EUROPE,  GERMANY

MALERWEG IN GERMANY: 8-DAY ITINERARY [2023]

Malerweg, also known as the Painter’s Way, is a 116 km hiking trail winding around the Elbe Sandstone Mountains in Saxon Switzerland National Park. Interestingly enough, this region has so much to offer that I finished the hike with a total number of 175 km walked. In this blog post, I’m going to share with you my 8-day itinerary for hiking Malerweg in Germany with daily distance, elevation change and my favourite attractions for each day. Other key information about Malerweg is included in a separate post. Let’s go!

DAY 1 | Liebethal – Stadt Wehlen

Stage one is probably the easiest. Short distance and insignificant elevation gain. You can definitely treat it as a warm-up. The hiking trail starts in the village of Liebethal, in the following location: 50.9965967N, 13.9583058E. There is not even one, but two parking lots, so feel free to leave your car at either one. The main attraction of the day is a walk through Uttewalder Grund, a deeply cut gorge, lushly overgrown with moss and ferns. Besides that, the landscape is idyllic, and the view of Stadt Wehlen at the end, stunning.

Walking track: 15 km, 5 hours
Elevation gain: 110 m
Elevation loss: 141 m
Stamp: Gasthaus Waldidylle

8-day itinerary for hiking Malerweg in Germany
Uttewalder Grund

DAY 2 | Stadt Wehlen – Hohnstein

Stage two of Malerweg means entering the most popular part of Saxon Switzerland National Park. In other words, you will get to see the very famous Bastei Bridge. It’s a beautiful place, truly magical, so take your time, walk around and check out all the lookouts, including the Neurathen Castle (entry fee for an adult is 2,50€). After that, I continue to Amselsee via Schwedenlöcher (Malerweg doesn’t go through there). Once you reach a dam, turn back and head towards Hohnstein. Just before the town, you will climb Hockstein.

Walking track: 18 km, 6 hours
Elevation gain: 499 m
Elevation loss: 345 m
Stamp: Pension & Gaststätte Polenztal

Malerweg Saxon Switzerland
Neurathen Castle

DAY 3 | Hohnstein – Altendorf

Day three kicks off with a stroll through the forest. It’s well-worth taking a short, 5-minute detour to Gautschgrotte. Next stop is Brand-Baude, a beautifully situated mountain hut with Thümmelgrotte just behind it, and a lovely viewpoint on the other side (50.9565050N, 14.1296847E). Past Waitzdorft, there are another two mind-blowing viewpoints, so make sure to follow the track, and don’t take any shortcuts. In case of troubles with booking an overnight stay in Altendorft, you may consider walking to Bad Schandau.

Walking track: 21 km, 7 hours
Elevation gain: 449 m
Elevation loss: 440 m
Stamp: Brand-Baude Bergrestaurant & Herberge

8-day itinerary for hiking Malerweg in Germany
Gautschgrotte

DAY 4 | Altendorf  Neumannmühle

If I had to do only one stage of Malerweg, I would definitely go ahead with this one. But… I would also alter the official route quite a bit. This part of Saxon Switzerland National Park has many epic spots, and if you really want to see them all, you need to be creative. Starting the day with the majestic Schrammsteine. From there, go to Carolafelsen, and Idagrotte, and then find the shortest possible way back on Malerweg. On your way to Neumannmühle, make sure to stop and see Kuhstall, Himmelsleiter and Schneiderloch.

Walking track: 30 km, 10 hours
Elevation gain: 553 m
Elevation loss: 662 m
Stamp: Gasthof Lichtenhainer Wasserfall

Schrammsteine
Schrammsteine

DAY 5 | Neumannmühle – Schmilka

If I were you, I would start stage five with a 20-minute detour to Arnstein, and a 10-minute detour to Kleinsteinhöhle. After that, I highly recommend getting creative again and ditching the official route. If you turn right in this point, 50.9103506N, 14.2979106E, you will get to Winterstein, an isolated rock massif with a long, vertical ladder and epic views. A hidden gem worth some extra kilometres and my personal favourite in the entire Saxon Switzerland National Park. Further on, head towards Schmilka via Großer Winterberg.

Walking track: 26 km, 9 hours
Elevation gain: 587 m
Elevation loss: 676 m
Stamp: Bio & Nationalpark Refugium (reception)

8-day itinerary for hiking Malerweg in Germany
Winterstein

DAY 6 | Schmilka – Kurort Gohrisch

First thing to do on day six is to cross the river. Once you catch a ferry, and get to the other bank, you will then go uphill to Schöna. From there, you can choose to visit two cool places, Kaiserkrone (a 10-minute detour is required) and Zirkelstein (a 20-minute detour is needed). Then unfortunately, the track isn’t too interesting until you reach Kurort Gohrisch. There are two epic spots, so make sure to visit them both. Papststein with an observational tower and a mountain hut, Gohrisch with steep stairs and long ladders.

Walking track: 23 km, 8 godzin
Elevation gain: 641 m
Elevation loss: 442 m
Stamp: Berggaststätte Papststein

Papststein
Papststein

DAY 7 | Kurort Gohrisch – Weißig

Malerweg day seven kicks off with climbing up Pfaffenstein, a massive table hill with a mountain hut, viewing tower and some medieval ruins on its top. Once you get there, look for signs pointing towards Barbarine. It’s a 43-metre high pinnacle and at the same time, the most famous freestanding rock formation in Saxon Switzerland National Park. Further on, the track goes by Königstein Fortress. If you happen to have time, it’s worth checking it out. The ticket costs 15€ for an adult. Then continue to Weißig.

Walking track: 27 km, 9 hours
Elevation gain: 568 m
Elevation loss: 639 m
Stamp: Tourist-Information im Treff-Punkt Königstein

8-day itinerary for hiking Malerweg in Germany
Pfaffenstein

DAY 8 | Weißig – Pirna

This is the last stretch! Stage eight of Malerweg starts with climbing lots of stairs up to Rauenstein. Surprisingly enough, you can view the south side of Bastei Bridge from there. Further on, it’s just a casual stroll along the river. Once you get back to Pirna, go straight to the Tourist Information Office to exchange the booklet with the stamps for the prize. If you happen to be hungry, go to Platzhirsch Pirna. They are located next door and serve delicious burgers. Huge portions guaranteed if they see you are a hiker. Enjoy!

Walking track: 15 km, 5 hours
Elevation gain: 256 m
Elevation loss: 360 m
Stamp: TouristService Pirna

8-day itinerary for hiking Malerweg in Germany
Malerweg

This is my 8-day itinerary for hiking Malerweg in Germany. Are you planning to do the entire thing or just a couple of stages? Let me know by leaving a comment below!


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