Cycling from Czech Republic to Germany: Decin to Pirna

Maybe it’s being born on and spending most of my living on an island, but there’s always something a little special about crossing a land border. Today I would be crossing from the Czech Republic into Germany.

D??n housing

But first I stock up on supplies and check out the main attraction in Děčín, a castle. It dates back to 1305 and, unfortunately, looks like it. It’s had many and varied uses, but the last occupants, the Soviet army, did not leave it in pristine condition. They are busily working on restoring it — from a distance it looks great — but there is an awful lot of work still to do.

Its lofty location allows views of the local area. One part that interested me were these residential buildings.

After looking around, I hopped back on my bike, across the river and towards the German border.

D??n housing

The level of formality at each border crossing varies a lot, sometimes crossings between the same two countries a few miles apart differ wildly. When in southern France, at one crossing into Italy there was an empty hut and a barrier that looked as though it has not been lowered for many years. A few miles south, on the coast at Menton, were huge gantries, border guards with guns and much inconvenience.

Given the level of anticipation it is, therefore, slightly disappointing that I nearly missed the crossing entirely.

Czech/German border crossing

The path was daubed with words in Czech which, after a small white line, change into German. At the right side of the path (as you cross from the Czech side to the German) there’s a small white block. On one side it says ‘C,’ on the other ‘D.’

Welcome to Germany.

After the border the river valley seems to widen, the sun comes out and the houses we pass immediately look more expensive than those I had been passing even a few hours earlier.

View from Knigstein Fortress

Knigstein Fortress

I stop in Königstein to see the fortress. As you would imagine, the fortress is on the top of a rather large hill. So hilly in fact that a comic tourist bus is not capable of going all the way to the top, meaning that I first have to switch to a smaller bus-train and finally to a gleaming steel lift that looks very much out of place on a thirteenth century castle ((Apparently there’s a technical difference between a castle and a fortress. I gather Königstein started as a castle and ultimately became a fortress.)).

The top is significantly larger than looks from the ground. There are houses, parks, wine cellars and magnificent views of the surrounding area. I’m sure I only saw half of what there was there to see, but time was pressing on and I needed to push on to my night-stop in Pirna.

Knigstein Fortress

Except for my chain falling off on a fairly regular basis (but mainly on hills), the cycling has become pleasingly routine. I don’t mean the views — which continue to be wonderful in the main — but the actual peddling. At the beginning of the week I had been worried that it would be too hard, but, in fact, it has been fun so far.


It’s less than a couple of hours from Königstein to Pirna.

Pirna is an old and pretty town, with a pleasant market square and a pedestrianised main street with the usual array of shops. I do not, however, spend a huge amount of time here. Instead I prepare for my last day of cycling, which will pass through Dresden and into Meißen.

This is the fifth of a series of posts about my cycling holiday from Prague in the Czech Republic, to Meißen, in Germany. See the index page for more details or subscribe to my RSS feed for updates as they arrive.