Experience all Germany has to offer, from its legendary Rhine River to the international city of Berlin. Begin in Frankfurt with a cruise through the Rhine River Valley. Explore the romantic university town of Heidelberg. Wind through the heart of the enchanted Black Forest. Continue on to Munich, stopping to visit fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle before touring infamous Dachau and Nuremberg nearby. Travel on to Dresden, with its extraordinary display of crown jewels and the world’s largest diamond, and end in Germany’s beating heart and capital, Berlin, with its world-famous Berlin Wall. An optional 3-day/2-night Berlin extension is available.
Depart U.S. for Frankfurt, Germany
We arrive in Germany's - and Europe's - financial center today and transfer to our hotel. As guests' arrival times may vary greatly, we have no group activities planned during the day. Early this evening we meet for a briefing about the journey ahead then enjoy a welcome dinner together. (D)
Frankfurt/Rhine River Cruise
One of the great rivers of Europe and Germany’s historic highway of commerce and industry, the Rhine holds a special place in German tradition. We encounter this fabled waterway on a full-day excursion – including a relaxing cruise and wine-tasting lunch – through the Rhine River Valley, land of castles and kings, legends and lore. (B,L)
With its riverside setting, medieval castle ruins, and narrow, winding streets that were spared wartime bombing, Heidelberg stands as perhaps the quintessential German city. We discover this romantic university town on a morning tour featuring Old Town; the university (c. 1386); Carl Theodor Old Bridge spanning the Neckar River; Heidelberg Castle; and lively Market Square, where we have free time for lunch on our own. Then we depart for the Black Forest (Schwarzwald), Germany’s storied woodland whose pastoral beauty and natural spring waters have drawn visitors for centuries. (B,D)
We discover the Black Forest today, traveling first to Triberg, birthplace of the cuckoo clock and where we visit the Schwarzwald museum depicting life in this region over the centuries. Then we travel on to Freiburg, where we see the 13th-century Gothic cathedral, one of Germany’s most beautiful; and the adjacent Augustinian cloister. We return to our hotel then dine together at a local restaurant. (B,D)
Leaving the Black Forest, we travel along the shores of Lake Konstanz through scenic Bavaria, home to the breathtaking Bavarian Alps. Mid-afternoon we reach our hotel set amid the stunning Bavarian alpine scenery. (B,D)
Today we encounter the fairy tale castle of our
collective imagination: Neuschwanstein, Ludwig II’s 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace that was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle, with its fanciful turrets and towers, gables and balconies. Following our visit to the hilltop castle, we enjoy lunch together. Then we continue on to Munich, capital of Bavaria. (B,L)
A morning sightseeing tour of Germany’s most prosperous and highly livable city includes the Baroque Nymphenburg Palace, former summer home of Bavarian royalty; the Glockenspiel carillon in Marienplatz, Munich’s popular central square; and the royal avenue of Maximilianstrasse. Then the remainder of the day is free to explore as we wish. Tonight we dine together at a local restaurant. (B,D)
We travel just 10 miles outside Munich today to Dachau, site of Germany’s first concentration camp and today a memorial to the 40,000-plus who perished there. After this somber encounter we continue on to Nuremberg, a historic city where Allied forces prosecuted Nazi leaders in military tribunals that became known as the Nuremberg Trials. Here we visit the haunting Nazi Party Rally Grounds, covering almost seven miles with the huge, unfinished Congress Hall as a backdrop. Then we take a walking tour of this city known for its medieval architecture. (B,L)
This morning we visit several sites associated with the Nuremberg Trials, including the Palace of Justice complex where the momentous trials took place. After our tour here and free time for lunch, we travel on to Dresden. (B,D)
Its historical center largely destroyed by Allied bombing during World War II, Dresden today is a rebuilt and reunified city. Among the attractions of the capital of Saxony seen on this morning’s tour: the beautiful and beloved Semper Opera House; and the historic Green Vault in Dresden Castle, the “jewel box” of Europe housing an astounding array of treasures, including the crown jewels and the world’s largest green diamond. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore as we wish. (B)
Leaving Dresden this morning, en route to Berlin, we stop in Meissen to visit the factory that produced the world’s first high quality porcelain outside of the Far East. Opened in 1710, Meissen’s Royal Porcelain Factory still creates the fine china that is on display in museums and homes around the world. We continue on to Berlin, where we enjoy dinner together. (B,D)
Germany’s capital, its largest city, cultural center, and beating heart, Berlin is both provincial and international, historic and up-to-the-minute, sophisticated and friendly. We get our first taste on this morning’s tour featuring the Brandenburg Gate, the triumphal arch now a symbol of reunification; and the Neues Museum housing a collection of Egyptian artifacts, including the renowned bust of Nefertiti. We continue on to the Berlin Wall Memorial, the remaining section of the partition that brutally divided the city – and the nation – from 1961 to 1989. Now a historical monument and tribute to victims, the memorial traces the history of the wall and German reunification. Here, too, is Checkpoint Charlie, symbol of a once-divided nation. The remainder of the day is free for independent exploration in this non-stop metropolis. Lunch and dinner are on our own, and Berlin boasts a lively – and cosmopolitan – culinary scene. (B)
Today we visit nearby Potsdam, former capital of Prussia, site of the victorious Allies’ post-World War II conference, and home of Sanssouci, the former summer palace of Frederick the Great of Prussia. We tour the elaborate manse, considered the “German Versailles,” with its parks, lakes, and follies. Then we return to Berlin for an afternoon at leisure; tonight we gather for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)
Depart for the U.S.
We transfer to the Berlin airport this morning for our return flights to the U.S. (B)
I learned so much on this trip, one of the reasons we travel with the U of I EXPLORERS. Every single day was an excellent day!
- Jane V. Williams, 2017
We’ve been to Cuba, Italy, and now Germany on past EXPLORERS trips, and we would definitely consider other programs based on our experiences.
- Jerry Levy, 2017
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