Biking the river from the source to Dresden

Cycling from the source via Prague to Dresden

Week 1: The source of the Elbe is in the Krkonoše Mountains, near the village of Vrchlabi (Hohenelbe). From the mountains, the Elbe then flows westwards.  Most of the time you will follow the river, so your route will remain exceptionally flat. On your way, you will cycle past the Elbe's first hydroelectric dam, built in 1932, which offers a fairytale view. As you head towards the lowlands, the route will take you through many welcoming towns. You will pass through historically important towns such as Hradec Kralove and Dvur Kralove, towns from which kings ruled the surrounding lands. You will reach the golden city of Prague, where you will see some historical sights, including the great Prague Castle "Hradcany". This is the seat of the parliament and in previous centuries the king ruled the country from there.

Week 2: Then you will leave the city and cycle along the Vltava River, on your way you can admire old castles and fortresses on both sides of the river. Then you will reach Melnik, a fascinating town situated on a hill, and just in front of this hill the Vltava flows into the Elbe. In the distance, you will see Mount Rip, where it is said that the forefather Czech settled his people. Your further route will be parallel to the Elbe, you will ride along the river and follow it until you reach Terezín - an intact garrison town with a dark past. Finally, you will drive into the valley of the Elbe. The river has cut its way through the sandstone mountains here, showing you the steep edges and individual rocks. Shortly afterwards you will reach Pirna and Dresden, the cities have a breathtaking old town centre.

Most of the time the route runs parallel to the river, sometimes the route deviates a bit to show you other places worth seeing. Most of the time you cycle on cycle paths (Elberadweg 2) and only rarely on dirt roads. The tour is quite flat, which is a great exception for a country where mountains and hills usually line up.

The trip can also be made without luggage transport: Discount € 200,- per booking!

Day-by-day schedule


Day 1: Arrival Vrchlabi

In the course of the day you will travel to Vrchlabi (car/train/bus). In the evening you get your documents about your trip and rented bikes.


Day 2: Vrchlabi - Dvur Kralove (45 km / 30 miles)

You drive along the upper reaches of the here still small Elbe. In Hostinne the giants are waiting for you at the town hall tower. After a leisurely ascent of approx. 3 km (the longest of the whole bike tour!) you reach the Elbe reservoir embedded in wooded heights with its beautifully designed dam crown from 1916. Not much later you reach the small town of Dvur Kralove on the Elbe.


Day 3: Dvur Kralove - Hradec Kralove (48 km / 32 miles)

The cycle route leads through the varied landscape to Kuks, where 34 magnificent sculptures depict the virtues and the vices. On your bike tour you will be amazed by the garrison town of Josefov, which was built around 1785 by the Austrians. You can visit bastions and casemates there today. Soon afterwards you will reach Hradec Kralove, the beautiful administrative centre of the surrounding countryside and an old university town. The centre has been completely preserved and has many beautiful corners.


Day 4: Hradec Kralove - Pardubice (37 km / 25 miles)

Through the extensive forests east of Hradec Kralove, your cycle path leads in an arc past Raby Castle to the famous town of Pardubice. Enjoy a relaxing sun break in the centre of the historic old town, relax in peace or take a walk to the castle.


Day 5: Pardubice - Kolin (57 km / 38 miles)

Along the calmly flowing Elbe and rushing poplars, the cycle path leads past some of the country's most famous stables to the town of Kolin. Here, too, the old town with Karlsplatz, the former Jewish ghetto and the 13th century cathedral are listed buildings.


Day 6: Kolin - Nymburk (33 km / 22 miles)

The cycle path leads along the Elbe to the spa town of Podebrady. Look forward to a walk over the colonnades and a nice cafe under shady trees. You then cycle on to Nymburk, a small medieval town that became an important trading centre under Dominican rule with the help of German and Dutch colonists.


Day 7: Nymburk - Prague (49 km / 33 miles)

You follow the Elbe to the west through the Bohemian basin. You will cross villages and larger towns. On the way you can even visit a bicycle museum next to an open-air museum. You will reach golden Prague along the banks of the Elbe and over well maintened cycle paths.

Prague is an incredibly beautiful city with a long history. It is not called the Golden City for nothing, and there are also a hundred towers. There are plenty of museums, theatres and exhibitions. You can eat and drink at every corner. St. Veith, the Hradcany, the Lesser Town, the Jewish cemetery. Here you need more than a week to get a first impression of the city.


Day 8: Your day of rest in Prague

Before you cycle further along the Moldau and Elbe to Dresden, you get a day extra for the beautiful city of Prague. The eigth day is a day off, so you have plenty of time to explore this beautiful city. The excellent public transportation brings you everywhere. Prague has many nicknames such as the City with a Hundred Towers, and is visited by many tourists from all over the world. There are many highlights in this city such as King Charles Bridge, with its famous statue’s and many artists. From here you can see the Fortress and the Cathedral look after the rest of the city. You can visit the old Jewish Cemetery with old untouched graves, or visit St. Wenclas market square with the famous astronomical clock.

Writer Franz Grillparzer had an explanation of why the town has a magical attraction: ‘’Prague embodies the existence of the old and ancient values next to the new and dynamic world in such a small area, a story told in the form of buildings.’’


Day 9: Prague - Melnik (50 km / 32 miles)

You start the tour in Prague. You encounter many castles today, because the nobility build them to escape the business of the town and to be able to enjoy nature just a days’ ride away from Prague. You will cycle past the Troja castle, with its beautiful gardens, you´ll switch several time riversides just before the Veltrusy chateau. The route continues to the point where the Vltava and Elbe flow together. You will cycle to the city of Melnik which is located majestically on the hill above this important landmark. From the promenade you can see how the two rivers seal their friendship. The hill has the most northern vineyard in the Czech Republic.


Day 10: Melnik - Litomerice (55 km / 35 miles)

Today you have two possibilities, the route split at the start of the day, and comes together halfway. The first option is that you cycle leisurely along the Elbe river, enjoying the ever changing scene of small villages, farmland and woods. The second possibility is more exciting. Legend has it that the great-grandfather of all Czechs lived on the mountain Rip, from which he oversaw how all his younglings colonized the surrounding lands. You will cycle to this mountain, where you have the possibility to climb it, there’s a 12th century Romanic styled chapel on its top.

You make it towards the fortress city of Terezin, whose street pattern and inner city have remained untouched since it was built in the 18th century. It was used during WW II as a ´model´ concentration camp. Nowadays there is a museum dedicated to the former ghetto, and a monument honoring all those that lost their lives to the Nazi’s.

Finally you will cycle towards the bishop’s city of Litomerice, one of the oldest cities in Bohemia. It is located on a fertile land tongue where the Eger river flows into the Elbe. Litomerice is mesmerizing with its harmonic square, surrounded by manors of various kinds of architecture.


Day 11: Litomerice - Decin (52 km / 33 miles)

Shortly into the day you will reach Usti nad Labem, it is painting-like when viewed upon from a distance, wedged in between the hilly landscape of the Bohemian Middle mountain ranges. You have the opportunity to hike towards the old famous ruin of Burg Schreckenstein (Fortress Fearstone), from here you have a one of a kind view over the Elbe valley. Then you continue your route towards Decin, with its castle on a rocky outcrop. Before you reach Decin you will past the small Breznak brewery, where you can enjoy a freshly brewed beer.


Day 12: Decin - Pirna (46 km / 30 miles)

The bicycle route takes you along some of the most beautiful rocky outcrop that this area has to offer. Only very few areas in Middle-Europe have nature as untouched as on this stretch. You will cycle past the hardly noticeable Czech – German border, and soon after you will arrive in Bad Schandau. Bad is German for Spa, indicating that you can get a spa treatment in this town, you can positive impact on your health. Later on you will reach the fortress Königstein after you crossed the river with a small ferry. You do not have to cycle all the way up to the fortress, since there is a bus that directly transports you there. You continue your journey to Pirna, a city with a wonderful historical inner city.


Day 13: Pirna - Dresden (24 km / 16 miles)

The route takes you directly along the Elbe river the whole time. You will cycle past the baroque chateau Pillnitz, the former summer residency of the Saxon king, with its vast parks. Visit here the pottery shop and the amazing antiquariat. Finally you reach Dresden. Your will arrive early so spend the day discovering this amazing city. You can visit the recently renovated Frauenkirche. You can take a guided tour in the former residency chateau of the king of Saxony, and to top it all of: See a play in the Semper opera. Or enjoy a nice afternoon sitting on the bank of the river, overlooking the skyline of the old city.


Day 14: End of your tour

Today is your final day. After your breakfast there might be some time left to do some more sightseeing before your flight takes off, or before you have to return to Vrchlabi by train. It is possible to book through our office a special transfer from Dresden back to Vrchlabi.

If you can’t get enough of Dresden, it is possible to prolong your stay for a couple of more nights.


Level: 1 of 5

Orfeo travel cycling

Total length of the tour: 516 km / 322 miles

Price per person
13 nights in three or four star hotels / pensions € 1975
Double room, incl. breakfast Included
Luggage transport Included
Detailed maps and gps files (gpx / kml) Included
24-Hour SOS service Included
Route description Included
Trekking bike (21-27 gears) € 180
E-bike (8 gears) € 360
Single room € 1595
Surcharge solo traveller € 380
triple room / family room (4 beds) € 1495 / 1395
Extra night first hotel (single, double, triple, quad) € 90 / 100 / 150 / 190
Extra night last hotel (single, double, triple, quad) € 100 / 130 / 190 / 240
Special transfer back to first hotel (max. 4 Pers. / max. 8 Pers.) € 350 / 350
GPS device € 25

Rented bikes are fully equipped: bags, lights, locks, map holder, incl. service

Book online
From 1975 Euro per person


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