© Thomas Poth / IG Pressnitztalbahn

Saxony’s nostalgic railways and steam trains 

Saxony is a real treasure chest for all fans of nostalgic railways. Believe it or not, five narrow-gauge railways are still in daily operation! The foundation for this huffing and puffing paradise was laid over 130 years ago by the Royal Saxon State Railways. Today, the considerable network of lines stretches from the Elbe region up to the ridge of the Ore Mountains. Historic railways, charming landscapes, places worth seeing – die-hard railway fans get their money's worth just as much as interested holidaymakers. Thanks to the daily service, you can travel as you please and without complicated planning. Just get on board and enjoy! In addition, there are numerous museum railways to be visited as well as suspension and funicular railways for even more opportunities for rides.

Facts and figures on narrow-gauge railways in Saxony

750 mm:

uniform gauge width

1881:

opening of the first railway line of the Saxon narrow-gauge railway

514 km:

total length of the lines in the heyday of the Saxon narrow-gauge railway

Roots of Saxony‘s railway history

Saxony's industrial culture is closely linked to its transport history. Due to its geographical location in the centre of Europe, it has been at crossroads of important transport routes since the Middle Ages. The first German long-distance railway line was built in Saxony. It connected the cities of Leipzig and Dresden. Bold engineering structures, impressive railway stations and a variety of historic steam, cable or suspension railways bear witness to the region’s rich railway history.

3 museums for train buffs

  1. Chemnitz Railway Museum 
  2. Dresden Transport Museum
  3. Schwarzenberg Railway Museum

Dresden Railway Museum is another highlight for train buffs and organises an annual steam locomotive meeting. Note, however, that it is only open to visitors on a number of specific dates throughout the year or on request. All information and dates can be found on the website.

Special tip: The imposing Göltzschtal railway bridge is considered the largest brick-built bridge in the world. And the famous landmark of the Vogtland region is not alone in its glory as the nearby Elster Valley Bridge is the world's second largest of this kind.

Our tips for railway fun: Steam ahead

  • Let us introduce you to our five daily running historic narrow-gauge railways. Many of them also regularly offer special theme rides:

  • On an hour’s leisurely ride through the romantic scenery of the upper Ore Mountains, the Fichtelbergbahn steam train takes you up to Oberwiesenthal, Germany’s highest town on 914 metres and Saxon winter sports centre.

  • Along the picturesque vineyards of Radebeul, the Lößnitzgrundbahn railway steams daily up to Moritzburg (don't miss the castle!) and on to Radeburg.

  • Full steam ahead into the mountains: The Zittau narrow-gauge railway in the very East of Saxony runs from the historic town of Zittau to the two enchanting spa villages of Jonsdorf and Oybin in the Zittau Mountains, a hidden gem for hikers and families all along.

  • We are biased but for us, this is one of Europe‘s most beautiful railway lines: Weißeritztalbahn runs from Freital near Dresden to the Ore Mountains. The changing landscapes and views are magical in every season.

  • The Döllnitzbahn railway runs from the town of Oschatz in the northern part of Saxony through charming countryside to Mügeln.

Blick auf die Dresdner Schwebebahn© Holger Stein Fotografie
Blick auf die Dresdner Schwebebahn

Riding high on Saxony's suspension railways & funiculars

  • Dresden suspension railway has connected the districts of Loschwitz and Oberloschwitz since 1901. After an 84-metre ascent, you can enjoy a magnificent panoramic view of Dresden's Elbe river valley from above.

  • You can also make your way up the Elbe slope with the Dresden funicular. It is considered one of the most beautiful of its kind in Germany and has been listed since 1984.

  • Fichtelberg cable car is the oldest cable car in Germany. Its maiden trip was in 1924 and it still takes visitors up Saxony's highest mountain every day, covering a difference in altitude of 303 metres. Expect magnificent views!

Welcome aboard: steamboat rides on the Elbe

It is not only railways that run on steam in Saxony. The region is also home to the oldest and largest paddle steamer fleet in the world with nine historic steamers. The oldest, the passenger steamboat “Stadt Wehlen” was built in 1879 while the "Diesbar" is equipped with the longest-serving steam engine (built in 1841) of any river steamer in the world.

The “Elbdampfschiffahrts-Gesellschaft” was founded in 1836 to operate the fleet and twelve citizens of Dresden were granted the privilege of steam navigation in the Kingdom of Saxony at that time. Since 1910, the fleet can be found at Dresden's embankment below Brühl's Terrace.

Today, the imposing steamships are part and parcel of Dresden and visitors love going on nostalgic (and very scenic!) river trips around Dresden, through the Elbland region to Meissen, Pillnitz Palace and even the imposing rock landscapes of Saxon Switzerland. Special rides for example at Christmas time or during Dresden's annual Dixieland Festival and the possibilities for individual hire contribute to the very attractive offer.

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