Malerweg — following the trails of the artists in Saxon Switzerland

The Malerweg in Saxon Switzerland is one of the most beautiful hiking trails in Germany. The dramatic sandstone landscape will cast a spell over you with every new look—as it has done for hundreds of years. This route follows the well-trodden Painter's Way (Malerweg), through which artists such as Caspar David Friedrich, Ludwig Richter and Bernardo Bellotto discovered unique nature. The cliffs and table mountains, which were so beautifully captured in countless paintings remain untouched—and you now, following the footsteps of the great masters, you have the chance to discover these motifs for yourself.

Over eight stages, you’ll hike along these impressive rock formations, crossing the river as you go.The Malerweg is excellently marked and there are always cosy stops along the stages. The total length of the trail is 112 kilometres (70 miles) and starts and ends in Pirna. All stages are also easily accessible by public transport, so you can choose your favorite part as a day trip and start right away.

On The Map

All stages of the 'Malerweg'

  • Difficult
    03:06
    7.17 mi
    2.3 mph
    375 ft
    525 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Your hike in the footsteps of the great painters begins in the small Pirna district of Liebethal. The small village gets you in the right mood for your time travel during the heyday of the Saxon princes. The Malerweg leads above the Liebethaler Grund, which is closed due to the risk of falling rocks, along wide fields via Mühlsdorf towards Uttenwalde. You can still enjoy the wide view here before going into the sanding ground.Here you will already meet towering rock faces and it will be cool and shady on your way. After the famous Uttewalder Felsentor you can take a break at the Waldidylle inn. Your hike continues along the Grundlbach in the direction of the Elbe, where you will then reach your destination, the city of Wehlen. Here you can rest on the bank of your tour and enjoy the view of the river.You can reach the starting point of the hike from the train station in Pirna with the bus line G / L. If you travel home from the stage destination, you can take the ferry from Stadt Wehlen to the other bank of the Elbe and from there take the S-Bahn back to Pirna. During the week you can also take bus 238 to Pirna for the return journey. If you are planning a multi-day hike, you can easily find accommodation in Stadt Wehlen. You can find more information about public transport and timetables at ovps.de/Service/Fahrplanauskunft/449

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  • Intermediate
    03:39
    7.41 mi
    2.0 mph
    1,500 ft
    950 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Your second stage leads you today to one of the greatest highlights of the Malerweg: the Bastei bridge. The way there initially leads up a steep climb, which rewards you with a first panoramic view of the Elbe Valley. Past the stone table and the forest restaurant of the same name, we now head to the bastion. If you leave early, you have a better chance of admiring the famous rocks without the hustle and bustle.After the magnificent view, you follow the Malerweg down to the Amselsee and on to the Amselfall. It is worth taking a break at the Amselfallbaude and visiting the small exhibition on nature in the national park. As a small reminder, you can also buy postcards of the paintings of the great masters here. From the Amselfall the path goes through dense forest and along high rock faces over Rathewalde towards the town of Hohnstein. Shortly before your arrival it goes through the Wolfsschlucht through many metal steps down to the Polenz river, where you can recharge your batteries at the Polenztal inn. The last part of your hike leads below the medieval Hohnstein Castle. If you still have enough strength, it is worth visiting the castle and its exhibitions.To get to Stadt Wehlen, take the S-Bahn line 1 from Pirna station. From Stadt Wehlen station on the left bank of the Elbe, take the ferry to the starting point of the hike. Back to Pirna you can take bus 237 from Hohnstein. For multi-day hikers, accommodations are of course also available in Hohnstein. You can find more information about public transport and timetables at ovps.de/Service/Fahrplanauskunft/449

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  • Difficult
    04:27
    9.40 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,325 ft
    1,325 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    At this stage, a few vertical meters come together. After your start in Hohnstein, it goes through hilly forest along the omnipresent sandstone cliffs. After the first kilometer you can make a detour to the Gautschgrotte. You will feel tiny in the huge natural grotto. From there it goes up and down to the view at the Brandstein. The phenomenal view has already inspired many artists to their paintings. Treat yourself to a break at the fire hut before you start the long and steep descent over the fire levels to the Tiefen Grundlbach.From there it goes a bit up the stream to the Waitzdorfer Schänke. If it was too crowded for you at the fire hut, now is the time to take a break. Passing the view of the Michaelistagstein, you now follow the Malerweg over a long and even descent to the Sebnitz river. After crossing the river you will reach your destination in Altendorf.You can reach Hohnstein from Pirna station by bus 237. After your hike, take bus 260 from the Altendorf - Erbgericht stop to Sebnitz and then bus 237 to Pirna. Alternatively, take bus 260 to Bad Schandau and then continue with S-Bahn line 1 to Pirna. Multi-day hikers will also find holiday apartments or guest houses in Altendorf. You can find more information about public transport and timetables at ovps.de/Service/Fahrplanauskunft/449

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  • Difficult
    05:35
    11.9 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,550 ft
    1,725 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Steep climbs, impressive rocks and phenomenal views await you on this tour. Through the Dorfbachklamm it goes from Altendorf past the mighty Falkenstein to the Schrammsteintor. The Schrammstein Gate is a narrow passage between the towering sandstone cliffs, which are particularly popular with climbers.But even without dangerous climbing you can reach the ridge of the Schrammsteine via the Malerweg. The rocks rise far above the surrounding forest and you are guaranteed a breathtaking panoramic view. From up here the Falkenstein, which you have passed before, looks much less huge. Your path continues along dramatic cliffs and leads you to the small Prebisch Gate. From here it goes down to the Kirnitzschtal and after another ascent you come to the Himmelsleiter. If you still have reserves, you can take the time to go up the ladder and enjoy a great viewpoint. Then it is only a short distance to the stage goal Neumannmühle. Berghütte Neumannmühle is a convenient place for you to spend the night if you complete the Malerweg as a multi-day tour.You can reach Altendorf, the starting point of the fourth stage, with various buses from Pirna and via S-Bahn and bus via Pirna and Bad Schandau. After your hike, take bus 241 from Neumannmühle back to Pirna. You can find more information about public transport and timetables at ovps.de/Service/Fahrplanauskunft/449

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  • Intermediate
    04:38
    8.70 mi
    1.9 mph
    1,650 ft
    1,975 ft
    Ferry
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required. The Tour includes a crossing by ferry.

    At this stage you have to climb a mountain, because the Malerweg takes you up to the Großer Winterberg, the second highest mountain in Saxon Switzerland. Starting from the Neumannmühle, you follow the Kirnitzschtal for a bit and then make the ascent to the Großer Pohlshorn. Then it goes down a crisp descent to the Kirnitzsch river and on to the Zeughaus inn. Here you can fortify yourself again before continuing to the Großer Winterberg.On your ascent you still pass the gold stone view, where you can take a short break with a great view. Once at the top of the Großer Winterberg, the highest located inn in Saxon Switzerland awaits you with its grandiose observation tower. Gather your strength here and then start the descent to Schmilka, your today's destination.You can get to the starting point Neumannmühle from Pirna by bus 241. At the end of your tour, take the ferry to Schmilka station on the other bank and then take the S-Bahn to Pirna. Alternatively, you can choose one of the nice accommodations in Schmilka if you want to continue the next day. You can find more information about public transport and timetables at ovps.de/Service/Fahrplanauskunft/449

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  • Intermediate
    04:47
    10.2 mi
    2.1 mph
    1,600 ft
    900 ft
    Ferry
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required. The Tour includes a crossing by ferry.

    From Schmilka you take the ferry to the other side of the Elbe and start your hike towards Schöna. A large part of today's route runs over hilly fields and meadows and you can already admire the right-Elbe table mountains in the distance.The Malerweg takes you through various small villages today. Between cribs and Kleinhennersdorf it goes below the Kohlbornstein along the Liethenbach. There you can take a break in the inn in the historic Liethenmühle. Then it goes up to the Papststein and Gohrischstein. Both rocks are famous for their stunning views of the Elbe valley and the surrounding landscape.You can easily get to Schmilka by S-Bahn from Pirna to start your hike here. After completing the tour, go from Gohrisch with buses 244a or 244b to Bad Schandau train station and from there continue with the S-Bahn to Pirna. As it should be for a health resort, various accommodation options await you as a multi-day hiker. You can find more information about public transport and timetables at ovps.de/Service/Fahrplanauskunft/449

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  • Difficult
    05:20
    10.7 mi
    2.0 mph
    1,675 ft
    2,050 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    From Gohrisch, you head towards the Pfaffenstein table mountain. Steep wooden and iron stairs lead through the eye of the needle up to the summit. From the top you have a great view of the Barbarine natural monument, a narrow sandstone column that rises on the side of the Pfaffenstein.Then you follow the Malerweg down to Königstein and then in a steep climb directly to the Königstein Fortress. If you feel like visiting the fortress, it is a good idea to plan at least two hours for it.Continue to your stage destination Weißig via the village of Thürmsdorf and along a promising hiking trail above the Elbe.The fastest way to get to Gohrisch is by S-Bahn from Pirna to Bad Schandau and then by bus 244a or 244b. After your tour, the fastest way is to take the S-Bahn from Kurort Rathen station to Pirna. Alternatively, you can take bus 241. As a multi-day hiker you can stay directly in Weißig in the Laasenhof. You can find more information about public transport and timetables at ovps.de/Service/Fahrplanauskunft/449

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  • Difficult
    04:02
    8.93 mi
    2.2 mph
    775 ft
    1,075 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    The last stage takes you from Weißig to the historic old town of Pirna. You start your stage with the ascent to the Rauenstein. From the secured ridge path, you always have fantastic views of Saxon Switzerland. Enjoy these moments and let the landscape particularly affect you on the last day.After your descent you come to the village of Pötzscha, which is located directly on the Elbe. A visit to the Robert Sterl House is recommended here. An art museum is housed in the former home of Robert Sterl, one of the most important German Impressionists.In Naundorf, the Gasthof Schöne Höhe awaits you for a rest before you set off for Pirna via the Canalettoweg along the Elbe.To get to the start of the last stage, you can take the S-Bahn from Pirna to the spa town of Rathen or take the bus 241 to the Thürmsdorf - Weissig branch. You can find more information about public transport and timetables at ovps.de/Service/Fahrplanauskunft/449

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    8
  • Distance
    74.4 mi
  • Duration
    35:35 h
  • Elevation
    10,425 ft

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