Cycle alongside Germany’s second-largest river, Elbe, and enjoy the stunning riverbank meadows, gorgeous vineyards, magnificent castles and charming historical towns. This 8-day tour is appropriate for experienced cyclists and will allow you to experience most of the River Elbe Cycle Path. It will take you from the harbour city of Hamburg through vast natural reserves, vineyards and the charming towns of Hitzacker, Lutherstadt Wittenberg and Meissen to historic Dresden.
If you prefer to complete the same itinerary at a more relaxed pace, we also offer a 13-day version.
- The city of Hamburg
- Westhavelland Nature Park
- The historic town of Magdeburg
- The city of Dresden
Click to view map
Day 1: Arrive in Hamburg
This famous Hanseatic city offers a wealth of cultural attractions to light up your evening. Take 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 – Hitzacker | 110km
Most of the time, you will cycle along the Elbe riverbanks. After leaving the Metropole, you pass a calm area with small villages. You continue through a unique landscape called “Wendland”, characterised by a special settlement form – the round villages. The landscape is flat and dominated by huge floodplains. They are a paradise for birds like storks, sea eagles or cranes. 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: 110km
- Accommodation: Hotel Hafen Hitzacker (Café Dierks) (Hitzacker) or similar
Day 3: Hitzacker – Havelberg | 116km
Recreative hours in untouched nature will define your cycling day. Only from time to time you will pass through dreamy villages. Wittenberge, with its numerous towers, can already be seen from a distance. 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: 116km
- Accommodation: Hotel & Restaurant Am Hafen (Havelberg) similar
Day 4: Havelberg – Magdeburg | 130km
Today the Elbe river cycle path takes you to Tangermünde and Magdeburg. Short before Magdeburg, you will pass the impressive and technically challenging construction of the waterway junction – a gigantic building project to connect the waterways of Hannover, Magdeburg and Berlin. Magdeburg itself is a lovely town where you can discover history and modern art. Do not miss visiting the cathedral and Hundertwasser building.
- Cycling for the day: 130km
- Accommodation: Ratswaage Hotel Magdeburg (Magdeburg) or similar
Day 5: Magdeburg – Dessau | 78km
The cycle path will lead you through the Biosphere Reserve of the Mid-Elbe, one of the last undeveloped floodplains in Central Europe. The untouched nature is home to rare bird species. Dessau is your destination for the day. The Bauhaus buildings and the Masters’ houses from Kandinsky, Klee and Feininger belong to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage.
- Cycling for the day: 78km
- Accommodation: Radisson Blu Fürst Leopold Hotel (Dessau) or similar
Day 6: Dessau – Torgau | 105km
Your today’s bicycle tour allows you to explore the world-famous Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 100-hectare park offers numerous attractions, including islands, canals, temples and statues. The journey along the Elbe Cycle Path continues through the Elbe floodplains to Torgau, a Renaissance town featuring Schloss Hartenfels and the Palace Church, known as the first German Protestant church.
- Cycling for the day: 105km
- Accommodation: Hotel Goldener Anker (Torgau) or similar
Day 7: Torgau – Dresden | 106km
The final leg of your cycle tour will take you along picturesque wine villages along the Elbe River, like Belgern and Riesa – home to a famous German pasta manufacturer. At its museum, you can gain insight into modern food production. You will also pass picturesque vineyards and the wine and porcelain city of Meissen with its castle, Albrechtsburg. Finally, the cycle path leads you to Dresden. Take a walk through the historic old town and visit the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), the Zwinger Palace and the Semper Opera House. Enjoy the Brühl’s Terrace view – also known as “The Balcony of Europe”.
- Cycling for the day: 106km
- Accommodation: Park Inn By Radisson Hotel Dresden
Day 8: Departure
The tour ends after breakfast. We recommend extending your stay in Dresden as the city has an abundance of attractions and landmarks to explore.
What to expect
Accommodation is in nice 3-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 Hafen Hitzacker (Café Dierks) (Hitzacker)
- Hotel & Restaurant Am Hafen (Havelberg)
- Ratswaage Hotel Magdeburg (Magdeburg)
- Radisson Blu Fürst Leopold Hotel (Dessau)
- Hotel Goldener Anker (Torgau)
- Park Inn By Radisson Hotel Dresden
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 strenuous cycling tour (read more about difficulty grades). You follow relatively flat and well-asphalted paths through the countryside and forests, which are excellently signposted. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our local assistance phone number anytime.
When to go
This trip is available from the beginning of April-October.
The departures from Hamburg are on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday. The departures from Dresden are daily. The best time for the Elbe Cycle Path: Hamburg to Dresden, 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 S-Bahn trains 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. If flying to Dresden, you can take a train to Hamburg with a change along the way in Berlin or Hannover; journey time is between 4 and 5 depending on the departure. Train timetables can be checked on the DB website, or you can use the Omio planner above.
- 7 overnights at 3-star hotels as detailed in the itinerary in private ensuite rooms
- 7 breakfasts
- 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 the spot)
- 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 available for solo travellers. A supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
- Extra nights along the way are available upon request
- Bike rental – touring bikes and e-bikes
- The tour can be arranged in the opposite direction as well – from Dresden to Hamburg with daily departures
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.