This charming community is stuck in a time warp that transports tourists back in time, yet the guiding ideals are as progressive as they come.

Half-timbered homes; a remote location in the wooded hinterlands of eastern Germany; scary rock pinnacles enclosing the town on one side and the raging Elbe River on the other—add an evil witch, and Schmilka looks like something out of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale from the 19th century. Or, at the very least, of that era: you have to run up and down the town’s one (cobblestoned) street looking for a Wi-Fi signal. The buildings date back about two centuries, and the food and beer are made using methods that are similarly old. Andrea Bigge, a local art historian, claims that Schmilka was a vacation destination 200 years ago. She said, “It is again, yet it still feels like that time period.” “You have time here,” added guest-house proprietor Ansgar Rieger. “No schedules, no lists. You come to Schmilka to “do nothing.”

Schmilka, a day trip from Dresden, is located just inside the German border with Czechia. A Slavic phrase that means “a site where timber is collected” inspired the town’s name, which was given to it by Czech lumberjacks who founded it about 1582. Technically, Schmilka isn’t really a municipality in and of itself; rather, it’s the southernmost outpost of the larger town of Bad Schandau downstream. However, it’s not too difficult to imagine a small, isolated country village, located in a park popular for hiking and mountain climbing, as a getaway for nature lovers.