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Our favourite river

Amongst wonderful nature

The River Elbe (or ‘Labe’ in Czech) is a central European river that has its source in the Czech Republic before flowing through Germany to its estuary into the North Sea. The Vltava, the Saale, the Havel, the Spree, the Elde and the Müritz are among the best-known bodies of water in the same area.

It’s not completely clear how the Elbe got its name. It could have something to do with its Latin name, ‘albia’, which means something like ‘light water’. This would also explain why the river’s name is feminine in German, as the Latin name ‘albia’ is also feminine.

Another, more mystical possibility is that the name refers to there being elves (‘alb’ in Middle High German) scurrying around in the mist between the pines. And it’s always a bit mystical around here.

The Elbe - ‘light water’

Der Lilienstein bei Sonnenaufgang

National park, conservation area or Biosphere Reserve?

"The Elbe is one of the few rivers in Europe that remains natural. The cycle path doesn’t always follow the flow directly; sometimes, it leads through rocky landscapes, meadows and wide floodplain woods, which have become homes for rare animals and plants."

Did you know?

The Elbe is one of the longest rivers. At average flow, the Elbe’s waters take around eight days to get from the German-Czech border to Geesthacht near Hamburg.

Along this 586km barrage-free stretch, water speed averages around 3km per hour.