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Christmas Markets Along the Elbe 2014

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Pre-trip: Hamburg, Germany

Named a “Green Capital” of Europe for its integration of natural beauty into an urban setting, Hamburg is as rich in scenic delights as it is in history and culture. The second-largest city in Germany, it boasts an independent spirit that dates to its roots as a major port for the medieval Hanseatic League. You’ll discover the city’s rich history and vibrant modern ambiance, and also visit the historic town of Schwerin on an extension with delights to suit every traveler.

It's Included:
Accommodations: for 3 nights at the Moderate-Deluxe Radisson Blu Hamburg
5 meals: 3 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 1 dinner
Included tours: Hamburg, Schwerin
Exclusive services of a resident Grand Circle Program Director
All transfers

    Depart the U.S. today on your flight to Hamburg, Germany. Please refer to your personal air itinerary for exact departure and arrival times.

  • Arriving in Hamburg, you’ll be met at the airport and assisted to your hotel. Later, get acquainted with your Program Director—who will accompany you throughout your trip—and fellow travelers over a Welcome Drink at your hotel, followed by dinner in a local restaurant.

  • Launch your discoveries of this historic seaport today with an included motorcoach and walking tour of the city’s highlights, including the Altstadt (Old Town), which is anchored by the Rathaus (Town Hall), a 19th-century neo-Renaissance gem with 647 rooms and a jade-green copper roof. The Rathaus overlooks the Rathausmarkt, the plaza used for local festivals and ceremonial events. The surrounding Alstadt offers visitors a great window onto the past, with its narrow lanes lined by neo-Gothic and half-timbered homes from the 1700s, many still occupied by local families. After lunch on your own, the rest of the day is free to relax or to explore independently.

    This evening, revel in the variety of dining options in this cosmopolitan city, perhaps choosing local favorites—from traditional comfort food dishes like pan-fried fish, to specialties that reflect ancient Hamburg’s trade with Scandinavia, such as Rote Grutze (red berry summer pudding) or Labskaus (a one-pot dish of corned beef, mashed potatoes, and beets).

  • Today is yours to discover one of the world’s most important seaports. Perhaps you’ll browse the collections of Dutch masterpieces, modernist pieces, German Romantic paintings, and more at the Hamburger Kunsthalle. Housed in three architectural gems, it is one of the largest and most important museums in Germany. Venture to the city’s most notorious street, the Reeperbahn—one of Europe’s biggest red-light districts. It was here that the Beatles launched their international career in the early 1960s. Or visit the enormous Church of St. Michael, an icon of the city. A baroque masterpiece, it is one of the most famous churches in northern Germany, with three organs, seating for 3,000, and a tower with sweeping views of the city.

    Or join us for our Hanseatic Lübeck optional tour. Board a motorcoach bound for Lübeck, medieval capital of the Hanseatic League and an architectural treasure trove whose mix of Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance, and classical styles has earned much of the city designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Discover the historic ambiance of this vibrant, modern university town on a coach and walking tour, followed by an included lunch and time to explore on your own.

    • Meals included:

    After breakfast at your hotel, transfer by motorcoach to Schwerin, the capital and largest city of the northern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The town is best known for Schwerin Castle, located on an island in the lake of the same name, and the Gothic-style Schwerin Cathedral. You'll enjoy an informative stroll of the city, followed by free time to explore on your own.

    After lunch in a local restaurant, you'll transfer to Berlin, where you will join your fellow travelers on Day 2 of your Christmas Markets Along the Elbe River Cruise Tour.