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.
An extraordinary range of museums and art galleries, including Berlin’s Museum Island and Gemaldegalerie
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 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 begins and ends at our Berlin hotel. Qatar Airways or Singapore Airlines/Lufthansa offer the best connections to and from Berlin from most Australian cities. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the letters B, L and D.
Monday May 4: 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 Christopher Menz at the hotel bar for welcome drinks followed by a light dinner. Overnight Berlin (D)
Tuesday May 5: Medieval to Prussian
After a talk, we visit the Berggruen Museum to admire its exceptional collection of modern art, focussing on Picasso. We pause for our welcome lunch at a fine local restaurant before continuing to Schloss 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. Overnight Berlin (B, L)
Wednesday May 6: 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 Sanssouci Park 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)
Thursday May 7: Museum Island
After a talk, 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 visit the Neues Museum, the new 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. What we will see are the impressive 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. 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 afternoon we return to Museum Island where we visit the Altes Museum for its superb collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities. Overnight Berlin (B)
Friday May 8: The Prussian City
We begin our day at the German Historical Museum, to survey the collection that focuses on Germany’s two-thousand-year history. 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,(Old Master paintings). Assembled from 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. Overnight Berlin (B)
Performance details Venue: Staatsoper Unter den Linden
Program: Beethoven, Fidelio Performers: Michaela Kaune (Leonora), Roman Trekel (Don Fernando), Wolfgang Koch (Don Pizarro), Simone Young (conductor)
Saturday May 9: Museum Island II
We depart Berlin today for Leipzig, first returning to Museum Island to visit the Alte Nationalgalerie for its superb collection of German Romantic art. Around midday we head to Leipzig and after our arrival have an orientation walk through the city. This evening we have dinner at the historic restaurant Auerbachs Keller, that is mentioned in Goethe’s play Faust. Overnight Leipzig (B, D)
Sunday May 10: Leipzig
Leipzig is one of the great German cultural centres, with connections to Bach, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Martin Luther, Goethe, Schiller, as well as having great art collections. This morning we visit 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. In the afternoon we visit the Grassi Museum, to see the impressive collections of the decorative arts and musical instruments. This evening we attend a performance at the Leipzig Opera House, built in the East German period. Overnight Leipzig (B)
Performance details Venue: Leipzig Opera House
Program: Verdi, La Traviata Performers: Christoph Gedschold (Musikalische Leitung), Andreas Homoki (Inszenierung), Frank Philipp SchloBmaan (Buhne), Ulf Schirmer (conductor)
Monday May 11: Dresden via Meissen
On the way to Dresden this morning we pause to see 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. We then travel to Meissen, on the banks of the Elbe not far from Dresden, to stroll the town and have lunch at a local restaurant. We arrive in Dresden in the late afternoon and take an orientation walk through the old town. Overnight Dresden (B, L)
Tuesday May 12: Zwinger Palace
After a talk, we make our way on foot to the Zwinger Palace, an outstanding 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 explore too, the delightful Porcelain Collection, and survey the impressive treasures inside the Historic Green Vaults. Overnight Dresden (B)
Performance details Venue: Dresden Festival
Program: Mozart, New York Philharmonic Performers: Daniil Trifonov (piano), Jaap Van Zweeden (conductor)
Wednesday May 13: Albertinum
This morning we visit the Albertinum, home to a magnificent collection of art from 1800 to the present day. We return to Berlin, arriving in the late afternoon and gather for dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight Berlin (B, D)
Thursday May 14: From Art to Wilhelmstrasse
The Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Art) is the oldest of its kind in Germany. It houses a wide variety of objects, fashion and design from the early Middle Ages to the present day. We next visit the nearby German Resistance Memorial Centre, which is primarily intended to commemorate those members of the German Army who tried to assassinate Hitler in 1944. This afternoon we focus on 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 Reich’s Chancellery and Hitler’s Bunker. Overnight Berlin (B)
Friday May 15: The Jewish Museum and Twentieth Century Berlin – Performance
This morning after a talk, we visit the Jewish Museum of Berlin, designed by Daniel Libeskind and opened in 2001. After lunch we take a coach tour of Berlin visiting first the Horseshoe Housing Estate (Hufeisensiedlung) designed by modernist architect Bruno Taut and built 1925-33, and then Karl-Marx-Allee with its splendid 1950s socialist apartment buildings, followed by the Berlin Wall East Side Gallery and the former Stasi headquarters. Overnight Berlin (B)
Performance details Venue: Konzerthaus Berlin
Program: Includes Schumann piano concerto and Rimski-Korsakow Scheherazade Performers: Konzerthause Orchestra, Vikingur Olafsson (piano), Elim Chan (conductor)
Saturday May 16: Contemporary Berlin
On our final day of the tour we take a short coach tour past the New Synagogue and the Chancellery on the way to the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum for Contemporary Art. Our time in Berlin culminates with a farewell lunch at Käfer restaurant, 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. Overnight Berlin (B, L)
Sunday May 17: Departure
The tour ends after breakfast. Departing group members transfer to Berlin Tegel airport for outgoing flights. (B)
A former art museum director and curator, with expertise in the arts and music throughout Europe, the USA and Australia.
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.”
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, taxis or public transport are 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
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required and when stated as included
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?
Our 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
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. We aim to be fair and reasonable in all our dealings with our clients. We aim to provide full and accurate information about our tours and promptly provide information of any changes or alterations that take place before departure.