Tailormade tour Cities of the former GDR by train holiday Germany

11 nights/12 days

Berlin • Dresden • Leipzig • Weimar • Erfurt

This rail touring holiday allows you to explore the former cities of the German Democratic Republic including stays in Berlin, Dresden and Weimar. This holiday provides an insight into the fascinating section of Germany’s history. Berlin resounds with historical significance and is rich in museums, while Dresden is a haven for art and culture lovers with its restructured Old Town. Enjoy Leipzig’s preserved GDR-era architecture, and experience Weimar’s wide range of historical influences. Finish your holiday in Erfurt, known for the many spires of its churches and cathedral.
Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from £2,130 per person.

Luxury rail tour visiting the cultural cities of the former GDR including Berlin, Dresden and Weimar

Highlights

Berlin • Dresden • Leipzig • Weimar • Erfurt

Day by day

Begin your Former cities of the GDR rail touring holiday by travelling from London to Brussels by Eurostar on an early morning departure. With a change of trains in Brussels, continue to Berlin, changing once more in Cologne. You arrive in Berlin just after 7pm and check-in to your hotel for three nights.

You have two days to explore Berlin at your leisure. Berlin has a fascinating history stretching back hundreds of years although it is really for its more recent history that it is best known. Berlin has been at the epicentre of two world wars and the Cold War in the course of the 20th century and is now the capital of a re-united Germany. Its rich history means that there is a vast amount to discover. Major attractions include The Reichstag, German Parliament, which was built in the 19th century and destroyed in 1933 and Brandenburg Gate, which was inspired by the Acropolis in Athens, and at the head of the long boulevard, Unter den Linden (named after the rows of linden trees planted almost 400 years ago). Your second day in Berlin gives you ample time to explore another important cultural place of interest such as Museum Island where 5 museums are located. These include the Pergamon Museum which houses 3 separate collections; the Museum of Antiquities (from Greece and Rome), the Museum of Near Eastern Antiquities and the Museum of Islamic Art as well as Neues Museum which hosts Egyptian and prehistoric items. Apart from all the museums that the city has to offer, Berlin is also home to one of the oldest zoos in Germany situated in Tiergarten Park. Take a stroll by the Landwehr Canal which is seven miles in length which will take you through some of the city’s sights including Kreuzberg’s café-lined embankments and part of Tiergarten park. Berlin is a very large city and covers an area of just under 900 sq. kms.

After three nights in Berlin, you take a direct train to Dresden where you arrive in under 2 hours. You stay in Dresden for two nights.

Spend your time in Dresden exploring the palaces and historical buildings that the city has to offer. Dresden has a prominent creative scene and is often hailed as the most attractive city in Germany. For history enthusiasts, a visit to Frauenkirche and Neumarkt Square is a must. The Frauenkirche was rebuilt after World War Two and has become a symbol of reconciliation. A fine example of well-preserved Renaissance architecture is the Residenzschloss (Royal Palace) situated in the historic town centre. Semper Opera House is visually stunning and is the main venue for Dresden’s Saxon State Orchestra. Another architectural gem to visit is the Zwinger Palace. This palace is built in baroque style after the Palace of Versailles and combines architecture, sculpture and painting. Dresden is known for its porcelain and a national collection can be found in the Zwinger.

Today you travel from Dresden to Leipzig. This journey takes just over an hour and trains run regularly, so you can choose to either spend the morning in Dresden or take an earlier train and have more time in Leipzig. Check in to your hotel in Leipzig where you will spend the next two nights.

You have one full day to take in the sights in Leipzig. For those interested in history, the two churches should be your first port of call. St Nicholas Church (Nikolaikirche) was built in the 12th century and is perhaps best-known for being the site of the peaceful demonstrations which helped to bring about the fall of the Berlin Wall. St Thomas Church was built a century earlier and has a significant history; composer Bach was the church’s choirmaster for almost thirty years and Martin Luther preached here 1539. Northeast of St Thomas Church is the Markt, dominated by the Old City Hall (Rathaus), widely considered one of the most beautiful Renaissance buildings in the country. Today the Rathaus is home to a museum filled with artefacts and pictures from Leipzig’s history. Slightly further out of the centre is the Battle of the Nations Monument, completed in 1913 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of the Nations. The viewing platform offers incredible views, but there is no elevator so this may be more difficult for those with mobility difficulties. Spend the rest of your day wandering the old shopping arcades of Mädlerpassage and Naschmarkt with their coveted courtyards, or perhaps visit one of Leipzig’s fascinating museums, including the Mendelssohn House, the Coffe Baum Coffee Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts.

Take a direct train from Leipzig to Weimar, departing around quarter past 10 and arriving just before midday. You spend two nights in your luxury hotel in Weimar.

The historic town of Weimar has played host to numerous legendary personalities, now immortalised in the many monuments and museums throughout the centre. For lovers of literature, the Goethe House and National Museum will be one of the most interesting attractions. Goethe lived here from 1782 until his death in 1832, and the house today is filled with his precious collection of art and his well-stocked library, as well as the National Museum on the upper floor. The Duchess Anna Amalia Library and Schiller’s Home also give an insight into the history of this literary hub; the Library contains an unrivalled collection of classic literature whilst Schiller’s Home contains a museum displaying a collection of materials pertaining to the life and works of Schiller. It is recommended to book tickets in advance for the Duchess Anna Amalia Library as this is a very popular attraction. The Castle Museum with its collection of art from the Middle Ages and Renaissance Period is a must-see for art lovers – the stunning interiors themselves are well worth a visit. On the edge of Weimar is the 18th century Schloss Belvedere. This museum was originally a summer pleasure palace and today contains an impressive collection of 18th-century porcelain, furniture and artwork. The English-styled garden in which it is located make for a pleasant stroll when the weather is good.

The journey from Weimar to Erfurt takes only 20 minutes, so can be done at a time of your choosing. Upon arrival in Erfurt, check in to your hotel for the last two nights of your rail holiday to the cities of the former GDR.

Erfurt is filled with beautiful buildings which play testament to its fascinating history. Perhaps start your day by visiting the food market which takes place in the morning from Monday to Saturday in Domplatz, the largest square in the city. Here you can buy traditional German food such as sausages, cheese and honey, as well as some exotic delicacies. Overlooking this square is the Gothic Erfurt Cathedral. The Cathedral itself was built mostly in the 14th and 15th centuries, but there has been a religious building here since St Boniface founded a church in 742. The Medieval art inside the cathedral is almost all original, from its tracery windows to the Wolfram candelabra dating from around the 12th century. Right in the centre of the city is the Zitadelle Petersburg, the best-preserved Baroque city fortress in Central Europe. Founded in 1665, this site was turned into a tourist attraction after Germany’s reunification and now offers amazing views of the city from its parapet wall. Other historical buildings of interest include the Augustinerkloster, where Martin Luther became a monk and stayed between 1505 and 1511, and the Old Synagogue, which may be the best-preserved Medieval synagogue in Europe. The Angersmuseum, housed in a beautiful Baroque building, features an extensive range of art from the Middle Ages to the present day.

Depart Erfurt at about quarter past 8 in the morning for Brussels, changing trains in Frankfurt. Check in for your Eurostar in Brussels which will take you back to London. You arrive into St Pancras in the evening.

Holiday price guide From £2,130 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room and including second class rail travel. First class and standard premier on Eurostar supplement of £240 per person.

Holiday Code EEBR11

Luxury rail tour visiting the cultural cities of the former GDR including Berlin, Dresden and Weimar

Holiday price guide From £2,130 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room and including second class rail travel. First class and standard premier on Eurostar supplement of £240 per person.

Holiday Code EEBR11

Our prices include ● Rail travel from London throughout, back to London
● Second-class travel on all trains (first class and standard premier on Eurostar can be booked at a supplement)
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Classic double room at Hotel de Rome, Berlin
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Comfort double room at Hotel Bülow Palais, Dresden
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Standard double room at Victor’s Residenz-Hotel, Leipzig
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Classic double room at Hotel Elephant, Weimar
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Premium double room at Hotel Domizil, Erfurt
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals except breakfast at hotels
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, usually between Euros 1 and 3 per person per night, and payable locally to the hotel
● Transfers in any cities

Additional information This holiday can be arranged throughout the year. Timings can vary depending on the month and day of the week.

Luxury rail tour visiting the cultural cities of the former GDR including Berlin, Dresden and Weimar

Highlights of Germany

Berlin’s world-class museums, bustling bars, galleries and monuments; Rugen Island, with its rugged chalk cliffs, windswept beaches, Romantic-era spa architecture and tree-lined country roads; Dresden, with its baroque beauty on the banks of the majestic Elbe; Cologne’s magnificent cathedral; the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bamberg; the sandy dunes of Sylt, a North Sea island with fabulous beaches and surf; the beer halls of Munich, ideally in September during the Oktoberfest; Lubeck, a Hanseatic gem; Muritz National Park, where you can go paddling and camping in a paradise teeming with birds; Bremen, a metropolis in miniature, with lovely red-brick and Art Nouveau architecture; the Alpine resorts of Bavaria, including Berchtesgaden, with dramatic peaks, dreamy lakes and superb walking trails; drive or cruise along the Rhine or Mosel, visiting castles, medieval villages and superb vineyards along the way; the walled medieval towns of Rothenburg and Trier, both with wonderful Christmas markets; the Christmas market at Nuremberg, oldest – and still most picturesque – in the world.

Facts in brief

Capital Berlin
Airport Several airports are served from the UK, including Berlin, Bremen, Cologne-Bonn, Dortmund, Dresden, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover, Stuttgart and Munich.
Size 137,000 sq. miles
Population 82 million
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