A Glimpse into the History of World War II: East Germany & Poland Tour

A 12 day trip to Germany & Poland 
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The effects of World War II shaped Europe and left behind incredibly important stories for you to experience during your bespoke tour to Germany and Poland. Early-modern and mid-modern history comes to life in the grand cupolas and soaring church spires of antique neighborhoods. The sweeping vista from the Eagle’s Nest contrasts with the structure’s nefarious purpose and the galleries inside the former concentration camps are compelling as they tell the stories of those who passed through the gates. From restored synagogues in Krakow to murals along the Berlin Wall, you will be immersed in the indelible tales of the Second World War.  You can also extend your trip with other tours of Germany, so consider browsing some of our other itineraries as you plan your trip.

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General Information

Photos
Dresden Statue of Martin Luther
View of the Bavarian State Chancellery, Munich
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Warsaw, Krakow, Wroclaw, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Dresden, Torgau, Nuremberg, Munich, Dachau, Berchtesgaden 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Warsaw – Arrive in the Vibrant and Bustling Capital of Poland

Warsaw exudes a different Poland, one of diverse architecture that showcases the celebrations and scars of contemporary history. Restored Gothic churches rise above Brutalist concrete business buildings from the Communist era, as modern high-rises of glass and steel add a shimmer to the skyline. Each neighborhood adds to the complexity of Warsaw’s past, from Chopin to the Jewish Ghetto, and also speaks to the present with cosmopolitan cuisine and bars that bounce to an enticing beat. Your private transfer will greet at the Warsaw Chopin Airport upon your arrival and escort you to your stunning hotel near the edges of Old Town Square.

Trees shade the cobbled walkways as the spire of the 14th-century Cathedral of St. John rises above the sloping orange rooftops of the colorful buildings that surround. The aroma of fresh pierogi, a Central European dumpling, drifts out of the restaurants and cafes around the city. Nearby, the concrete structure of the Palace of Culture and Science represents the socialist architecture of the Soviet Union in the early 1950s. The façade remains the tallest in Poland, reaching a height of nearly 760 feet above the street.   

What’s Included: accommodation, airport transfer

Day 2: Warsaw – Traverse Historical Neighborhoods and Culture on a Full Day Tour

The breakfast tables in Warsaw are filled with sliced sausages and pumpernickel bread, accentuating the rich aroma of soft cheese and pickled tomatoes. The atmosphere of the capital embraces its big city title as the streets fill with locals making their way to work. After breakfast, your guide will greet you at your hotel eager to lead you along the streets of beautiful historical homes in the Market Square. Images of the Renaissance, Baroque, and neoclassical architecture shine across the facades that border the plaza, and the majority of the edifices were reconstructed after World War II.

Pass the Warsaw Rising Museum, which commemorates the heroic actions of the uprising against the German occupation in 1944. Interactive displays, along with photos and film archives help provide a timeline to the story. As you pass through the three levels, you will come to quickly understand the sense of desperation that filled the residents during the tumultuous years during the war. You will continue to the Royal Castle, whose pale orange brick façade represents the beauty of the city before World War II, during Warsaw’s prime in the 17th century.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Krakow – Visit the Grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau en route to Krakow

In the morning, the doors of the first specialty coffee shop in Poland open to the city of Warsaw. The shop is situated on the famous street Krakowskie Przedmiescie, which runs beside the colorful homes of Old Town. The scent of rich roasted beans from South America and Southeast Asia drifts from behind the counter. Your private transfer will greet you after breakfast and bring you to the charming city of Krakow, stopping en route to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, one of the most infamous German concentration camps of the Second World War.

The open field leading to the gates of the former camp fills the air with the scent of soft grass. Stories of survivors who have visited the camp years later tell of the absence of the grass due to the amount of people trampling over the fields throughout the day. You will arrive at the entrance to find the notorious gateway over which reads the message, “Work Brings Freedom,” in German. The barbed-wire gates encompass more than 430 acres with barracks that once held Soviet prisoners, political and social elites, and members of the Jewish communities from across Europe.

The guard towers continue to cast a shadow over the field, a reminder of the more than 7,000 members of the German SS that looked over the area. Inside the museum, you will find stacks of cyanide canisters and the shoes of the imprisoned before they were processed. Your guide will lead you to the 13 remaining barracks located on the Auschwitz grounds before you continue to Krakow to wind down amongst the beauty of the city and its more than six centuries of history. 

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Krakow – Explore Krakow’s Notable Beauty and World War II History

Krakow is a city devoted to culture and history with streets that reflect their long history. Charming synagogues decorate the cobbled lanes of the Jewish Quarter amidst the soaring spires of the antique churches. Quiet cafes fill the air with the scent of mushroom pierogi and sausage carts grill delicious, juicy sausages in the open-air of the bustling streets. Trams traverse the city center and continue into the surrounding suburbs, and you will follow your guide through the living history of the city, past antiquarian bookstores and beneath the impressive 18th-century Baroque façade of St. Mary’s Basilica. Visit the small grounds of Remuh Synagogue and Cemetery, which dates back to the mid-16th century.

Germans vandalized the gravestones during World War II, but have since been replaced and revitalized through meticulous restoration. Engraved Hebrew adds texture to the tombstones with tangible history that emanates from the dates of the buried, many of which were interned more than four centuries ago. Continue to halls of Oskar Schindler’s Factory, the man famous for helping save Jews during World War II, forever immortalized in Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List. The museum has an interactive focus, and you can learn about the occupation of Krakow and the timeline of the factory while operated under Oskar Schindler.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Wroclaw – Enjoy a Half-Day tour of Early Krakow and Charming Wroclaw

The scent of freshly grilled sausages drifts through the streets in the morning, carried by the lingering late-night grill stations that offer delicious, juicy sausages and sauerkraut across the city. Locals venture to cafes to sit in the gardens and sip lemon tea. Your private transfer will greet you at your hotel and escort you to the celebrated city of Wroclaw. The city crosses the Odra River over 12 islands and 130 bridges, making it similar to Venice, Italy. The waters rush against the grasses of numerous parks and underneath the Gothic spires of Cathedral Island.

Old Town Hall was constructed between the 14th and 16th centuries with a façade tower that reaches more than 215 feet above the riverbanks. The eastern façade highlights the evolution of architectural styles over the course of its construction, shifting from austere Gothic style to the elegance of the Renaissance, set beneath the pinnacles that adorn the triangular rooftop. For insight into the pride of the historical Poland, you travel to the Panorama of Raclawice Museum. The canvas measures nearly 50 feet by almost 375 feet and depicts the battle for the independence of Poland from Russia in the 18th century.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Dresden – Travel to Dresden to Discover the Restored German City

The morning light washes over the cobbled streets and colorful tower homes in Old Town, Wroclaw. The scent of lemon tea accentuates the aroma of the lush grass that emanates from the parks on the riverside. After breakfast, you can make your way to Dresden, Germany by private transfer and upon crossing the border, you will find a city of elegance that was restored after its complete destruction during World War II. The northern bank of the city now shimmers with palatial spires and domes, and the 18th-century architecture will welcome you with its distinctive charm to highlight how the city regained its connection to its past. Your guide will lead you to the Zwinger, a palace first completed in the 1720s to match the beauty of Versailles in France.

Ornate portals lead into the grand courtyard, and the sounds of trickling fountains fill the air, bordered by the intricate sculptures that adorn the palace walls. The grounds encompass three of Dresden’s most popular museums, with galleries dedicated to the porcelain collection, German masters, and even historically scientific instruments. The dome of the Frauenkirche was restructured between 1994 and 2005 using rubble from the original building, and architects utilized more than 2,000 pieces to recreate the altar alone to add an extra layer of grandeur and new life to the creamy hues and traditional style of the church.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Berlin – Visit Torgau and Famous Monuments and Museums of Berlin

After breakfast, you make your way next to the town of Torgau to follow the trail of Soviet and American forces during the Second World War. The preserved ancient buildings shimmer with white. Martin Luther erected the Hartenfels Palace in the 16th century with a stunning stone spiral stairway now adorned with an intricate sculpture of the Great Reformer. Market Square glistens with yellow, white, and red facades, and a small doorway leads into the oldest toy shop in Germany located near one of the oldest pharmacies in the region. In April 1945, the Soviet and American troops met at the Elbe River to show proof the advancement had divided Germany into two.

Continue to Berlin, the capital of Germany to find the iconic Brandenburg Gate that once symbolized division between East and West Germany, but now represents reunification. The 18th-century royal city entrance stands between the US, British, and French embassies with an adorning chariot, horses, and Eirene, the goddess of peace. You will pass the ruin of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, which was damaged during the bombing of Berlin in World War II. The church was constructed under the patronage of Kaiser Wilhelm II, the last Emperor of Germany, whose actions in 1914 led to the First World War, which directly contributed to the rise of Nazi Germany. You can still find soot and bomb markings in the remains of the standing structure, which continues to rise more than 370 feet above the streets of Berlin. 

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 8: Berlin – Wander through Germany’s Capital with a Day at Leisure

The Berlin Wall shimmers with artwork around Checkpoint Charlie, a portion of the infamous division between East and West Germany that once stood 13 feet tall with a length of nearly 100 miles. A memorial protects the street art on the wall that symbolizes a divided Europe. The history of the former secret police is on display in the Stasi, the headquarters of the East German police force. The day is yours in Berlin to uncover the celebrated culture of the historical city and enjoy the unique images of contemporary and ancient life.

Bohemian students ride their bikes along the shaded lanes as locals linger in cafes sipping cold beer. Schloss Charlottenburg was completed in the 18th-century and crowned with stunning cupola set atop Corinthian pillars. The beautiful Baroque palace has opulent apartments and festive halls. Porcelain decorates the galleries and paintings by 18th-century French masters and lines the antechambers.  Stucco and brocade adorn the oldest section of the palace known as Altes Schloss. Wooden panels and family portraits line the Oak Gallery, while the Oval Hall offers stunning views to the verdant manicured gardens. A walk through the gardens brings the aromas of blossoming marigolds and azaleas amidst the tended grasses. Carp swim around the pond leading to the neoclassical Mausoleum where Kaiser Wilhelm I was entombed, and you can spend a lovely afternoon exploring it all.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 9: Nuremberg – Relish the Ancient and Contemporary History of Nuremberg

Lime trees grow along the famous street of Unter den Linden, and nearby cafes set out their tables and chairs to offer refreshing coffees and delightful pastries to patrons. Enjoy watching the city pass in view of Gendarmenmarkt Square, and then after breakfast, your private transfer will lead you Nuremberg, a city famous for its old architecture, fabulous nightlight, delicious beer, and the site of the trials of Nazi war criminals. The city once acted as the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire, and after the Second World War, Germany rebuilt Nuremberg and the historical buildings with the original stone to help return the former grace and grandeur to the streets that have survived more than a millennium.

The Palace of Justice has an unassuming exterior but remains a working courthouse in which the Nuremberg Trials took place. Your guide will lead you into Court Room 600 where the likes of Goring, Hess, and Speer sat in judgment. Film and photographs offer background on the trials and their impact on international law. Nearby, the Old Town bustles around Hauptmarkt, the site of the daily market. The ornate Gothic church frames the eastern edges of the plaza, and at noon, the bells chimes as figures dance beneath the clock. A gorgeous fountain adorns the heart of the square, trickling with water and shimmering with an ornate wrought iron gate.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 10: Munich – Tour Dachau Concentration Camp en route to Munich in Bavaria

In the morning, the scent of sausages and cheese fill the air of the city. Corner bakeries produce sweet rolls while the rich aroma of coffee blends with the sweet scent of blooming roses a nearby café and flower shop. Cakes decorate the windows and cappuccinos froth with deliciously sweet foam. You can make your way outside of the Nuremberg to visit the grounds of Dachau.

The offices processed more than 200,000 people in its time, and now acts as a memorial to those once interned. You can pass through the original entrance, finding the same slogan that framed the camp at Auschwitz. Footage of the camp’s liberation offers insight into the images of those set free after the US army’s liberation. A memorial at Roll-Call Square reads “Never Again,” in several languages, as the gravel plaza looks onto the offices of the Nazi staff, located behind the barbed-wire fence. Upon reaching Munich, you will find a refreshing, jovial ambiance around the outdoor cafes and bustling beer gardens. The scent of fresh pretzels and the laughter of patrons offer a pleasant welcome as you wander around Marienplatz.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 11: Munich – Venture to Berchtesgaden to See the Town and the Eagle’s Nest

Munich combines the traditions of old Bavaria with the lifestyle of contemporary Germany. Old men in lederhosen walk along the cobbled lanes beneath the spires of the Old Town Hall as women in dirndls enjoy fresh chocolate cake while sitting at the outdoor tables of cafes. After breakfast, your guide will lead you to Berchtesgaden, a town nestled in the mountains along the border of Austria. Myths and legends abound in the stunning alpine landscape of dense evergreens and snow-capped peaks, topped with the second highest summit in Germany, which reaches nearly 8,900 feet above sea level.

The waters of Konigssee reflect the bordering mountains while the colorful facades decorate the old small streets with church spires that imitate the impressive soaring nature of the bordering mountains. A brass band plays in the main square of Berchtesgaden Markt. The scent of sausages accompanies the refreshing mountain breeze, and your guide will lead you into the massif to find Hitler’s hideaway known as the Eagle’s Nest. An elevator shaft set deep into the terrain ascends the mountain interior, and the lookout offers a sweeping panorama of the German and Austrian Alps leading to Salzburg in the east. The medieval style emanates from the thick granite walls and wooden beams that line the ceiling, and the beauty of the architecture and landscape that contrasts with the history that the contemporary fortress represents.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 12: Munich – Depart for Home

The gilded features of Munich return in the morning light as the neoclassical edifice of the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum brims with thought providing artwork that represents Germany’s rich history, including royal trinkets, church artifacts, and paintings displayed across 40 rooms. Nearby, locals retreat to the retro style of several cafes to sip zesty coffee, drink refreshing handcrafted lemonade, and delight in fresh bread dressed with homemade jam. The doors to the famous Hofbrauhaus open in the afternoon to welcome regulars and visitors alike for a liter while learning about the city’s traditional beer hall. Your private transfer will greet you at your hotel when you are ready and escort you to Munich Airport for your flight home.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$3,295
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.