The River Elbe brings you the culture of Saxony flowing from the Bohemian capital, Prague to the Hanseatic city of Hamburg on the Baltic. Along its banks you will find Dresden, the “Florence of the Elbe”, the pottery of Meissen, the gardens and palaces of Worlitz, the cradle of the Reformation -Luther’s Wittenberg and Magdeberg and its Gothic Cathedral.
The Elbe rises at an elevation of about 1,400 metres (4,593 ft) in the Krkonoše (also known as the Giant Mountains) on the northwest borders of the Czech Republic. The Bílé Labe, or White Elbe plunges down the 60m (197 ft) of the Labský vodopád, or Elbe Falls and merges with the steeply torrential Malé Labe, to emerge from the mountain glens and continue on to Pardubice and Kolín before it picks up the Jizera. River cruises usually start at Melník where the Elbe is joined by the Vltava or Mirejowice, both close to Prague. Some distance lower down, is Litomerice, and then historicUsti. At Decin the Elbe carves a path through the Ceské Stredohorí (Central Bohemian Uplands), churning its way through a deep, narrow rocky gorge into Germany.
Shortly after crossing the Czech-German frontier, and passing through the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, the river heads in a north-westerly direction to the North Sea. The river rolls through Dresden and finally, beyond Meissen, crosses the North German Plain passing along the former border of East Germany, touching Torgau, Wittenberg, Dessau, Magdeburg, Wittenberg, and Hamburg on the way. At Magdeburg there is a viaduct, the Magdeburg Water Bridge, that carries a canal over the Elbe, allowing shipping traffic to pass under it unhindered. Approaching Hamburg the Elbe splits into a number of branches which flow through the city and into the North Sea at Cuxhaven.
The Elbe–Havel Canal is a 56km long waterway that links Magdeburg, on the River Elbe, with Brandenburg (and Berlin) on the River Havel.
WHEN TO CRUISE?
River cruises on the Elbe run from mid March to early November.
The region experiences a continental climate that is also known for its extreme weather from brutally cold winters to hot summers.
In between, the weather is pleasant in both the spring and autumn months. While the average temperatures are the warmest in July and August with average highs of approximately 23°C (74°F), it is not uncommon for temperatures to climb to 35°C (95 °F) over the same time period.