The Elbe River

From Prague to Berlin


Cruise from Prague to Berlin aboard the MS Swiss Ruby and explore the timeless treasures and traditions of the Elbe River Valley.

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 The Elbe River  Old Town Prague, Czech Republic Credit: Prague Information Service  The spa town of Bad Schandau, Germany  Zwinger Palace, Dresden  View of Meissen from the river  Luther Square, Wittenburg  Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam  Brandenburg Gates, Berlin
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TOUR UPDATE

Please Note: This tour is no longer available. Please email us at smithsonianjourneys@si.edu or call us at 1.855.330.1542 with any questions.


The Elbe River Valley is known for its incomparable treasures and timeless traditions that reflect the character of Saxony, a rich crossroads of culture. Explore the gems of Prague’s historic Old Town, then board your riverboat for a scenic voyage to the medieval towns and stunning mountainous countryside of the Czech Republic’s Bohemia and Germany’s “Saxon Switzerland.” Stop for a walking tour of Dresden with its Baroque palaces, and enjoy special tours of the exquisite Semper Opera House and the Historic Green Vault, showcasing nearly 3,000 precious objects displayed in ornate rooms. An expert-led excursion of Wittenberg features World Heritage sites associated with Martin Luther as well as the 16th-century altar by Lucas Cranach in St. Mary’s Church. Other highlights include Magdeburg, with the oldest Gothic church in Germany, and Potsdam, where you’ll visit Sanssouci Palace and Cecilienhof Palace, site of the 1945 meeting of Truman, Churchill, and Stalin. Your cruise concludes with a special tour of vibrant Berlin. Optional extensions to Prague and Berlin are also offered.

2016 Itinerary

Day 1 — U.S.

Depart the U.S.

Day 2 — Prague, Czech Republic

Arrive in Prague this afternoon and embark the MS Swiss Ruby. This evening, attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner on board. (R,D)

Day 3 — Prague

Arrive in Prague this afternoon and enjoy a walking tour of the Old Town. The “City of a Thousand Spires”—with its splendid combination of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque buildings—is a UNESCO World Heritage site showcasing 600 years of virtually untouched architecture. Following the Czech Republic’s Velvet Revolution (1989), which heralded the end of the Soviet era, the city of Prague has undergone a grand resurgence. Thriving local businesses and lively cafés line the narrow lanes of the city’s Staré M˘esto (Old Town), and in its heart stands the magnificent Old Town Hall, originally established in the 1300s and home to the oldest working astronomical clock in the world, the 15th-century Pražský Orloj.

Walk through the city’s fascinating Josefov, the Old Jewish Quarter, a major center of Jewish culture for 1,000 years—the impressive Old-New Synagogue is the oldest extant synagogue in Europe. In the Jewish Cemetery, see thousands of headstones that reflect over 300 years of Jewish history. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Cruising Saxon Switzerland, Königstein, Germany

In the 13th century, to secure his hold of the Elbe River Valley, King Wenceslaus I of Bohemia had this impressive and nearly impregnable fortress constructed atop a 1000-foot-high mountain overlooking “Saxon Switzerland.” Today, it flanks the German/Czech border and features breathtaking vistas of mountains, dense forests, and imposing sandstone cliffs. Visit the Königstein complex, comprising more than 40 buildings and structures—from barracks and bakeries to churches, stables and dungeons, and retains more than 700 years of architectural history and fascinating insights into life during the Middle Ages.

On board this evening, enjoy a beer tasting of locally brewed German and Czech beers. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Dresden

Hailed as the “Florence of the North” for its exquisite Baroque architecture, Dresden has been Saxony’s preeminent center of wealth and power since the House of Wettin divided lands in 1485. Today, after decades of German reunification and meticulous restoration, Dresden’s opera house, palaces, and cathedrals stand resplendent, and the city has reclaimed its mantle as one of Europe’s foremost centers of culture and art. Its opulent Zwinger Palace houses a spectacular collection of works by Old Masters, including Raphael’s famous Sistine Madonna. Tour the Old Town to see the magnificent Frauenkirche and the 334-foot-long porcelain Fürstenzug mural depicting the noblemen of the House of Wettin. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Meissen

Today enjoy a private visit of the famous Porcelain Museum in Meissen. Legend holds that in 1710, the fabled August the Strong—Elector of Saxony and King of Poland—commanded his alchemists to discover the secret of making gold. They inadvertently created the formula for porcelain, which catapulted Meissen into being one of the richest towns in Saxony. For nearly 200 years, porcelain was produced in Europe’s first porcelain factory located in the Elector’s castle, the Albrechtsburg, a magnificent Gothic cathedral and a classic medieval castle. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Torgau for Leipzig, Wittenberg

This morning, arrive in Leipzig, one of the major European centers of learning and culture. Richard Wagner was born here (1813), and Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn, and Gustav Mahler all achieved acclaim in Leipzig. Perhaps the most lasting influence on the city’s music history is Johann Sebastian Bach, who served as cantor (1723 to 1750) for the boys’ choir at St. Thomas Church, where you will enjoy a specially arranged performance of the composer’s masterpieces.

The historic, charming town of Wittenberg on the banks of the Elbe River is best known for Martin Luther, who profoundly changed the Christian world and the course of Western history when he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Schlosskirche (“Castle Church”) in 1517, which launched the Reformation and a new era of religious and political history. Visit the Luther House, a UNESCO World Heritage site and arguably the most important Reformation museum in Germany, located in the Augustinian monastery where Martin Luther once lived. Wittenberg also holds a place in the literary canon as the fictional characters of Hamlet and Dr. Faustus both attended its famous university. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Potsdam

After breakfast aboard, arrive in Potsdam. Prussian kings and German kaisers developed Potsdam’s magnificent parks and gardens filled with the grand oaks for which the city is famous. Visit Cecilienhof Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site where in July of 1945 Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman and Joseph Stalin met for the historic Potsdam Conference to determine post-World War II country borders. Nearby, Frederick the Great constructed his splendid Sanssouci Palace. Tour this UNESCO World Heritage site, a beautiful example of 18th-century Rococo architecture, set on 700 acres of sculptured gardens and parkland.

Attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner on board this evening. (B,L,R,D)

Day 9 — Berlin, U.S.

Arrive in the metropolis of Berlin that has seen Napoleon, Bismarck, the German kaisers, and Allied forces vie for European and world power. Today, the reunified city has emerged with many of its magnificent landmarks intact. The genius of the city’s past and present residents—Felix Mendelssohn and Albert Einstein once called Berlin home—is evident in the art, architecture, and flourishing culture on every corner.

Disembark the ship this morning and continue on the Post-Program Option or transfer to the airport to board your flight back home that will arrive later today. (B)

All program features are contingent upon final brochure pricing.