The Elbe is Germany’s second most distinguished river after the Rhine. It rises from a gurgling stream of crystal-clear water high in the Krkonoše (or giant mountains), before winding its way through the breathtaking forests of the Czech Republic and Germany, and finally splashing into the North Sea some 68 miles later.
What this river lacks in depth (special river cruise boats are used to cross its often shallow depths), it more than makes up for in dramatic history. This area is where the fiery pastor Martin Luther started war against the Catholic Church in 1517, the US and Russian forces shook hands in April 1945, and it was the setting for Stalin’s Iron Curtain during the Cold War.
But history is not the only thing on offer here. The river passes through lush green vineyards, the beautiful Sandstone ‘Saxon Alps’ and some of Eastern Europe’s most fascinating sights.
Germany’s second city, this cool, urban landscape has some of the most vibrant nightlife in the country. It is also home to one of the biggest harbours in Europe and contains some 250 bridges (more than Amsterdam and Venice combined), earning it the moniker of ‘the Venice of the North’. If you happen to be visiting over the summer, you’ll witness the spectacle of the Duckstein Festival, an annual beer festival that showcases some of the region’s finest offerings!
One of Europe’s most beautiful cities, this fairy-tale landscape is a "bucket list" destination for many travellers all over the world. It is the launch or drop off point for many of the River Elbe cruises, so while you’re there, be sure to take in stunning Prague Castle. Its looming series of spires, towers and palaces could be straight out of Walt Disney’s imagination. It also houses some of the Czech Republic’s greatest artistic and cultural treasures, so this historic castle is much more than just a pretty face.
Perhaps best known for being all but destroyed during World War Two (it is thought that 1,600 acres of the city centre were flattened), Dresden has since enjoyed a true renaissance. Painstaking reconstructions of Baroque masterpieces have taken place, so be sure to visit the Zwinger Palace and the Frauenkirche, Dresden's cathedral. The birthplace of Richard Wagner, it is a classical music lover’s paradise, so check out the Dresden Opera House, which showcases both modern and classical operas.
A cruise along this fascinating part waterway is sure to offer you an unforgettable experience.