Berlin Now

17 Sep – 25 Sep 2018

  • Region:
    • Central Europe
    • Germany
  • Status: open
  • Code: 21838
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Tour Highlights

  • Lectures and site visits by art and architectural historian Dr Iva Rosario.
  • Visit the Reichstag Conversion and walk inside Norman Foster’s Reichstag glass cupola for a spectacular view over the city.
  • Led by a local architect, explore the Potsdamer Platz, Berlin’s spectacular ‘gallery’ of modern architecture.
  • View the remarkable collections of art & antiquities gathered from both halves of Berlin at the Pergamon Museum, the Gemäldegalerie & the Alte Nationalgalerie.
  • Enjoy excursions to the beautiful palaces of the Prussian monarchy at Sanssouci and Charlottenburg.
  • Tour Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum.
  • Attend a musical performance at the Berliner Philharmoniker, one of Berlin’s great theatres.
  • Spend 8 nights based in the 5-star Swissôtel Berlin, located in the heart of West Berlin, 150m from the Kurfürstendamm Underground Station.

9-day Cultural Tour of Berlin

Together with Dr Iva Rosario we explore Berlin’s ongoing renewal in art and architecture, planning and performance, music and the many other elements of contemporary urban life that make Berlin one of Europe’s most exciting and fascinating cities. Over 25 years ago reunification unleashed a vibrant wave of creative energy, transforming great monuments, extensive art collections and the physical and cultural fabric of old Berlin. Showpieces of the very latest architecture form counterparts to lovely monuments of the 18th century. Berlin’s latest projects include the Humboldt Forum (replacing the communist Palace of the Republic); massive modernisation on Museum Island; and the Hamburger Bahnhof – the former railway station is now one of the world’s most successful exhibition spaces for contemporary art. These newest developments build on earlier architectural adventures including Norman Foster’s Reichstag Dome, Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum, and the Potsdamer Platz (consisting of a range of projects designed by leading international architects including Renzo Piano, Arata Isozaki and Richard Rogers). We explore these new architectural projects with experts and unearth the grand heritage of buildings including the beautiful palaces of the Prussian monarchy, Sanssouci and Charlottenburg. We walk streetscapes to magnificently renovated museums housing vast collections of ancient, European and modern art, including the Pergamon and Egyptian Museums, Gemäldegalerie, Alte Nationalgalerie and the smaller Bröhan Museum of decorative art and design. Our visit also includes a performance by the famous Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (or equivalent) and a farewell meal at the Alt Luxemburg, where Karl Wannemacher, one of Germany’s outstanding chefs, prepares culinary masterpieces. We stay in the 5-star Swissôtel Berlin, an elegant modern hotel located right in the heart of West Berlin on the historic Kurfürstendamm boulevard.


The following itinerary describes a range of sites which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but others require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in museum opening hours, musical performance schedules and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents prior to departure. The tour includes buffet breakfast daily and 2 evening meals indicated in the itinerary where B=lunch and D=evening meal.

Berlin - 8 nights

Day 1: Monday 17 September, Arrive Berlin
  • Introduction

Arrive Berlin in the afternoon. Participants will be required to make their own way to the Swissôtel Berlin to join the tour (check-in time is 3.00pm). In the late afternoon, we shall meet up and take a brief orientation walk around the area of the hotel in the former West Berlin city centre, situated around Kurfürstendamm, the famous KaDaWe department store and the ruined remains of Kaiser Wilhelm- Gedächtniskirche. (Overnight Berlin)

Day 2: Tuesday 18 September, Berlin
  • Deutscher Bundestag Dome
  • Brandenburg Gate
  • Guided tour by local architect, including Reichstag & government area, DZ-Bank (exterior), Pariser Platz
  • Walking tour of the Mitte
  • Sightseeing Bus Tour of Berlin
  • Group Dinner at Restaurant 44

This morning, we travel by public transport to the Unter den Linden, one of Berlin’s most famous boulevards and make our way towards the Brandenburg Gate. Our first visit is to the Deutscher Bundestag, one of the most interesting constructions in Europe. Sir Norman Foster designed an extraordinary glass dome from which visitors gain a wonderful panorama of the city. Across the road at the Pariser Platz we visit Frank Gehry’s – architect of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao – fabulous DZ-Bank, a spectacular modern building that contrasts dramatically with the stately architecture of the Brandenburg Gate. Here we see the vibrant strength of Berlin’s cultural and physical renewal, an explosion of imaginative architecture built on the foundations of the old imperial city.

From the Pariser Platz we walk back along the Unter den Linten on a tour of Berlin’s Mitte (Central) district, a veritable microcosm of the city’s entire history. Nowhere else in Berlin do the buildings reflect so much of the city’s evolution. We visit the Russian Embassy, built in a typical Stalinist ‘wedding cake’ style (1950), the former palace of Prince Heinrich, now the Humboldt University (1753), Schinkel’s Classical New Guardhouse (Neue Wache, 1818), the beautiful Baroque Arsenal designed by Schlütter (Zeughaus, 1695-1706), the neo-Renaissance Berlin Cathedral (1905) and the Gothic Marienkirche (late 14th century).

A brief detour will give us the opportunity to view one of Berlin’s loveliest squares, the Gendarmenmarkt, with its two cathedrals and Konzerthaus designed by Schinkel in 1821. Nearby is what remains of Frederick the Great’s grandiose plans to build a cultural centre called the Forum Fredericianum, and the State Opera House (Deutsches Staatsoper), constructed by Knobelsdorff between 1740 and 1743. Behind the Opera House is the copper-domed St Hedwig’s Cathedral (1747-1773), modelled on the Roman Pantheon by the architects Lequay and Boumann.

We then take a local tour bus which will allow us to further understand the topography of Berlin, its past east-west divide and its present day unity. Tonight we enjoy the creative and innovative cuisine at the Swissôtel Berlin’s stylish Restaurant 44 (Overnight Berlin) BD

Day 3: Wednesday 19 September, Potsdam
  • Sanssouci Palace

Just beyond the south-west border of Greater Berlin is the historical city of Potsdam. Set in beautiful natural woodlands with many lakes and river tributaries, Potsdam boasts an idylic location, and gained its most impressive monuments during the reign of Frederick the Great (1740-1786), who commissioned a series of palaces set within landscaped parkland.

The entire Sanssouci complex, with its many palaces and beautiful gardens, makes an excellent comparison to the French Palace at Versailles. Although Potsdam was heavily bombed, Sanssouci escaped damage during the last world war and thus the palace is still preserved in its original condition. The artistic importance of Sanssouci has been recognised by UNESCO, which has included the entire complex in the list of world heritage monuments.

In the morning we visit the Chinese Teahouse, a charming 18th-century pavilion, decorated with gilded statues, which many consider to be the most beautiful building in the park. Our tour then continues to the Great Painting Gallery (1764), commissioned by King Frederick II.

After lunch we explore the New Rooms (1747), which were built on either side of the Sanssouci Palace. One side was designed in the form of an Orangery, and acted as the palace guest house.

We will then take an official guided tour of the Sanssouci Palace, a magnificent mansion located at the top of a great staircase ascending through a series of terraces. The exterior is a tour de force of Rococo design. The interior boasts several fine rooms, among them the Ante-chamber, the Library in the form of a rotunda, the Bedchamber and Study of Friedrich the Great (including the armchair in which he died), the magnificent Concert Hall, the Reception Hall with paintings by Coypel and Van Loo and the equally splendid Hall of Marble with its superb decoration of Carrara and Silesian marble. In the late afternoon we return to our hotel in Berlin. (Overnight Berlin) B

Day 4: Thursday 20 September, Berlin
  • Gemäldegalerie in the Kulturforum, Tiergarten
  • Afternoon at leisure
  • Evening performance at Berliner Philharmoniker

This morning we will travel by public transport to the museum complex which houses the art collection of the former West Berlin, the Kulturforum. In this complex is found the new Gemäldegalerie. Among the 1200 paintings housed in the Gemäldegalerie are masterpieces by Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, Rogier van der Weyden, Dürer, Holbein, Rubens, Rembrandt (one of the world’s largest collections), Vermeer, Watteau, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Velazquez, Goya and many more. In the afternoon there will be time to remain in this wonderful museum or to explore the other museums in the Kulturforum area. Tonight we will remeet to attend a performance at the magnificent Berliner Philharmoniker. (Overnight Berlin) B

Day 5: Friday 21 September, Berlin
  • Pergamon Museum
  • Ägyptisches Museum
  • Alte Nationalgalerie

Today we shall visit three important museums on the Museuminsel (Museum Island), each housing remarkable collections of art. We spend the morning in Berlin’s remarkable Pergamon Museum. This huge building houses an awe-inspiring collection of Greek, Babylonian, Roman, Islamic and Middle Eastern art. We view some of the most important pieces including the celebrated the Gate of Miletus (120 AD), the Babylonian Ishtar Gate (604-562 BC) and the wonderful Aleppo Room from Syria (1600 AD).

We then visit the nearby redesigned Egyptian Museum to see the celebrated bust of Queen Nefertiti, created about 3300 years ago. The museum also contains the wonderful Kalabasha Gate, which was presented to Germany as a gift for the help given in saving the Temple of Kalabasha during the building of the Aswan Dam in Egypt (1960-70), and another great treasure, the so-called Berlin Green, which is a remarkably realistic portrait bust of a man carved out of green stone c.500-400 BC.

In the afternoon we visit the Alte Nationalgalerie, which has been restored to its former glory. Designed by August Stüler between 1866 and 1876, the Alte Nationalgalerie stands on a pedestal like a classical Greek Temple, with dramatic red sandstone stairways & pillars. It was planned as a cultural icon of the German nation, a temple to education for the young, and houses a wonderful collection of 19th century art. Two newly refurbished rooms hold the gallery of romantic painting, with masterpieces by Caspar David Frederich and Karl Frederich Schinkel, previously housed in the Charlottenburg Palace. This is the most significant collection of Friedrich’s work in the world and boasts examples of his style from every period of the artist’s development. (Overnight Berlin) B

Day 6: Saturday 22 September, Berlin
  • Guided tour with a local architect: the Schloßplatz, including Humboldt Box and Potsdamer Platz
  • Topography of Terror Installation
  • Checkpoint Charlie

This morning we will start our day with a visit to the Humboldt Box, a futuristic museum structure on the Schloßplatz in the centre of the city. It was built as a temporary exhibition space and viewing platform for the Berlin Palace – Humboldt Forum construction project and intended to inform the public about the future use of the site. Schloßplatz was originally the site of the 18th-century Berlin City Palace (Berliner Stadtschloß), which was extensively damaged during bombing raids in 1945 and demolished in 1950. Following the division of the city into east and west, the Socialist government decided to build the “Palace of the Republic” and construction began in 1973. In addition to serving as the seat of the GDR parliament, the greater portion of the building, however, consisted of various rooms and halls dedicated to cultural events. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the palace was closed and steps were undertaken to dispose of the asbestos in the main body of the building, which was finally razed in 2008. Our architect guide will today explain the controversial rebuilding projects, which combine the reconstruction of the baroque façade with a modern core housing an ethnological museum and other cultural spaces.

Our guided tour continues with a visit to Potsdamer Platz. It is perhaps here more than anywhere else in Berlin that the extraordinary re-invention of the city can best be experienced. Out of a previous wasteland, a whole new urban space has evolved. Nineteen new buildings including shops, apartments, hotels, theatres and offices are being crammed into a comparatively small area of some 60,000 square metres. The list of architects who are contributing to this project reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ in the field of contemporary construction design. The names include Lauber, Piano, Isozaki, Rogers, Moneo, Kohlbecker and the entire square may be regarded as a ‘gallery’ of contemporary architecture.

We shall then follow the line of the Berlin Wall to Checkpoint Charlie. On the way we pass the Topography of Terror installation. Situated around the excavated underground cells of the SS headquarters, this monument tells the story of those who were taken prisoner by the SS during the Third Reich. This chilling reminder of the horrors of pre WWII Germany is situated directly under one of the few remaining sections of the Berlin Wall, a symbol of post WWII Germany. A short walk brings us to Checkpoint Charlie, perhaps one of the most evocative names of the cold-war city. Little remains of the bleak pressure point, but Checkpoint Charlie is particularly important in gauging the changes which have been wrought since the fall of the Berlin Wall. (Overnight Berlin) B

Day 7: Sunday 23 September, Berlin
  • Schloss Charlottenburg
  • Bröhan Museum

This morning we take the U-Bahn to Charlottenburg Palace. Set in a landscaped park, this mansion was built in 1695 as a summer retreat for the ‘philosopher queen’, Sophie-Charlotte, by her husband, Friedrich I. Originally the palace, designed by Nering and Eosander, was comparatively small. Between 1740 and 1748, however, an extensive section was added at the behest of Friedrich the Great. Called the Knobelsdorff Wing after its famous architect, this is the most exciting section of the palace. We explore the Royal Apartments, Banqueting Halls, the White Room and the Golden Gallery which were designed in the Rococo style by the interior decorator/sculptor, Johann August Nahl in collaboration with Knobelsdorff. The apartments and halls also contain an excellent collection of masterpieces by French 18th-century painters, notably Watteau and Chardin, which were part of the king’s personal collection.

Across from Schloss Charlottenburg, in one of the former gatehouses, is the wonderful Bröhan Museum, which concentrates on the decorative arts and design. The ground floor contains a series of delightful rooms decorated and furnished in Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, as well as an exhibition of paintings by members of the Berliner Sezession. (Overnight Berlin) B

Day 8: Monday 24 September, Berlin
  • The Jewish Museum
  • Afternoon at leisure
  • Farewell Dinner at the Alt Luxembourg

We begin this morning with a visit to Berlin’s Jewish Museum, perhaps the most significant example of contemporary architecture in Berlin. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, it is important for its unique architecture and exhibition layout, which capture the spirit of the exhibition perfectly and have led to a radical new understanding of museum design throughout the world.

This afternoon will be at leisure. Our program finishes with a farewell dinner tonight at one of Berlin’s finest restaurants, the Alt Luxemburg. (Overnight Berlin) BD

Day 9: Tuesday 25 September, Berlin. Tour Ends.

The tour concludes in Berlin. Those returning to Australia will need to make their own way to Berlin Airport (contact ASA for information about private transfers). Participants wishing to extend their stay at the Swissôtel Berlin are advised to contact ASA. B

9-day Cultural Tour of Berlin

Swissôtel Berlin
Augsburger Strasse 44, Berlin 10789

An elegant 5-star modern hotel located in the heart of west Berlin on the famous Kurfürstendamm shopping boulevard, close to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, as well as art galleries, museums and Europe’s largest department store – Ka De We. The hotel offers a bar, lounge & restaurant. Rooms are equipped with air-conditioning, en suite bathroom, direct-dial telephone, satellite TV, wireless internet and coffee-maker.

Classic Room, Swissôtel Berlin am Kurfürstendamm. Source:

How to book


Please complete the ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION and send it to Australians Studying Abroad together with your non-refundable deposit of AUD $500.00 per person payable to Australians Studying Abroad.

Passport Details

All participants must provide no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the program a photocopy of the front page of their current passport.

Double (as Single) Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a double (or twin) room for single occupancy throughout the tour. The number of rooms available for single occupancy is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

Gallery Tour Map
Physical Endurance & Practical Information
Physical Rating

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless, all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 9-day Cultural Tour of Berlin involves:
  • Exploring Berlin on foot.
  • Extensive walking (up to 5km per day) and standing during museum and other site visits.
  • Extensive use of public transport. When using the U-Bahn or S-Bahn, participants may need to negotiate many short flights of stairs.
  • The use of audio headsets which amplify the voice of your guide (despite noisy surroundings). This technology also allows you to move freely during site visits without missing any information.
  • 8 nights’ accommodation in the 5-star Swissôtel Berlin.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.

Practical Information

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers:

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $4490.00 Land Content Only

AUD $1220.00 Double (as Single) Supplement

For competitive Economy, Business or First Class airfares and/or group airfares please contact ASA for further information.

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in ‘Classic Rooms’ with en suite bathroom on a twin-share basis in the 5-star Swissôtel Berlin
  • Breakfast daily, and evening meals as indicated in the itinerary where B=breakfast and D=evening meal
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included.
  • Public transport as required to complete the itinerary
  • Evening performance at Berliner Philharmoniker (or similar)
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at the hotel
  • Tour reference book
  • Entrance fees
  • Use of audio headsets during site visits
  • Tips for the coach driver, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare: Australia-Berlin, Berlin-Australia
  • Arrival/Departure airport transfers (please contact ASA if you wish to reserve a private transfer)
  • Personal spending money
  • Luggage in excess of 20kg (44lbs)
  • Travel insurance
Terms & Conditions

A deposit of $500.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on an ASA tour.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 75 days before departure: $500.00**
  • 75-46 days prior 25% of total amount due
  • 45-31 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 30-15 days prior 75% of total amount due
  • 14-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

**This amount may be credited to another ASA tour departing within 12 months of the original tour you booked. We regret, in this case early-bird discounts will not apply. We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. If an ASA tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all tour monies paid. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 75 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products or services. If a service provider does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA. ASA will not be liable for any claim (eg. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any such service provider however caused (contingencies). You must take out adequate travel insurance against such contingencies. ASA’s liability in respect of any tour will be limited to the refund of amounts received from you less all non-refundable costs and charges and the costs of any substituted event or alternate services provided. The terms and conditions of the relevant service provider from time to time comprise the sole agreement between you and that service provider. ASA reserves the sole discretion to cancel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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