UNESCO World Heritage Tour of Germany

A 10 day trip to Germany 
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Overflowing with surprise, Germany's ancient land reveals inspirations that would change the world. Medieval castles, historic churches, artistic movements, steel barons, regal palaces and more, the country's World Heritage sites provide a narrative on our planet's development, compelling and confounding as they sweep across the centuries. This unique 10-day tour explores 11 of the country's most resonant UNESCO sites, each an unmistakable piece of world history.

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General Information

The Reichstag in Belin, Germany.
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Cologne, Cologne Cathedral, Essen, Zeche Zollverein, Villa Hügel, Gasometer Oberhausen, Aachen, Dome of Aachen, National Park Eifel, Zeche Waltrop, Neanderthal Museum Mettmann, Bochum, Wartburg Castle, Erfurt, Dessau, Weimar, Gropius Building, Eisleben, Wittenberg, Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, St. Andrew's Church, St. Anne's Church, Berlin, Berlin Modernism Housing Estates, Palace and Park of Sanssouci, Potsdam, Marble Palace, New Garden, Park Babelsberg, Schloss Babelsberg, Sacrow Potsdam, Museum Island, Checkpoint Charlie

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Cologne – Cologne Cathedral and the Famous Old Town

Gothic Cologne Cathedral stands proudly above the city, its ornate spires dominating a city that remains firmly in an ancient era. Touch down at Cologne International to be greeted by your guide and accompanied to your hotel, a delightful five-star hotel that's almost as iconic as the old cathedral dome. As you travel into the city, you can't miss the cathedral, an exquisite place of worship that took over two centuries to build. It's the natural starting point on your walking tour of Cologne, a 13th-century masterpiece that was developed in the late 19th century and spent four years as the world's tallest building. Step inside and the glamour drips from the dome, exquisite stained glass, and sculptures filling the nave.

The Cathedral stands in the heart of the old town, a collection of curling streets and cobbles. One leads into Sunner Keller, a local brewery that specializes in classic Cologne delicacies. Take a tour, and then enjoy a filling lunch of iconic local cuisine. Down another lane, find the 4711 Kolnisch Wasser Perfumery, where 220 years of scented production is there to explore. Craft your own perfume, piecing together fragrances before stepping back out into the charms of Old Cologne. A table at your hotel's restaurant has been reserved for a relaxed first evening in Germany.

What's Included: accommodation, airport meet and greet, private guided tour, lunch

Day 2: Essen – Inspiring Remains of Industrial Germany

After many cobbles and charms, today's journey takes you into the industrial lines of Germany's past. Zeche Zollverein was the world's largest coal mine, and largely the blueprint for the development of heavy industry in Europe.  The towering buildings imbue a remarkable poetry; their beauty showcased like a modernist art sculpture, the strange shapes and straight lines always impressing the camera lens. Nearby is Villa Hugel, the glamorous residence of the Krupp family, indicative of the wealth that's developed in this corner of Germany. It's the architectural antithesis of Zollverein, all elaborate curves and flamboyance. One space connects these two paradigms, the 100-meter high Gasometer Oberhausen, an old gas holder now converted into a flourishing art and exhibition space. Late afternoon, check in to your luxury hotel,  a timeless space that imbues an old-world style much more reminiscent of Cologne than Zollverein.

What's Included: accommodation, private guided tour, breakfast

Day 3: Aachen – Aachen Cathedral and the Dramatic Eifel National Park

Now on to the late 8th century and the Aachen Cathedral, the oldest in Northern Europe and a masterpiece of quaint elaboration. From the outside, it's difficult to comprehend its age, such an imposing structure built in a distant millennium. For 600 years, this was the coronation place of German monarchs and the centerpiece of a medieval world. And for even longer, the breathtaking dome would inspire cathedral design across Western Europe. The town of Aachen is equally fascinating, offering a journey into a hidden world unchanged for centuries.

The same description is resonant in Eifel National Park, a dramatic landscape of woodland and rivers that retains an ancient sense of wilderness. Europe is overpopulated and has been built upon for millennia, so Eifel is one of its few remaining stretches of truly wild land. Streams babble down through indigenous forest, wildcats and red deer drink from the meandering rivers, and the gnarled oak woods flow besides mysterious ravines. A variety of self-guided hiking trails makes this an afternoon of escapism. From Eifel, return into Cologne and another night at your luxury hotel.

What's Included: accommodation, private guided tour, breakfast

Day 4: Bochum – Delights in Southern Germany

After days of exploration, today will be tranquil and celebratory, a chance to discover the cultural secrets of Southern Germany. Travel to Zeche Waltrop, the medieval town that's kept itself delightfully away from the standard tourist trail. Manufactum Warenhaus also keeps its heritage alive, so you'll explore how to craft tools and clothes the traditional way. Lunch is a very special one at Gasthaus Stromberg, a restaurant owned by Holger Stromberg, celebrated chef of the German national soccer team. Expect fresh, healthy flavors and an inspirational take on German classics. Late afternoon, tour Habbel Distillerie before sitting back to an evening performance at Schauspielhaus Bochum, one of the country's pre-eminent theater spaces and the atmospheric home of German musicals.

What's Included: accommodation, private guided tour, breakfast, lunch

Day 5: Wartburg Castle – The Iconic German Medieval Fortress

This morning is the only significantly long drive on the itinerary, just over three hours from Bochum until the imposing turret of Wartburg Castle comes into view. Perched above Eisenach, this World Heritage Site elegantly reflects the romance of Germany's middle ages. From a distance, its rough and imposing, but get up close and a Romanesque ceremonial hall leads you into the exquisitely ornamented design. Germany's best-preserved fortress, Wartburg Castle carries some 1,000 years of history as if it was built yesterday. Your guide introduces Martin Luther, and his spartan cell reveals the conflict of his time. Your accommodation is far more luxurious than Luther's was, located at the base of the castle, a boutique residence that radiates romance as it looks down onto a lavishly green valley.

What's Included: accommodation, private guided tour, breakfast

Day 6: Erfurt – Fabulous Art and Design of the Bauhaus School

Church steeples rise above cobbled bridges and light shines through the Gothic stained glass, while cathedral spires cast shadows on half-timbered Renaissance buildings. Erfurt was once at the crossroads of European trade, and its wealth is reflected in the masterful medieval design. It's a perfect town to explore on foot, quiet lanes taking you past art galleries and ancient bells, Europe's oldest intact synagogue and a bridge of inhabited 15th-century townhouses. Erfurt Cathedral is the essential attraction, the majestic tower in the heart of the town. But almost every corner catches the eye, from monastic remains to lanes where jesters once sang. Remarkably, Erfurt is not yet on the World Heritage list, although the medieval Mikveh and Old Synagogue are on the tentative list.

Take a stroll through town, then spend the afternoon in Dessau and Weimar, where the work of the Bauhaus is presented wonderfully. This is where Germany's avant-garde came to study, and their design would soon influence the world in the early part of last century. The contrast is unfathomable, one all curves and subtlety, the other brash, bold and in your face. Much of the original work of the Bauhaus is exhibited in their original university buildings, and the buildings are very much part of the exhibit. Returning to Erfurt, the evening is at your leisure and the streets offer a delightful place to walk without a map.

What's Included: accommodation, private guided tour, breakfast

Day 7: Eisleben – The life and Times of Martin Luther

It's been some 500 years since the Reformation, and the atmosphere of Martin Luther's times continue to inhabit the streets of Eisleben. Splendid townhouses rise beside quaint churches; an old town square is shrouded in late-Gothic excess, and the sense of history is absolute. The home of the great Church reformer, and you start in the house where Martin Luther was born.  A Luther statue stands beside the town hall as you enter the small church where he was baptized before visiting the original Luther pulpit in St. Andrew's Church. St. Anne's Church is equally inspiring, the biblical scenes carved into stone as they rove around the church – nowhere else in Europe has these stone-carved murals. Following your guided tour, you're free to soak up the atmosphere of the town and continue the submersion in another era.

What's Included: accommodation, private guided tour, breakfast

Day 8: Berlin – Palaces and Parks of Potsdam

Onwards to Wittenberg, where Luther's grave is found along with Castle Church, where he nailed his 95 theses to the door, the single most poignant moment in the split from the Catholic church. Driving north, spend the day in Potsdam, where the Prussian state stands in its untouched glory. Tree-lined avenues rise to expansive stately homes, landscaped parks weave behind red brick houses and marble palaces; every angle induces a sense of regal grandeur. Some 150 buildings make up the World Heritage area, each as glamorous as the last.

Wander through Babelsberg Park and into the Palace, admiring the portraits that hang along corridors as sentinels from the past. On the lakeshore of Heiliger See, explore the shimmering contours of the Marble Palace, then onwards to the grand steps that lead up to Palace Sanssouci, the oldest of the sites here. Potsdam was the home of the Prussian monarchy, and the area reflects an iconic image of old-world Europe, the nouveau art  standing amongst wonderfully green gardens, it is a place that can hold you captive for days. Explore at leisure and then it's a short journey across to Berlin, where your hotel is just a two-minute walk from another great memoir to neoclassical design: Brandenburg Gate.

What's Included: accommodation, private guided tour, breakfast

Day 9: Berlin – Walking Across the Heritage of Berlin

Berlin's heritage is world famous; the city is doused in both World Heritage design and the scars of conflicts past. Flicker between the two realms and join the dots of Europe's wars with the fables of the city's development. Start in the past with the Berlin Museum Island, which houses an exquisite set of treasures from the last 6,000 years. Artistic treasures line the Museum of the Ancient World (1830) while the Old National Gallery (1876) presents an evocative collection of Prussian art. The New Museum (1859) has been refurbished, uniting historical gems once separated by war. A promenade leads between these stunning 19th-century galleries, and your guide will pick out their most important pieces.

Now onto the divide, the mark of the Berlin War still visible beneath your feet as you journey through the heart of the city. Near Checkpoint Charlie, there's a resonant section of the wall left in its original state where you can feel the eeriness of the time. Berlin, however, is not a city that should be defined by its conflict and separation. For many centuries, innovative methods brought the people together. The World Heritage Berlin Modernist Housing Estates are a prime symbol of this, some of the world's first examples of building reform that assisted the working classes. Like so many destinations on this itinerary, it's a UNESCO site that radiates surprise. Your evening is free in the city and the pedestrianized area around Brandenburg Gate makes for a leisurely dinner and a ride by horse and chariot.

What’s includedaccommodation, private guided tour, breakfast

Day 10: Berlin – Departure

After breakfast, it will be time to say auf wiedersehen to your guide and leave the World Heritage of Germany behind. You'll be transferred to the international airport for your return flight.

What's Included: airport transfer, breakfast


Starting Price 

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.