Eastern Germany and Poland have undergone a major revival since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and their rich histories, from medieval kingdoms to modern cultural centres, are now more accessible than ever before. This 18-day tour explores the history and culture of this region in depth, from Renaissance Krakow, to the exceptional musical and artistic heritage of Dresden and Leipzig, and the rebirth of Berlin and Warsaw as modern capitals. Stays in each of these cities allow you to experience their thriving cultures, visit excellent collections of antiquities and Old Masters, enjoy musical performances, and explore their turbulent histories.
The world of the Saxon kings, warriors, lawmakers and art patrons
The beautifully preserved palaces of Poland and Germany, including baroque Nieborow and neo-classical Sanssouci and Łazienki palaces
From medieval cityscapes to stunning contemporary architecture and some of Europe’s best collections of Old Masters
Romanticism and its discontents: Chopin, Caspar David Friedrich, and extraordinary imperial art collections
The turbulent and sometimes tragic history of central-northern Europe, and its resurgence after the Berlin Wall
The palaces and parks of Warsaw’s Royal Route, and the extravagance of Nieborow and Łazienki palaces
Krakow, one of Europe’s most beautiful cities with a World Heritage-listed Renaissance town centre
Dresden’s masterpieces of art, old and new: from Raphael to Titian, Rodin to Caspar David Friedrich
The extraordinary antiquities, jewellery, sculptures and porcelain of the Green Vault
Musical Leipzig, from Handel to Bach
Outstanding collections of Greek, Egyptian and Persian antiquities on Berlin’s Museum Island
Days 1–4: Arrive Warsaw, tour the Royal Route, historic Jewish quarter, sumptuous Nieborow and Łazienski palaces and Chopin’s birthplace.
Days 5–7: In Krakow, explore the medieval city and its Jewish Quarter, including Wawel Palace, where Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine is preserved.
Days 8–10: Travel to Dresden, stopping to visit Wrocław. Tour the 18th-century New Town, visit the Albertinum, Zwinger and Pillnitz palaces.
Days 11–12: Explore Leipzig, including the Bach church, house and museum.
Days 13–18: Discover historic Berlin and enjoy its world-class galleries and museums. Day trip to Potsdam and Sanssouci Palace.
A detailed itinerary for this tour is available. Click on the link above to view or download.
Emirates has flights into Warsaw, with connections in Germany from Berlin. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the letters B, L and D.
Monday October 14: Arrival
If you have booked your air travel through Academy Travel we will organise a transfer from Warsaw airport to our hotel. Please note that hotel rooms may not be available until early afternoon. In the evening meet tour leader Thomas Abbott at the hotel bar for welcome drinks and a light dinner. Overnight Warsaw (D)
Tuesday October 15: Explore Warsaw
Today is spent exploring the many interesting sites in Warsaw’s centre both on foot and by coach. This includes the ‘Royal Route, a 10km-long boulevard of palaces, hotels and parks linking the royal residences of Warsaw; the walled Old Town, and the Jewish district of Muranow. In the afternoon we visit the ‘Canaletto Room’ at the Royal Castle. The 20-or-so paintings in the room are of such precise detail that they were an invaluable historical resource in the reconstruction of the city after World War II. This evening, we share dinner at a fine local restaurant. Overnight Warsaw (B, D)
Wednesday October 16: Nieborów Palace
An hour’s drive from Warsaw is Nieborów Palace, built in the Baroque style in 1696 and preserving its original interior, with portraits, furniture, porcelain and a library of the period. The large landscaped garden surrounding the palace is a delight. After lunch in a nearby restaurant we travel to Zelazowa Wola, birthplace of one of Poland’s most famous sons, romantic composer Frederick Chopin, to visit the modest manor house where he lived. We return to Warsaw in the late afternoon. Overnight Warsaw (B, L)
Thursday October 17: Łazienki Park and Palace
We spend the morning at Warsaw’s largest park, Łazienki Park and Palace, a complex of 15 buildings and numerous statues standing among trees, ponds and picturesque bridges. Łazienki was planned and built in the 1780s, at the same time Frederick the Great was working on Sanssouci at Potsdam. In 1918 it was officially designated a public park, and today hosts concerts and exhibitions throughout the year. The later afternoon and evening are at leisure. Overnight Warsaw (B)
Friday October 18: To Kraków
We depart Warsaw this morning and head south, stopping to visit the Tokarni Ethnographic Park, an open-air museum comprising historic 18th and 19th-century original wooden buildings exhibiting how life was lived in the region. After lunch in a local restaurant we continue to Kraków where there is time for a short orientation walk before dinner together. Overnight Kraków (B, L, D)
Saturday October 19: Kraków
Kraków, for several centuries the capital of the Polish kingdom, boasts one of Europe’s finest historic centres. We tour the highlights of this fine city, starting with the Wawel Cathedral and Royal Palace on Wawel Hill, overlooking the city. In the afternoon we visit Market Square, containing the medieval church of St Mary’s with its famous 15th century altar by Wit Stwosz and the impressive Cloth Hall, the focal point of Kraków’s thriving commercial life in the Middle Ages. We also explore the Jewish Quarter and Kasimierz, an atmospheric 14th-century residential district. Overnight Kraków (B)
Sunday October 20: Environs of Kraków
This morning we travel the short distance outside Kraków to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. The mine is a surprising site for visitors, with its salt-crystal chandeliers, sculptures, underground cathedral and even a lake. Salt was mined here from the 13th century until just a few years ago. There are more than 300km of tunnels, reaching a depth of 327 metres – we explore just a few kilometres of them. The afternoon is at leisure in Kraków to sightsee at your own pace. You may choose to join the optional visit to the National Museum to admire the collection spanning works from classical archaeology to modern art. The museum also houses Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, ‘Lady with an Ermine’. Overnight Kraków (B)
Monday October 21: Into Germany
A long day’s coach journey takes us to Dresden in Germany. We make an extended stop in Wrocław in western Poland. Founded in the Middle Ages, Wrocław lay at the crossroads of Bohemia, Austria, Prussia and Germany, and only became part of Poland in 1945. Our guided walk includes the 14th century Town Hall on Market Square, the early 20th century Centennial Hall – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and the medieval Cathedral Island. We have lunch in Wrocław before continuing our trip to Dresden. This evening we have dinner in the hotel. Overnight Dresden (B, L, D)
Tuesday October 22: Exploring Dresden
Dresden’s historic centre, heavily damaged towards the end of the Second World War, has been painstakingly reconstructed and today is an impressive sight for visitors. Our walking tour begins with the Old Masters Gallery, located in the Zwinger Palace and containing European works from the Renaissance to the 18th century. Another highlight of the day is the Frauenkirche, the monumental 18th-century church destroyed in the devastating air raids of World War II, restored and re-opened in 2005. This afternoon we visit the New Masters Gallery, to admire paintings from the 19th century, as well as works by the Dresden-based Brucke Group of expressionist artists. Overnight Dresden (B)
Wednesday October 23: Green Vault & Pillnitz Palace
This morning we visit the historic ‘Green Vault’, located in Dresden Castle, to admire some of the 3,000 antiquities, precious stones, jewellery, rare Indian sculptures, and porcelain. After lunch in a local restaurant we drive to the outskirts of Dresden, to visit the extraordinary ensemble of architecture and landscape gardening that makes up Pillnitz Palace. Built by August the Strong as a ‘Water Palace’, Pillnitz has extensive gardens, water features and many curious Chinese architectural features in its buildings. We cruise down the Elbe River, returning to Dresden in the evening. Overnight Dresden (B, L)
Thursday October 24: To Leipzig
We depart Dresden, bound for Halle, the birthplace of composer George Frideric Handel. We visit the Market Church of St Mary which houses Martin Luther’s death mask, the old town market square and the Handel House Museum. After free time for lunch we continue to Leipzig with time to relax before dinner at the famous Auerbachs keller. This historic restaurant was a favourite haunt of influential writer Goethe, who mentions it in his famed play Faust. Overnight Leipzig (B, D)
Friday October 25: Leipzig – Gewandhaus
Leipzig is a city with a strong art and cultural focus. On a walking tour of the city centre, we visit sites including the Thomaskirche, where composer J S Bach worked, and the 16th-century town hall. We also tour the Grassi Museum, to admire the impressive collection charting over 2,500 years of the decorative arts. After lunch in a local restaurant, we head to Wittenberg, to visit the Augustinian Monastery where Martin Luther lived and now houses a museum. In the City Church we see the altarpiece of the ‘Last Supper’ by Lucas Cranach featuring Luther as an apostle and the Castle Church where Luther’s 95 theses were nailed to the door. Returning to Leipzig, we attend a concert at the Gewandhaus this evening. Overnight Leipzig (B, L)
Performance details Venue: Gewandhaus Leipzig Program: to be announced Performers: to be announced
Saturday October 26: To Berlin
This morning, before departing for Berlin, we stop briefly at the monument to the Battle of the Nations, which commemorates Napoleon’s defeat at Leipzig. We arrive in Berlin around lunch time and explore the grounds and Palace of Charlottenberg, constructed as a summer home for Sophie Charlotte, wife of Elector Friedrich III of Prussia. There is time to settle in before dinner in the hotel this evening. Overnight Berlin (B, D)
Sunday October 27: Museum Island
Berlin’s fine museums are our focus today. We stroll to Museum Island to visit the Neues Museum which houses Egyptian and Greco-Roman pieces, including 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. Overnight Berlin (B)
Monday October 28: The Synagogue and 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 examine 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)
Tuesday October 29: 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 remarkable complex of palaces, gardens and pavilions covering 287 hectares. After lunch at a local restaurant we visit Cecilienhof Palace, the last Hohenzollern Palace and the site of the 1945 Potsdam Conference, before returning to Berlin. Overnight Berlin (B, L)
Wednesday October 30: Contemporary Berlin – Philharmonie
On our final day of the tour we take a coach tour of the modern city, focussing on its recent architecture. Our time in Berlin culminates with a farewell lunch at restaurant Kafer, 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 a concert at Berlin’s famous concert hall, the Philharmonie. Overnight Berlin (B, L)
Performance details Venue: Philharmonie Berlin Program: to be announced Performers: to be announced
Thursday October 31: Departure
The tour concludes today after breakfast, with transfers arranged for all passengers who have booked their international flights through Academy Travel. (B)
Holds a degree in art history, specialising in the architecture of Berlin, the art of 18th-century Germany and the Bauhaus. He has led many tours in Germany.
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.
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.