As we all know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Therefor, we can only confirm that both sides of the river have their own charm, sometimes they resemble one another quite a lot and in other areas, they are completely different. So choosing one side mostly depends on which sights or other attractions you would like to visit during the day. Bridges and ferries of course offer the chance to switch sides whenever you like. And yes, there are stages where you can find signposts on only one side of the Elbe. We have put together the most important facts for you to help you making the right choice for yourself.
Which side is the right or left side? Just imagine looking downstream all the way to the North Sea and there you go: The one on your right hand side (kind of north-ish) is the right one and the other side is what we describe as the left side (so kind of south-ish).
- Between Bad Schandau and Pretzsch, the route is well-signposted on both sides with one small exception: The part between Königstein-Halbestadt and Kurort Rathen. Here you can only use route on the left side of the Elbe.
- From Pretzsch to Lutherstadt Wittenberg only the right side is marked with signposts.
- From Wittenberg to Coswig (Anhalt) you can ride on both sides.
- From Coswig (Anhalt) to Dessau, please use the left side of the Elbe.
- Right after Dessau you can cross the Elbe in Aken or ride a little further all the way through the nature reserve Steckby-Lödderitzer Forst until Breitenhagen before crossing the Elbe by ferry in Rooney/Barby.
- The ferry in Roony/Barby can only be reached from the right side. From here on, you can use both sides for your adventures. On the left side, you have the chance for a little detour to the Bronze Age site of an astronomical observatory in Pömmelte.
- Next up is the geographical centre of Germany: Schönebeck. All the way to Saxony-Anhalt’s state capital Magdeburg. Here, you still can ride on both sides but in the North of the city you need to switch to the right side.
- The route takes you to the ferry in Schartau/Rogätz. Right now, there is wide-ranging construction work on the dikes on the right river banks from Schartau to Derben, so we recommend using the ferry to cross the river and ride along the left side of the Elbe.
- Right after the ferry in Grieben/Ferchland all the way to Wittenberge, you can travel on both sides again, yay!
- After Wittenberge, the right side of the route is closer to the river than the left one. Notice: Here, the road is unpaved und surfaced with gravel.
- On the left side, you can take a detour to Gartow am See where you will find a natural bathing lake and a thermal bath/spa. Near Schnackenburg, the route leades you along the Elbe for only a short time and then through the hinterland to Dömitz.
- Between the bridge in Dömitz and Hitzacker both river sides are well-paved, on the left side you can use the advantage of cycling on the dike and enjoying the view from above.
- Between Hitzacker and Neu-Darchau, we recommend using the right side because the left one is still in quite a naturally unadulterated condition and it is really tough to ride. The ferry in Hitzacker is only open until 6pm so make sure to be there in time. Also unfortunately, you will find little to none restaurants along the way.
- Between Neu-Darchau and Lauenburg, both sides are well-paved and close to the Elbe. You will follow the river’s dikes.
- From Lauenburg to the bridge near Geesthacht, the left part of the route can be found on and right next to the dike, it is mostly paved. Alternatively, you can use the more natural route on the right where you will find a nice relief through forests.
- Riding from Hamburg to Cuxhaven, it is easier to travel on the right side as crossing the river in Brunsbüttel where the cycling route ends on the left side is tough and not a matter of spontaneous action. Both sides are mostly well-paved and landscape-wise similar to each other. Dikes will be rather high because tides are very characteristic for this area.