The Elbe Cycle Route

From Prague to Cuxhaven, approx. 1200 km


Elbe-Radweg, Dresden

Hamburg, Speicherstadt

Elbe-Radweg, Hamburg Speicherstadt

Czech Republic

Elbe-Radweg, Tschechien, Radfahrer


Elbe-Radweg, Tschechien, Prag

The Elbe Cycle Route takes you on a journey through the history and culture of northern and eastern Germany. Between the source of the Elbe in the Czech Giant Mountains and its mouth in the North Sea near Cuxhaven, the Elbe covers approximately 1,100 kilometers. Almost always following the banks - the Elbe Cycle Route! Over almost 1,220 kilometers, it takes you through the north-western part of the Czech Republic, Saxony, and Saxony-Anhalt, touches Brandenburg, Lower Saxony, and Schleswig-Holstein, before finally leading through the middle of Hamburg towards the North Sea.

On this page you can learn more about the Elbe Cycle Route, its topography, signposting as well as tips on how to get there, ideal travel times, and shortcuts along the cycle route. Experience the diversity of one of Central Europe's most impressive rivers. Rugged sandstone cliffs, old castles and majestic palaces, charming old towns, and unspoiled Elbe meadows - ideal conditions for a successful cycling holiday. And if you want to concentrate fully on cycling, take a look at our bookable cycling holidays along the Elbe. You cycle, and we take care of the rest: from hotel bookings to luggage transport.

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Short & simple: The Elbe Cycle Route

  • Length
    approx. 1,220 km
  • Topography
    Altitude profile ●○○○○
    For the most part, the Elbe Cycle Route runs without any major gradients.
  • Signposting
    The Elbe Cycle Route is signposted throughout. In the Czech Republic: Yellow signs with the number 2 and a bicycle symbol. In Germany: Signposts with a blue and white Elbe Cycle Route logo. Despite efforts, the signposting may be old and poor in quality.
  • Quality
    For the most part, the Elbe Cycle Route runs on separate asphalt paths and quiet side roads. Occasionally there are sections with gravel or gravel paths. In the southern section often near the river, and in the northern part sometimes a few kilometers away. Be aware of increased traffic in larger towns.

Please note!
Children and young people under the age of 18 are required to wear helmets in the Czech Republic. For safety reasons, we generally recommend that all cyclists wear a helmet.

Map Elbe Cycle Route

On the road from the Giant Mountains to the North Sea

Start your cycling holiday on the Elbe Cycle Route either directly at the source in the Czech town of Špindlerův Mlýn (Spindleruv Mlyn) or in Prague, just a few kilometers away. In Germany, numerous cities such as Dresden, Magdeburg, Havelberg or Hamburg are ideal starting points - whatever you prefer.

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If you want to cycle the entire Elbe Cycle Route, start not far from the Elbe spring. The signposting of the cycle path starts from Vrchlabí. You cycle via Hradec Králové to Mělník. Here the Vltava flows into the Elbe. In between, it is worth taking a detour to the Czech capital Prague, the Golden City, whose castle complex on Hradčany is unparalleled anywhere in the world. Just over the German border, you reach Bad Schandau, in the middle of Saxon Switzerland.

A climb to Königstein Fortress, a few kilometers away, rewards you with a view over the Elbe Valley. After discovering Pirna, the gateway to Saxon Switzerland, you reach Dresden. The former royal seat shines with its baroque Zwinger, the Semper Opera House, the Church of Our Lady, and the Brühl Terraces. Experience Dresden as the crowning finale of an 8-day cycling tour from Prague.

Elbe cycle path signposts
Elbe cycle path signposts

After leaving Dresden behind, a stopover in Radebeul is worthwhile. The world-famous Meissen porcelain factory is just as worth discovering as the traditional wine taverns along the Saxon Wine Route. Sun-drenched vineyards and the ships of the world's oldest paddle steamer fleet accompany you on your way north. Learn about traditional pasta making in Riesa and experience the more than 1000-year-old Renaissance town of Torgau. In Lutherstadt Wittenberg, the town's name says it all. Feel the influence of the city's most famous citizen, Martin Luther, at every turn. Not far from the Bauhaus town of Dessau, marvel at the opulently designed landscape garden in Wörlitz.

When you reach the cathedral city of Magdeburg, you have already cycled more than halfway along the Elbe Cycle Route. Following the cycle path, you will reach the medieval town of Tangermünde. Try the specialty Tangermünde Kuhschwanz beer and the Altmärkische Tiegelbraten. Freshly fortified, you will reach the Hanseatic town of Havelberg with its St. Mary's Cathedral, the Prignitz forest and heath landscape, and the Elbe valley meadows near Hitzacker. Passing Lauenburg, which is well worth seeing, you will soon reach Hamburg.

The Free and Hanseatic City is not only home to one of Europe's largest harbors, but the cityscape of this cosmopolitan Elbe metropolis is also characterized by its diverse cultural offerings and the waters of the Inner and Outer Alster. The maritime influences of the North Sea are already clearly noticeable, you have the choice from Hamburg to follow the Elbe Cycle Route either to the left or to the right of the Elbe. You will reach Glücksstadt on the right bank of the Elbe. Supplied with the specialty Glückstädter Matjes, the cycle path takes you through the marshland to the port and lock city of Brunsbüttel. Alternatively, cycle on the left bank of the river Elbe through the rows of fruit trees of the Alte Land to Stade. Accompanied by a fresh breeze, the North Sea spa town of Cuxhaven is the crowning finale of your cycling experience on the Elbe Cycle Route.

For those who don't like cycling against the wind, it is recommended to cycle the Elbe Cycle Route in the opposite direction upstream.

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Travel time

The diverse impressions of nature and the friendly towns and villages make the Elbe Cycle Route an experience all year round. However, the best time to cycle the Elbe Cycle Route is from March to October. In spring, the cycle paths are less busy. This time of year is recommended for sporty cyclists who want to cover longer daily distances undisturbed. Favored by the melting snow in the Giant Mountains or high amounts of precipitation, floods can occur along the Elbe, especially in spring and summer. The Elbe Cycle Route can be flooded in some places.

For the peak travel season of June, July, and August, we recommend early hotel reservations in your chosen accommodation locations. The Elbe Cycle Route is also a fantastic destination in autumn. Especially in Saxon Switzerland, the atmosphere is unique when the leaves of the trees turn yellow and red.

Elbe cycle path, Bastei rocks
The Bastei rock

© Karol Werner, GNTB


If you intend to cycle the Elbe Cycle Route with your own bike, we recommend that you arrive by car or train. There are many conveniently located starting points along the cycle path that have good transport connections. Traveling to the Czech Republic by car is not necessarily recommended, as there is a risk of theft. It is therefore advisable to park your car at a German railway station and travel by train from there to your starting point in the Czech Republic.

If you are traveling by train, find out in advance whether your chosen connection allows you to take your bike with you. If you are traveling a long way and have booked a rental bike, we recommend using the airports in Prague, Dresden, Leipzig / Halle, and Hamburg. The cities of Prague, Dresden, Dessau, Magdeburg, Hamburg, Elmshorn, Stade, and Cuxhaven are connected to the long-distance bus network. Bicycle transport is limited and must be registered.

Elbe cycle path, cyclist near Coswig
The Elbe cycle path near Coswig


If you don't want to cycle because of a breakdown or bad weather, you can shorten a stage by train or boat. Cycles can be taken on almost all trains. In many places along the Elbe there are landing stages for regular scheduled or excursion boats. Please refer to the notice boards or the website of the respective shipping company for the journey times and costs for you and the bicycle transport. Bicycle transport on the ships is subject to capacity.


Who is the Elbe Cycle Route suitable for?

In short, the Elbe Cycle Route is suitable for anyone who enjoys cycling! It is not without reason that it is one of the most popular cycle paths in Europe.
Thanks to the low gradients and the many rest stops, families can enjoy the Elbe Cycle Route just as much as beginners. The Elbe Sandstone Mountains and the Elbe meadows are a dream for every nature lover. Of course, the Elbe Cycle Route is especially worthwhile for culture and history enthusiasts. Whether it's the brewing tradition in Prague, the porcelain factory in Meissen, Dresden, known as the Florence of the Elbe, or the imposing port of Hamburg - the Elbe Cycle Route is full of sights worth seeing and experiencing. Wine lovers will get their money's worth along the Elbe on the Saxon Wine Route. In Germany's smallest wine-growing region, there are numerous rarities to discover from over 850 years of cultivation tradition. Our tip: The classic from Dresden to Dessau – the perfect cycle tour to get to know the heart of the Elbe Cycle Route.

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