The Elbe extends for 1,091 kilometres from its source in the Giant Mountains in the Czech Republic to where it meets the North Sea. Of this, around 870 kilometres are navigable. The river falls into two sections – the Lower Elbe for the stretch of around 145 kilometres from the estuary to the Port of Hamburg, and the Upper Elbe for the upriver section further inland.
Ebb and Flood
The North Sea and the Elbe are tidal waters. In other words, the water level varies between low and high tide. Tidal range, or the average difference between water levels, amounts to a mean 3.66 metres. Water level rises with the flood tide for six hours from low to high water. In the next six hours the water level falls with the ebb to low water again. The rise and fall of the water creates a tidal current that in Hamburg runs at about 2.5 knots.