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The best of the Malerweg hike in 4 days

Ready for an incredible journey in the Saxon Switzerland National Park in Germany? Today I will take you to the most stunning places of this region alongside the Malerweg road. Put your best walking shoes on, pack your backpack, and let's go for a hike filled with breathtaking viewpoints, rock formations, caves, and challenges.


In this article, we will take a closer look at the Malerweg hike, including the Bastei Bridge, accommodation options, and places to eat along the way.

Bastei Bridge


The region

The Saxon Switzerland National Park is a beautiful region where purity and serenity are kings. Don't let the name fool you, though, the National Park is located at the border of Germany and the Czech Republic with as its capital the city of Dresden.


The Elbe Sandstone Mountains Malerweg contains 116 kilometers of pure hiking pleasure and is divided into eight stages, which can be done in 8 hiking days. Each stage is well-marked and offers plenty of opportunities to rest and take in the scenery. One of the highlights of the Malerweg hike is the Bastei Bridge, a stunning sandstone bridge that offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. As we only had four days to discover the beautiful and rough terrain of the Malerweg, we decided to opt for the four most beautiful stages of the hike.


The stages of the Malerweg we chose to do

  • Stage 2: from Stadt Whelen to Hohnstein (approx. 13.2 km, 5 hrs, 632 meters elevation)

  • Stage 3: from Hohnstein to Altendorf (approx. 11.7 km, 5 hrs, 412 meters elevation)

  • Stage 4: From Altendorf to Neumannmühle (approx. 17.6 km, 7 hrs, 464 meters elevation)

  • Stage 5: From Neumannmühle to Schmilka (approx. 13.6 km, 7 hrs, 625 meters elevation)

During this itinerary, we will park the car in Stadt Whelen, take the train from there to Schmilka, and follow the trail from Stage 5 back to Stage 2. In other words, we will be doing to trail backward, from Schmilka towards Stadt Whelen where you parked the car.


During these stages, you will encounter the following wonders:

  • Königstein Fortress, Pfaffenstein, Barbarine, Kuhstall, Affensteine, Schrammsteine, Kirnitzschtal, Hohnstein Castle, Rathen Open-Air Stage and the Bastei Bridge

Malerweg hike

Is the Malerweg hike for everyone?

The complete hike can be done by people who are used to hiking and have a good fitness level. The total elevation of these four stages of the Malerweg is 2000 m, and you will walk around 6–7 hours a day for a length of 10-15 km per day.


But if you are not used to hiking, you can also visit the different stages of the Malerweg because there are buses that connect every stage. You will have a bus every half hour and even more to the more notorious places.

View from Bastei Bridge

Day 1: From Schmilka to Neumansmuhle

I parked the car in Stadt Whelen, which is a quiet and safe village, and from there I took the ferry to the train station to take the train towards Schmila. I recommend going old school in this region and taking enough cash with you. Also, when looking for the right information, go for the printed billboards at the station as their information is accurate. You can also go for the online information which can be found on this site.


Once you arrive in Schmila you will immediately see the Malerweg boards pointing you in the right direction. Keep in mind that with this itinerary, you are doing the trail backward, so go from stage 5 to stage 2. So in other words you are going from Schmilka back to Stadt Whelen where you left your car.

Malerweg hike signpost

Starting in Schmilka, the trail leads hikers through the Krippenbach Valley, a picturesque valley with dense forests, rugged cliffs, and several small streams. The trail then ascends to the Krippensteine rock formation, which offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.


From there, the trail continues through the forests and past several small villages, including the village of Königstein, which is known for its hilltop fortress and historic buildings.


One of the highlights of this section of the trail is the Pfaffenstein rock formation, a towering rock formation that offers panoramic views of the countryside. The trail also passes by the Barbarine rock formation, which is named after a popular local legend.

Malerweg hike

The trail then leads hikers through the village of Uttewalder Grund and up to the Bärenfangwände cliffs, which are known for their unique rock formations and stunning views.


Finally, the trail descends into the valley of the Bielatal stream and leads hikers through the lush forests and past several small waterfalls before arriving in Neumühle.

Malerweg hike

Day 2: From Neumansmuhle to Altendorf

This is my favorite stage because you get rewarded a lot for your challenging hike. You will go from viewpoint to viewpoint, going through caves and hitting those never-ending stairs to the top of the rocks. This section of the Malerweg trail between Neumühle and Altendorf is a 14-kilometer stretch that takes hikers through some of the most picturesque landscapes of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains.


Starting in Neumühle, the trail begins with a steep climb up to the Schrammsteine rock formations, which offer stunning panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. From there, the trail takes hikers through dense forests and past several small streams.

Stairs and rock formations Malerweg hike

One of the highlights of this section of the trail is the Schmilka-Hirschmühle ferry, which takes hikers across the Elbe River to the small village of Schmilka. This is a great opportunity to take a break, relax, and enjoy some local food and drink.


After crossing the Elbe River, the trail takes hikers through the charming village of Schmilka and up to the Großer Winterberg, which is the highest peak in the region. From the top of the Winterberg, hikers can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.


The trail then continues through the forests and along the Malerweg cliffs, passing by the Lichtenhainer Waterfall and the Kuhstall rock formation before arriving in Altendorf, a small village with traditional half-timbered houses.

Saupsdorf Malerweg

Day 3: From Altendorf to Hohnstein

Today is another magical day on this trip with a hike of 11.7 km. You will see a lot of highlights in this part. Starting in Altendorf, the trail takes you through the charming village and up to the fortress of Königstein, a massive hilltop fortress that dates back to the 13th century. The fortress offers stunning views of the Elbe River and the surrounding countryside.


From Königstein, the trail continues through the countryside and past several small villages, including the village of Pfaffendorf, which is known for its traditional architecture and rustic charm.

Malerweg hike rock formations

One of the highlights of this section of the trail is the Polenztal Valley, a deep valley with rugged cliffs, dense forests, and several small waterfalls. Hikers can take a break here to rest and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.


The trail then continues through the forests and past the Tafelberg rock formation before arriving in Hohnstein, a small town that is home to a medieval castle and several historic buildings.


TIP: Do you like beautiful hikes around castles? Discover these other must-see places in Germany.
Malerweg route stairs
Castle Malerweg route

Day 4: From Hohnstein to Stadt Whelen

The section of the Malerweg trail between Hohnstein and Stadt Wehlen is a 16-kilometer stretch that takes hikers through some of the most diverse and beautiful landscapes of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains.


Starting in Hohnstein, the trail takes hikers up to the Hockstein rock formation, which offers stunning views of the countryside and the nearby towns. From there, the trail descends into the valley of the Sebnitzbach stream, passing through dense forests and past several small waterfalls.


One of the highlights of this section of the trail is the Bastei Bridge, a spectacular rock formation that offers breathtaking views of the Elbe River and the surrounding cliffs. The bridge is a popular spot for taking photos and enjoying the scenery.

Bastei Bridge
Village of Hohnstein

After crossing the Bastei Bridge, the trail continues through the forest and past several small villages, including the village of Kurort Rathen, which is known for its picturesque architecture and traditional charm.


The trail then leads hikers along the banks of the Elbe River, passing by the Schrammstein rock formations and several historic buildings before arriving in Stadt Wehlen, a small town that is famous for its sandstone cliffs and picturesque setting.

Girl hiking Malerweg route

The Bastei Bridge

The Bastei Bridge is one of the most popular attractions on the Malerweg hike. The bridge is located on the fourth stage of the trail and offers breathtaking views of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains and the surrounding countryside. The bridge itself is a feat of engineering, as it was built in 1851 using natural sandstone pillars.


The bridge is also home to the Bastei Hotel, which offers stunning views of the surrounding area. If you're planning to hike the Malerweg trail, the Bastei Hotel is a great place to stay, as it's located right on the trail and offers comfortable accommodation and delicious meals.

Bastei Bridge
Girl on Bastei Bridge

Accommodation on the Road

There are some accommodation options available along the Malerweg trail, but not that many are located right on the trail. Here are some of the most popular options:

  • Bastei Hotel: As mentioned earlier, the Bastei Hotel is a great place to stay if you're looking for comfort and convenience. The hotel offers stunning views of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains and is located right on the trail.

  • Pension Waldidyll: Located in the picturesque town of Altendorf, Pension Waldidyll is a charming guesthouse that offers comfortable accommodation and delicious meals.

  • Hotel Lindenhof: The Hotel Lindenhof is located in the town of Rathen and offers comfortable rooms and a restaurant that serves delicious local cuisine.

  • Brand Baude Hotel: I stayed in this beautiful hotel right on the trail. The rooms have an amazing view over the valley and the breakfast is delicious. We even arrived a bit too late because they close the restaurant of the hotel at 6 PM but they still made us a little salad to fill our bellies. Would highly recommend it!

Brand Baude Hotel Malerweg

Places to Eat

Along the Malerweg trail, you'll find plenty of opportunities to sample delicious local cuisine. From hearty stews to fresh seafood, here are some of the best places to eat along the way:

  • Bastei Restaurant: The Bastei Restaurant is located at the Bastei Hotel and offers stunning views of the surrounding area. The restaurant serves a range of local and international dishes.

  • Gasthaus Zum Heiteren Blick: Located in the town of Altendorf, Gasthaus Zum Heiteren Blick offers delicious local cuisine, including hearty stews and fresh seafood.

  • Restaurant Felsenmühle: The Restaurant Felsenmühle is located in the town of Hohnstein and offers delicious local cuisine, including game dishes and freshly caught trout. I tried something special from the menu made of pork fat, I can't remember the name, but it was delicious!

restaurant on the Malerweg

The Malerweg hike is a must-do for hiking enthusiasts and nature lovers. With its stunning landscapes, charming villages, and historic landmarks, the trail offers an unforgettable hiking experience. Whether you're looking for adventure, relaxation, or both, the Malerweg hike is sure to impress.

View from the Bastei Bridge

From the breathtaking views of the Bastei Bridge to the delicious local cuisine, the Malerweg trail offers something for everyone. So, pack your bags, put on your hiking boots, and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime!

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Welcome to Fly Along

Hi I'm Emeline

I am a Belgian lady, traveling solo around the world and sharing my best tips with you! My dream is to become a full-time travel blogger. Read more about my journey to get there.

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