The Bastei is a stunning rock formation nearly 200m above the Elbe and the village of Rathen. It's a wonderland of fluted pinnacles and offers panoramic views of the surrounding forests, cliffs and the Elbe River below. The much-photographed Basteibrücke, a sandstone bridge built in 1851, leads through the rocks to the remnants of a partly reconstructed medieval castle, the Felsenburg Neurathen, which is open for touring.
The Bastei is the most popular spot in Saxon Switzerland National Park (Nationalpark Sächsische Schweiz), so crowds are guaranteed unless you get here before 10am or after 4pm. Weekends and any day in summer will be busy, and an easy way to escape the crowds is by hitting the hiking trail. A 5km loop leads from the car park to the Schwedenlöcher, a hideout where local troops dodged the advancing Swedes during the Thirty Years' War (1618–48).