From Berlin to Prague: Is cruising the Elbe River worth every penny?

You have several options to experience multiple destinations in one trip.

You can hop on a luxury train and see plenty of sights within a few hours. Upscale ocean cruises are floating hotels that offer every imaginable amenity and dock at multiple destinations.

A river cruise offers both but is, in itself, an entirely different experience. The leisurely pace lets you soak in sceneries without feeling the need to rush from one destination to the next. It is a hassle-free cruise without the huge crowds typical of large cruise ships.

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When cruising the enchanting River Elbe, you enjoy the luxury of unhurried time. You also get full sumptuous meals, a comfortable stateroom, and more, giving you the best value for your holiday.

What is it like to take a cruise on the River Elbe?

A river cruise is more than just a tour; it’s an occasion to luxuriate.

You’re away from the bustle of the city and close to mesmerizing sights and greenery as far as the eye can see. You’re on board a paddle wheeler that glides smoothly along the unspoiled waters of the Elbe, which only became navigable fairly recently.

You cruise begins in Berlin, where you get a brief taste of German culture before you set sail. Explore the German capital that was divided for 40 years, but is now a thriving cultural center. With a few days in Berlin, you can take in some of the city’s famous attractions and landmarks. More than just marvelous feats of architecture, the Brandenburg Gate and the Sanssouci Palace are also icons and emblems of the country’s turbulent history and a potential source of dinner cruise fodder.

You can ponder upon Friedrich the Great, who built the Sanssouci Palace and once said that, “A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in.” And speaking of Sanssouci, the word literally means “without a care” — an interesting talking point as you lazily lounge in the riverboat deck.

View of the masonry of the ancient Romanesque churches from the early Middle Ages in the village of Loburg near Magdeburg on the Elbe
View of the masonry of the ancient Romanesque churches from the early Middle Ages in the village of Loburg near Magdeburg on the Elbe

The boat then makes its way to Magdeburg, a medieval city where you can glimpse Gothic-style structures like the Magdeburg Cathedral, the Kloster Unser Lieben Frauen (an art museum that resembles an 11th-century monastery), and more. You’ll be seeing reconstructions as Magdeburg is one of the many casualties of a long history of warring rulers.

Your cruise proceeds to Dresden (“the Florence on the Elbe”), a city that was also ravaged by war but has been extensively restored. Some of Europe’s most important art and architectural gems can be found here. The Green Vault in the Dresden Castle, said to be one of the world’s oldest public museums, displays an opulent array of treasures made from ivory, silver, amber, and gold. Dresden is, in a word, stunning.

The cruise’s culmination

The soothing, sumptuous journey is its own reward. But prepare for more wonders as the cruise culminates in Prague, Czech Republic.

Saunter down the medieval town’s cobblestone streets, see Baroque-style churches, and wander around picturesque fortresses in the world’s largest castle complex. Right in the middle of this medieval compound is the Prague Castle, restored to its former glory from when it was the seat of Czech rulers.

The iconic castle — which is the official residence of the president — was built in the Romanesque-style but was renovated over the course of several centuries, like many of the palaces and buildings that surround it. Large baggage is not allowed within the castle premises, but bring your camera with you. You can describe how magnificent it looks to your friends and family back home, but words might not do it justice.

A view of Prague's old town and Prague Castle
A view of Prague’s old town and Prague Castle

Seeing the breathtaking sights in Prague is a fitting end to your journey. However, if you’re in the mood for some pampering, you can trek towards Karlovy Vary in the western region of Czech Republic. This town is known among locals and tourists for its spa centers’ curative treatments as it is for its history of pleasing emperors and kings with its thermal springs.

Ultimately, comparing the experience of taking a luxurious river cruise to, say, glamping in Lake Bled in Slovenia or going on a safari in Tanzania largely depends on whether you value comfort over adventure or indulgence over exoticism.

If you’re looking for stellar attractions, impeccable amenities, and most of all, the joys of the delightful and knowledgeable company of travelers, then a luxurious, leisurely river cruise is difficult to beat.

Join our tribe of travellers on our River Elbe Cruise from Berlin to Prague. Request for more info!

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