1 Berlin welcome
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: Maritim proArte or Hotel Eurostars Berlin
2 Berlin sightseeing
This morning we are joined by an expert local guide for a panoramic tour to see 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. 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. 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)
3 Potsdam Palaces and Gardens
A full day amongst the UNESCO Heritage listed glorious palaces and gardens of Potsdam! On our way to Potsdam we enjoy a photo stop on the famous Bridge of Unity – more famously known as the ‘Bridge of Spies’. Arriving in Potsdam we enjoy a guided visit to 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, accompanied by our expert local guide, we stop to admire the elegant terraces in the gardens of Fredrick the Great’s Sanssouci Summer Palace. 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
4 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. ‘My 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)
5 Meissen, Colditz Castle and Dresden
Travelling south we arrive mid-morning in the medieval town of Meissen. As we approach the city, the first thing that comes into view is the Burgberg (castle hill) rising over the River Elbe. The hill is home to the magnificent gothic cathedral and Albrechtsburg, a 15th century palace, designed for luxury and style rather than defence. At the base of the Burgberg is Meissen’s marketplace. Cobblestoned streets are bordered by pastel coloured Renaissance buildings – the perfect place to find a café for an early lunch.
Continuing on, 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 in Dresden, where we stay the next three nights. (B/D) Stay: The Westin Bellevue
6 Dresden sightseeing
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)
7 Saxon Switzerland National Park sightseeing and River Elbe cruise
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 Pillnitz, we stop to see the park and ornate gardens of Pillnitz Palace, before taking a cruise down the beautiful River Elbe. Journeying past palaces, mansions and the UNESCO listed river farmlands, we arrive into Dresden at Brühl’s Terrace, nicknamed ‘the balcony of Europe. This evening we have included dinner in a local restaurant. (B/D)
8 Prague Sightseeing
Early afternoon we arrive in Prague, where we stay three nights in the very heart of the old city. On arrival 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. Dinner this evening will be authentic Czech cuisine in a local restaurant. (B/D) Stay: Clarion Hotel Old Town
9 Prague 'My Time'
Your day is completely at leisure to explore the laneways, churches and bridges of this beautiful, UNESCO Heritage listed city. Prague is justifiably known as one of the truly great cities of Europe and the old town is right on your doorstep. Your ‘My Time’ today will so relaxing and rewarding. (B)
10 Kutná Hora Sightseeing
Join us today on a full day 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 silverrich 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, followed by 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)
11 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!
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
12 Cesky Krumlov tour and ‘My Time’
This morning we are joined by a 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. Relax and enjoy ‘My Time’ amongst the cobblestoned streets, cafés, restaurants, shops and ancient winding alleys. (B)
13 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
14 To Munich
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)