Download GPX file for this article
50.950014.0833Full screen dynamic map

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Rathen is a spa town in Saxon Switzerland, Germany. It is close to the Bastei, the most famous rock formation and spectacular viewpoint in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains.

Get in[edit]

The Bastei-Kraxler.

By plane[edit]

Dresden Airport (DRS IATA) is about 45 km (28 mi) away. The local train connection (S2 from airport to Dresden-Neustadt, then S1 to Rathen) takes 1 hour and 15 minutes.

By train[edit]

By suburban train (S-Bahn line S1) from Dresden (33 minutes from main station) or Bad Schandau (9 minutes). The train station is on the opposite side of the Elbe River which you have to cross by ferry (Gierfähre). Don't worry, it has very long operating hours, however the ferry does not accept normal VVO transport tickets.

In total, the train ride from Prague takes 2½ hours, from Berlin just under three hours (change in Bad Schandau).

By bus[edit]

For travelers heading directly to the Bastei, the OVPS public bus route 237 links the Bastei with Pirna and Sebnitz railway stations. Alternatively, the Frank Nuhn[dead link] company operates tourist bus services linking the Bastei with Wehlen, Bad Schandau (old town), and Königstein under the Bastei-Kraxler brand name. Normal local transport tickets are not valid on the Frank Nuhn services. All these buses call at the main Bastei parking lot, about 500m away.

By boat[edit]

There is also a seasonal (tourist) steamer service from Dresden (prices and travel time are significantly higher than by train).

By bicycle[edit]

The town is a stop along the Elbe Radweg.

Get around[edit]

Map of Rathen

The village is absolutely walkable, and the stiff ascent up to the Bastei may only be done on foot.

  • 1 Rathen Ferry. foot passenger cable ferry across the Elbe river, connects Niederrathen, on the east bank, to Oberrathen, on the west bank. Does not accept standard VVO transport tickets/passes. Rathen Ferry (Q7295628) on Wikidata Rathen Ferry on Wikipedia


  • 1 The Bastei. a group of rock outcroppings that form a popular tourist destination in Saxon Switzerland. They offer spectacular views of the Elbe and you can see the remains of an old medieval stronghold. Bastei (Q671486) on Wikidata Bastei on Wikipedia

The walk from Rathen is steep, there are about 150 metres in altitude difference, but well worth it. Paths are signposted and well-maintained and the steeper sections have steps.

There is no direct road route or public transport service from Rathen to the Bastei, although if you don't want to walk uphill you can take the bus routes from other towns mentioned above. The small access road to the Bastei branches off from the Lohmen- Rathewalde road. It is about 3 km from the main road. There is a parking lot about 500 m from the Bastei rock formation (parking fees apply). If that is overcrowded, as can easily happen in summer or any sunny weekend, there is another parking lot at the crossroads from the main road (parking fees). Walk or shuttle bus, €1.50 per person.

  • 2 Felsenburg Neurathen (a couple of steps across the 19th-century stone bridge). Using the Bastei rock as a defensive position, the remains of this 13th-century-castle are now an open-air-museum. Neurathen Castle (Q876135) on Wikidata Neurathen Castle on Wikipedia


Bastei Bridge
Staging of the opera Der Freischütz at Felsenbühne Rathen
  • Hiking: Many hiking trails start or pass through the area.
  • 1 Felsenbühne Rathen. An attractive open-air theatre in a beautiful natural surrounding. Stagings include Karl May's works (like "Winnetou") and the romantic opera Der Freischütz ("The Marksman") by Carl Maria von Weber, using elaborate stage effects like fireworks and horses. Felsenbühne Rathen (Q315337) on Wikidata Rathen Open Air Stage on Wikipedia


Souvenir shops have only the typical mass-produced tourist scrap on offer.


A view of Rathen village from the Bastei

Once you step off the ferry various restaurants and small food stands (selling Bratwurst and the likes) line the road up the hill.

  • Bastei Berghotel. The hotel runs several places to eat, from the Panoramarestaurat with great views and steep prices, a Hotel restaurant with open log fire to beer garden and snack places. Opening times vary, depending on the season. Contact see Hotel.


There is a beer garden on the Bastei opened in summer.


Information available on the town website[dead link].

Go next[edit]

  • Königstein, 16th-century mountain fortress, one of the biggest in Europe (7 km to the south)
  • Bad Schandau, idyllic spa town (8 km to the southeast, 9 minutes by train)
  • By suburban train or car to Dresden (40 km, half an hour by train)
  • The Czech Republic is close by. Eurocity-trains connecting to Prague and Brno stop in Bad Schandau as well as in Dresden. Some regional trains also cross the border. The next city on the Czech side is Děčín (30 km, 45 minutes by train)
This city travel guide to Rathen is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!