The source of the 98-kilometre long river is located in the area of Javorník Ridge near the town of Svitavy on the very border of the European watershed of the Black and North Seas. The river is fed by several springs. An educational trail runs to one of these – Javorník Spring.
Named by the first Czech chronicler, Cosmo, the Svitava River was an important source of energy for numerous factories located in its immediate vicinity. These were textile mills that were also located in the Svitava River Valley near the town of Březová nad Svitavou; the towns of Brněnec and Moravská Chrastová also had paper mills. The river, which after the treatment plant in Hradec nad Svitavou continues through the Březová area, was also an important waterway for the entire Brněnec region. The Svitava River flows into the Svratka River near Brno. In places the river basin is also home to rare plant and threatened animal species.