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Aerial view of the river Elbe in Saxony, Germany

Scenic cruising Elbe River

The second-longest river in Germany after the Rhine, the Elbe flows for over 1,000 kilometers (700 miles) between the Krkonoše Mountains in the north of the Czech Republic—where the river is known as the Labe—and the North Sea. One of Central Europe’s major rivers, it’s also one of the most popular in Germany for boat cruises due to the array of natural and cultural sights along the way. Cruise passengers can see the looming sandstone massif outside Dresden, the vineyards of Saxony and many historic towns, including Wittenberg, the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation, and Meißen, which is famous for the manufacture of porcelain. The river also winds through several major cities, such as Prague, Berlin, Magdeburg and Hamburg. The stretch between Hamburg and the North Sea is fascinating not only because of the many attractions in and around the city—which has one of the busiest ports in the world—but because of smaller cities and towns like Glückstadt and Cuxhaven, and the various islands and natural sites that can be observed en route.