A number of cruises which explore the river Elbe visit the picturesque spa town of Bad Schandau, a port within the country’s beautiful Saxon Switzerland region which lies on the edge of the Saxon Switzerland National Park, around four miles from the Czech border. The borough of the town is split into six areas; the original old town of Schandau and the newer areas of Krippen, Postelwitz, Schmilka, Ostrau and Porschdorf. Schandau began life as a trading post in the 14th century and was given town status due to its growing importance in 1467. Since 1800, it has been a summer resort and spa town, hence the prefix ‘bad’, meaning ‘spa’ being permanently added in 1920. Bad Schandau sits on the right bank of the River Elbe and close to the valley of its tributary the Kirnitzsch, meaning that enjoyable river views are a certainty as you set to exploring.
River voyages which stop at the town offer passengers a chance to experience the breathtaking scenery of the region in which it lies; Saxon Switzerland. The Elbe Sandstone Mountains form a dramatic natural backdrop to your cruise experience as you pass by a number of fascinating rock formations.
Once docked in the town itself, you’ll find it hard to miss the octagonal tower of St John’s Church, which dates back to 1679. It’s an interesting building to explore and its most famous feature is its Renaissance sandstone altar. Another key architectural attraction is the Bad Schandau Elevator, a 50-metre iron structure which is now over 100 years old which was built to join Bad Schandau with the neighbouring village of Ostrau. A quant place to explore, Ostrau is also worth a visit and it’s interesting to note that though still very unassuming, the advent of the elevator saw its population more than quadruple over the years, due to easier access. Back in Bad Schandau itself, the market square is naturally popular with river cruise visitors and is home to such notable structures as the Sendig Fountain, the Town Hall and the Gambrinus brewery house. Muehle Schmilka is also worth seeing and is a working traditional water-powered mill, the produce of which is available to buy in the bakery across the street.
Bad Schandau is not a designated spa town for nothing and there are of course spa facilities to enjoy in the town, including the Toskana Therme, which offers a wealth of wellness and beauty treatments as well as a unique, calming atmosphere, thanks to its multimedia Liquid Sound experience. For those seeking the solace of greenery, there are 3,500 square metres of botanical gardens to explore just a short distance out of the town in the Pflanzengarten Bad Schandau.
The town’s aforementioned spa facilities are the perfect antidote for tired limbs if you’ve spent a lot of time exploring ports of call prior to your arrival in Bad Schandau. If you’d rather take time out tasting the local produce however, you can sample both beers and food at the Muehle Schmilka.