Reminiscent of the 19th-century “Grand Tour,” this unique and popular journey features the heart of Western Europe—with both river cruising and train travel. In Amsterdam, board your deluxe river ship for a five-night cruise through Holland, Germany, and France, and then enjoy panoramic vistas of the Swiss Alps from the windows of historic trains.

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 Historic Swiss train with the Matterhorn in the distance  <i>Amadeus Silver II</i> passing Cologne  Bikes along the canal, Amsterdam  Typical canal in Amsterdam  City of Cologne, showcasing the High Gothic cathedral   The idyllic Rhine River, near Kaub  Hilltop medieval castle overlooking the Rhine River near Oberwesel  The medieval town of Rüdesheim, located along the Rhine  The German university town of Heidelberg, along the Neckar River  The delightful Alsatian city of Strasbourg, France  Strasbourg, along the Rhine River  A view of historic Bern, Switzerland   The charming Swiss town of Lucerne with its famous bridge  Matterhorn peak in the Swiss Alps  View of Lake Lucerne, the town of Lucerne, and Mt. Pilatus in the distance  The <i>Gornergrat Bahn</i>, highest cog railway in Europe, with the Matterhorn  The <i>Glacier Express</i> traveling through a tunnel in the Alps  View of Mt. Pilatus and the <i>Pilatus Railway</i>, the world's steepest cogwheel railway

Great European Journey

A River Cruise and Train Trip from Holland to Switzerland Aboard Amadeus Imperial

11 days | Full tour details to be announced soon

Reminiscent of the 19th-century “Grand Tour,” this unique and popular journey features the heart of Western Europe—with both river cruising and train travel. In Amsterdam, board your deluxe river ship for a five-night cruise through Holland, Germany, and France, and then enjoy panoramic vistas of the Swiss Alps from the windows of historic trains.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

This was our first experience with Smithsonian and our first river cruise. It was amazing, wonderful, and exceptional! You won't be disappointed. 

- Mary and Glen N.

A captivating experience with in-depth knowledge of the areas visited.

- Elizabeth D.

Great scenery, fun transport, lots to see and learn. Nice group of Smithsonian travelers with good chances to connect and make friends apart from the larger group

- Barbara B.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

See All Journeys Dispatches ››

Accommodations

* Click on hotel name to visit hotel web-site.

Hotel Schweizerhof Zermatt (2021 Departure)

Zermatt, Switzerland

Featuring a wellness area, a treatment room and a hot tub, Schweizerhof Hotel is set at a 20 minutes' walking distance to Sunnegga. Renovation of this Alpine-style building was in 2007. Set next to Photopoint Kirchbrucke bridge, the venue is located in the heart of Zermatt. Ricola herb garden is about 20 minutes' walk away.It is set a short walk to mountains and a valley as well as slopes. Forest Fun Park Zermatt lies near the property. Rooms have central heating, a sitting area and a sofa at the venue. The hotel has a scenic view over the lake. They also have adjustable beds, single beds and twin beds with a pillow-top mattress, a down comforter and foam pillows as well as marble flooring. Start your day with a rich breakfast served at the dining room. The property offers a grill restaurant serving dishes of fusion cuisine. Drinks are available at the cocktail bar. The hotel has an indoor pool equipped with a sauna, parasols and sun loungers. Guests can workout in a gym.

Number of nights: 2

Hotel Alex (2022 Departures)

Zermatt, Switzerland

A family-owned Swiss chalet nestled in the heart of the Swiss Alps, the Hotel Alex offers guests spectacular vistas of snowcapped peaks and views of charming Zermatt. Guestrooms and public areas are luxuriously decorated, while the staff's hospitality is reflected in the hotel's warm ambiance.

Number of nights: 2

Hotel Schweizerhof Lucerne

Lucerne, Switzerland

Built in 1845, this deluxe, Victorian-style hotel has been owned and operated by the same family for five generations. It enjoys a central location along a promenade overlooking Lake Lucerne.

Number of nights: 2

Activity Level

Activity Level 3:  Moderate / Active


Expectations: This unique journey combines a five-night river cruise with a four-day land journey that features historic trains. River cruise pulls into a pier for excursions. While in the Swiss Alps, expect high altitudes of 7,000 to 10,275 feet, sometimes with fast ascents/descents (of 5,300 feet) during train rides. Day excursions on historic trains require balance for navigating a moving train and ability to climb possible steep steps to board; train rides range from 15 minutes to three hours. Throughout the journey, excursions will be at an active pace and you will often spend the entire day off the ship or outside the hotel. Fully scheduled days are balanced by time at leisure in some ports. There will be some days with early morning departures (8:00 or 8:30 am.) Some standing and walking for long periods of time (up to three hours) during city tours, museum visits, and/or outdoor activities. Walking will be over sometimes uneven terrain (e.g. cobblestones, stairs without handrails, the absence of elevators). Note that this trip entails gondola rides and a lake cruise.  

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, lead active lives, are comfortable participating in long days of activities, and expect some physical exertion. 

Tour Extension

Amsterdam Pre-Tour Extension  3 Days, 2 Nights

The historic heart of Amsterdam, laced with tree-shaded canals and stately 16th- and 17th-century merchant houses, is a World Heritage site and the perfect prelude to your Great Journey. Visit the world-class Rijksmuseum and enjoy a full-day excursion to the quaint port towns of Edam, world-famous for its cheese, and Hoorn, one of the great historic seafaring towns of the Golden Age. Accommodations are for two nights in the deluxe Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel.

Tour extensions available at additional cost. Details will be provided with your reservation confirmation.

River Cruising

Guidance on water levels and itinerary modifications

Your ship is designed with state-of-the-art flexibility in navigating rivers. On rare occasions, river cruising is subject to challenges due to unannounced river lock maintenance and/or weather-related increases or decreases in river depth. Extreme conditions may render a portion of a river itinerary unnavigable.

Should your river cruise be affected: 

  • You will receive a revised schedule outlining any changes prior to your departure either by regular mail or email. 
  • Any additional transportation, hotel accommodations, meals or special events, as a result, changes to the published itinerary will not increase the price of your trip. 
  • All ports of call and trip highlights contained in your original itinerary will be included in your revised schedule.  Under these extreme circumstances, additional motor coach travel, ship changes and/or hotel nights may be required to ensure participants experience the trip safely and as advertised.
Ship

Amadeus Imperial

Launched in April of 2020, this new and gracious ship with 84 luxury cabins and suites offers the utmost in service, safety, and comfort. Step into the elegant reception area and immerse yourself in an ambiance akin to an elegant European hotel. Relax in the panoramic lounge, indulge yourself with a soothing massage, browse in the boutique or connect with friends and family back home on the Internet. At the end of each day, return to the comfort of your bright, modern cabin featuring views of the passing scenery, satellite TV and a private bathroom with shower. On the Amadeus Imperial hospitality is a passion. The ship’s crew and staff are trained in the subtle art of attentive and gracious service. The day begins in the bright Panorama Restaurant with a plentiful breakfast buffet including freshly prepared eggs and omelets. For lunch, one can choose between varied menus and buffet specialties. Dinner each evening is a offers a 5-course menu featuring regional specialties. As an added value feature, all of your meals are included and local beer and table wines are served with each lunch and dinner during the cruise portion of your journey.

Amadeus Imperial

Launched in April of 2020, this new and gracious ship with 84 luxury cabins and suites offers the utmost in service, safety, and comfort. Step into the elegant reception area and immerse yourself in an ambiance akin to an elegant European hotel. Relax in the panoramic lounge, indulge yourself with a soothing massage, browse in the boutique or connect with friends and family back home on the Internet. At the end of each day, return to the comfort of your bright, modern cabin featuring views of the passing scenery, satellite TV and a private bathroom with shower. On the Amadeus Imperial hospitality is a passion. The ship’s crew and staff are trained in the subtle art of attentive and gracious service. The day begins in the bright Panorama Restaurant with a plentiful breakfast buffet including freshly prepared eggs and omelets. For lunch, one can choose between varied menus and buffet specialties. Dinner each evening is a offers a 5-course menu featuring regional specialties. As an added value feature, all of your meals are included and local beer and table wines are served with each lunch and dinner during the cruise portion of your journey.

Testimonials

WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

This was our first experience with Smithsonian and our first river cruise. It was amazing, wonderful, and exceptional! You won't be disappointed. 

- Mary and Glen N.

A captivating experience with in-depth knowledge of the areas visited.

- Elizabeth D.

Great scenery, fun transport, lots to see and learn. Nice group of Smithsonian travelers with good chances to connect and make friends apart from the larger group

- Barbara B.
Reading List

Highly Recommended

A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube (New York Review Books Classics)
By: Patrick Leigh Fermor, Jan Morris
At the age of eighteen, Patrick Leigh Fermor set off from the heart of London on an epic journey—to walk to Constantinople. A Time of Gifts is the rich account of his adventures as far as Hungary, after which Between the Woods and the Water continues the story to the Iron Gates that divide the Carpathian and Balkan mountains. Acclaimed for its sweep and intelligence, Leigh Fermor’s book explores a remarkable moment in time. Hitler has just come to power but war is still ahead, as he walks through a Europe soon to be forever changed—through the Lowlands to Mitteleuropa, to Teutonic and Slav heartlands, through the baroque remains of the Holy Roman Empire; up the Rhine, and down to the Danube. At once a memoir of coming-of-age, an account of a journey, and a dazzling exposition of the English language, A Time of Gifts is also a portrait of a continent already showing ominous signs of the holocaust to come.
The German Way : Aspects of Behavior, Attitudes, and Customs in the German-Speaking World
By: Hyde Flippo
For All Students Ideal for a variety of courses, this completely up-to-date, alphabetically organized handbook helps students understand how people from German-speaking nations think, do business, and act in their daily lives.
La Place de la Concorde Suisse
By: John McPhee
La Place de la Concorde Suisse is John McPhee's rich, journalistic study of the Swiss Army's role in Swiss society. The Swiss Army is so quietly efficient at the art of war that the Isrealis carefully patterned their own military on the Swiss model.
A Tramp Abroad (Modern Library Classics)
By: Mark Twain
In A Tramp Abroad, Mark Twain’s unofficial sequel to The Innocents Abroad, the author records his hilarious and diverse observations and insights while on a fifteen-month walking trip through Central Europe and the Alps. “Here you have Twain’s inimitable mix,” writes Dave Eggers in his Introduction, “of the folksy and the effortlessly erudite, his unshakable good sense and his legendary wit, his knack for the easy relation of a perfect anecdote, and some achingly beautiful nature writing.”This Modern Library Paperback Classic reproduces the text of the first American edition and features new explanatory notes and a critical Afterword by Kerry Driscoll, professor of English at Saint Joseph College in Connecticut.

Also Recommended

DK Eyewitness Germany (Travel Guide)
By: DK Eyewitness
DK Eyewitness Switzerland (Travel Guide)
By: DK Eyewitness
Fodor's Amsterdam 25 Best (Full-color Travel Guide)
By: Fodor’s Travel Guides
Swiss Watching, 3rd Edition: Inside the Land of Milk and Honey
By: Bewes, Diccon
The Rhine: An Eco-biography, 1815-2000 (Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books)
By: Mark Cioc
The Rhine River is Europe’s most important commercial waterway, channeling the flow of trade among Switzerland, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. In this innovative study, Mark Cioc focuses on the river from the moment when the Congress of Vienna established a multinational commission charged with making the river more efficient for purposes of trade and commerce in 1815. He examines the engineering and administrative decisions of the next century and a half that resulted in rapid industrial growth as well as profound environmental degradation, and highlights the partially successful restoration efforts undertaken from the 1970s to the present.The Rhine is a classic example of a “multipurpose” river -- used simultaneously for transportation, for industry and agriculture, for urban drinking and sanitation needs, for hydroelectric production, and for recreation. It thus invites comparison with similarly over-burdened rivers such as the Mississippi, Hudson, Colorado, and Columbia. The Rhine’s environmental problems are, however, even greater than those of other rivers because it is so densely populated (50 million people live along its borders), so highly industrialized (10% of global chemical production), and so short (775 miles in length).Two centuries of nonstop hydraulic tinkering have resulted in a Rhine with a sleek and slender profile. In their quest for a perfect canal-like river, engineers have modified it more than any other large river in the world. As a consequence, between 1815 and 1975, the river lost most of its natural floodplain, riverside vegetation, migratory fish, and biodiversity. Recent efforts to restore that biodiversity, though heartening, can have only limited success because so many of the structural changes to the river are irreversible.The Rhine: An Eco-Biography, 1815-2000 makes clear just how central the river has been to all aspects of European political, economic, and environmental life for the past two hundred years.
All Along the Rhine: Recipes, Wine and Lore from Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein and Holland
By: Kay Shaw Nelson
Over 130 Rhine recipes include dishes such as Cheeze Fondue, Balzers Split Pea-Sausage Stew, Alpine Sauerkraut Soup', Bratwurst in Beer and Pears in Red Wine. Each chapter covers the culinary history and winemaking tradition of a different Rhine region.
The Alps: A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond
By: Stephen O'Shea
“An entertaining, turbocharged race among the high mountain passes of six alpine countries.”―Liesl Schillinger, New York Times Book Review For centuries the Alps have been witness to the march of armies, the flow of pilgrims and Crusaders, the feats of mountaineers, and the dreams of engineers. In The Alps, Stephen O’Shea (“a graceful and passionate writer”―Washington Post) takes readers up and down these majestic mountains. Journeying through their 500-mile arc across France, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Austria, and Slovenia, he explores the reality behind historic events and reveals how the Alps have profoundly influenced culture and society. 4 maps
The Burgermeister's Daughter: Scandal in a Sixteenth-Century German Town
By: Steven Ozment
In an era when women were supposed to be disciplined and obedient, Anna proved to be neither. Defying 16th-century social mores, she was the frequent subject of gossip because of her immodest dress and flirtatious behavior. When her wealthy father discovered that she was having secret, simultaneous affairs with a young nobleman and a cavalryman, he turned her out of the house in rage, but when she sued him for financial support, he had her captured, returned home and chained to a table as punishment. Anna eventually escaped and continued her suit against her father, her siblings and her home town in a bitter legal battle that was to last 30 years and end only upon her death. Drawn from her surviving love letters and court records, The Burgermeister's Daughter is a fascinating examination of the politics of sexuality, gender and family in the 16th century, and a powerful testament to the courage and tenacity of a woman who defied the inequalities of this distant age.
Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City
By: Russell Shorto
An endlessly entertaining portrait of the city of Amsterdam and the ideas that make it unique, by the author of the acclaimed Island at the Center of the World Tourists know Amsterdam as a picturesque city of low-slung brick houses lining tidy canals; student travelers know it for its legal brothels and hash bars; art lovers know it for Rembrandt's glorious portraits. But the deeper history of Amsterdam, what makes it one of the most fascinating places on earth, is bound up in its unique geography-the constant battle of its citizens to keep the sea at bay and the democratic philosophy that this enduring struggle fostered. Amsterdam is the font of liberalism, in both its senses. Tolerance for free thinking and free love make it a place where, in the words of one of its mayors, "craziness is a value." But the city also fostered the deeper meaning of liberalism, one that profoundly influenced America: political and economic freedom. Amsterdam was home not only to religious dissidents and radical thinkers but to the world's first great global corporation. In this effortlessly erudite account, Russell Shorto traces the idiosyncratic evolution of Amsterdam, showing how such disparate elements as herring anatomy, naked Anabaptists parading through the streets, and an intimate gathering in a sixteenth-century wine-tasting room had a profound effect on Dutch-and world-history. Weaving in his own experiences of his adopted home, Shorto provides an ever-surprising, intellectually engaging story of Amsterdam.
Germany: Portrait of a Fascinating Country
By: Kunth Verlag
Superb color photographs in landscape formatInformative textPerfect gift bookGermany is beautiful; everyone who has ever traveled between the Baltic Sea and the Alps knows it. Pick up this book and embark on a journey through this unique and unbelievably diverse country in the heart of Europe. Magnificent photographs capture the splendor of sunny coasts and soaring mountains, majestic palaces, remote monasteries, and striking castles. This book is a testament to Germany's wealth of beauties, both natural and architectural. It will surprise you again and again with astonishing discoveries, hidden treasures, amazing panoramas and moving insights. Whether you are an aspiring traveler or a Deutschophile, it is the perfect declaration of love for a wonderful country.
Germania: In Wayward Pursuit of the Germans and Their History
By: Simon Winder
Germania is propelled by a wish to reclaim the brilliant, chaotic, endlessly varied German civilization that the Nazis buried and ruined, and that, since 1945, so many Germans have worked to rebuild. A very funny book on serious topics---how we are misled by history, how we twist history, and how sometimes it is best to know no history at all. It is a book full of curiosities: odd food, castles, mad princes, fairy tales, and horse-mating videos. It is about the limits of language, the meaning of culture, and the pleasure of townscape, and "a book you will return to time and again" (The Florida Times-Union).
The Improbable Voyage
By: Tristan Jones
The Improbable Voyage is the astonishing account of TRistan Jones' 2,307 mile voyage across Europe in Outward Leg. Continuing his round-the-world journey, Tristan traveled from the North Sea to the Black Sea via the rivers Rhine and Danube. Tristan welcomed each difficulty as a challenge to be met and overcome. Battling ice and cold, life-threatening rapids and narrow defiles, German bureaucrats and Romanian frontier police, Tristan made his way through eight countries and emerged triumphant, if battered, bruised and penniless, at the Black Sea. Tristan gives us a vivid glimpse of the quality of life along Europe's oldest water routes and behind the Iron Curtain.
The Blue Flower: A Novel
By: Penelope Fitzgerald
“An astonishing book . . . Fitzgerald’s greatest triumph.” —New York Times Book ReviewThe Blue Flower is set in the age of Goethe, in the small towns and great universities of late eighteenth-century Germany. It tells the true story of Friedrich von Hardenberg, a passionate, impetuous student of philosophy who will later gain fame as the Romantic poet Novalis. Fritz seeks his father’s permission to wed his “heart's heart,” his “spirit's guide”—a plain, simple child named Sophie von Kühn. It is an attachment that shocks his family and friends. Their brilliant young Fritz, betrothed to a twelve-year-old dullard? How can this be?The irrationality of love, the transfiguration of the commonplace, the clarity of purpose that comes with knowing one’s own fate—these are the themes of this beguiling novel, themes treated with a mix of wit, grace, and mischievous humor unique to the art of Penelope Fitzgerald.“An extraordinary imagining . . . an original masterpiece.” —Hermione Lee, Financial Times
Hero Tales and Legends of the Rhine
By: Lewis Spence
Steeped in mystery and romance, guarded by great medieval castles perched high above its broad waters, the Rhine is one of the most storied and evocative rivers in Europe. For this volume, noted mythologist Lewis Spence has combed through the abundant literature written about the Rhine and its legends and chosen a rich selection of the best, most characteristic tales.Arranged to correspond with a journey along the Rhine from sea to source, the tales recount the lives and deeds of a host of mythic figures — Odin the All-father and Brunhild; Lorelei, a siren whose singing lured sailors to death on the rocks; Lohengrin, a knight of the Holy Grail; Siegfried; the Jester of Heidelberg; Sigurd; Venus and Tannhäuser; and many more. Twenty-four atmospheric illustrations capture the enchanted mood of these stories as well as providing views of such famous landmarks as Heidelberg Castle, Oppenheim Abbey, the Castle of Cleves, cathedrals in Cologne, Worms, and Strasbourg, and other sites.In addition, Mr. Spence has supplied an informative introduction dealing with the historical development, folklore, poetry, and art of the Rhine. Readers interested in mythology and folklore in general, and Teutonic mythology in particular, will find here a splendid sampling of time-honored tales.
24x36 World Wall Map by Smithsonian Journeys - Tan Oceans Special Edition (24x36 Laminated)
Travel Insurance

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