Its source is located in the Lusatian Hills (Lausitzer Bergland) on the Czech border. Further north the river enters the Spreewald, a large wetlands area, that is identical with the settlement areas of the Sorbs. In its final portion the river runs through the city centre of Berlin to join the River Havel in the western quarters of Berlin.
The name of the river Spree was by Thietmar of Merseburg recorded as Sprewa (Middle German sprejen, sprewen, High German sprühen meaning to spray water). People living at the Spree river (Anwohner) were in old German language (and are still) called Spreewaner.
Residents and tourists commonly attend events at Badeschiff, a pool placed within the Spree.
The river gave its name to several German districts: