An Elbe River Cruise in a Historic Paddle Steamer

The Oldest and Largest Paddle Steamer fleet in the world:

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Elbe River cruise from Dresden

Long before the Elbe River became home to the very popular European river cruises of today, steamships have been plying the Elbe transporting goods and passenger traffic. In fact, it has been 174 years since royal assent was given for paddle-steamers to operate on the Elbe.

In its heyday, around 1900, there were 37 steamships carrying millions of passengers each year.  Unfortunately, the two world wars took its toll on the steamship business, and it was not until 1992 that the Elbe paddle steamers had a new lease of life.

The paddle steamer service along the Elbe, previously in government control, was privatised and 8 paddle steamers were restored according to their late 19th century paddle steamer designs at a huge cost of approximately €13 million. In August 2000, the steamer “Krippen” rejoined the fleet as its ninth historical paddle-steamer.

Cruises on the Elbe River

Gliding up the Elbe River in a historic paddle steamer must be one of the most pleasant ways to experience the Elbe River and discover the sights of Saxony.  So on your holiday in Dresden or the Saxony region, be sure to plan a ride in one of these unique paddle steamers and enjoy a nostalgic journey on one of Europe’s major scenic rivers. On an Upper Elbe River cruise, the steamer drifts past the romantic Elbe Sandstone Mountains, pass below the Bastei cliffs and ornate Königstein Fortress.  Along the banks of the Elbe River you can also explore the modern cities that are connected to the past by remnants of medieval monuments and architecture. Excursions downstream will take you to Meissen, the “historical cradle of Saxony” and then further along the Saxon Wine Road to Diesbar and Seusslitz.

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Elbe Paddle-Steamer Route

Sächsische Dampfschiffahrt are the owners of the oldest and largest paddle-steamer fleet in the world. They operate an extensive schedule of regular services and special cruises all year round, running both downstream to the wine village of Seusslitz and upstream to Bad Schandau near the Czech border.

Examples of cruises you can do

  • A round trip by paddle steamer from Dresden to the fairytale summer palace in Pillnitz passing also Albrechtsberg, Lingner and Eckberg Palaces, Dresden’s so-called Elbe Palaces. This river sightseeing tour has commentary in German and English.
  • A Dresden Bridges Tour – similarly with commentary in German and English.
  • Evening cruises to Pillnitz
  • Various special cruises, winter and Christmas cruises

All along the Elbe River route, the company provides suggestions on places and things to see.

For more information on schedules, bookings and fares, see the company’s website on

For more Dresden Info, see HERE.

Sächsische Dampfschiffahrt GmbH & Co. Conti Elbschiffahrts KG
Hertha-Lindner-Strasse 10, D-010167 Dresden
Tel: +49 351 86609-0

Any other ideas?


  1. avatar says

    I’m taking several students to Dresden for the day during an upcoming Study Abroad trip. We are having trouble contacting the Sächsische Dampfschiffahrt company. Do you have any suggestions on how I might go about booking a cruise before I arrive? Any other information you might provide would be appreciated. Thanks!

  2. avatar says

    Hi Chris,

    I don’t know which contact number or email you’ve tried, however I would try emailing a couple of the ladies in charge of Sächsische Dampfschiffahrt’s sightseeing cruises and enlist their assistance – include more than one addressee and hope that one of them gets back to you quickly.

    Let me know how you go with this and if it doesn’t work, we think of something else.

    Kind regards,

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