Group Travel Directors crosses oceans, overcomes walls, and bridges boundaries to bring our travelers the history, community, and people like no other organization. When others could only read about East German history and landmarks, GTD travelers were welcomed into the very villages, churches, and castles where that history was made.
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Passion Play & Lutherland 11 days
Passion Play & Paris 12 days
Central Europe & Passion Play 10 Days
Journey of Faith to Lutherland and the Passion Play in Oberammergau
click on each day to see the itinarary
Day 1 Depart U.S
Begin your journey of discovery and faith today. Depart the U.S. on your transatlantic overnight flight to Europe.
Day 2 Arrive BeRLIN
Connect in Europe this morning with the continuing flight to Berlin. Upon arrival your national guide and driver will be waiting to welcome you. Enjoy a panoramic overview tour of Berlin en route to the hotel. In the West, see the memorial along the famous Kurfurstendamm Street (Kudamm) – Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche (Memorial Church), which represents the horrors of war and the promise of the future. In the East, see the Brandenburg Gate, once the symbol of the division of West and East and now of unified Berlin. Drive to a remaining portion of the wall that separated East and West Berlin during the Cold War until the fall of Communism in 1989. After hotel check-in and time to refresh, gather for a welcome dinner.
Day 3 Wittenberg/Leipzig
This morning drive to Lutherstadt Wittenberg, home of Martin and Katie Luther for 36 years. Take a locally guided tour of the town including visits to the Castle Church, where Luther posted his 95 Theses; St. Mary’s Church, where he preferred to preach; and the Lutherhalle, which was Martin and Katie’s home and is now the world’s largest Reformation museum. Continue to Leipzig, city of Bach and books, for a two-night stay. This evening enjoy dinner at Auerbach's Keller, mentioned in Goethe's "Faust."
Day 4 Leipzig
This morning take a guided tour of the city center of Leipzig. Over the centuries Leipzig has been known as the center of commerce and trade fairs, especially in publishing. Its many publishing houses and libraries still attest to this tradition. During the tour visit Market Square and see the beautifully restored commercial buildings. Enter the Nikolaikirche, the center of the peaceful demonstrations that brought about the fall of Communism in 1989. Visit the Thomaskirche, where Bach was organist for 27 years and where Luther preached in 1539.
Day 5 Eisleben/Erfurt
Depart for Eisleben, where Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483, and where he died on February 18, 1546. Visit the late Gothic house where Luther was born and the house where he died, both now museums depicting different phases of Luther's life. Also see the church of St. Peter and Paul where he was baptized, St. Andrew’s church where he lay in state, and Market Square with its Luther Memorial. Continue to Buchenwald Concentration Camp to walk a sobering pilgrimage through the grounds as a reminder of human cruelty during WWII. Between July 1937 and April 1945, altogether 250,000 persons from all countries of Europe were imprisoned in Buchenwald, including Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The number of victims is estimated at approximately 56,000. Later this afternoon arrive in Erfurt, capital of Thuringia. Martin Luther attended university and entered the monastic life here—this is his spiritual home.
Day 6 Eisenach/Erfurt
Travel to nearby Eisenach, where Martin Luther attended parish school as a youth and where Johann Sebastian Bach was born in 1685. Take a walking tour through town passing Cotta House where Luther lodged as a schoolboy, and visit the Bach Haus where the young J.S. Bach lived. Tour Wartburg Castle; it was here that Luther retreated after returning from the Worms debate and where he translated the New Testament from its original Greek into common German. This afternoon return to Erfurt. On July 2, 1505, during a violent thunderstorm, Martin Luther vowed to become a monk. On July 17, Luther walked through the gates of Erfurt’s Augustinian Monastery to enter monastic life. Take a guided tour of the Augustinian Cloister; the monastery is now a home to Protestant nuns. Also visit the Cathedral where he was ordained a priest.
Day 7 Erfurt/Nürnberg
Begin traveling southward today with the day’s destination being Nürnberg, the first city to embrace Reformation thought. The Old Town was demolished in WW II and has been lovingly restored to its former medieval charm. Take a driving tour of the outer environs passing by the parade grounds where Hitler displayed his massive army and the courthouse where the famous Nürnberg Trials were held. Take a walking tour of the Old Town including the restored home of the Renaissance painter Albrecht Dürer. Enjoy a bit of time to explore on your own in the marktplatz - be sure to sample some of the tasty lebkuchen (gingerbread) for which the city is known or visit one of the Christmas shops. Check in at your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 8 Munich/Oberammergau
En route to the Alps visit Munich, the “Big Apple” of Bavaria. The city is known for its unique sense of conviviality or “gemütlichkeit” with which locals live life and visitors are welcomed. Drive by Nymphenburg Palace, once the summer home to five generations of Bavarian royalty. Then embark on a walking tour of the centrum highlighting landmarks such as Frauenkirche, the late-Gothic cathedral, which is a signature image of the city. Hear the chimes of the famed glockenspiel at Marienplatz and enjoy time on your own for lunch, perhaps at the famous Hofbräuhaus. This afternoon continue to the charming Alpine village of Oberammergau for a two-night stay in lodging arranged by the Oberammergau Passion Play Committee.
Day 9 Oberammergau
This morning visit one of the castles built by King Ludwig II, either the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle or the Rococo Linderhof Castle. Return to Oberammergau for lunch followed by a performance of the world-famous Passion Play. In 1633 the quaint alpine village of Oberammergau was threatened by the deadly and contagious disease known as the Black Plague that scourged Europe, killing two-thirds of the population of Germany. The people of Oberammergau vowed that if the village could be spared, a re-enactment of the life and suffering of Christ would be performed and commemorated every ten years. Against the breathtaking backdrop of the Alps, the play takes place during the afternoon and evening with a break to enjoy a true Bavarian dinner.
Day 10 Augsburg
Leave the Alps and drive to Augsburg, where Martin Luther debated on the authority of the Bible, Church, and Pope: creed, conscience, and freedom. At the Imperial Diet of 1530 the Confession of Augsburg was declared and today it forms the basis of doctrine for some sixty evangelical churches. Actually, Augsburg has been a melting pot of many reformative movements: Zwinglians, Lutherans and Anabaptists as well as others. Learn about this remarkable history during a tour of the city and a visit to St. Annakirche with a painting of Luther by Lucas Cranach (Luther stayed here in October 1518). Visit the Church of the Holy Cross and Luther's "Dahinab," part of the city wall where Luther secretly fled the city in 1518. After hotel check-in, gather for a farewell dinner.
Day 11 Return to U.S.
This morning transfer to Munich for the return flights to the U.S. Arrive home this same day enriched with your journey of faith, friendship and discovery. (B, Meals in-flight)
Itinerary & Passion Play Packages subject to confirmation/change
A Taste of New Wine: A Pilgrimage from Munich to Paris
Depart Phoenix this morning for your connecting flight to Munich. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the complimentary meals and entertainment en route.
Day 2 Munich
Upon arrival into Munich, meet your guide and embark on an orientation tour including the many fine public buildings, the City Hall square and a walk in the Marienplatz to visit the Cathedral. Check into the hotel to relax and freshen up. Join the group for a typical Bavarian dinner in the famous bierkeller, the Hofbrauhaus.
Day 3 Oberammergau
After buffet breakfast, there will be a worship meeting in a private room at the hotel. Depart southwards through the plains of the Isar River, into the foothills of the Bavarian Alps. Tour two of King Ludwig’s celebrated castles today, firstly Linderhof, built in the style of a French chateau, then Neuschwanstein, world-famous due to its extraordinary location and shapes, its associations with the composer Richard Wagner, as well as its later inspiration of Disney. A carriage ride to the Castle is included, then check into your hotel for a stay of two nights.
Day 4 Oberammergau
Gather this morning for a worship/lecture session, then travel on the Alpine High Road to Oberammergau. A short diversion to the Wieskirche, the extraordinary rococo ‘Church in the Meadow’, can be made. Attend the Oberammergau Passion Play. The first half of the play performance starts in the afternoon with a break for dinner and the play’s conclusion in the evening.
Day 5 Colmar
Depart westwards to Colmar, traveling first through the picturesque countryside of the Allgau region, then along the shores of lovely Lake Constance via the resort of Lindau. Possible short diversion into Austria before we reach the Black Forest, and stop to visit the chief city of this region, Freiburg im Breisgau. Then follow the Rhine River downstream to reach Kehl and cross the river into Alsace, the chief city of Strasbourg – the city is French but has changed hands several times and the influence of Germany and German culture is prominent. Join a local guide for a tour of Strasbourg including the famous Cathedral, the Rohan Palace and the quarter known as ‘Petite France’. Continue southwards to the charming city of Colmar for dinner and overnight.
Day 6 Colmar
Start the day with a walking tour of Colmar. The walk features a visit to the Unterlinden Museum, the Eglise des Dominicains and the Collegiate Church of St Martin. There will be time for lunch on your own in the Petite Venise sector. In the afternoon, tour the Alsatian wine country along the Route du Vin, and visit the ultra-picturesque wine-town of Riquewihr. Enjoy dinner in a winery and return to the hotel for overnight. (B, D)
Day 9 Beaune/Paris
Travel northwards through Burgundy to the ancient Abbey of Fontenay, in the Auxois region: visit the Abbey. Continue to Chartres to visit the awe-inspiring Gothic Cathedral, arguably the finest in all of France, with a special cathedral guide. Travel through the Ile de France to reach the Paris, the City of Light. Check into the hotel for a stay of three nights. Transfer to the Musée d’Orsay for a visit followed by dinner in a local restaurant. Return to the hotel via the Métro.
Day 10 Paris
Join a local guide for a full day Paris city tour. In the morning explore some of the famous monuments of the Right Bank, including the Grands Boulevards, the Opéra, the Tuileries gardens, and tour the Louvre art museum. In the afternoon cross to the Left Bank and ascend the Eiffel Tower, then over the bridge again to the Arc de Triomphe and climb the steep hill up to the artists’ village of Montmartre. Take the funicular railway to the Butte and visit the Basilica of Sacré Coeur, then explore the Place du Tertre and other places associated with the famous colony of artists who lived and worked here.
Day 11 Paris
Transfer to Versailles this morning to tour the palace of Louis XIV, the ‘Sun King’. Tour the gardens and grounds, and visit the magnificent palace and Hall of Mirrors. Return to Paris and visit Sainte Chapelle. You have the opportunity to attend evening Mass at the Notre-Dame cathedral. Join the group for a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant, then see Paris at Night aboard a Seine bateau mouche riverboat. (B, D)
Day 12 Return to USA
Transfer to the Paris Airport for your homebound flight. Arrive home the same day enriched by your faith-filled journey through Germany and France. (B, Meals in-flight)
Itinerary subject to change.
Central Europe and the Passion Play: 10 Days
Begin your journey of discovery and faith today. Depart on your overnight flight to Europe.
Day 2 Prague, Czech Republic
Connect in Europe this morning with the continuing flight to the Czech Republic’s capital, “Golden” Prague. The city rests on the banks of the Moldau River, the main artery of the Bohemian waterways. Upon arrival meet your tour escort and driver for the transfer to your hotel. After check-in and time to freshen up, gather for a welcome dinner at the hotel.
Day 3 Prague
After breakfast, set off on a tour of Prague, including a visit to Hradcany—the Prague Castle and its massive complex including palaces, churches and museums. Enjoy a walking tour of the castle area and visit St. Vitus Cathedral. Prague and its architectural treasures survived World War II virtually intact. Cross over the lovely pedestrian-only Charles Bridge, lined with statues and ornate lampposts to visit the Old Town and see the famous 15th century astronomical clock at the Old Town Hall. This afternoon continue with a walking tour through the historic and memorable Jewish Quarter, which houses Europe's oldest synagogue and Jewish cemetery. Tonight enjoy traditional Czech foods and music during dinner and a folklore show in Prague.
Day 4 Vienna
Depart Prague for the southbound drive to Austria. En route stop in lovely Cesky Krumlov, a charming medieval town in such fine condition that it is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site. Continue to Vienna, the seat of the Habsburg Empire for five centuries. Check in at your hotel and this evening enjoy dinner at a local Heurigen restaurant in the wine district.
Day 5 Vienna
Vienna's architecture reflects the wealth of its heritage and this morning’s tour will highlight the elegance of Austria’s capital city. View such famous sights as the State Opera House, the elegant Kärntner Ringstrasse, St. Stefan's Cathedral, the vibrant Hundertwasser House, as well as the Upper and Lower Belvedere Palaces. This afternoon and evening are free to enjoy the myriad delights of the city. Perhaps listen to a Strauss concert in the newly renovated Kursalon, visit the Museum Quarter or Albertina, or enjoy some famous Sacher Torte in one of the traditional Vienna coffee houses.
Day 6 Salzburg
Leave Vienna for Krems and board a cruiser for a leisurely sail through the Wachau Valley. This is one of the most scenic stretches of the Danube with hilltop castles, lush vineyards, and quaint villages. At the point where the Danube enters the region of the Wachau lies the little town of Melk, dominated by the massive bulk of the Benedictine abbey, one of the best known and most splendid monastic houses in Austria. Melk Abbey was begun over 900 years ago and assumed its present high baroque form in the early 18th century. Enjoy a tour of the abbey, then depart for Salzburg - the drive through the Alps provides a spectacular entry into Salzburg, "city of Mozart." This evening a special treat awaits you at the famous Stiftskeller St. Peter. Musicians in historic costumes perform some of Mozart’s most famous compositions during an elegant candlelight dinner prepared according to traditional recipes from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Day 7 Oberammergau
Salzburg is defined by its music, although it is humbly sprung from the salt mining industry. Learn of the city’s rich history during a morning walking tour of Old Salzburg. Stroll through the picturesque Mirabell Gardens to reach the Getreidegasse, where you visit Mozart's birth house, then St. Peter's Cemetery and its catacombs. Also visit the impressive Salzburg Cathedral with its statues and ornamentation. After free time for lunch on your own, depart for the charming Alpine village of Oberammergau (or vicinity) for a two-night stay in lodging arranged by the Oberammergau Passion Play Committee.
Day 8 Oberammergau
This morning visit one of the castles built by King Ludwig II, either the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle or the Rococo Linderhof Castle. Return to Oberammergau for lunch followed by a performance of the world-famous Passion Play. In 1633 the quaint Alpine village of Oberammergau was threatened by the deadly and contagious disease known as the Black Death that scourged Europe, killing two-thirds of the population of Germany. The people of Oberammergau vowed that if the village could be spared, a re-enactment of the life and suffering of Christ would be performed and commemorated every ten years. Against the breathtaking backdrop of the Alps, the play takes place during the afternoon and evening with a break to enjoy a true Bavarian dinner.
Day 9 Munich
Depart Oberammergau for Munich, the vibrant, versatile capital city of Bavaria known as the “Big Apple” of Germany. Upon arrival embark on a city sightseeing tour, which highlights the best of Munich including views of Nymphenburg Palace and the famous Glockenspiel at the Marktplatz. For groups in late September: This noon have lunch at the Hippodrome tent and join in the gemütlichkeit of Munich’s world-renowned Oktoberfest – a celebration of traditional Bavarian foods, “oompah” entertainment and, of course, beer! Be sure to pack your dirndls and lederhosen!
Day 10 Return to USA
This morning transfer to the Munich airport for the return flights to the U.S.A. Arrive home this same day enriched with your journey of faith, friendship and discovery.