Berlin is one of the most interesting and diverse of all the great capitals of Europe. First documented in the 13th century, the city has been the capital of the Prussian Empire, the German Empire, the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich. Since 1989 the city has relished its role as the capital of a unified and re-energised Germany.
Berlin is home to internationally renowned museums of antiquities and fine arts and has ongoing significance as a centre of contemporary art and design. The city is also famous for its musical heritage, with outstanding ensembles like the Berlin Philharmonic and three major opera houses that add great lustre to the city’s cultural landscape.
Through walking tours, background talks and guided visits, this 14-day immersive experience allows you to get an in-depth look at Berlin, as well as the nearby cities of Potsdam, Leipzig and Dresden.
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Vaccination requirements Academy Travel requires all participants on its tours to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. We reserve the right to inspect your digital vaccination certificate.
Art in Berlin Berlin has a reputation for being the ‘New York of Europe’, offering a range of museums and galleries with treasures both ancient and contemporary. We spend two days admiring the remarkable and vast collections at Museum Island.
East and West Berlin We explore this fascinating city with walks through the historic neighbourhoods of both East and West Berlin, including the Brandenburg Gate, where east met west during the Cold War.
Potsdam Spend a full day in charming, baroque Potsdam. Though severely damaged by bombing during World War II, much of the city has been restored.
Leipzig and Dresden Travel through the scenic countryside to Renaissance Leipzig, which Göethe describes in Faust as “a little Paris.” We’ll also visit the elegantly restored city of Dresden, “the Florence on the Elbe.”
Reichstag The symbol of Berlin’s mash-up of old and new, the Reichstag building anchors central Berlin with a Sir Norman Foster-designed glass dome atop of the 116-year old structure.
Days 1–5: Arrive in Berlin, tour the city and cruise the Spree River from Charlottenburg
Palace. Spend two days visiting Museum Island, explore Potsdam and see the world-class Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Days 6–7:Travel to Leipzig to visit the Museum of Fine Arts and the Grassi Museum.
Days 8–9: In Dresden, tour the Old Masters Picture Gallery at the Zwinger Palace and
enjoy the Dresden Festival.
Days 10–14: Return to Berlin and visit the German Resistance Museum, New National
Gallery, and the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum of Contemporary Art. Attend an opera and
enjoy a farewell meal atop the Reichstag.
The tour starts at 6.00pm, Monday May 2, the bar at The Adina Apartments Hackescher Markt, Berlin. The tour finishes after breakfast on Sunday May 15 with a transfer to Berlin Airport.
Monday 2 May – Arrival
If you booked your air travel through Academy Travel, we will organise a transfer from Berlin airport to our hotel. Please note that rooms may not be available until early afternoon. In the evening meet tour leader Thomas Abbott at the hotel bar for drinks and a light dinner. Overnight Berlin. (D)
Tuesday 3 May – Medieval to Prussian/Performance
After a talk, we travel by coach to the Berggruen Museum to admire its exceptional collection of modern art, including works by Matisse, Klee and Giacometti. We pause for our welcome lunch at a fine local restaurant before continuing to Charlottenburg, for a guided tour of the richly decorated interior of the palace. Built by Elector Friederich III in 1699 as a summer palace for his wife Sophie Charlotte, this regal estate, the largest palace in Berlin, is framed by a baroque-style garden. In the late afternoon we cruise by ferry on the River Spree back to Berlin. Tonight, we attend a concert at Berlin’s famous concert hall, the Philharmonie (performance details TBA) NOTE: Dates for performances may vary depending on availability. Overnight Berlin. (B, L)
Wednesday 4 May – Frederick the Great’s City
Today we spend the day in Potsdam. The Prussian kings left their royal imprint on Potsdam with lavish palaces, parks, and gardens, many of them with UNESCO World Heritage status. An undoubted highlight of the day is the visit to Frederick the Great’s rococo summer palace, aptly called Sanssouci (‘without worries’ in French). We also visit Cecilienhof Palace, set in the beautiful park of Neuer Garten. The last palace built by the Hohenzoller family, Cecilienhof’s rustic English Tudor design offers a contrast to Sanssouci. After an early dinner in Potsdam we return to Berlin. Overnight Berlin (B, D)
Thursday 5 May – The Prussian City/Performance
After a talk, we begin our day at the recently reconstructed Humboldt Forum, located in exquisite Berlin Palace. The Forum incorporates two existing museums, the Ethnological Museum of Berlin and the Museum of Asian Art. Our next stop is Berlin’s most famous landmark, the Brandenburg Gate. A symbol of Berlin and German division during the Cold War, it is now a national symbol of peace and unity. In the afternoon we visit the Gemäldegalerie. Assembled in the early 19th century, the gallery’s collection represents all the major schools of European painting and includes masterpieces by Botticelli, Raphael, Caravaggio, Breughel, Vermeer and Rembrandt. This evening we walk to the recently reopened opera house Staatsoper Unter den Linden for a performance (details TBA). Overnight Berlin (B)
Friday 6 May – Museum Island
This morning, we walk to Museum Island. On the site of one of Berlin’s two original settlements, this unique complex of five state museums is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-visit in Berlin. Today we’ll visit the Neues Museum, the home of the Egyptian Museum and the famous bust of Nefertiti. Mid-morning, we visit what is perhaps Berlin’s most renowned institution, the Pergamon Museum. The museum is currently under partial renovation so the hall containing the Pergamon Altar is closed. We’ll see the impressive Near Eastern antiquities and Islamic art, much of it collected by the German Kaisers from their close contact with countries such as Turkey, Iraq and Iran in the early 20th century. We spend lunchtime in the nearby Hackesche Höfe, a district comprised of a series of interconnected courtyards bustling with restaurants, boutiques and galleries. In the evening we’ll dine at a local restaurant. Overnight Berlin (B, D)
Saturday 7 May – Museum Island, part 2
This morning we’ll return to Museum Island to visit the Bode Museum, home to the Sculpture Gallery and the Museum of Byzantine Art. Around midday we head to Leipzig. This evening we dine at the historic restaurant Auerbachs Keller, mentioned in Goethe’s play Faust. Overnight Leipzig (B, D)
Sunday 8 May – Leipzig
Leipzig is one of the great German cultural centres, with connections to Bach, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Martin Luther, Goethe, Schiller, and the Neue-Leipziger-Schule art movement. This morning we take a guided walking tour of Leipzig, followed by a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts. The original museum building was destroyed in an air raid in 1943, though many of the paintings were saved. A new home for the collection opened in 2004, 61 years to the day after the original museum was destroyed. The afternoon is free; however, we recommend you visit the Grassi Museum, to see the impressive collection charting over 2,500 years of decorative arts. Overnight Leipzig (B)
Monday 9 May – Dresden via Meissen
On the way to Dresden this morning we’ll stop first at the ‘Monument to the Battle of the Nations’ – Europe’s largest memorial, and the site of the 1813 defeat of Napoleon by a coalition of German forces. Then it’s on to Meissen, on the banks of the Elbe not far from Dresden, to stroll the town and have lunch. We arrive in Dresden in the late afternoon and take an orientation walk through the old town. We view the Frauenkirche, an impressive Baroque church that was destroyed in World War II and beautifully restored and reopened in 2005. Overnight Dresden (B, L)
Tuesday 10 May – Zwinger Palace/Performance
After a talk, we make our way on foot to the Zwinger Palace, an excellent example of late Baroque architecture in Germany. Built between 1710 and 1728, the Zwinger was used for court festivities and tournaments. The palace contains Dresden’s Old Masters Picture Gallery, with works by Raphael, Rubens and Canaletto. We also explore the delightful Porcelain Collection, and survey the impressive treasures inside the New Green Vaults and the Historic Green Vaults. This evening we walk to a nearby venue for a concert. Overnight Dresden (B)
Wednesday 11 May – Pillnitz Palace
Today we return to Berlin, stopping along the way to view the extraordinary ensemble of architecture and landscape gardening that makes up Pillnitz Palace. Built by August the Strong as a ‘Water Palace,’ Pillnitz was the summer residence of many electors and kings of Saxony. We visit the internationally renowned Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Art) the oldest of its kind in Germany, which houses a wide variety of craftwork, fashion and design from the early Middle Ages to the present day. In the evening, we gather for dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight Berlin (B, D)
Thursday 12 May – From Wilhelmstrasse to Bauhaus
We start our tour today with the Wilhelmstrasse, hub of the Nazi administration. We visit the moving Holocaust Memorial, the site of the new Reich’s Chancellery, Hitler’s Bunker and the Luftwaffe Ministry building, the site of Gestapo Bunkers. Next it’s on to the fascinating Topography of Terror memorial and Potsdamer Platz, to stroll around what is now the modern heart of unified Berlin. In the afternoon we’ll focus on the newly restored New National Gallery, housing Berlin’s 20th Century Art Collection. Our final stop will be the German Resistance Memorial Centre, created to commemorate those members of the German Army who tried to assassinate Hitler in 1944. Overnight Berlin (B)
Friday 13 May – The Synagogue and the Cold War
This morning we visit the ‘New Synagogue’, which was significantly damaged on Kristallnacht in 1938. The restored building reopened in 1995. We then stroll through the old Jewish district and the Jewish Museum of Berlin, designed by Daniel Libeskind and opened in 2001. After lunch, we investigate Berlin in the late 1940s and 1950s – the height of the Cold War. Our tour includes sections of the Berlin Wall, the former Stasi headquarters and Karl-Marx-Allee, a broad boulevard lined with impressive Socialist Realist buildings. Overnight Berlin (B)
Saturday 14 May – Contemporary Berlin
On our final day of the tour we take a coach tour of the modern city, focussing on its recent architecture. We pause to survey the collection at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum for Contemporary Art. Our time in Berlin culminates with a farewell lunch at restaurant Kafer at the Reichstag. A symbol of the struggles and eventual triumph of the city, the Reichstag first opened in 1894, was destroyed by fire in 1933, and then became the first meeting place of a reunified Germany. The reconstruction of the building was completed in 1999 to a plan by British architect Sir Norman Foster. His plan included an extraordinary glass dome at the top of the building, offering 360° views. Overnight Berlin (B, L)
Sunday 15 May – Departure
The tour ends after breakfast. Departing group members transfer to Berlin airport for outgoing flights. (B)
Specialises in the music, art and architecture of Germany, studied in the USA and Paris, and has lived in Berlin since 1987.
Thomas has lived in Germany since 1988 and has led many cultural tours throughout Germany with leading UK and other organisations, specialising in the architecture of Berlin, the art of 18th-century Germany and the Bauhaus.
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
All accommodation at properties mentioned in the itinerary
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Taxis may also be used for short trips on some tours. Some city stay tours may involve local transport
Lunches and dinners indicated with the letters L and D in the itinerary
Beer, wine and soft drinks at sit-down lunches and dinners. Picnic and light lunches may not include alcoholic drinks
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
All tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
On international tours only
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required, and when stated as included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Some trips may be made by public transport such as high-speed train and subway
What is not included in the tour price?
Our tours do not include the following:
Air or land travel from your home city to the tour start/end points
Local taxes and airport levies that we are not able to prepay on your behalf. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Lunches and dinners not specifically indicated with the letters L or D in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as passports, laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
Airport Transfers on international tours
Tours may begin at either the arrival airport or the first hotel. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel, and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
We require all tour participants to have adequate insurance coverage.
For domestic tours, Medicare and your private medical insurance should be used to cover any medical expenses.
Domestic travel insurance is available and strongly recommended to cover non-medical expenses such as cancellation.
For international tours, we require you to have comprehensive travel insurance. Prices vary according to your age, your pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the length of your journey abroad.