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 River 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.
- The city of Hamburg
- Westhavelland Nature Park
- Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam
- Germany’s lively capital Berlin
Click to view map
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.
- Accommodation: Best Western Raphael Hotel Altona (Hamburg) or similar
Day 2: Hamburg – Lauenburg | 55km
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.
- Cycling for the day: 55km
- Accommodation: Hotel-Restaurant Zum Alten Schifferhaus (Lauenburg) or similar
Day 3: Lauenburg – Hitzacker | 55km
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.
- Cycling for the day: 55km
- Accommodation: Hotel Hafen Hitzacker (Café Dierks) (Hitzacker) or similar
Day 4: Hitzacker – Wittenberge | 78km
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: 78km
- Accommodation: Hotel Germania (Wittenberge) or similar
Day 5: Wittenberge – Havelberg | 38km
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.
- Cycling for the day: 38km
- Accommodation: Hotel & Restaurant Am Hafen (Havelberg) similar
Day 6: Havelberg – Rathenow | 53km
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.
- Cycling for the day: 53km
- Accommodation: HF Hotel Fürstenhof (Rathenow) or similar
Day 7: Rathenow – Brandenburg | 65km
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 | 60km
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: 60km
- Accommodation: Altstadt Hotel (Potsdam) or similar
Day 9: Potsdam – Berlin | 50km
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.
- Cycling for the day: 50 m
- Accommodation: Leonardo Royal Hotel Berlin Alexanderplatz (Berlin) or similar
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.
Click to view default hotels
- Best Western Raphael Hotel Altona (Hamburg)
- Hotel-Restaurant Zum Alten Schifferhaus (Lauenburg)
- Hotel Hafen Hitzacker (Café Dierks) (Hitzacker)
- Hotel Germania (Wittenberge)
- Hotel & Restaurant Am Hafen (Havelberg)
- HF Hotel Fürstenhof (Rathenow)
- Sorat Hotel Brandenburg (Brandenburg an der Havel)
- Altstadt Hotel (Potsdam)
- Leonardo Royal Hotel Berlin Alexanderplatz (Berlin)
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 and 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-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.
Click to view travel options and route planner
- By train: If you are flying to Hamburg there are regular trains S-Bahn to the city, journey time is about 25min. If flying to Berlin Brandenburg Airport, you can take the train to Hamburg; journey time is about 1h 45min – 2h 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 20kg)
- 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 and supplements
- 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
- Bike rental – touring bikes and e-bikes
The bike rental fleet comprises almost 100 touring models from established German brands (BBF and Kalkhoff). There are available women’s models with step-through or low-crossbar frames and gents’ models with step-through or low-crossbar frames (from a height of 1.75m). The bike rental includes a waterproof Ortlieb pannier (10l), 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.