Academy Travel study tours provide in-depth intellectual stimulation via regular background lectures, morning site visits, and free afternoons for individual exploration. You’ll ‘live like a local’ with accommodations outside of the historic centre, yet close to public transport.
Berlin is a unique, intriguing city with an infamous past and a vibrant present. Divided for more than a generation, the city’s reunification sparked a modern renaissance that created one of Europe’s most interesting, diverse capital cities with a thriving cultural scene. On this 12-day study tour we delve into Berlin’s history, from its time as seat of power for Prussian kings to its current role as capital of the economic powerhouse of Europe. We’ll also explore a wealth of ground-breaking art and distinctive architecture on in-depth guided visits and walking tours, balanced by free time and optional extra activities. For the tour’s duration, we’ll stay in well-appointed one-bedroom apartments in the hip Hackescher Markt neighbourhood, within easy reach of great restaurants, shops and iconic Berlin spots. An unlimited public transport pass makes for easy independent exploration.
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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.
The Prussian Capital
Learn about the refinement and culture of pre-WWI Berlin through its stunning baroque and classical architecture and great 19th-century art.
The Weimar Republic
Discover the surprising effects of the Weimar period from post-WWI to 1933. Though its economic challenges led to the rise of Nazism, it has had an enduring cultural influence.
World War II Berlin
From haunting memorials and monuments to those who suffered under the Nazis to remnants of fascist architecture, explore the city’s endeavours to acknowledge the darkest period of its history and become an inclusive and cosmopolitan city.
The Divided City
Get to know Berlin’s status as the ultimate Cold War symbol. Half controlled by the West while located in the Soviet Zone of Occupation, Berlin’s divided status was famously captured in President Kennedy’s 1963 “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech.
See why the city in the years since the wall came down has become Europe’s contemporary cultural capital, a leader in art, theatre and culture and one of Europe’s most exciting and stimulating capitals.
Days 1–4: Explore the 19th-century city and the Weimer Republic. Visits to the German Historical Museum, Museum Island, and the Reichstag. Experience a burlesque cabaret.
Days 5: Charlottenburg and Museum Bergguren.
Days 6–7: Examine the rise of the Third Reich and WWII Berlin, including a Third Reich walking tour, visit to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial, and thematic museums.
Day 8:Excursion to Potsdam and stunning Sanssouci Palace.
Days 9–12: Survey the impact of the Cold War, a city and people divided by the Wall, Berlin’s extraordinary revival post-reunification, and its contemporary cool.
The tour begins and ends at our apartments in Berlin. Qatar offers direct flights into and out of Berlin from most Australian cities. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B and D.
Monday October 17: Arrive
The tour starts in the late afternoon. We’ll meet in the foyer for an orientation walk to become acquainted with the shops, cafes and bars of our lively district. We will also explore some of the area’s iconic street art. In the evening, we have a welcome dinner in a local restaurant. (D)
Tuesday 18 October – Overview: Berlin from Above
Though one of Europe’s most intriguing cities, Berlin lacks the reputation for physical beauty and great vistas enjoyed by other European capitals. Nonetheless, surveying the city from above provides insight into the city’s history and progress following unification. After a talk on the early history of Berlin, we visit the iconic Reichstag, the seat of German parliament and a key building in Berlin’s story since its opening in 1894. We walk up Sir Norman Foster’s spectacular glass dome that has topped the building since 1999, learning about the building, its surrounds and the cityscape as we ascend. After a break for lunch, we walk through the Brandenburg Gate, the architectural symbol of Prussia’s power in the 18th and 19th centuries, and then along Berlin’s main boulevard, Unter den Linden, to the German Historical Museum. Here, we are guided through exhibits that map Berlin from the Middle Ages to the fall of the Berlin Wall, providing a comprehensive overview of its evolution. The later afternoon and evening are at leisure. (B)
Wednesday 19 October – Museum Island
Berlin’s reputation as a cultural centre and repository of great treasures owes much to the unique complex of five museums on Museum Island. A UNESCO World Heritage site and the location of one of Berlin’s original settlements, the island is home to world-renowned institutions including the Neues, Pergamon, and Altes Museums, which were born from a great Enlightenment enterprise to bring the best of the world to the German public in the new capital. We begin today with a guided tour of the highlights of the Neues Museum, including Nefertiti’s bust, before continuing onto the impressive Near Eastern collection, whose highlights include the Ishtar Gate from Babylon. The afternoon is at leisure, and you may wish to continue exploring the museums, including the Bode Museum of sculpture, whose works range from Byzantium to the Renaissance, and the Altes National Galleries, whose highlights include recently restored paintings by Caspar David Friedrich. Evening at leisure. (B)
Thursday 20 October – Weimar, Art and Burlesque
Understanding the far-reaching impact of the events that shaped Berlin between the wars helps contextualize this key epoch in Berlin’s history. The humiliating terms of the Treaty of Versailles and the establishment of the Weimar Republic created a climate of unrest, uncertainty and protest that manifested itself in a variety of ways: confronting art, boundary-pushing theatre and extreme politics. We begin today with a guided visit of the Hamburger Bahnhof. Originally the main train station for the Berlin-Hamburg line, and today an impressive art museum, its exhibition spaces include excellent collections of Weimar period art from the Neue National Gallerie (currently under restoration) and of post-war German art. In the afternoon there is the option of travelling to the Brücke Museum, a collection dedicated to German expressionist art. In the evening we meet to have dinner at a cabaret club and enjoy a burlesque show, which continues the traditions of Weimar Germany. (B, D)
Friday 21 October – Charlottenburg Palace & Museum Berggruen
Today we take a day trip to nearby Charlottenburg. The rococo palace – begun by Friedrich I of Prussia and completed by his grandson, Friedrich the Great – was inspired by Versailles and is a testament to the ambitions of the Hohenzollern dynasty to rival the older royal families of Europe. In the afternoon, we visit the nearby Museum Berggruen, one of Berlin’s premier collections of modern art. The collection was given to the city in 1996, by the art collector Heinz Berggruen, who left Germany in 1936 to follow a very successful career as a collector and dealer in the US and Europe, working closely with many artists whose work had been declared ‘degenerate’ by the National Socialists. After returning to the hotel, the evening is at leisure. (B)
Saturday 22 October – Berlin in the 1930s & 40s: I
The rise and fall of the Third Reich left an indelible mark on Berlin and Berliners, felt even today. While much of the Berlin of this period was destroyed in the Allied air raids of 1944 and 1945, its traces continue to have a presence and a role in delineating historical memory. Today, after a morning lecture, we explore the Berlin of this period, beginning with a historical and architectural walking tour of the Wilhelmstrasse area, ending with a visit to the Topography of Terror. This museum and documentation centre constructed on the location of the former headquarters of the SS, SD and Gestapo, preserves the material remains of the site, and charts the different forms of oppression practiced by the Nazi party from its rise to its collapse. The afternoon and evening are free. (B)
Sunday 23 October – Berlin in the 1930s & 40s: II
We continue our focus on Berlin during WWII today. In the morning, we take a historical walking tour of the Ku’damm district, which had, in the 1920s, been the centre of Berliner night life, and later became the heart of West Berlin. Our walking tour of the district ends with a visit to the Kathe Kollwitz Museum, which commemorates the artist who lived through the Nazi period, documenting in her work the impact of fascism and warmongering on ordinary people. In the afternoon, we visit the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial Museum, north of Berlin on the outskirts of Oranienberg (where the first camp was built in 1933). Sachsenhausen was built in 1936, and more than 200,000 people were incarcerated there between 1936-1945. A tour of the site and memorial will be conducted by a specialist guide from the memorial foundation. Returning to Berlin, the evening is free. (B)
Monday 24 October – Cold War Berlin I
Berlin’s division after WWII made it a symbol of the Cold War, and more recently a representation of a divided world that is the focus of several miniseries and docudramas in English and German. Over the next two days, we explore the divided city in detail. After a morning lecture, we join a private guided tour of the former Tempelhof Airport, the lifeline of West Berliners during the Berlin Airlift of 1948/49. The main terminal building is of particular interest as it dates from the height of Nazi power during the late 1930s. In the afternoon, we take a walking tour of the Aleksanderplatz district. The centre of former East Berlin, the district has retained some of its socialist-era buildings, and recent developments highlight some of the complexities in the relationship between historical memory and urban development. There is also the option to visit the nearby DDR Museum, featuring a series of exhibitions that document everyday life in East Germany. The evening is free. (B)
Tuesday 25 October – Cold War Berlin II
We continue our examination of Cold War Berlin today, looking at some of the more traumatic aspects of socialist rule. We begin the day with a guided visit of the Stasi Museum. The museum was established in House 1 of the Stalinist Ministry of State Security in 1990 following the reunification of the city, and documents how the ruling Socialist Unity Party used a system of rewards and punishments to coerce or encourage East Germans to comply with and participate in the new state. We then visit the East Side Gallery – a section of the inner Berlin Wall that has, since unification, been preserved as an open-air gallery of street art articulating an ongoing fight against political oppression of all varieties. Late afternoon and evening are free. (B)
Wednesday 26 October – Potsdam and Sanssouci
Today we take a step back in time to Potsdam, the residence of the kings of Prussia and the Kaisers. The town takes its current form from Friedrich the Great, who as the new King of Prussia, applied Enlightenment principles of order, harmony and man’s relationship to nature to shape a new capital befitting the newest king in the age of reason. Our tour of Potsdam includes the UNESCO World-Heritage-listed Palace of Sanssouci, with the palace, gardens and pavilions covering 287 hectares; and the Cecilienhof Palace, where at the Potsdam Conference the allied leaders divided up Europe and set the borders of what would become the Cold War shortly afterwards. Upon return to Berlin, the evening is at leisure. (B)
Thursday 27 October – Contemporary Berlin
The fall of the Berlin Wall is one of the most significant, and well-remembered, political events of the past 50 years. The dismantling of the wall, however, is no less remarkable than the speed of Germany’s revitalisation post-unification and the phenomenal rise of Berlin as the culturally cool, cosmopolitan heart of a new Europe. Today we explore the new Berlin, with a morning visit to the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, the gallery that has been driving the Berlin Biennale, now among the funkiest and most respected art shows in the world. After a guided walk through the neighbourhood and free time for lunch in one of the trendy cafes, in the afternoon we visit Sammlung Boros, an extraordinary exhibition space in a converted WWII air raid bunker. The private Boros Collection features contemporary art from 1990 until the present. In the evening, we have a farewell dinner together. (B, D)
Friday 28 October – Departure
The tour ends this morning, after breakfast in the hotel. Please check your individual travel documents for details of your ongoing trip. (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.
In order to avoid unnecessary transfers and allow for individual exploration, we select comfortable, centrally-located hotels wherever possible. Designed to provide in-depth intellectual stimulation for the independent traveller. Study Tours feature: daily background lectures; guided site visits; longer walking tours of historical cities and use of public transport for short journeys; time for individual exploration; and, self-contained accommodation where possible, allowing you to live like a local.
Adina Apartment Hotel Berlin Hackescher Markt (11 nights)
For the duration of this tour, we stay in well-appointed one-bedroom apartments in Hackescher Markt. The hotel includes daily breakfast, along with access to the gym, sauna and whirlpool. Since unification, Hackescher Markt has been a lively inner-city district with many small bars, restaurants, shops and galleries. The district provides you with the convenience of inner-city life, including a market twice a week, and has excellent public transport connections to the rest of Berlin. www.adinahotels.com/en/
What is included in the tour price?
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.