The Elbe Cycle Path. Four little words that immediately arouse a sense of wanderlust in cyclists. For years, it has been the most popular cycling route in Germany, with the reasons for its notoriety being aplenty: the slopes in the Czech Republic section are characterized by only a few ascents, imposing village centers and numerous opportunities for a break. In Germany, fascinating landscapes and exciting cities form an exciting mixture of natural and cultural highlights. And all of this sits on a perfectly developed bike path.
The Elbe Cycle Path is about 1,270 kilometres long and accompanies the Elbe from its source in the Czech Sudeten Mountains to Cuxhaven, where it flows into the North Sea. It covers a total distance of 1,091 kilometres from the source, where the Elbe is still called "Labe", to the estuary. A third of the river’s length meanders through the Czech Republic, while the remaining 727 kilometers flow to the sea over northern Germany
We have divided the varied cycle path along the Elbe River into 29 stages, which are about 40 kilometres long on average. We have deliberately chosen the length of the individual stages shorter so that you have enough time to get off your bike here and there and explore the highlights along the route. Because it is precisely these that make the cycle path so special.
The first stages take you from the source of the Elbe over the Czech-German border. In the German part of the Elbe Cycle Path you will then cross seven federal states, each with its own charm. From the Elbe Sandstone Mountains in Saxon Switzerland in Saxony to the important Elbe River Biosphere Reserve in Brandenburg and the hip cultural metropolis of Hamburg. The further north you cycle, the more you notice the unmistakable North Sea scent.
Especially on the German side, the Elbe Cycle Path is also very suitable for beginners, less ambitious cyclists or families with children thanks to the flat route. Due to its popularity, countless accommodations for cyclists have settled along the cycle path, which are adapted to the needs of cyclists. Regardless of whether you are planning all or selected stages of the Elbe cycle path - this cycle path along Germany's great river has something to offer for everyone.
The Elbe Cycle Path is recommended in the brochure "Deutschland per Rad entdecken" by the ADFC (German Cyclist's Association).
No matter if you have decided for the complete 1,260 kilometers or single stages of the Elbe Cycle Route. You have a wonderful journey ahead. Each section is characterized by a varied mix of scenic, cultural, historical or architectural highlights. Of course, the culinary variety is not too short. From Czech beer of the highest brewing art over opulent Bavarian delicacies to the variety of fish and seafood from the North German cuisine. Nature lovers, gourmets and of course athletes get their money's worth.The start of this stage is the source of the Elbe in the Czech National Park Krkonoše. At the beginning you cycle south to your first destination: Vrchlabí. The city, which is also called "the gate of the Giant Mountains", is located at an altitude of about 477 m. Luck! From kilometer 7, it is almost constant downhill.
On today's stage you will be riding almost exclusively on well paved bike paths. A special highlight is the Kuks Hospital, which is considered a prime example of Baroque architecture. Completely renewed in 2013, the cycle path leads right past it. Together with the stage destination Hradec Králové, whose historical center is absolutely worth seeing, you will pass on this stage two historically significant highlights of the Elbe Cycle Route.The nearly 75 kilometers of this stage go almost constantly downhill with a few exceptions. You therefore have enough time for detailed sightseeing on the way.
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Today the route goes from Hradec Králové to Kolin. After about 20 kilometers you reach the East Bohemian city of Pardubice, which is also known as the "gingerbread city". In addition, the city center, which was declared a historical city reserve, is also worth a visit. Then you cycle along the river, which is called Labe, west. Churches, castles and ruins characterize this section, which ends in Kolin.
Continuing along the Elbe, you first pass the historic towns of Poděbrady and Nymburk. The rather leisurely bike path leaves enough time to view the surroundings. Nymbur welcomes you with a majestic city wall; Relics of the king. Then it goes to the north of Prague Mělník. This day is one of the longest sections of the official Elbe Cycle Route. Of course, you can also split this section into a two-day leg. If you started at the source of the Elbe, you already had three days to "get warm", but the mean speed has already been raised. I wish you success!
From the charming town of Mělník you can now visit Litoměřice, 50 kilometers away. The starting point is on a small hill, directly above the confluence of the two largest rivers in Bohemia; the Elbe and the Vltava. Due to the special climatic situation you move along the largest wine region in Bohemia. Halfway you pass the town of Roudnice nad Labem, on the left bank of the Elbe. Continue on a beautiful stretch of road before reaching today's destination Litoměřice.
Today, it is about Litoměřice 50 km to Děčín. As the first stop of this stage, we recommend the city of Libochovany, where besides the visit of the Renessainces castle you can also eat extremely cheap. Full and rested it continues on the Elbe on Cirkvice, Sebuzin for the next photo stop: Castle Schreckenstein. Passing through a typical Bohemian landscape you pass Techlovice, Boletice Nad Labem before reaching today's destination Děčín.
This stage belongs to the most scenic of the Elberadweges. Despite the shortness of only 16 kilometers are two highlights in front of you: the border crossing of the German-Czech border and the National Park Saxon Switzerland. After passing the deserted border crossing (border controls are gone, but you should still carry a passport or passport as there are seldom spot checks by the police), you can look forward to the gorges and mountain ranges of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains.
The eighth stage is the first section of the Elbe Cycle Route that runs completely in Germany. Starting in Schöna on the Czech border he leads you to Heidenau on the edge of the Saxon Switzerland. The nearly 40-kilometer-long path meanders along a well-paved road past one of Germany's most visited attractions: the Bastei rock formation. If you're there for the first time, the short climb is definitely worth it.
This stage takes you from Heidenau to Meissen. After Pillnitz Castle, with its well-known tropical houses, pass the Loschwitz Bridge, better known as the Blue Wonder. After about 20 kilometers, it goes to the state capital Dresden. Among the highlights are the Frauenkirche in the center of the old town. Then it continues on a well-paved bike path that runs without large differences in the direction of the county seat.
Today, about 60 kilometers of bike path await you. Passing by wide meadows, castles and palaces you pass Zehren and Nederlommatzsch, as well as the castle Neuhirschstein. The idyllic town Strehla, which you reach after about 35 kilometers, offers itself for a short stopover to recharge your batteries. Then you will cycle past the former border of Saxony and Prussia to the lovingly restored town of Mühlberg in the state of Brandenburg. This section is agricultural, which is clearly visible in the many fruit trees and vineyards. If you come by at the right time, you can even snack on the fruit trees along the bike path.
Stage 11 takes you from Belgians to Pretzsch. A special highlight is the cycling church in Weßnig, the first church in Germany to open its gates especially for cyclists. A short stopover is also available in nearby Torgau, whose historic city center is particularly interesting for photographers. The well-paved bike path continues to Torgau in a rural landscape. You pass small villages like Greudnitz, Sachau or Priesitz. Especially in the summer months, the Lausiger ponds invite you to take a refreshing dip in the cold water.
Today you cycle from Pretzsch to Wittenberg. The cycle path in this section on both sides of the Elbe is particularly family friendly. As you cycle through the Elbe meadows, villages, castles, the Elbe ferries, old Elbarme and the Lutherstadt Wittenberg are among the highlights of your day. Especially in the summer months you can cool off from the heat in one of the many swimming possibilities.
This stage starts in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg, which is one of the most important centers of Martin Luther's creative work. At the door of the castle church, the publication of his 95 theses initiated the beginning of the Reformation. About halfway it goes to the 21,000 inhabitants city Coswig, whose large castle is absolutely recommended. Before Dessau you can relax through the Middle Elbe Biosphere Reserve, where untouched nature awaits you.
Scenic and architecturally interesting, it continues on the 14th stage. In the Bauhaus city of Dessau, world-famous buildings invite to exhibitions and guided tours. In the further course of the Elbe Cycle Path you will find numerous architecture in the style of the Bauhaus. Continue north, where the Elbe is surrounded by extensive floodplain forests. These provide habitat for many species of birds and wildlife such as the Elbe beaver. So keep your eyes open, both up and down.
Your today's destination is just under 35 kilometers away. Enough time to be enchanted by the many sights along the way. Start is the small town of Barby, which in addition to the Baroque Castle and the Barbie Museum also has a new leisure area that invites you to swim and relax. Continue towards Schönebeck, where salt production already has a tradition of more than 800 years. Nowadays, the spa resort attracts its guests with its bathing and wellness landscapes. In the stage destination, in the provincial capital of Magdeburg, you can expect big city flair paired with a historic ambience.
Today's day's leg takes you along the Elbe to the north from Magdeburg via Hohenwarthe to Rogätz. To start the day, the City Park Rotehorn offers. In the middle of the city center, the Elbe Island is also a favorite place for locals to relax. The path continues on the right bank towards the north. In addition to views of the vineyards, you will always see magnificent buildings from different eras along the way. The destination is Rogätz, which you reach after about 34 kilometers.
And continue on stage 17. On the left bank of the Elbe you cross dikes and forest areas of the Elbe hinterland. After 18 kilometers, there is a nice rest area, from which you can enjoy a very good view of the Elbe. If you want to change to the other side of the Elbe, you can do that in the case of greaves. The highlight of this stage is the city of Tangermünde. The medieval town catapults you back to this legendary time. Especially the castle hill fills a few chapters of cultural history, and also offers you a fascinating view over the Elbe.
The Elbe Cycle Route runs here for about 60 kilometers from Tangermünde to Havelberg. At the west of the Elbe you pass the Arneburg and Schwarzholz; both well worth seeing. You can also make a short detour to Stendal, which is about 13 kilometers from Tangermünde. Historic lakeside villas with sumptuous architecture will amaze you. Further north you reach Arneburg, which lies on a small plateau directly on the Elbe. Then it goes again slightly downhill to Havelberg. If you have pedaled well before and still have time, we recommend a detour to the nature reserve "Old Elbe between Kannenberg and mountains". The best way to do this is to use the Elbe ferry from Sandau to cross over to the other shore. Maybe you will see one of the local otters, Elbe beaver and other exciting animals. Keep eyes open!
Stage 19 has as a starting point, the Hanseatic city of Havelberg with about 45 kilometers away Wittenberge as a destination. Depending on your mood, you can decide whether your journey through Brandenburg or Saxony-Anhalt will continue. The Elbe divides the two federal states. If you decide otherwise while driving, the many connections give you the opportunity to cross over to the other side of the river.After 10 kilometers you reach the very attractive Hanseatic city of Werben. The 1000-year history still impresses the cityscape very impressively. Further north-west the path leads past unique nature. To the west are the "Aland-Elbe-lowlands" and the "Elbaue Beuster-Wahrenberg" and on the eastern shore the 53,000 hectare biosphere reserve "Flusslandschaft Elbe-Brandenburg". Arrived in the Wittenberge in Brandenburg you will find enough bathing places to recover from the ride.
This day's stage of the Elbe Cycle Route is 30 kilometers short. Lots of time for stopovers or even small trips to the area. After saying goodbye to the very nice Wittenberg, the trail leads you first to the south and then to the west via Wahrenberg and Pollitz. The floodplain landscape of the Biosphere Reserve "Flusslandschaft Elbe" with a remarkably intact flora and fauna forms an ideal habitat for many animals. And to be explored. In addition, you should often also turn your eyes upwards. This area is one of Germany's largest occurrence of storks. In the stage destination Schnackenburg you can then recover from cycling, sightseeing or exploring in nature.
Also on this stage, from Schnackenburg to Dömitz, you pass again some great sights and natural sites. The first destination is the health resort Gartow am See and the popular Gartower See. Here you can really relax from the last stages: take a little break in the Wendeland-Therme, walk the beaver trail or watch the white-tailed eagles circling in the air. Relaxed, the trail continues on paved roads over Gorleben and Langendorf to Dömitz. Here, especially the old railway bridge, which juts into the Elbe valley, attracts as a popular photo opportunity.
Stage 22. Already after a few minutes, the Dömitzer Elbbrücke leads to the left bank. Due to the beautiful nature of the biosphere reserve of the Lower Saxon Elbtalaue, your way snakes up to Damnatz. Continue on the paved dyke path to the village Barnitz, Landsatz and Jesebeck over. After about 24 kilometers, you will reach the charming town of Hitzhacker. The half-timbered town lies above one of the northernmost vineyards in Germany. How about ending the day with a good glass of wine?
This stage of the Elbe Cycle Route from Hitzhacker to Darchau, which leads through exciting Elbe meadows and offers you a colorful mix, is about 18 kilometers long. Especially if you take the route on the left bank, you have to expect sometimes quite steep climbs of the Elbe heights. The right bank - where the official cycle path runs - instead offers you a fascinating view of the hilly relicts from the ice age. In summary: A short section that provides a fantastic panorama of glacial rocks and their forests.
Stage 24 runs from Neu Darchau to Hohnstorf. On the 37 kilometers, you will once again experience the unique nature of the German North. Between Walmsberg and Alt Garge you pass an imposing sand-ridge edge. On the left bank of the Elbe, your path leads you past the typical villages of the Marschhufen landscape Bleckede, Brackede and Hohnstorf. Here you can enjoy a wonderful view of the tranquil Lauenburg and the regional fish specialties.