Fall of the Iron Curtain
- Visit six key capital cities in the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989
- Discover the sights of Warsaw, Prague, Bratislava and Budapest
- Spend time in Berlin, literally split in half between 1961 and the fall of the Soviet Union
- End in Bucharest, scene of the uprising against Nicolae Ceaușescu
- Take in historical city tours or walking tours while in each destination
- Decide when you would like to travel
- Adapt the route to suit your plans
- Upgrade hotels and rail journeys
- Add extra nights, destinations and/or tours
- Travel out to Poland and back from Romania by train
- Standard class rail travel
- Economy class flights from the UK into Warsaw and back from Bucharest
- 13 nights hand-picked hotel accommodation with breakfast
- Private 2-berth sleeper accommodation between Budapest and Bucharest
- Historic walking tours in each destination
- City maps and comprehensive directions to your hotels
- Clearly-presented wallets for your rail tickets, hotel vouchers and other documentation
- All credit card surcharges and complimentary delivery of your travel documents
Fly out from the UK to Warsaw – an array of different airlines fly from various airports across the country. Your flight is included in the package, please contact one of the team to help arrange the most convenient flight for you. On arrival at Frederic Chopin International Airport in Warsaw, make your way to the Polonia Palace (or similar) for a 2-night stay.
Poland’s capital was a key focal point in the fall of Communism around the end of the 1980s, after the Solidarity Movement of Lech Wałęsa. Also on the historical theme, the excellent Warsaw Uprising Museum is well worth a visit and gives an unparalleled insight into life under Nazi occupation during World War II. The Old Town area, like much of the city, was destroyed during the war but was meticulously reconstructed in the 1960s.
During your stay, you have a Warsaw: Communism Tour which will give you a more detailed introduction to life in the city under communist rule.
Enjoy another morning at leisure in Warsaw, leaving your bags at the hotel for safe keeping. At lunchtime, return to the main station in the centre of town where the Berlin-Warszawa EuroCity train will be waiting to take you west across the plains of Poland, through the city of Poznan and over the Oder river into the former East Germany. Your train rolls into Berlin’s impressive Hauptbahnhof (main station) built on the site of what was once no-mans-land around the Berlin Wall.
Check in at the Titanic Chaussee Hotel (or similar) for a 3-night stay to enjoy this most fascinating and pivotal of cities.
Nowhere exemplifies the fall of the Iron Curtain more than Berlin. Divided by its notorious Wall from 1961 to 1989, on 9 November 1989, the Communist Party spokesman in East Germany broadcast a change in the city’s relations with its western neighbour. Starting at midnight that day, East Germans were free to cross the country’s borders. This paved the way for the end of the East German state, the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification in October of the following year.
Included in your stay in Berlin will be the Soviet Berlin – Behind the Iron Curtain small group tour.
Take a late morning train today from Berlin that runs south through the forests and farmland of eastern Germany, passing through the historical city of Dresden and then along the valley of the River Elbe. This area, dubbed as Saxon Switzerland, is beautifully picturesque as the train twists and turns in time with the famous river. Czech railways are known for their excellent dining cars, so why not treat yourself to lunch on board before arriving into the Czech capital? When you arrive into Prague, the Hotel Clement (or similar) is your base for the next 2 nights.
Known as the Velvet Revolution, the period between 17 November and 29 December 1989 was vital in ending 41 years of one-party rule in Czechoslovakia. The city also played a role in the fall of the Berlin Wall, as demonstrators from East Germany took refuge in the West German embassy in the Mala Strana district close to Prague’s castle. Czechoslovak authorities eventually gave in, permitting all East Germans to travel directly to West Germany.
To get to know the castle side of the River Vlatava better, you will have a Prague Castle and Castle District Tour included in your holiday package.
Your train today links the capital of modern-day Czech republic and modern-day Slovakia. During the Eastern Bloc years, the country was united as Czechoslovakia, but the two parted ways peacefully in 1993 following the fall of Communism. Thanks to the Schengen Zone, you will barely notice crossing the border once again as all formalities have been withdrawn. You move at a leisurely pace into Slovakia’s capital, where your home is the Falkensteiner Hotel (or similar) for 2 nights.
During the March 1988, Slovak dissidents anticipated the mood of the subsequent year by holding the Candle demonstration of Bratislava, the first mass demonstration since 1969 against the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. 5000 protesters met Hviezdoslav Square with candles, along with 6000 others in nearby streets – it was the first important step towards removing the Czechoslovak communist regime of Ladislav Adamec.
We have included a Bratislava City Highlights Walking Tour to familiarise yourself with the beautiful old town and castle as well as learning about some of the fascinating history of Slovakia’s capital.
Today’s journey takes you out across the plains of southern Slovakia, and alongside the Danube at the town of Sturovo, where you can see Hungary across the river. The train then hugs the mighty Danube as it sweeps round from east to south, eventually reaching the impressive 19th-century Nyugati station in the heart of Budapest. Make your way to the excellent K+K Opera Hotel (or similar) where you will be spending the next two nights.
The first visible cracks in the Iron Curtain appeared in May 1989 when Hungary started dismantling its 150-mile long border fence with Austria, the country’s only border with a western power. Budapest’s government adopted a “democracy package”, taking Poland’s lead as the second Warsaw Pact country to install a non-communist government.
To give you a better insight into life under Communism in Hungary, you have a Red Star Shining Communist Tour included in your package.
After a day exploring all that Budapest has to offer, you board the Ister Overnight Train in the evening shortly after 7pm, which makes its way at a sedate pace across the plains of eastern Hungary. Settle into your private compartment for a night’s sleep, awaking the next morning to picturesque Transylvanian scenery as the train winds its way towards Bucharest. On arrival in Bucharest, check in at the K+K Hotel Elisabeta (or similar) for a 2-night stay.
During December 1989, Bucharest was the centre of a revolution against the leadership of dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, who had ruled with an iron fist for 22 years. Famously, Ceaușescu made his final speech at what is now Revolution Square on 21 December, before fleeing by helicopter and being captured and executed on Christmas Day. His face on the balcony while suffering heckling and booing from the once-fearful crowds was one of the most powerful images of the downfall of Communism in eastern Europe.
You have a Communist Tour of Bucharest included here, giving you a valuable insight into the
After a final few hours in Bucharest, take an afternoon flight back to London, to end your eastern European adventure. Alternatively, talk to one of the team about returning by train stopping off in Vienna and Cologne on the way back to the UK without flying.
Typical hotels on this itinerary
This historic hotel is ideally situated, just opposite the Palace of Culture and Science and within walking distance of the main station. The Polonia Palace features spacious air-conditioned rooms with a minibar and heated bathroom flooring. Enjoy Polish and European cuisine at the Strauss Restaurant.
The Titanic Hotel Chaussee is a contemporary hotel, located within walking distance of Berlin’s main station. All bedrooms feature Wi-Fi internet access, flat-screen TV and an en suite bathroom with rainforest shower. The hotel also offers an on-site restaurant and lobby bar as well as an indoor swimming pool and spa area.
This is a comfortable, central property within easy walking distance of the Old Town. The 214 guest rooms are furnished in a contemporary style with free wireless internet and tea/coffee making facilities. The on-site restaurant serves a variety of dishes throughout the day.
The hotel offers a stylish atmosphere unparalleled in the Slovak capital with a centralto the and the . The restaurant is flooded with light and offers you a generous and healthy breakfast buffet, a late risers’ breakfast, a delicious lunch menu, a show-cooking buffet and fine à-la-carte dining. The is accessible exclusively for all guests staying in the executive rooms. It is located on the and has a terrace with superb views of the old town.
Hotel Rum is a boutique hotel, housed in a historic building in the centre of Budapest. Bedrooms are categorised by rum varieties such as ‘light rum’, ‘spiced rum’ and ‘black rum’. There is also a Southeast Asian restaurant called Urban Tiger, and a rooftop bar. Complimentary Wi-FI internet access is available throughout the hotel.
Located in the centre of Bucharest, a 2-minute walk from the University Square, K+K Hotel Elisabeta offers modern accommodation with free WiFi and access to 2 types of sauna and a fitness room.
Guests can enjoy snacks and drinks in the on-site bistro, while the Old Town, with numerous restaurants and bars can be reached in less than 10 minutes on foot.
Upgrade your accommodation
The Hotel Adlon was built in 1907 and has been famous for its luxurious accommodation and fantastic location next to the Brandenburg Gate ever since. The Adlon Kempinski boasts a Neo-Classical style indoor pool, a spa and an 800 sqm gym. There is also a two Michelin starred restaurant and a shopping arcade.
A luxury boutique hotel with a musical theme, the Aria Hotel Prague by Library Hotel Collection is located in the historic Mala Strana quarter, close to the castle. Spacious bedrooms feature an extensive music and DVD library and iPad and guests are treated to a complimentary welcome drink on arrival. There is also a rooftop garden terrace and a restaurant. The hotel offers direct access to the Vrtbovska Gardens which are open from April to October.
Blending the sumptuous decor of royal Budapest with the five star comfort of a modern hotel, the Corinthia Hotel boasts luxurious facilities including a classic spa area with steam baths, hot tubs, mud baths and an indoor swimming pool. There are also three restaurants, a lobby bar and a cafe.