there are also a couple of promontories where you can catch a magnificent view of the valley of the River Elbe.

View of the River Elbe from Bastei Bridge only a short day trip from Dresden
View from one of the lower viewpoints

Actually, this is why hiking all the way to the top is recommended, though it is entirely feasible to walk a bit down from the top – the best viewpoints of the valley below are, quite unsurprising, at the very top.

The famous Bastei viewing platform
The famous Bastei panorama platform (now closed)

There used to be quite a famous panorama platform at the very top as well. The platform is still there, but ever since 2016 it’s been closed for tourists as the rock below appears to be unstable. There are plans to build a new platform, but construction will probably start no earlier than 2022. In all earnest, the view is almost as good from 10 meters back, so it’s no big worry.

The iron walkways near Bastei Bridge in Saxon Switzerland
The walkways are a bit scary but definitely safe!

Definitely consider walking a bit in the other direction as well. You will be able to see the iconic panorama from another cliffside platform a bit farther back, quite close to the restaurant. This is the only part of the Bastei that is a bit scary, but as there are railings everywhere, you shouldn’t worry. Germans take safety very, very seriously.

View from the restaurant at Bastei bridge, Germany
How gorgeous is this view?!

And talking about the restaurant. You should definitely consider eating there. The view from the main dining hall is nothing short of stunning. Actually, I’d be hard-pressed to name 5 restaurants on this planet with a better view. They serve quite authentic Saxon food.

Note: If you want to sit at the window, you need to reserve in advance. The restaurant is very popular among locals.

The so called Schweizer Haus at Bastei Bridge
The old part of the Bastei hotel in winter – so romantic

There is not only a restaurant but a whole hotel. The mountain hotel Bastei (click for prices & more pictures) dates back to the 18th century as well. If you want to explore the rest of Saxon Switzerland (and even the Bohemian Switzerland), then this could be a very nice spot for you.

How to get to the Bastei bridge from Dresden?

view of Saxon Switzerland from Bastei Bridge
View of Saxon Switzerland from Bastei Bridge

Now you are probably wondering how to get to Bastei from Dresden. The good news: It’s just 50 kilometers away, and, popular as it is, it’s quite easy to reach with public transport. You can either go by boat, bus or train. Naturally, you can also hire a car, which would make sense, if you want to explore the rest of Saxon Switzerland.

If you want to save yourself the hassle of organizing this yourself, you can book a prearranged guided tour. Book it here.

But, let’s take a more detailed look:

From Dresden to Bastei bridge by train (hike included)

The Ferry Neurathen in Saxon Switzerland, near Dresden
View of the ferry getting you to Bastei Bridge

By far the easiest and most versatile way to get to Bastei bridge from Dresden is taking the train to the village of Rathen. Train S2 departs every 20 minutes and will get you there in 35 minutes. Once you arrived, you need to go to the ferry (no worries, there are signs all over the place and it’s virtually impossible to miss the River Elbe) and cross the river.

The ferry in Rathen is used by locals and tourists alike, so it operates all year and during the waking hours (roughly 5 am till midnight). Tickets are 2 Euros both ways.

View of the Bastei bridge from above - how to get there from Dresden? Take the train, bus or even go there by boat
View of the Bastei from above

Once you are on the other side, you have to follow the signs (or the other hikers) and hike all the way up to Bastei Bridge. You will see the famous rock formations from the bottom. The hike will take about 30-45 minutes.

The hike is quite pleasant and will only cover a height of about 110 meters. Sturdy walking shoes are enough. The pathways are well maintained and there are railings almost throughout the whole hike.

Time: 90 minutes
Price:16 euros (if you get a day ticket for the train & bus)

Note: Someone asked where you can buy the train tickets to Bastei Bridge and if you can do so in advance. You’ll find vending machines at all stations (easy switch to English). There is no need to buy them in advance as there are no reserved seats, etc. You could buy them online as well on the official website of the Germain Railway. But you’ll have to register, etc, and as it takes literally 2 minutes to buy the tickets, I’m not sure why you would want to do it.

From Dresden to Bastei Bridge by train & bus (for non-hikers)

The train to Pirna from Dresden main station - the S2 leaves every 20 minutes
The train to Pirna from Dresden main station

You could also do a combination of train and bus. This is the best version if you don’t or can’t hike all the way to the top. In this case, first, take the train S2 from Central Station to Pirna. It takes 20 minutes and leaves every 20 minutes.

The bus station in Pirna right behind the main station that will get you to Bastei / Lohmen
The bus station in Pirna

In Pirna exit the train station and go to the adjacent central bus station (you have to walk through a little underbridge) and then wait for bus 237 towards Sebnitz. It leaves about once an hour, so make sure to check the schedule before you leave from Dresden. This bus will get you directly to the back of Bastei.

You will have to walk the last stretch, but it’s an even road and only about 300 meters. Note: Don’t get out at the Park and Ride bus stop, where the bus is scheduled to wait 5 minutes.

Time: ~65 minutes
Price: 14 euros (if you get a day ticket for the train & bus)

Tourist bus from Dresden to Bastei

You can also take the bus from Dresden to Bastei. During the tourist season, a couple of companies offer direct bus trips from Dresden. Usually, these tours will stop at the amazing Köngigsstein fortress as well.

Here is a fantastic Bastei & Königstein tour >

Time: 5 hours (altogether)
Price: 40-50 Euros (depending on the agency)

Taking the steamboat to Bastei

The magnificient valley of the River Elbe as seen from Bastei Bridge
The magnificent valley of the River Elbe

You could also take the steamboat to Bastei, or rather the village of Rathen and then hike to the top. I have to say that the valley of the River Elbe is truly stunning in this part, and taking the boat really is worth it. That being said, boats do NOT leave from Dresden. Again, you have to take the train to Pirna and then take the bus (or walk) to the pier in Pirna.

Here is a tour you might want to check out

Time: 5 hours
Price: 34 Euros

Note: You can also do a day trip from Prague to Bastei bridge

Best time to visit Bastei Bridge

Bastei Bridge in Winter - my favorite time of the year
Bastei Bridge in Winter – my favorite time of the year

Seriously, there is no good or bad time to visit Bastei. As it is so easy to access, it will be beautiful no matter when you come. Germany has four very distinct seasons, and each of them is wonderful.

The Bastei viewing platform in winter
Viewing platform in winter

If I had to decide, then I’d try to visit in winter. There are hardly any people visiting then, and after a fresh snowfall, Bastei is the most stunning. Autumn can be very beautiful as well, while summer will be very busy.

Tourists crowding the Bastei bridge on a busy weekend - try to visit during the week
Tourists crowding the bridge on a busy weekend

I’d absolutely avoid visiting on national holidays. Weekends are usually very busy as well. Usually, noon is the busiest time, so either get there early in the morning or later in the evening. For taking pictures, late afternoon or very early in the morning is best.

So, this was my little guide on how to visit Bastei Bridge on a day trip from Dresden, Germany. Hope I was able to convince you to plan a trip. Got any questions? Leave them in the comments below.

How to visit the Bastei Bridge in Saxon Switzerland on a daytrip from Dresden, Germany. Everything you need to know: How to get to Bastei bridge from Dresden by bus, boat or train, where to stay and what to expect
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  1. Hi,
    I really enjoyed your blog, thank you. I am an amateur photographer, visiting Bastei bridge in late December. Just wondering where I should go for a good view of the bridge, many thanks. Hannah

    • Hey Hannah,

      you’ll find best Bastei Bridge photography spot from one of the outcrops before the actual site. There is a little path that branches off to the left. The place is called Ferdinanstein.

      • Hi Norman,
        I’m off to Dresden next week and after reading your blog you inspired me to go to the Bastei bridge as well, as I love taking photos… So my question is from which viewpoint did you take the amazing shot of the bridge that you use as cover photo? Is that from the Ferdinanstein viewpoint you mention to Hannah? I hope it is not the same viewpoint that many people say that it is now closed…?
        Thanks Norman for an excellent blog and for any help with how to find “that” viewpoint.
        Best regards,

      • Hey Karin,

        it is the Ferdinanstein. Don’t know if it’s closed right now due to corona. What is closed and has been for years is the “Basteiausicht”

  2. hello, how and where can I get the day ticket for train & bus? Can I buy the day ticket online in advance? And if yes, do you have the website please? Thanks.

    • Hey Izzy,

      there are vending machines at the central train station (you can switch to english language). Just type in Dresden to Pirna and it will spit out your ticket. There is no need to buy them in advance (as they can’t sell out, etc)

  3. Hi,

    You are saying not to get out at some bus stop. Which busstop i should get out? Was not clear for me.
    Thank you.

    Kind regards,
    No hiker


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