Combine your love of trains and mountains! IRT's popular European tour leader, Werner Schorn, invites you to join him on our new itinerary. The tour includes Duesseldorf's trams, rides on the plush ICE trains, the Dutch Railway Museum, The Steam Engine Museum, Berlin by S-Bahn and U-bahn and beautiful Wernigerode in Germany's Harz Mountains, with its antique steam engines. Also featured: the narrow-gauge Selketalbahn and Brockenbahn and a private tram tour of Dresden, its tram museum and narrow-gauge steam lines around Dresden. We also offer separate cultural events for non-railfans.
Day 1: Depart U.S. Depart from the U.S. to Düsseldorf on individually arranged flights.
Day 2: Arrive Düsseldorf. Arrive at Düsseldorf’s airport. Transfer to our conveniently located hotel, the Dorint. This afternoon, join Werner Schorn for a private streetcar tour of Düsseldorf’s Old Town. Established in the 13th century, Düsseldorf was once a fishing village, but now stands as an economic and fashion center of Germany. The legendary city has been almost completely restored since World War II. Tonight you will get to know your tour leader and fellow travelers over a welcome cocktail and dinner at the hotel. Overnight: Dorint Hotel, Düsseldorf. Meals included: (D).
Day 3: Düsseldorf. After breakfast, you will have two options: Mr. Schorn will be leading our group on one of the newest rail services in Europe, the ICE 3—dubbed Europe’s super train—providing high-speed service from Cologne to Frankfurt at a top speed of 205 m.p.h. Passengers will enjoy the train’s interior wood trim and spacious, dark blue leather seats.
The other option today is to enjoy any of Düsseldorf’s 18 museums, the German Opera House, or the many shops and pubs at your leisure. Of course you will need to shop on the Königsalle— known as the Kö—one of the world’s most elegant shopping boulevards, lined with high fashion boutiques and sidewalk cafés. Dinner will be together at the Restaurant on the Rheinturm (Rhine Tower), with an expansive view over Düsseldorf. Overnight: Dorint Hotel, Düsseldorf. Meals included: (B), (D).
Day 4: Utrecht: Dutch Railway Museum. Today we head north to Utrecht, Netherlands, aboard one of Germany’s top-of-the-line ICEs (Intercity Express). These high-speed trains are designed with an emphasis on passenger comfort, making the two-hour journey fly by. Upon arrival, Mr. Schorn will take railfans to enjoy a private guided tour of the Dutch Railway Museum, located in the former Maliebaan station and home to many locomotives, carriages, buses and trams.
Our professional, local guide will take another group to experience Utrecht by foot and boat. First we’ll glide through the 14th century canals of the once-bustling city, then pace our way through the sights, including the Dom, the Netherland’s tallest church. Tonight is at your leisure; you may choose to dine at the hotel restaurant, or you may select a cute nook for authentic German cuisine. Overnight: Dorint Hotel, Dusseldorf. Meals included: (B).
Day 5: Bochum. Steam Engine Museum of DGEG. A one-hour ride on a regional train will take us to Bochum, about 60 miles northeast of Düsseldorf. The small town is home to the Eisenbahnmuseum where we will again have a private guided tour. This museum was founded by rail enthusiasts and is Germany’s largest rail museum under private ownership. The Eisenbahnmuseum is housed in the historical railway workshops of the Royal Prussian Railway, which dates from 1916. Highlighting the collection are 15 steam locomotives.
Alternatively, join a local guide for a trip to Cologne, spelled "Köln" in German. We will take a 30-minute Intercity train to Cologne and have a tour of the city. We begin exploring the oldest city on the Rhine at the majestic, recently restored Gothic cathedral (Dom) and continue on to the 4711 Cologne factory for a tour. Overnight: Dorint Hotel, Düsseldorf. Meals included: (B).
Day 6: Düsseldorf to Berlin by ICE. After enjoying a hot breakfast at the Dorint, we will hop aboard ICE 924 for the nearly 4-hour ride across the north of Germany to Berlin. We’ll enjoy lunch together in the train’s restaurant car, known for excellent meals. Upon arrival in Berlin, we’ll check into our hotel. It’s perfectly situated for a rail tour: it’s part of the rail station complex. This afternoon, we’ll use our included Berlin city card, good for use on the city’s public transportation, to tour Germany’s capital. The extremely efficient S-Bahn and U-Bahn lead to all of our destinations.
Later we will board a private coach which will take us to see the ruins of the Berlin Wall, recalling the days of the Cold War. Gain insight to how the city has changed since the Wall’s destruction. Berlin is now bustling with buildings and the stress of reunification after decades of Communist/Allied divisions. It’s one of Mr. Schorn’s favorite cities. Dinner tonight is at the hotel. Overnight: InterCity Hotel, Berlin. Meals included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 7: Berlin’s S-Bahn Museum. Potsdam and Palace of Sanssouci. After breakfast, we will tour captivating Berlin in a privately chartered car of the S-Bahn. We’ll familiarize ourselves with the S-Bahn system and then take in the S-Bahn Museum. Later, we will depart Berlin for Potsdam.
"A trip to Berlin would not be complete without paying a visit to Potsdam and the Palace of Sanssouci," according to Fodor’s Germany 2002. So we shall; the green meadows of Potsdam will be a perfect contrast to the bustling city life of Berlin. The Spree and Havel Rivers provide miles of gorgeous landscape to take in. We will travel by train through the city of Potsdam until our arrival at historic Sanssouci. The French translation says it all, "without a care", so we shall leisurely explore the summer residence of Prussia’s most famous king, Frederick the Great. We will return to Berlin tonight where you may enjoy dinner on your own. Overnight at InterCity Hotel, Berlin. Meals included: (B).
Day 8: Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin. After breakfast at the hotel, we will visit the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin, with its large display of steam trains. This turn-of-the-century factory hall houses a large collection of locomotives, aircraft and old automobiles, among others. You are free to stay as long as you want, as museum departure will be at your leisure.
This afternoon, you are free to roam about the streets of Berlin. So why not stroll past the shops and cafés of Kurfüstendamm? Or visit the shops on Unter den Linden and Friedrichstrasse, or take in "The Story of Berlin," a multi-media presentation and museum which, eerily, was built over a bomb shelter. Tonight we will dine together at the TV Tower Restaurant at Alexanderplatz with a panoramic view of Berlin. Overnight: InterCity Hotel, Berlin. Meals included: (B), (D).
Day 9: Berlin to Wernigerode and the Harz Mountains. Following breakfast, we will hop on a train to the heart of the Harz Mountains: Wernigerode. Our charming hotel is located right in the square of this quaint town of half-timbered buildings, a real medieval castle and endless crannies to explore. This fascinating region was only recently opened to the west. There are few natives who speak English and few tourists.
Just a ten-minute walk from our hotel is the Wernigerode Westerntor Station, central office and locomotive and car repair shops of Harzer Schmalspurbahnen (HSB), which in English means "Harz Narrow-Gauge Railways". After a visit to the shops, we will return to the hotel for dinner. The chef prepares excellent regional and continental dishes, served in a beautiful setting. Overnight: Hotel Gothisches Haus, Wernigerode. Meals included: (B), (D).
Day 10: Brocken Mountain - the Brockenbahn. Today, we will be treated to one of our tour’s highlights: a trip by special train with two steam engines and traditional wagons to the summit of the legendary Brocken. At 3,747 feet, Brocken is northern Germany’s highest summit. For more than 40 years, the Brocken was used by the Communist regime as a military base and was off-limits to all but the Soviet military.
In June, 1992, public rail service resumed to this famous mountain, the legendary meeting places of witches on Walpurgis Night. In good weather, the view from the summit is splendid! After a day of spectacular scenery, we will travel back to Wernigerode to enjoy dinner at our hotel. Overnight: Hotel Gothisches Haus, Wernigerode. Meals included: (B), (D).
Day 11: The Selketalbahn. The meter-gauge Selketalbahn is also part of the HSB, and that’s what we will take today. This is among the most beautiful and romantic routes of the entire Harz narrow-gauge system. For many years, this railway has been an "open secret" for nature lovers. Its more than 32-mile route between Gernrode, Harzgerode, Hasselfelde and Eisfelder Talmühle is wild and untamed, brimming with wildlife, trees and flowers.
First we ride to Gernrode, then transfer to a steam-powered train, which takes us on a romantic ride through the Selke Valley. A stop in Alexisbad will allow plenty of time to explore, have lunch and take photographs before returning by the same route. Overnight: Hotel Gothisches Haus, Wernigerode. Meals included: (B), (L).
Day 12: Dresden via Leipzig. Today we say goodbye to Wernigerode and travel east to Dresden, with a stop in Leipzig en route. Leipzig is famous for several of its inhabitants: Johann Sebastian Bach, Richard Wagner, Goethe and Schiller. It is also famous for its mammoth railway station, one of the largest in Europe. We will tour the city’s Tram Museum, home of 20 historical streetcars. Then we will zip through Leipzig’s charming streets in a private tram, capturing the allure of this classic German city.
This afternoon we continue to lovely Dresden, located on the banks of the Elbe River. View the yellow and pale green façades that make Dresden so enchanting. After arrival at our hotel, we will dine together. Overnight: Dorint Hotel, Dresden. Meals included: (B), (D).
Day 13: Dresden. After another grand buffet breakfast this morning, we will discover the buzzing cosmopolitan city of Dresden. With our professional Dresden guide, we will begin our day with a chartered streetcar tour around the "Florence of the North."
The city of Dresden abounds with activities for both the general tourist and the railfan alike, with its plethora of architecture, art and nearby 750-mm-gauge steam railway. Our special streetcar will also take us past areas that illustrate all too well the monumental city-planning ideals of Communism. We will enjoy lunch together in this fabled city of art and culture, then break off for the afternoon.
Railfans will join Mr. Schorn for a visit to Dresden’s interesting Verkehrsmuseum (Transportation Museum), followed by an optional trip to the city’s Streetcarmuseum. Our professional, local Dresden guide will take another group to the world-class Semper Opera and The Zwinger. There, we will tour the Meissen porcelain exhibit. Tonight, enjoy dinner at your leisure. Overnight: Dorint Hotel, Dresden. Meals included: (B), (L).
Day 14: Dresden to Chemnitz and Hilbersdorf. Today we travel to historic Chemnitz, formerly known as Karl-Marx-Stadt. On our privately guided tour of the city, we will see the imposing Karl Marx monument with a plaque bearing the famous words, "Workers of the world, unite!" Also in this industrial and intellectual center, we will visit the 12th century Rote Turm (Red Tower) and the million–year–old petrified tree trunks.
We will then travel to nearby Hilbersdorf and enjoy a tour by historic streetcar around the town. We’ll also pay a visit the Railway Museum Hilbersdorf with its steam, diesel and electric engines. This afternoon we travel back to Dresden, relaxing as we roll through the beautiful scenery. Tonight, dinner is at your leisure. Overnight: Dorint Hotel, Dresden. Meals included: (B), (L).
Day 15: Radebeul and Radeburg by steam train. Following a buffet breakfast, we’ll sample the S-bahn 1 from Dresden to Radebeul Ost. There, we'll hop a narrow-gauge steam train built in 1900, traveling across fields and offering pretty lake views. See Moritzburg’s stunning royal Saxonian castle from the train as we travel north to Radeburg.
There will be time to explore the town and have lunch on your own before returning to Dresden via steam train and S-bahn again. Tonight, we enjoy our last feast together. For our farewell celebration, we’ll dine at a local restaurant in Dresden with our new-found friends. Here, we will toast yet another wonderful rail journey and say our good-byes. Overnight: Dorint Hotel, Dresden. Meals included:(B), (D).
Day 16: Return to U.S. All good things must end! Our tour ends today after breakfast. Return to the U.S. on individually arranged flights. Meals included:(B)
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Europe Germany Netherlands Local Culture Railway Trips Museum Tours