Berlin is one of the most interesting and diverse of all the great capitals of Europe, and is enjoying a major cultural renaissance. This two-week residential-style tour takes an in-depth look at Berlin, and the nearby cities of Potsdam, Dresden and Leipzig. The tour visits many of Berlin’s internationally renowned cultural institutions, enjoys fine performances in historic venues, and traces the history and development of Berlin from its earliest days through the glory days of the Prussian and German Empires, to the darker days of the 20th century and its rebirth after 1989.
Dynamic Berlin, one of Europe’s greatest and most troubled cultural capitals
Art-collecting in the Enlightenment, from Old Masters to antiquities of the highest importance
Modern Germany’s development into an internationally-acclaimed centre of contemporary art and design
A famous musical heritage: outstanding ensembles and three major opera houses
Berlin’s 20th-century history: Cold War neighbourhoods in the East and West
Renaissance Leipzig, Prussian Potsdam, and Dresden’s dramatic post-war rebirth
An extraordinary range of museums and art galleries, including Berlin’s Museum Island and Gemäldegalerie
Extended stays in Berlin, exploring historic neighbourhoods in the East and West
Rococo architecture and garden design at Frederick the Great’s Sanssouci Palace at Potsdam
Renaissance Leipzig’s old town, Goethe’s “little Paris”, and the scenic countryside surrounding it
Elegantly restored Dresden and the impressive art collections at the Zwinger Palace
Farewell meal atop the Reichstag with views across Berlin
Days 1–5: Arrive in Berlin, tour the city and cruise the Spree River to Charlottenburg Palace. Spend two days visiting Museum Island, explore Potsdam and see the world-class Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Days 6–7: Travel through the countryside 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 admire the Pillnitz Palace.
Days 10–14: Discover modern Berlin at the Bauhaus Archive, New National Gallery, and the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum of Contemporary Art. Attend an opera and enjoy a farewell meal atop the Reichstag.
A detailed itinerary for this tour is available. Click on the link above to view or download.
For this tour we recommend Qatar Airways or Singapore Airlines/Lufthansa which have the best connections into Berlin. Contact us for competitive quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the letters B, L and D.
Thursday May 2: Arrival
If you have booked your air travel through Academy Travel we will organise a transfer from Berlin airport to our hotel. Please note that hotel rooms may not be available until early afternoon. In the evening meet tour leader at the hotel bar for welcome drinks and a light dinner. Overnight Berlin (D)
Friday May 3: Medieval to Prussian
Today we investigate Berlin’s early history with a walking tour of the Nikolaiviertel, the historic medieval heart of Berlin bordering the Spree River. We travel by ferry along the Spree to the Palace of Charlottenburg, where we enjoy lunch before taking a guided tour of the richly decorated interior of the palace, constructed between 1695 and 1713 as a summer home for Sophie Charlotte, wife of Elector Friedrich III of Prussia. We also visit the nearby Berggruen Museum with its exceptional collection of modern art including works by Matisse, Klee and Giacometti. Overnight Berlin (B, L)
Saturday May 4: The Prussian City
This morning we begin with a visit to the German History Museum, a magnificent baroque structure extensively refurbished by I.M. Pei. Our next stop is the Brandenburg Gate, completed in 1795. In the afternoon we visit the stunning 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 enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight Berlin (B, D)
Sunday May 5: Frederick the Great’s city
Today we spend the day in Potsdam, just a short distance from Berlin. The city is closely associated with Frederick the Great (ruled 1740-1786) the monarch of the newly created Kingdom of Prussia. Most of the day is spent exploring Park Sanssouci a complex of palaces, gardens and pavilions covering 287 hectares. We will also visit Cecilienhof Palace, the last Hohenzollern Palace and the site of the 1945 Potsdam Conference. After an early dinner in Potsdam we return to Berlin. Overnight Berlin (B, D)
Monday May 6: Museum Island & concert
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 visit the Altes Museum, which houses an impressive collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, and the Neues Museum, the new home of the Egyptian Museum to see the famous bust of Nefertiti. This evening we attend a concert at Berlin’s famous concert hall, the Philharmonie. Overnight Berlin (B)
Performance details Venue: Philharmonie Berlin Program: to be announced Performers: to be announced
Tuesday May 7: Museum Island II
Returning to Museum Island today we visit what is perhaps Berlin’s most renowned institution, the Pergamon Museum. The museum houses Near Eastern antiquities and Islamic art, much of which was collected by the German Kaisers from their close contact with countries such as Turkey, Iraq and Iran in the early 20th century. After a break for lunch we take a walking tour of the Hackesche Höfe, a series of interconnected courtyards bustling with restaurants, boutiques and galleries. In the late afternoon we travel to Leipzig. Dinner in a local restaurant and overnight Leipzig (B, D)
Wednesday May 8: Leipzig
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 had been saved. A new home for the collection, a contemporary building, opened in 2004, 61 years to the day after the original museum was destroyed. The afternoon is free, but we recommend you stop in at the Grassi Museum, an excellent decorative arts museum, founded in the late 19th century and with an impressive collection charting over 2,500 years of the decorative arts. Overnight Leipzig (B)
Thursday May 9: Dresden via Meissen
This morning we visit the enormous ‘Monument to the Battle of the Nations’ – Europe’s largest memorial, on the outskirts of Leipzig. The monument marks the site of the 1813 defeat of Napoleon by a coalition of German forces. We then travel to Meissen, on the banks of the Elbe not far from Dresden, for a stroll and lunch at a local restaurant. We arrive in Dresden in the early afternoon and take a walking tour of the centre of this city known as ‘Florence on the Elbe’. We visit the Frauenkirche, a massive baroque church destroyed in World War II, lovingly restored and reopened in 2005. Overnight Dresden (B, L)
Friday May 10: Dresden
This morning we visit the Zwinger Palace, built 1710-28 for August the Strong, elector of Saxony and King of Poland, following his visit to Versailles. The palace contains Dresden’s Old Masters Picture Gallery, with works by Raphael, Rubens and Canaletto. The rest of the day is free to relax, take an afternoon cruise on the Elbe or perhaps visit some of the city’s museums. Music lovers in particular may wish to explore Dresden’s association with composers such as Schumann and Wagner. Overnight Dresden. (B)
Saturday May 11: Pillnitz palace
Today we visit the extraordinary ensemble of architecture and landscape gardening that makes up Pillnitz Palace on the outskirts of the city. Built by August the Strong as a ‘Water Palace’, Pillnitz has extensive gardens, water features and many Chinese architectural features in its buildings. After lunch we make our way to Berlin. Evening at leisure. Overnight Berlin. (B, L)
Sunday May 12: Bauhaus and Wilhelmstrasse
This morning we visit the Bauhaus Archive Museum of Design, built to an earlier plan by Walter Gropius and housing an excellent collection of items relating to the famous design school. We also visit the New National Gallery, a “temple of light and glass” designed by Mies van der Rohe and housing the city’s collection of 20th-century painting and sculpture. The once divided Potsdamer Platz is our next destination, where we can stroll around what is now the modern heart of unified Berlin. This afternoon we visit Wilhelmstrasse, hub of the Nazi administration, viewing the Luftwaffe Ministry building, site of Gestapo Bunkers, the Topography of Terror memorial, and the site of the new Reichs Chancellery and Hitler’s Bunker. Overnight Berlin (B)
Monday May 13: The synagogue and Berlin in the Cold War
This morning we visit the Jewish Museum of Berlin, designed by Daniel Libeskind and opened in 2001. We then stroll through the old Jewish district in the north of the city, and visit the ‘New Synagogue’. Significantly damaged on Kristallnacht in 1938, the restored building reopened in 1995. After a break for 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 Socialist Realist buildings and decorations. Overnight Berlin (B)
Tuesday May 14: Contemporary Berlin & Opera
On our final day in Berlin we take a walking tour of the modern city, focussing on its recent architecture. Capping our walking tour is a visit to the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum for Contemporary Art. Our time in Berlin culminates with a farewell lunch atop the Reichstag, seat of the German parliament. This building symbolises the struggles and eventual triumph of the city. First opened in 1894, destroyed by fire in 1933, the Reichstag 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 of the surrounding city. Tonight, we attend the opera at the recently reopened Staatsoper unter den Linden. Overnight Berlin (B, L)
Performance details Venue: Staatsoper unter den Linden Program: to be announced Performers: to be announced
Wednesday May 15: Departure
The tour ends after breakfast. Departing group members transfer to Berlin Tegel airport for outgoing flights. (B)
A former Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia and previously a curator of decorative arts. He is also an experienced cultural tour leader.
Christopher Menz is a former art museum director and curator and has been leading cultural tours in Europe, the United States and Australia since 2013. He has expertise and interest in the visual arts and music.
Christopher has a BA (Hons) from Flinders University. He is a former director of the Art Gallery of South Australia. Before that he was a curator, specialising in decorative arts, and worked at the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, and National Gallery of Victoria. He has published and lectured extensively on Australian and European decorative arts, notably on the design work of William Morris, and curated numerous exhibitions. Christopher is based in Melbourne where he is an art consultant and valuer, and Development Consultant for Australian Book Review.
Christopher has led cultural tours to Germany, England, the United States, as well as in Australia. He has also been a tour leader on European river cruises.
We asked Christopher, what do you think clients get from travelling with you?
“It is always a great thrill to be able to introduce clients to new experiences and to places they might otherwise not have visited or not have visited recently. I always hope to give tour guests something that adds to the experiences of the places, cities, museums and art galleries, and performances that they would not get if travelling alone.”
What is included in the tour price? Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
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 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.
What is not included in the tour price? Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.