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

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Overview

Amsterdam Post-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.

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.

Itinerary

Days 1-2 — Depart the U.S./ Arrive in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Depart the U.S. for Amsterdam. On arrival, enjoy a private cruise along Amsterdam’s World Heritage site canals, lined with distinctly Dutch 16th- and 17th-century grachtenpanden (canal houses). Then, embark the deluxe Amadeus Silver III.

This evening, join your travel companions for the Captain’s welcome reception and dinner. (1R,1D)

Day 3 — Cologne, Germany

Enjoy a leisurely morning on board cruising along the picturesque Rhine River to Cologne, one of Germany’s most ancient cities. Founded as a Roman military outpost in 38 B.C., Cologne has flourished as the Rhineland’s foremost mercantile and religious center from the time of Charlemagne to present day and is the birthplace of the original world-famous Eau de Cologne perfume. Explore the Altstadt (Old Town) and visit the historic Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral), a World Heritage site and the finest example of High Gothic architecture in Germany. Its construction began in 1248 and lasted for six centuries—among its artistic treasures are the Milan Madonna and the Shrine of the Three Holy Kings. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Koblenz / Rüdesheim

Go ashore in the picturesque city of Koblenz, strategically positioned at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers and where Germany’s Roman past dates to nine B.C., during the reign of Augustus Caesar.

From the famous Deutsches Eck (German Corner), view the impressive 19th-century fortress of Ehrenbreitstein—once the residence of the powerful Archbishop-Electors of Trier—across the Rhine River, and explore this historic city during a walking tour. The twin-towered Basilica of St. Castor, built between the ninth and 13th centuries, features the Rhineland’s distinctive Romanesque architecture.

Cruise through the spectacular World Heritage-designated Rhine River Valley, legendary for its scenery and riverside architectural treasures. Be on deck for a front-row view of the steep, terraced vineyards rising on the slopes of the riverbanks—with nearly each bend in the river, a medieval castle crowns the crags and a tranquil village emerges along its banks. See the famous Lorelei Rock—legend holds that a beautiful siren once lured sailors here with her enchanting song.

Dock in the medieval town of Rüdesheim, the heart of Germany’s wine country. Enjoy a tour aboard the unique Winzerexpress mini-train, traveling through bucolic countryside vineyards en route to a private tasting of German wines.

Reboard the ship and cruise through the pastoral Rheingau, Germany’s most famous wine-growing region, known particularly for its Riesling. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Mannheim for Heidelberg

This morning, transfer from Mannheim to Heidelberg, where luminaries such as Goethe and Schumann once came to experience the intellectual atmosphere of Heidelberg University, the oldest in Germany, founded in 1386. To many on the “Grand Tour” of Europe, fashionable in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, this city epitomized Germany, nestled in the densely wooded valley of the Neckar River and alive with the spirit of German Romanticism. On the walking tour, see how Heidelberg has preserved its authentic Renaissance-Baroque character, including the eight remaining arches of the famous Alte Brücke (Old Bridge) that span the Neckar River. Visit the stately ruins of imposing Heidelberg Castle, a magnificent, 13th-century edifice perched above the river that embodies the city's medieval past. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Strasbourg, France

The lively Alsatian city of Strasbourg fuses Old and New Europe. The Old City, a World Heritage site, is a treasure trove of medieval houses, and the charming Ponts-Couverts—covered bridges flanked by watchtowers at each end—span its picturesque canals. It was in Strasbourg that John Calvin first established a reformed parish. See remnants of the Reformation in the beautiful Protestant and Catholic Church of St-Pierre-le-Vieux; and see the graceful sandstone Catholic Cathedral of Notre Dame, a Romanesque-Gothic masterpiece that, according to the poet Goethe, rises “like a most sublime, wide-arching tree of God.”

The Petite France district, the historic area where fishermen, millers, and tanners once lived and worked along the Ill River, embodies a fairy-tale appearance of a past era that lives on, while nearby, member nations of the European Union engage in the daily discourse of the European Parliament.

On board the ship this evening, attend the Captain’s farewell reception and dinner. (B,L,R,D)

Day 7 — Basel, Switzerland / Bern / Zermatt

Disembark the ship in Basel. Transfer across the bucolic Swiss countryside to Switzerland’s capital, Berne. Tour its beautifully preserved Old Town, a World Heritage site framed by its signature 15th-century arcades and the Aare River. Enjoy lunch in an 18th-century High Baroque-style granary, today a traditional Bernese restaurant. 

Continue through the Bernese Oberland to see World Heritage-designated Jungfrau, an imposing summit known as the “Top of Europe.” En route to Zermatt, admire the soaring Alps, Switzerland’s stunning archetype of snowcapped peaks, crystal-clear glacial lakes and densely wooded forests.

Upon arrival in Zermatt, check into Five-Star Hotel Schweizerhof Zermatt. (B,L)

Day 8 — Zermatt

Ascend through pine and larch forests, crossing meadows ablaze with wildflowers and past distant peaks blanketed by snow, aboard the highest cog railway in Europe, the Gornergrat Bahn. Sweeping vistas of breathtaking Alpine scenery unfold from atop the 10,100-foot summit, where the serrated profiles of the Matterhorn, the Liskamm and the Dufourspitze mountains and the vast Gorner Glacier extend beyond your periphery. Return to Zermatt at your leisure, with an optional stop at Riffelberg for a panoramic view of the Monte Rosa and the Matterhorn. (B)

Day 9 — Zermatt/ Andermatt/ Lucerne

Wind through the heart of the Alps to Andermatt aboard the fabled Glacier Express, “the world’s slowest express train,” and delight in the natural beauty along this ingenious rail route.

Enjoy lunch in Andermatt before continuing to the Five-Star Hotel Palace Luzern. The remainder of the afternoon and evening is at leisure.

Day 10 — Lucerne

The rugged grandeur of Mounts Pilatus and Rigi reflected in a deep blue lake make Lucerne a long-favored travel destination. Begin your Lucerne walking tour surrounded by historic burghers’ houses in the Weinmarkt (wine market); then, see the Hofkirche (Court Church), an exceptional example of German Renaissance architecture, and the Lion Monument, dedicated to the Swiss Guards who gave their lives defending Louis XVI during the French Revolution. Walk underneath tableaus of Swiss history and mythology painted on the arched roof of the 14th-century wooden Chapel Bridge, Lucerne’s most famous landmark, spanning the Reuss River. Reach Mount Pilatus’s 7000-foot summit by panoramic gondola for a 360-degree vista of central Switzerland’s unforgettable topography and lunch in a summit restaurant. Board the Pilatus Railway, the world’s steepest cogwheel railway, to descend nearly 5400 feet in less than three miles. Cruise across the lake to Lucerne. The Farewell Reception is in the hotel this evening. (B,L,R)

Day 11 — Lucerne / Zurich / Return to U.S.

Following breakfast, transfer to Zurich for your return flight to the U.S. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)