Inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description.
Day 1 Arrive in Berlin, Germany
Check into your hotel. The rest of the day is free to explore the German capital. Tonight, meet your Tour Director and fellow travelers.
Day 2 Berlin–Dresden
On this morning’s included guided sightseeing, learn how the city is no longer divided but every bit as fascinating. Once the city of contrasts with its West and East sides separated into two different worlds, since the fall of the wall, Berlin has developed into a harmonious blend of old and new. It has preserved the old buildings, such as the State Opera House and Brandenburg Gate, its neoclassic-style boulevards, such as the Kurfürstendamm and Unter den Linden, and it has created brand new buildings in the most daring, modern architectural styles. Once again, Berlin is Germany’s capital and one of Europe’s most lively and interesting cities. Consider joining an optional tour before heading towards Dresden.
Day 3 Dresden. Excursion to Meissen
Situated near the Czech border, Dresden was long hailed as the “Jewel Box” because of its opulent rococo and baroque city center overflowing with grand architecture, impressive museums, orchestras of worldwide reputation, and notable art treasures. Capital of Saxony and the third-largest city in eastern Germany, it suffered heavy Allied bombing in February 1945, but has restored its baroque splendor over the decades. This morning's guided tour of Dresden starts with a visit to the newly rebuilt CHURCH OF OUR LADY FRAUENKIRCHE, featuring one of the largest domes in Europe, and ZWINGER PALACE, which originally served as the orangery, exhibition gallery, and festival arena of the Dresden Court. This afternoon, travel along the riverbanks of the Elbe and stop in Meissen, “Cradle of Saxony” and home to fantastic fairytale architecture. Due to the extensive deposits of china clay and potter’s clay in the area, Meissen is also renowned for its fine porcelain. Production of Meissen porcelain dates back to 1710 and was the first high-quality porcelain manufactured outside the Orient. Visit the MEISSEN PORCELAIN WORKSHOP for insight into the history, art, and creation of this elegant pottery. Later tonight, consider joining the optional dinner cruise on the Elbe River.
Day 4 Dresden. Excursion to Erfurt & Weimar
Visit two of Thuringia's most famous towns today. First is Erfurt with its richly decorated renaissance residences, known as the Blumenstadt, "City of Flowers." Human settlement here dates to prehistoric times, and the city attracted important figures throughout history, including Luther, Goethe, Schiller, and Bach, to name just a few. Next, stop in Weimar, hub of German Enlightenment and an influential cultural center. This is where Germany's first democratic constitution was signed, giving rise to the historical period known as the Weimar Republic. It was also birthplace of the Bauhaus architectural movement in the 1920s. Before returning to Dresden, consider joining an optional excursion to the former Buchenwald Concentration Camp.
Day 5 At Leisure in Dresden
A day to discover Dresden on your own, or consider joining an optional excursion to Colditz Castle, a renaissance castle overlooking the town, river, and lush surrounding forests. Its grandeur conceals its surprising history as a high-security POW camp during WWII for Allied officers who had repeatedly escaped other camps. Your guided visit offers fascinating insight into the lives of the guards and prisoners, displaying the escape tunnels, false uniforms, diaries, fake documents, and other escape equipment. Later, head for Torgau, where U.S. and Soviet forces met up during the “East Meets West” invasion of Germany in 1945. Visit the world’s first Protestant church in Hartenfels Castle, whose chapel was consecrated by Martin Luther in 1544 during the Protestant Reformation. Return to Dresden for an overnight.
Day 6 Dresden. Excursion to Leipzig
An important trade city dating back to the Holy Roman Empire, Leipzig grew into a major European center of culture and learning, and was a hub for great composers such as Bach, Wagner, Schumann, and Mendelssohn. It is home to an appealing renaissance Old Town, baroque-period trading houses and residences of rich merchants, and St. Nicholas Church, the site of peaceful demonstrations against communist rule in 1989. Leipzig is also known for its automobile industry. Why not place an order for your next car during the included visit to the PORSCHE FACTORY?
Day 7 Dresden–Potsdam–Berlin
Today, we head north to visit Potsdam, one of Germany’s major centers of science and learning since the 19th century. The city rose to international prominence in the summer of 1945 as host site of the Potsdam Conference, where Allied victors Harry Truman, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin gathered at Cecilienhof Palace to decide the future of Germany and post-war Europe. Visit SANSSOUCI Palace & Gardens, former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. Meaning “without worries,” this UNESCO World Heritage Site is often considered a German rival of France’s lavish Palace of Versailles. See the terraced garden, lush flora, and the complex fountain system—a great thorn in Frederick’s side as he fought in vain to get the hydraulics working. Return to Berlin for an overnight.
Day 8 Berlin
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.