The small Polish spa town of Swieradów Zdrój, with the old Silesian name Bad Flinsberg, is very close to East german Saxony. It is only around 50 km south-east of Görlitz on the Polish-Czech border. The town in the Jizera Mountains is popular with German pensioners – but visitors’ interests should not be limited to this group. Swieradów Zdrój and the pleasantly mountainous surroundings on the northern slopes of the Jizera Mountains are geared towards active guests with an interest in nature, and Polish visitors of all ages already make extensive use of this. But in the “Euroregion Neisze”, to which Swieradów Zdrój also belongs, many offers are multilingual.
Experience the Jizera Mountains actively
The location of Swieradów Zdrój in the Jizera Mountains
The Jizera Mountains are a smaller intermediate mountain range on the ridge between the Zittau Mountains in the west and the Krkonoše (Giant) Mountains in the east. It is named after the river Iser, which has its source in this mountain range and then drains to the south, i.e. into Bohemia. The highest peak near Swieradów Zdrój is the Smrk – the Table Spruce (1124m), which lies close to the border in the Czech Republic. Only slightly lower is the Stóg Izerski (Haystack) (1108m) on the Polish side. The highest mountain in the Jizera Mountains as a whole is the Wysoka Kopa (Hinterberg or Green Peak) further east near the small town of Sklarska Poreba at 1126m. The springs of the Queis (pl: Kwisa) are located on these mountains.
Swieradów Zdrój is situated on the northern slope of the Jizera Mountains below the Stóg Izerski (old german name: Heufuder – hay stack) on the River Kwisa, formerly with german name Queis. From the town center, built-up areas extend into the side valleys. The center of Swieradów Zdrój is the spa house with the lobby hall and the spa park. Zdrojowa Street intersects the spa park below the Spa house and has been redesigned into a boulevard.
Swieradów Zdrój is largely surrounded by mountain slopes. Only to the north does a valley opening up, the outflow of the Kwisa, in the direction of Mirsk (german: Friedeberg) and Gryfów Slask (ger: Greifenberg in Silesia). The mountain slopes are largely forested. Pictures from the German period before 1945 show much more open slopes compared to today’s view.
Swieradów Zdrój or Bad Flinsberg – a spa town with a long tradition
As early as 1572, the doctor Leonhard Thurneysser was aware of the healing effects of the springs around Flinsberg. Even in the 17th century, doctors made use of the beneficial effects of the local springs. The physician Dr. Weist wrote a memorandum in 1738, with which he initiated the spa business. From 1738, Flinsberg developed into a designated spa and bathing resort.
Healing springs – discoveries and construction of spa facilities
A well house and the first bathhouse were built in 1795. In 1811, another healing spring was discovered and opened up for bathing. The springs at Bad Flinsberg are ferruginous waters or acidulous springs (carbonated water).
After the spa facilities were partially destroyed in a fire, Bad Flinsberg inaugurated a new spa building in 1899. The facilities were constantly developed further, for example a radium bath was built in 1934.
From german Bad Flinsberg to polish Świeradów Zdrój
At the end of the world war II in 1945, Bad Flinsberg was also occupied by the Red Army. Due to the shift in national borders as a result of the Potsdam Agreement, the Lower Silesia region fell to Poland and Bad Flinsberg became Swieradów Zdrój, whereby the addition Zdrój basically also means bath, spa, (healing) spring (like the german word “Bad“.
Under Polish administration, the spa and recreational facilities have continued to this day. Spa treatments are still available in the vicinity of the spa house. Some hotels in Swieradów Zdrój also operate as spa hotels and offer individual treatments with state approval. Older visitors from Poland, the Czech Republic and nearby Saxony are particularly keen to take advantage of these offers.
In the town center – spa house and spa park
The spa center is still the lively heart of Swieradów Zdrój. Western and eastern parts of the building are connected by an impressive lobby, which consists of a traditional wooden construction with large glass fronts. The grounds slope down in several terraces towards the Zdrojowa street and the well-tended spa park. Everyone can fill up their own “water” at the fountains. To the west of the park, the Zdrojowa forms a “shopping and restaurant mile” largely on a contour line, which is a popular meeting place and promenade, especially in the evenings. Locals and guests like to sit around the fountain in front of Villa Szkarlota.
Above the Spa house, the spa park of Swieradów Zdrój merges almost seamlessly into the forests of the Jizera Mountains, so that you can extend your walks to suit your mood and physical ability and turn them into forest walks.
Out and about in the Jizera Mountains – active experience
Hiking and mountain biking – all possible in Swieradów Zdrój
But Swieradów Zdrój has even more to offer. The town advertises with the slogan “Górskie Uzdrowisko dla aktywnych – mountain resort for active people!” Naturally, spa guests take advantage of the local hiking trails and the many opportunities to hike to the peaks of the Jizera Mountains.
However, the town has now also developed several mountain bike trails of various lengths and levels of difficulty leading through forests and mountains. Some of these are even cross-border, with around half of the mountain bike courses on the Czech side. You don’t need to bring your own mountain bike. Several bike rental stations in Swieradów Zdrój offer good service, both with eBikes and bikes for road and off-road use. The stations are located in the Zdrojowa shopping street, near the spa building or at the cable car station.
Winter sports for young and old
You can be active in Swieradów Zdrój all year round! The town is also equipped for winter sports. There are several ski and toboggan slopes with lifts. These include smaller slopes for beginners, children and the inexperienced. The largest ski slope over 2500m starts below the Haystack hut at Stóg Izerski and ends at the edge of the village next to the cable car station. Since 2008, a cable car has been running up to the highest mountain in the village, transporting hikers in summer and skiers in winter, as well as mountain enthusiasts all year round. You don’t necessarily have to bring your own skis. Just like bike rental stations, there are also rental points for winter sports enthusiasts with all the necessary equipment for sports in snow and ice.
The winter sports tradition in Bad Flinsberg began during the German era. Back then, there was even a sledge run, which also started near the Haystack and ended above the Spa center. There are some places where you can still discover the curves of the track on hikes today; the Heinrich Böse curve, for example, is integrated into a small nature trail south of the spa gardens.
Walking and hiking recommendations for short visitors
Hikes in the Jizera Mountains are possible in a variety of ways – from an extended walk near the town to a day trip from Swieradów Zdrój, for example to one of the nearest peaks, to a long-distance hike over the ridges, perhaps even coming from the Zittau Mountains and continuing into the Krkonoše Mountains. It’s fun in any case and the varied mountain landscape with different types of rock, species-rich forests and rewarding views provides a beautiful backdrop for such activities.
Trail runners on the ” Rabbit’s Head”, cable car to the “Haystack”
The path past the old (German) cemetery to the “Rabbit’s Head” (Zajecznik) to the west is worth an evening stroll, for example, and there is also a nature trail on its long ridge. Trail runners will also find their training routes at Zajecznik – three runTracks (marked green, blue and red) have been marked out with a set-up system.
If you don’t like long climbs, you can take the cable car up to Stóg Izerski and Haystack hut and hike from there to Smrk summit on a sometimes quite stony path. There, a lookout tower offers a panoramic view of the Czech side of the Jizera Mountains. A ridge hike to the east across the Great Jizera Meadow, the headwaters of the Jizera, is also possible from the Haystack hut. The spring moors have their own typical moorland vegetation with cotton grass, sundew….
Easy access and quiet detour at the “Vulture Stone”
At the weekends, however, it is quite busy up there. Many younger Poles use their days off to actively explore the beautiful landscape of the Jizera Mountains. Those looking for more peace and quiet should head to Czerniawa Zdrój (Black brook spa) or hike up the “big Vulture Stone” (Sepia góra, 828m), for example. This is located on the other side of the Kwisa to the east of the town center, so less in the view of the day tourists and offers beautiful views of the town, the valley and the entire ridge line of the Jizera Mountains.
There is a straight path across all contour lines to the summit or, as an alternative for cyclists, a forest road that practically circles the plateau 3/4 of the way. In regional marketing, this path is advertised as Golgata – Crusade walk. Several copper plaques with Stations of Cross motifs by a local artist are attached to rocks along the ascent. In really sunny summer weather, there are often a large number of butterflies out and about. However, the hard surface and wide straight lines make this route somewhat monotonous for pedestrians, but good for bikers uphill.
Experience nature in the Jizera Mountains
Swieradów Zdrój is an attractive area for nature lovers, even if you don’t necessarily expect spectacular highlights. In short, forests and mountains are the elements that make a visit to Swieradów Zdrój worthwhile. Then there are the spring moors on the Jizera meadows, small watercourses, encounters with animals such as the black woodpecker, etc. So many small moments of joy in simple things.
If you are not good on foot and therefore can’t make it to the Great Jizera meadow, you can find a replacement in the middle of the town at the State Forestry Office. There, between wooden houses typical of the region, which house the office and also an educational facility for schoolchildren, a moor meadow has been recreated in a “pedestrian-friendly” way – with all the plant species that are so typical of moorland landscapes.
As I have already mentioned, various nature trails have been set up in the area around Swieradów Zdrój – often in two or three languages. The local Polish forest is very committed to nature experience and environmental education. The opportunities are very popular with school groups on school trips.
Tourist attractions in Swieradów Zdrój
Cultural station – tourist information center and soon a train station again
The old railroad station in Swieradów Zdrój was recently renovated and converted into the “Cultural station” (Stacja Kultury). The Swieradów Zdrój tourist information office is located there. Unfortunately, as was often the case in the past, the station is located on the outskirts of the town and across the River Kwisa – not exactly the center of the action. Nevertheless, I recommend a visit!
On the one hand, the Culture station has all the tourist information you need – the old station building houses the local tourist information office.
Above all, you can get the “Niezbednik Turysty“, the tourist guide journal, in which you will find a map of the town and its surroundings, an overview map (up to the Neisse border) and lots of other information, e.g. on mountain bike routes, spa facilities, attractions such as castles, craft workshops, mills etc. in the surrounding area and much more. The booklet is updated regularly and helps you not to miss anything important.
Events are also held at the Swieradów Zdrój cultural station. When I was there, the event hall displayed paintings of typical local silesian architecture. And there is a model railway layout in the cultural station that recreates the stations of the Queis railroad and Jizera Mountains Railway. There is also a museum steam locomotive (PKP TK4) outside next to the station.
The railroad line from Gryfów Slask to Swieradów Zdrój has been dismantled in the meantime, but is due to reopen in 2024.
The Jizera Mountain Railway
From 1909, the spa town of Bad Flinsberg was connected to the Silesian railroad network via a 7.7 km long railroad line. The route of the Jizera Mountain Railway ran from Friedeberg (now Mirsk) along the Queis river to Bad Flinsberg and about 3 km further to Flinsberg Forst (en: forest). This was right in the forest, there was only a kind of shelter for waiting passengers. However, the main purpose of this terminus was to transport timber. There was a connection to the main network in Greifenberg (today Gryfów Slask). Most of the passenger services were railcars.
From 1945 to 1996, the Polish railroad company PKP operated the line, but in the end only with 4 pairs of trains daily in passenger service. The model railway layout in the cultural train station gives an impression of the operation of the Jizera Mountain Railway in PKP times.
In the meantime, the Lower Silesian Railway Company (KD) has taken over the railroad facilities free of charge and is in the process of rebuilding the line. It is planned to reopen the line in 2024, when up to two trains a day will run directly from Saxon Görlitz to Swieradów Zdrój – a good connection for those seeking relaxation in eastern Germany! The Jizera Mountains Railway in the past and future was the subject of the July 2023 issue of the German magazine “Der Modelleisenbahner”.
Free city bus – also suitable for city tours
If you want to visit the cultural train station, you can also use the free city bus from Swieradów Zdrój. This is recommended anyway for a “city sightseeing tour”, e.g. in bad weather 😉 As Swieradów Zdrój extends over several side valleys, this city bus winds its way through the town and the neighboring Czerniawa Zdrój and to the border crossing to the Czech Republic. At weekends, you can travel through to the Czech town of Nove Mesto (pod Smrkem – under the peak Smrk) and hike back over the mountains from there, for example. You can also get the timetable for the free city bus at the cultural train station (not easy, because many stations are served several times due to the “loops”).
Sky walk and cable car to Izerski Stog
Another attraction that I haven’t mentioned yet is the 62m high “sky walk”. A steel tower with a “spiral” inclined plane over 850m long, on which you can slowly ascend step by step and round by round over the treetops and get an excellent view of Swieradów Zdrój and the surrounding mountainsides and valleys. If you are brave enough, you can look down from a glass floor platform at the top or lie down in a net in 62m altitude. A net tube hangs between the path arches, through which you can crawl, and there is also a slide down from a height of around 40m (this costs extra).
For sporty types, the most versatile area is around the valley station of the cable car. In winter, the aforementioned ski area is a hive of activity. In summer you can hire mountain bikes and other vehicles. There is also a summer toboggan run.
Travel tips for Swieradów Zdró
How to get there
Next airports to Swieradów Zdrój are Dresden in East germany and Prague in Czech Republic. There you can find full service like train station or rental car service. From Dresden you can go to Görlitz by train or long distance bus. From Prague you can take the car or go via Liberec and Frytlandt to Nove Mesto pod Smrkem.
Until the Silesian Railway has re-established the connection to Swieradów Zdrój from Görlitz in East german Saxony, the easiest way to get there is by car or rental car*. It is only around 50 km from the german border to Swieradów Zdrój. Both Görlitz and Zittau can be used as border crossings. An interesting option is to travel via Frýdlant in the Czech Republic. At Swieradów Zdrój there is a road border crossing to the Czech Republic (Nowe Mesto pod Smrkem).
From Görlitz / Zgorzelec you should head in the direction of Jelenia Góra. In Lubań or at the latest in Gryfów Slaski you have to turn off highway 30 in a southerly direction – i.e. towards the mountains.
From 2024, the Silesian Railway will probably run directly from Görlitz to Swieradów Zdrój or with connections to Swieradów Zdrój. Previously, this was only possible as far as Lubań, where you had to walk approx. 800m to the bus station and then take one of the buses to the Jizera Mountains.
A visit to Swieradów Zdrój can of course also be a detour on the journey to the regional capital Wroclaw.
Accommodation in hotels, guest houses and pensions
Anyone looking for accommodation in Swieradów Zdrój will find a wide and varied range of hotels, guesthouses and vacation apartments. You will be spoiled for choice. Here is a small selection of various hotels and guesthouses:
Apartments in Swieradów Zdrój
A selection of double and triple rooms as well as a family room are available to guests at Willa Ostoja*. This accommodation on the outskirts of Swieradów Zdrój offers good access to various hiking trails in the Jizera Mountains. The spa park and spa house are also not far away. For winter sports enthusiasts, smaller ski slopes are just around the corner, even for children. Ski storage is possible in the house. The Willa Ostoja offers its guests a rich and good breakfast. Guarded parking spaces are available at the house free of charge. Pets can be brought along.
Guests staying in the apartments at Villa Tusculum* are also close to the smaller ski slopes and the sky walk. In addition to a four-bed / family room, there are mainly two- and three-bed rooms available. Please note – there is no in-house wifi network, so internet access is only possible via your own mobile network. The Tusculum accommodation offers its guests breakfast. Free parking is available at the house.
The Leonardo Guest House* is located above Swieradów Zdrój on a mountain path with double rooms and an excellent view over the town and the Queistal valley. Hikes into the Jizera Mountains or mountain bike tours on the southern circuit can start directly from the house. Leonardo Guest House is suitable for guests with limited mobility, as the guest apartments are located on the ground floor and the freely available parking spaces at the house leave enough space to get in and out. The garden with barbecue and fire pit can be used by guests. There is a common kitchen and a living room with a fireplace.
The best conditions for winter sports enthusiasts! The Ski&Sun Apartamenty* are located directly at the Swieradów Zdrój gondola station on the road to Czerniawa Zdrój. Both Swieradów Zdrój and Czerniawa Zdrój are within walking distance. The shared facilities include a games room, terrace and garden. Some wellness offers and a sauna complete the facilities. Bicycles, mountain bikes and ski and winter sports equipment can be rented in the house or in the immediate vicinity.
Hotels in Świeradów Zdrój
One of the hotels in Swieradów Zdrój is the ****Hotel Buczyński*, which also offers various wellness and spa facilities. Guests are accommodated in various single and double rooms, some of which can be extended to family rooms. There is a sauna, jacuzi, indoor pool for swimming and fitness facilities in the hotel as well as individual spa treatments. The spa house and spa park of Swieradów Zdrój are very close to the Hotel Buczyński. For winter sports enthusiasts there are several ski slopes nearby. The hotel offers a dry storage room for skis. Sufficient parking spaces are available at the hotel, but are subject to a charge.
The St. Lukas Medical&Spa* on the western edge of the historic center of Swieradów Zdrój is practically a hotel with a sanatorium character. Here you can enjoy wellness and spa facilities in one. The hotel has an outdoor and indoor pool, fitness center, whirlpool and sauna. Various room categories from single to family rooms are available to guests. Ski lift and cable car with access to the largest ski slope at the Hay stack hut are nearby, and local hiking trails are not far from the hotel. The in-house restaurant can be used for meals with Polish and international cuisine.
The ****Park Hotel* is located above the town center and the Swieradów Zdrój church with direct access to the spa park. It is also not far from the hiking trails on the Jizera Mountains ridge. The hotel offers single and double rooms (with the option of an extra bed in a family room). A large wellness area with massages (also Ayurvedic), whirlpool, steam bath and sauna ensures relaxation and recuperation after long hikes or hot ski runs. The indoor pool is available all year round. Winter sports fans can leave their skis in the ski storage room. The hotel serves an extensive breakfast as well as other daily meals in the restaurant. Parking is available at the hotel for a fee.
Money in Poland
The Polish zloty is still the currency in Poland. One € is worth around PLN 4.65. Exchange is also subject to charges at ATMs. You can pay in zloty by credit card at many “points of acceptance”, and your bank will then process the conversion at the daily exchange rate.
The weather forecast for Swieradów Zdrój today and for the next days is shown in the overview opposite. This will help you prepare your hiking gear!
If you want to find out about the current winter sports weather with snow depths and piste conditions in Swieradów Zdrój, you can do so via the Snow depths website, which opens at the start of the winter sports season and is updated on an ongoing basis.
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