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Elbe Cycle Path: Hamburg to Berlin  The Natural Adventure Company 36

Elbe Cycle Path: Hamburg to Berlin


The Elbe is Germany’s second-largest river, featuring beautiful riverbank meadows, impressive vineyards, magnificent castles and charming historical towns. The cycle tours along the Elbe Cycle Path are fairly flat and follow the river Elbe’s and its tributary the Havel. The majority of the routes is in good condition and well-asphalted with numerous cultural attractions along the way. There is hardly any altitude gain, so it does not really matter whether you cycle upstream or downstream. However, the prevailing winds from the west and the terrain make the journey upstream preferable. The section from Hamburg to Berlin will take you from the harbour city of Hamburg through the extensive Westhavelland Natural Reserve, the cities of Brandenburg and Werder to the marvellous Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam until you reach Germany’s capital Berlin.


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Day 1: Arrive in Hamburg

This famous Hanseatic city offers a wealth of cultural attractions to light up your evening. Get in the mood for your cycling tour with a boat trip from the harbour, visit the old warehouse district or climb up Hamburg’s symbol, St Michael’s Church.

Day 2: Hamburg – Lauenburg | 55 km

After leaving Hamburg on the Elbe Cycle Path, you will pass the health resort of Lütjenburg, which awaits you with its clean air, historic marketplace, Baroque town hall and former dyer’s house with its richly ornamented door – a must-see! The shipping town of Lauenburg is your destination with beautiful restored half-timbered houses from the 16th-17th century.

Day 3: Lauenburg – Hitzacker | 55 km

Today’s cycle tour passes sleepy villages and the Elbe Floodplain UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with its largely untouched fluvial landscape. The final destination for the day is the health resort of Hitzacker. The town’s historic centre with numerous half-timbered houses is picturesquely situated on an island and invites you for a stroll.

Day 4: Hitzacker – Wittenberge | 78 km

On your fourth day, you will continue to ride through the quaint Elbe floodplains. Enjoy the tranquillity and wildlife along the way. You will also pass the former inner-German borderland. Soon after that, Wittenberge will appear on the horizon, well known for its many towers.

  • Cycling for the day: 78 km
  • Accommodation: Hotel Germania (Wittenberge) or similar

Day 5: Wittenberge – Havelberg | 38 km

After leaving Wittenberge, you will cycle on dykes along the banks of the Elbe to Havelberg. The route offers several sights, including storks in the village of Rühstädt and excellent views across river landscapes. In the afternoon, you will arrive in Havelberg – or “the Green Island and Cathedral City”, as its residents lovingly refer to it. This charming city at the Havel and Elbe confluence has a rich history as an episcopal seat. Visit the city’s impressive cathedral in the Romanesque and Gothic style made of red brick.

Day 6: Havelberg – Rathenow | 53 km

From today on your tour continues along the Havel River Cycle Path, passing green fields and small villages. You will finish the stage in the ‘town of optics” Rathenow. We recommend a visit to the Optics Museum and Optic Park.

Day 7: Rathenow – Brandenburg | 65 km

Today you should pack your swimwear because the cycle path will take you to the lake region north of Brandenburg. The city itself is scattered over several islands and peninsulas worth exploring.

Day 8: Brandenburg – Potsdam | 60 km

At the beginning of the stage, you will cycle on dykes along the Havel through. Allow some time to visit the flower town Werder situated on several idyllic islands in the Havel and the Palace Caputh with its garden. The last part of the day leads you to Potsdam along the promenade of Templin Lake. Take your time to visit the beautiful Sanssouci Palace.

  • Cycling for the day: 60 km
  • Accommodation: Altstadt Hotel (Potsdam) or similar

Day 9: Potsdam – Berlin | 50 km

You leave Potsdam by crossing the Havel River over the Glienicker bridge and riding in the direction of Germany’s capital Berlin. Continuing the tour, you will take the ferry across the Wannsee Lake (fare not included) and then ride along the Spree Cycle Path right into Berlin’s city centre.

Day 10: Departure

The tour ends after breakfast. We recommend that you extend your stay in Berlin as the city has an abundance of attractions and landmarks to explore.

What to Expect


Accommodation is in nice 3-star and 4-star hotels in private standard en-suite rooms. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

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Hotels are subject to availability. In case a hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a property of equal standard. We will provide full accommodation details upon booking confirmation.


Accommodation is on a bed & breakfast basis. Lunches are available along the way. You can have dinner at your hotel or nearby restaurants.

Difficulty & terrain

This is a moderate cycling tour (read more about difficulty grades). You follow relatively flat and well-asphalted paths through countrysides and forests. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available from the beginning of April until the end of October. The departures from Hamburg are on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday. The best time for cycling is between June and mid-September when the weather is generally good. 

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options and route planner

By plane

Our recommended airports for this tour are Berlin and Hamburg.

By train or bus
  • By train: If you are flying to Hamburg there are regular trains S-Bahn to the city, journey time is about 25 min. If flying to Berlin Brandenburg Airport, you can take the train to Hamburg; journey time is about 1 h 45 min – 2 hours depending on the train departure. Train timetables can be checked on the DB website, or you can use the Omio planner above.



  • 9 overnights with breakfast as detailed in the itinerary
  • Luggage transfer when changing hotels (1 piece of luggage per person, max 20 kg)
  • Detailed route notes and maps (1 set per room)
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative


  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Bike rental
  • Helmets – you have to bring your own as there is no possibility of renting any. In Germany, it is not obligatory to wear a helmet.
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as included in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • Bike rental – touring bikes and e-bikes
  • Supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room / single use of a double room
  • This holiday is not available for solo travellers
  • Extra nights in Hamburg and Berlin
  • Private transfer Berlin – Hamburg can be arranged upon request


The bike rental fleet comprises almost 100 touring models from established German brands (BBF and Kalkhoff). There are available ladies’ models with step-through or low-crossbar frames and gents’ models with step-through or low-crossbar frames (from a height of 1.75 m). The bike rental includes a waterproof Ortlieb pannier (10 l), bicycle lock, map holder on handlebars (1 per room), and repair set (1 per room). Helmets are not included and cannot be rented. E-bikes are also available on request.