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The Elbe begins in the Czech Republic, flowing past Prague and through the East German states of Saxony and Brandenburg before emptying into the North Sea at Hamburg. The Elbe offers a chance to see sights such as the Semper Opera House and Royal Palace in Dresden, known as the ‘Florence on the Elbe’, the Gothic Cathedral in Magdeburg, and the historic Brandenburg Gate or Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin.

Czech Republic

The Krkonose or Giant Mountains in the northwest region of the Czech Republic is the beginning of this proud river. Starting 1,400 metres (4,593ft) above sea level, the Bile Labe or White Elbe flows down the Labsky vodopad (Elbe Falls) for 60m into the Male Labe. It then passes the Bohemian towns of Pardubice and Kolin and connects with the Jizera River, as well as the Vltava and Mirejowice rivers at Melnik. It is here in Melnik that river cruises typically take place, travelling past the towns of Litomerice and Usti as you cruise through the Ceske Stredohori (Central Bohemian Uplands) into Germany.


The first hotspots after crossing the Czech-Germany border are the Saxony capital of Dresden and nearby Meissen. Heading northwest, the Elbe flows through the towns of Torgau, Wittenberg, Dessau, Magdeburg, Wittenberg and eventually Hamburg before meeting the North Sea. On this path, you’ll see the Magdeburg Water Bridge, an incredible navigable aqueduct which connects the Mittellandkanal and Elbe-Havel Canal across a small valley, leaving shipping traffic to navigate the Elbe River underneath unhindered.

Elbe-Havel Canal

Over 56km long, the Elbe-Havel Canal connects Magdeburg on the Elbe with Brandenburg and Berlin on the river Havel. 

Weather & when to go

Cruises on the Elbe operate from mid-March to early November. The weather is most pleasant during spring and autumn, with average high temperatures of (74°F) in July and August. 

Popular ports in Elbe

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