When we walk into the forest from our hotel – a former hunting lodge – I immediately understand why the forest has a mysterious vibe in the past. And maybe still. Why they thought it haunted the forest. It is quiet, silent. We don’t hear any birds, just the steps of our shoes on the dirt road. We walk for half an hour through the vast forest without meeting other hikers. We are in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park in the Czech Republic, a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts with vast forests, strangely shaped sandstone rocks and views of valleys and volcanoes.
I hear you think Bohemian Switzerland. Is that in Switzerland? Certainly not, this National Park is called Czech Switzerland because the Swiss artists who came here called it that. The artists found the area as beautiful as their home country Switzerland.
When, after a walk of a few kilometers, we stand on one of the viewpoints high above the woods, I immediately see the comparison. The rolling valley does indeed remind me of Switzerland.
Wander in Úzké schody
But before you stand on one of the viewpoints you start at the bottom in the village of Jetřichovice. From this point we spot a guest house in the style of an umgebindehause that is built against the first sandstone we spot. An umgebindehause is a typical house that combines a log cabin with half-timbered buildings and building blocks.
The rest of the walk through the Bohemian paradise feels like a fairy tale. We climb over narrow stairs, between narrow rocks and cliffs. Úzké schody is a narrow rocky gorge near the popular town of Na Tokáni near Jetřichovice. Originally, the name for this area was ‘dwarf gorge’ or ‘angel staircase’. The owner of the estate, Prince Ferdinand Kinsky, opened this rock gorge in the 19th century and made it landscape accessible. He laid paths and facilities where you can have a drink and a bite to eat.
The most special in this nature reserve is Pravčická brána; this is the largest natural sandstone bridge in Europe. Note: This is also the most popular place. Which makes it very busy here. The sunset is often breathtaking and ideal for photos.
Lunch in Na Tokáni
Pension Tokáň is located at the crossroads of hiking and cycling trails, in the middle of the forests of the Bohemian Switzerland National Park. It is, therefore, a very popular destination for walkers, tourists, and cycling enthusiasts.
Address: Rynartice 81 | 407 16 Jetřichovice
How do I get here?
The National Park is located just across the border with Germany near Děčín on the Elbe. From Prague, it is about 120 kilometers or a 1.5-hour drive to the north. You can rent a car or take public transport.