Your tour commences this evening in vibrant Berlin – a city now united and rebuilt in even greater glory. Join us tonight for a welcome drink before dinner in your hotel. This is an ideal chance to meet, and get to know, your Tour Manager and fellow travellers. (D) Stay: Park Plaza Wallstreet, Berlin Mitte
This morning we are joined by an expert local guide on our panoramic tour taking in all the major sights from the famous Brandenburg Gate, Unter den Linden and rebuilt Reichstag to the Victory Column in the Tiergarten, Potsdamer Platz, Checkpoint Charlie and remaining sections of "The Wall'. Your afternoon and evening is entirely at leisure. The shopping is amazing and the city brims with world class sights and museums. This evening discover your own local restaurant for dinner. Maybe dine 'al fresco' in Gendarmenmarkt square, dramatically flanked by two beautiful cathedrals and the Berlin Concert Hall. (B)
Berlin 'My Time'
Your day is at leisure in Berlin. There is so much to see and do and your Tour Manager is of course on hand to help and advise you. Perhaps visit one of the five world class museums on UNESCO Heritage listed Museumsinsel (Museum Island) or the riveting Checkpoint Charlie museum and moving Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Tonight we take you to a local restaurant for dinner – Berlin style! (B/D)
Potsdam Palaces and Gardens
A full day amongst the UNESCO Heritage listed glorious palaces and gardens of Potsdam! Joined by our expert local guide we enjoy a photo stop on the famous Bridge of Unity – more famously known as the 'Bridge of Spies'. Later we visit Cecilienhof Palace, the last palace built by the German Kaiser, and the site of the 1945 Potsdam Convention where Churchill, Truman and Stalin famously met. Inside is a fascinating museum! The furniture, private reception rooms and huge conference table remain exactly as they were when these great leaders met to carve up a ravaged, post war Europe. After lunchtime in Potsdam's pretty Dutch Quarter, we stop on the elegant terraces of Fredrick the Great's Sanssouci Summer Palace. This afternoon we visit the astounding Neues Palais with its newly restored palatial rooms, including the Gottensaal (Grotto Hall) and Marmorgalerie (Marble Gallery). Later we drive south to Lübbenau in Spreewald, where we stay the next two nights. (B/D) Stay: Hotel Schloss Lübbenau
Spreewald punt ride and Lübbenau 'My Time'
Spreewald, or 'Spree Forest', is an utterly entrancing UNESCO listed biosphere reserve. Boarding our punts we are 'poled' silently through a dreamy forest on a lacework of channels and canals, lined with wooden cottages, jetties and hamlets. In the heart, at the village of Lehde, we enjoy a lunchtime stop at a waterside restaurant and 'biergarten'. Back in Lübbenau, your afternoon and evening is at leisure. Free time to relax or shop in this delightful inland harbour town. For the more active maybe take a walk or a bike ride along the forested pathways. And the local food speciality? Gherkins! (B)
Saxon Switzerland National Park sightseeing
We have an incredible day planned in Germany's 'Saxon Switzerland' National Park. First stop will be at the dramatic 75 metre long (easily accessible) stone Bastei Bridge which links the incredible rock formations, walkways and lookouts, 200 metres above the River Elbe. The panoramic views are stupendous! In the distance you will see the massive rock ramparts of Festung Königstein, which we visit next. Dating back to the 13th century, this is the largest fortress in Germany, and one of the very best castle visits in all Europe! The main entrance tunnel is so impressive, as is the 152 metre deep well, barracks and old wine cellars. The 1.5 kilometre long cliff top ramparts, often lined with restored cannon, are a thrill to walk along. Later, at Pirna, we stop to see the park and ornate gardens of Pillnitz Palace, before taking a cruise down the beautiful River Elbe. Journeying past palaces and mansions, and the UNESCO listed river farmlands, we arrive into Dresden at Brühl's Terrace, nicknamed 'the balcony of Europe. We stay here three nights. (B/D) Stay: The Westin Bellevue
Rebuilt after the massive bombing raids of WWII, Dresden has once again bloomed into one of the most beautiful and elegant cities in Europe, reflecting the grandeur of this capital of the Electors of Saxony, who once ruled a powerful empire. On our morning walking tour you will see the glorious Zwinger Palace, the Semper Opera House and the symbolic Frauenkirche dominating the massive, ancient market square. Following the Fürstenzug – a dramatic, 100 metre long painted porcelain mural depicting the procession of Princes - we visit the Dresden Royal Palace. We have included entrance to the museums including the Armoury, Turkish Chamber, Riesensaal (Giants' Hall) and the fabulous New Green Vault with over 1,000 beautiful gold and silver bejewelled objects. Simply stunning! The rest of your day is at leisure to explore this delightful city. (B)
Bohemian Switzerland or Dresden 'My Time'
A wonderful choice today! Stay and explore Dresden independently – shopping or simply relaxing in the old squares and cafés. Alternatively, we have included a special activity just over the Czech border, amongst the wild sandstone mountains, gorges and rugged peaks of the 'Bohemian Switzerland' National Park. Here you have a range of stupendous walks and activities to choose from, as easy going or energetic as you wish. Maybe a short easy, flat walk along the bottom section of the picturesque Kamenice River gorge, before time at leisure browsing amongst the street side souvenir shops of Hrensko. For the more active there are two stunning walks from nearby Mazni Louka. The first, again easy and flat, is all the way down the Kamenice gorge, where the verdant forest clings to often vertical walls between 50 and 150 metres high above the river. Sometimes the gorge is so narrow you will walk beneath rock ledges and tunnels. Two sections, the Edmund Gorge and Wild Gorge, are so narrow they are only passable using delightful ferry rides on punts. The second, more vigorous walk, is up through the woods to the massive 'Pravcicka Brana' natural arch. The views from the café underneath it are simply magnificent. This evening, back in Dresden, we have included dinner in the Grand Café Coselpalais, right next to the Frauenkirche, where the cake selection is fantastic! (B/D)
Colditz Castle and Prague
Travelling west we reach one of the most infamous castles of WWII – Colditz. Subject of numerous books and films, this enormous castle became the prison for all the greatest POW escapees of the war. Ironically the Nazis therefore created an incredible escape training school! The museum is full of the most amazing array of escape tools and memorabilia. Our local guide will also show us some of the most impossible tunnels and escape routes. Utterly fascinating! Later we arrive into Prague
where we stay three nights in the very heart of the old city. Dinner this evening will be authentic Czech cuisine in the U Pinkasu restaurant – enjoyed in a hidden courtyard beside a church. *18 May departure stays at Ramada Prague City Centre. (B/D) Stay:
This morning we are joined by our expert local guide for a tour through this fascinating city to the Hradcany – Prague Castle. Covering 7 hectares it is the largest ancient castle in the world. We also visit St Vitus Cathedral and the colourful houses of Zlatá Ulièka, or Golden Lane, named after the goldsmiths who lived here in the 17th century. The afternoon and evening are at leisure to explore the laneways, churches and bridges of this beautiful, UNESCO Heritage listed city. *18 May, 15 June & 6 July departures visit Kutna Hora on Day 10 and Prague Castle on Day 11 (B)
Prague 'My Time' or Kutná Hora sightseeing
Perhaps enjoy a day at leisure exploring Prague
, or alternatively join us on a full day included excursion to the nearby UNESCO World Heritage listed city of Kutná Hora. Fortune-hunters flocked to Kutná Hora in the 13th century to dig out the silver-rich ore discovered here. Once bigger than medieval London, the city minted coins used all across Europe, and its wealth underpinned the power of the Bohemian kings. Here we will visit the Sedlec Ossuary (Church of Bones), with macabre décor of bone art, and the wonderful Cathedral of Saint Barbara, a masterpiece of late Gothic fantasy. You will also have free time to relax and explore the lovely old town. For those at ease within narrow, dark spaces we have also included an incredible torch lit guided tour through the 500 year old silver mine labyrinth, deep under the city. (B)
Trebon and Cesky Krumlov
Driving south we spend lunchtime in the spa town of Třeboň, an undiscovered gem that sits in the heart of this UNESCO listed biosphere. Since the 14th century, man has transformed the surrounding land into an idyllic countryside filled with over 6,000 lakes and islands and it is famous for its … fishponds! The town centre, Schloss and Masaryk Square are a delightful mixture of colourful renaissance buildings and 'al fresco' cafés serving fish, and there are so few tourists! Later we continue to the perfectly preserved 13th century city of Cesky Krumlov. Originally built as a hamlet around the impressive castle, the wealth from the silver and gold mining, plus Catholic aristocrats seeking refuge during the Reformation, made Cesky Krumlov the most important city in southern Bohemia. We stay the next two nights in the very heart of this extraordinary, UNESCO World Heritage listed time capsule. On arrival we board large wooden rafts to enjoy a leisurely float slowly down the placid River Vltava. From your seats you will get the very best views up onto the castle walls and into the old town. What better way to introduce you to the city? (B/D) Stay: Hotel Ruze
Cesky Krumlov tour and 'My Time'
This morning we have included the services of an expert local guide to bring to life the history and background of this extraordinary town. You will also enjoy a guided tour of the Castle's Renaissance and Baroque state rooms. Your afternoon and evening is at leisure in UNESCO Heritage listed Cesky Krumlov to relax and enjoy free time amongst the cobbled stone streets, cafés, restaurants, shops and ancient winding alleys. (B)
Salzburg guided tour and 'My Time'
Heading into Austria we soon reach Salzburg
– the baroque city of Mozart. On arrival a local guide will accompany us on a walking tour of this enchanting UNESCO Heritage listed city, including several locations used in the film 'The Sound of Music'. Your afternoon will be at leisure to explore the ornate squares and churches, fascinating shops and traditional coffee houses. The views from the enormous Festung (Fortress), sitting high above the city, are magnificent. This evening we have included a memorable farewell dinner at the St Peter Stiftskeller. First mentioned as an Inn as far back as the year 803, this is the oldest known restaurant in central Europe! (B/D) Stay:
Radisson Blu Hotel Altstadt
Your tour ends on arrival in Munich, mid-morning. We will make drop offs in the city centre and at Munich airport. We recommend you book flights or trains that depart Munich after 2pm. (B)