Leipzig – Dresden – Prague

…along the Elbe to the east

Suggested itineraries

Three cities, two countries – stunning nature abounds


approx. 120 kilometres 
Travel time by train: approx. one hour 
Travel time by bike: approx. six hours or a two-day tour 

approx. 150 kilometres 
Travel time by train: approx. two hours 
Travel time by bike: approx. nine hours or a three-day tour 

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A sustainable trip from A to B

Direct train connections between the cities are available,  
but if you want to experience eastern Germany and neighbouring Czechia by bike, you can spend a few days following the Elbe cycle path. Day one starts in Leipzig, where you will head to the small village of Strehla to join the Elbe cycle path. Once you’re on the path, the route continues without no real climbs involved and is well-signposted. On day two, you can take several breaks along the route, for example for a refreshment in the Diesbar-Seußlitz vineyards or, around 15 kilometres upriver, for a visit to the Meißen porcelain factory. You’ll then cover the last 25 kilometres to Dresden’s city centre.  

The cycle route between Dresden and Prague follows the Elbe cycle path for about 140 kilometres and leads through the rocks of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains over the border to Decin (day three) and through the landscapes of the Elbe Valley to Leitmeritz (day four). During the last stage on day five, you’ll switch to the Vltava cycle path in Melnik and cover the last few kilometres along the river to the Czech capital. 

Handy to know: we have secure bicycle storage facilities at our hotels in Leipzig-Nikolaikirche and Dresden.  

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Starting point: Leipzig

Our Motel One locations in Leipzig

In recent years, Leipzig has evolved from a plain Jane to a buzzing city with a vibrant art scene. Quite the opposite of grey and vanilla, the city hopes to turn green. The aim is to be climate-neutral by 2050 at the latest – to achieve this, the public transport network and the bicycle network have been expanded, making cars practically redundant for travellers. 

Things to do
Leipzig is full of history and historical architecture. The best way to see the highlights of the city is on foot. Start at the Marktplatz public square, where there are two ‘must-see’ attractions: St. Nicholas church (which was a central starting point for the peaceful revolution of the German Democratic Republic) and the old town hall. The Mädler-Passage is somewhat hidden. It’s a great place to shop and make a detour to Auerbachs Keller, which features in Goethe’s Faust. An insider tip for fans of architecture is the Bibliotheca Albertina, just a few metres from Clara Zetkin Park – the university library was voted Library of the Year 2017 and is free to access for everyone. Just outside the city centre and around 30 minutes by public transport is probably the most famous building in the city: the Monument to the Battle of the Nations. It looks particularly impressive at sunset.  

Green and (almost) free  

  • Free museums: Many museums are free on selected days. The Grassi Museum, which houses the Museum of Ethnology, the Museum of Applied Arts and the Museum of Musical Instruments, opens its doors free of charge every first Wednesday of the month, as does the Museum of Fine Arts. The Gallery of Contemporary Art offers free admission every Wednesday, the Bach Museum on the first Tuesday of the month.  

  • Free walking tour: Find out more about the history of the sights and get insights into the life of the city with the donation-based Freetour Leipzig. If you prefer to explore the city on your own but still want to learn something about the individual buildings, the Talk Walks audio clips are for you.  

  • Animals up close: The riverside forest, Auwald, is one of the most popular recreational areas in the city. In the southern part of the forest lies Wildpark Leipzig, with 25 native species and free admission. 

Pure indulgence  
From plant-based meat alternatives at Vleischerei to vegan sushi at Niiko, in Leipzig, vegans and vegetarians can sample culinary delights from all over the world. The upscale restaurant Zest prizes local and seasonal ingredients, as does Symbiosis, which is known for its large breakfast selection. Ouai, which serves plant-based Asian delicacies, also gives a big thumbs up to vegan cuisine.  

Outdoor adventures  
What will it be – hiking, cycling or sailing on the river? Leipzig is surrounded by picturesque landscapes. If you like to hike or cycle by the water, then Muldental, southeast of Leipzig, is the ideal destination. Here, the river Mulde flows through green valleys while historic towns such as Grimma and Colditz are the perfect stopping points. Perhaps you’d rather take a stroll under a leafy green canopy? Then head to the woods at the Düben Heath.   

Summer in the city 
Leipzig in summer means going to the lake and listening to concerts in the evening. The water landscape of Neuseenland attracts locals and visitors on warm summer days for swimming, canoeing and sailing. You can cycle through the city forest, Auwald, to get there.  

Leipzig has a reputation as a renowned music city, where numerous festivals take place every summer. The Bach Festival, for example, takes place here in the birthplace of Johann Sebastian Bach. Fans of alternative music will be drawn to Wave-Gotik-Treffen, the world’s largest gothic festival. Throughout the summer, concerts and theatre performances take place on the GeyserHaus park stage – a socio-cultural centre. Cool off and enjoy live music at the Leipzig Water Festival with raft rides, fireworks and water sports.

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Dresden plays a pioneering role in sustainability and social responsibility and was awarded Fairtrade City status in 2021. To create fair working conditions, support small businesses and make life in the city more attractive in general, Dresden relies on a well-developed cycling and local transport network that ensures fewer CO2 emissions and better air quality.  

Things to do 
Dresden is known for its impressive old town with architectural masterpieces such as the Semperoper, the Zwinger (a Baroque palace complex) and the Residenzschloss. The city’s iconic landmark is, however, the Frauenkirche. The Baroque church was rebuilt after being destroyed in the Second World War and is a symbol of reconstruction and reconciliation. The Brühlsche Terrasse, which is referred to as the balcony of Europe, is definitely worth a visit, offering stunning views along the promenade above the Elbe. Speaking of impressive views, Grünen Gewölbe offers lots to see too – but here, it’s all about valuable jewels and historical treasures.  

Green and (almost) free  

  • Free art: Metre-high murals, artistically designed rubbish bins and sculptures – Dresden has a lively creative scene, particularly so in the districts of Neustadt, Friedrichstadt and Leipzig Vorstadt. You can even soak up the artistic soul for free every first Tuesday of the month at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen

  • Views far and wide: From the historic Bismarck Tower near the university grounds you can see the city and all the way to the Saxon Switzerland mountains. Admission to the 23-metre-high tower is free of charge.  

  • Get around on two wheels: The MOBIbike bicycle rental system in Dresden offers bikes for getting around the city. The first 30 minutes are free for students. Everyone who returns their bike to the MOBI stations also gets 10 minutes for free.  

Pure indulgence 
Enjoy burgers in a cosy lounge atmosphere at Falscher Hase, devour a hearty roast and schnitzel at Steffenhagen or feast on kebabs at Der Dicke Schmidt – all of this is available vegan in Dresden, too. If you’re out and about in the city centre and get peckish, why not try out the cuisine in the historic three-way courtyard of the vegetarian restaurant BrennNessel?  Or, head to Vegan House, where there’s Vietnamese cuisine on the menu. And to satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth, there’s cake at Tanteleuk.  

Outdoor adventures  
It’s almost too difficult to choose: do you go and see the bizarre rock formations and deep gorges at Saxon Switzerland National Park? Will you enjoy the idyllic lake landscape around Moritzburg Castle on a bike or canoe trip? Or do you take a hie in the Central Bohemian Highlands near the border through vast forests and untouched nature? If you don’t fancy leaving the city but are still seeking a green oasis, head to Großer Garten and relax in the rambling meadows and botanical garden.  

Summer in the city 
Get out in the fresh air – as in many other cities, this is also the motto during the warmer months in the state capital of Saxony. Filmnächten am Elbufer brings the big screen under the stars for outdoor film nights, listen to music outdoors at Dixieland Festival and Canaletto, and open-air theatre performances are regularly held at Großer Garten.  

Of course, in warm weather people flock to the water. Boat trips to the Elbe Sandstone Mountains are particularly popular in the summer heat. If you fancy taking a dip, make a detour to Kiesgrube Leuben quarry lake just outside the city. 

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Destination: Prague

Our Motel One in Prague

Prague is one of Europe’s most popular city destinations. And rightly so, because the city has so many historical highlights in such a small area. To save yourself from the stress of driving around the narrow streets and to do something good for the environment, it’s best to leave your car at home. Trams, buses and rental options for bikes will get you to your destination just as quickly and conveniently.   

Things to do 
The city’s iconic landmark, Prague Castle, towers high above the city and accompanies you on every walk. A stroll through the Czech capital has to include the famous Charles Bridge (one of the oldest stone bridges in Europe), the astronomical clock, the Dancing House and Wenceslas Square, where you can watch the hustle and bustle of the city. 

Green and (almost) free  

  • Panoramic views: From the hills of Prague, the city is at your feet – including its impressive views. These are particularly beautiful at sunset from Prague Castle, whose courtyards are mostly accessible free of charge. An insider tip is the terrace in front of the Strahovsky Monastery. 

  • Public art: Wander through the epochs of art history and pick out your new favourite images – you can do this for free in Prague, too. The National Gallery opens its doors free of charge on selected days. New favourite modern artworks can also be found in the streets of the city. The Kafka sculpture by David Črený behind the Quadrio shopping centre is definitely worth seeing.  

  • Grandeur gratis: The Baroque Waldstein Palace and its adjacent gardens are open for free on Saturdays. You can marvel at the main hall with its elaborate ceiling frescoes, the knights’ room and the artificial grotto wall.   

Pure indulgence
Czechia is famous for its hearty home cooking. Vegetarian and vegan restaurants show that things can be done differently. The Maitrea cooks up traditional vegan dishes (e.g. goulash), while the hip restaurant Pastva focuses on regional and seasonal ingredients. At Lehká Hlava there’s creative plant-based cuisine in unusual rooms. Puro, a modern health food shop, specialises in vegan food and sells smoothies, ice cream and changing daily specials. Homemade desserts and cakes are available at Moment Cafe und Bistro to satisfy anybody with a sweet tooth.

Outdoor adventures  
In addition to the Bohemian Forest, which lies between Dresden and Prague, there are also many smaller towns close to the city whose nature and history are perfect for an excursion. The Gothic castle Karlštejn is enthroned on a hill about 30 kilometres away. You can take a guided tour of the castle, enjoy the view and immerse yourself in the surrounding nature. Another highlight is Kutná Hora. The historic spa town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers impressive historical buildings such as the Sedlec Ossuary and vineyards for walks. For a slightly longer trip, head into the dense woods around the castle Krivoklát west of Prague, where there are numerous hiking trails.  

Summer in the city 
Czechia has a long beer tradition, which is fully enjoyed in the city’s beer gardens. What else do people like to do in Prague? Party! And you can do that in summer at numerous festivals such as the United Island of Prague Festival, where over 70 concerts take place on islands in the middle of the Vltava River. The Metronome Festival is all about music and the arts, while plays and comedies feature at Prague Fringe. Would you prefer to relax? Then head to Letná Park: Letní Letná offers varied evening activities including open-air cinema, theatre and circus performances.  

During the day, you can take public transport to the Slapy reservoir, about an hour away, where you can swim, sail, go boating or just soak up the sun on the shore at the local recreation area.  

Fancy extending the route?  
Then start your road trip from Magdeburg

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