Königstein Fortress is a large, historic castle on a rocky plateau and one of the top attractions in Saxon Switzerland.
Getting to Königstein Fortress
Königstein Fortress is in Saxon Switzerland, about 35 minutes drive southeast of Dresden. It’s also about 30-60 minutes away from Bohemian Switzerland National Park in nearby Czech Republic.
The car park at Königstein Fortress is €2/7/13 for up to 1hr/4hr/1 day (cash, or pay with card in the gift shop at the car park). You’ll need to get at least the 4hr parking ticket, as 1hr isn’t enough. If you want to explore all the exhibits, walk around the outer castle walls and perhaps visit the cafe, you could easily spend more than 4 hours at the castle. Parking in Königstein town below is also expensive at €9 for the day (coins only).
From the official car park it’s a 600 metre walk along the road up to the castle entrance, or pay another 5€ for a return trip on a little train.
Public transport to Königstein Fortress
You can also reach Königstein Fortress by public transport. There’s a direct train (S-Bahn) from Dresden Central Station to Königstein Train Station which takes 39 minutes. You can then either take the Festungsexpress or walk up to the castle (see below).
Alternatively, you can take a paddle steamer cruise from Dresden* to Königstein, admiring the great views from the Elbe River on the way. From the pier at Königstein, you can either take the Festungsexpress all the way up to the castle (€4, every 30 minutes Apr-Oct) or walk up to the fortress (30-45 minutes).
Walking from Königstein Town to Königstein Fortress
If you come by bus, boat or train, you might want to walk up to Königstein Fortress. It’s just over 1.5 km with 200 metres of uphill and takes about 30-45 minutes. From the roundabout in the centre of town, head along the streets in the direction of the castle. Opposite the entrance of the church you’ll find the start of the walking trail. Follow it upwards through the woodland and it’ll bring you to the castle entrance point.
Tips for visiting Königstein Fortress
- Open every day: Apr-Oct 9am-6pm, Nov-Mar 9am-5pm.
- Be aware, there are separate fees for the car park, the little train from the car park to the castle, the castle entrance, and the audio ticket. Additionally, the cafes/restaurants in the castle are very expensive.
- The castle entrance fee is €15/12/free for adults/6-17yrs/under 6, with a small reduction in low season. An audio guide is an extra €2. You can buy tickets online here*.
- There is some walking to do in the castle so make sure to wear comfortable shoes.
- If you want go to on a guided tour of Saxon Switzerland that includes a visit to Königstein Castle, check out the Saxon Switzerland National Park Full-Day Trip from Dresden*.
- While in the area, check out the Bastei Bridge Hike, Lilienstein Hike, or our Germany or Czech Hiking Page.
Visiting Königstein Fortress
At the entrance to the castle, below the plateau, you’ll find the ticket office. It’s open every day, Apr-Oct 9am-6pm and Nov-Mar 9am-5pm. Remember to ask here about an audio guide (€2 extra) if you’re interested. Tickets to the castle include the lift which whizzes you up from here to the top plateau. It’s best to get the lift up, then walk back down the impressive entrance when you leave.
Once you get to the top you’ll be within the huge hilltop fortress, safe inside the impressive defensive walls. It contains over 50 buildings, both large and small. Notable structures within the fortress include the Magdalenenburg, a Renaissance-style castle, and the deep well, which is one of the deepest in Europe. Many buildings contain exhibits with different themes and of different quality. There are barracks, defenses, gardens and much more to explore.
One thing you can’t miss at Königstein Fortress is the long panorama walk along the fortress walls. From here there are great views of Saxon Switzerland National Park and the Elbe Valley. It doesn’t matter which way you walk around the complex and there’s no set route, just try and visit all the corners of the grounds so you can explore everything.
After visiting everything inside the fortress, walk down the tunnel and out through the impressive entrance at the western side. Look back at the imposing castle and imagine anyone trying to attack! If you still have energy, walk around the outside of the castle walls. This is a 1.6 km loop and you’ll be able to see how impregnable the cliffs and walls really are.
History of Königstein Fortress
The fortress has a history dating back over 750 years. Its construction began in the 13th century, and it served various purposes throughout its history, including as a medieval castle, a royal residence, a military fortress and also a state prison. It was built in a strategic position on a rocky plateau overlooking the Elbe River. Its location made it nearly impregnable, as the natural cliffs protected it from any direct assault.
Refreshments and Restaurants at the Castle
There are several restaurants and cafes in Königstein Fortress, all fairly expensive:
- Offizierskasino: Open daily 12–4 pm. Serves canteen-style German food, plus cakes, hot drinks and more.
- Festungsbäckerei: Open Sat & Sun 11 am–5 pm. Serves cakes and hot drinks on an outdoor terrace. You can also buy bread here.
- Zum Musketier: Open daily 9 am–6 pm. Traditional German restaurant with a cozy indoors plus an outdoor terrace near the centre of the castle.
- Napoleons Küche: Open daily 11 am–4:30 pm. A panoramic biergarten also serving simple food. It’s named after Napolean, who once strolled across this area while contemplating the future of Europe.
Guidebooks to explore more of Germany
To get to Königstein Fortress, you can either drive (40 minutes from Dresden) or take public transport from Dresden. There’s a direct train from the Central Station to Königstein, or alternatively, you can take a cruise along the Elbe River.
The castle is open every day, Apr-Oct 9am-6pm, Nov-Mar 9am-5pm.
Tickets to Königstein Fortress cost €15/12/free for adults/6-17yrs/under 6, with a slight reduction in the winter season.