80th Anniversary of D-Day: D-Day to the Rhine

This D-Day tour is a dream trip for any WWII history buff who wants to stand on the beaches at Normandy, experience the powerful emotions brought forth by the military cemeteries in France and Luxembourg, stand in a foxhole in the Ardennes, and tour General McAuliffe’s office in Bastogne.

– H. Roger Barksdale, New Palestine, IN

The 80th Anniversary of D-Day Tour: D-Day to the Rhine commemorates the Allied invasion of Normandy that led to victory in Europe in WWII. You will begin in London, where Sir Winston Churchill led Great Britain through its “darkest hour,” and then follow Eisenhower’s Army from England to the Rhine, spending five days in Normandy and attending the official June 6 Commemorative ceremonies at the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer to honor our fallen heroes. As we make our way to Bastogne, you will visit the town squares, woods, and fields where the paratroopers landed in the predawn hours on 6 June.

Stephen E. Ambrose first designed this itinerary in 1978 when he began his intense study of the D-Day invasion, the Normandy Campaign, and the Western Front in WWII. As part of his research, Ambrose traveled with countless veterans to find the sites where they trained in the United Kingdom and the battlefields where they made history in Europe. His extensive study of the European Theater of Operations led to his bestselling books on the subject, D-Day: June 6, 1944, Citizen Soldiers, Band of Brothers, and Pegasus Bridge, among others. 

Ambrose’s research produced the unrivaled experience that we offer guests on all of our tours. His expertise was directly handed down to the next generation of historians who have continued to document the battlefield memories of hundreds of WWII veteran soldiers and officers at the very places where they fought. Their vast canon of knowledge is what makes our D-Day tour so authentic. Your historian will share these personal stories and their WWII expertise with you at every stop.

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Highlights

  • Churchill War Rooms: The underground nerve center for Britain’s war effort is always a highlight.
  • Southwick House: Eisenhower, Montgomery, Ramsay and staff planned the invasion at this 19th-century manor house in Hampshire, England.
  • Normandy Beaches: Visiting the invasion beaches of Omaha and Utah and the Normandy American Cemetery are one of the most moving experiences you will ever have.
  • Ste-Mere-Eglise: Paratrooper John Steele of the 82nd Airborne Division pretended to be dead for two hours when his parachute became caught on the church steeple in this French village. 
  • Longues-sur-Mer: The battery at Longues-sur-Mer is a fine example of the great defenses that made up Hitler’s Atlantic Wall.
  • Pointe-du-Hoc: Standing where the Rangers scaled the cliffs at Pointe-du-Hoc is an awe-inspiring moment.
  • Bastogne: We wrap up the tour learning about Bastogne, the Ardennes and the Battle of the Bulge.

Day-By-Day Itinerary

DAY 1 Flight to London

Guest travel independently to London on an overnight flight from USA.

DAY 2 London

Arrive in London and check into the hotel where the entire group will gather for an evening welcome reception. Our historian will treat us to our first lecture, with introductions all around.

DAY 3 London

The morning will feature key sites in London that figured prominently in the War. We then proceed to the Churchill War Rooms, the underground nerve center for Britain’s war effort. We will also visit the Imperial War Museum, which houses authentic examples of World War II weaponry, tanks and aircraft and an exhibit of WWI trench warfare. We will have free time to enjoy London in the evening.

DAY 4 Portsmouth

Depart for Portsmouth, the seaside town that became the staging center for the D-Day invasion. Here the Allies assembled the armies and equipment for the massive undertaking. Besides the hundreds of thousands of men, there were thousands of armored vehicles and the assemblage of sea vessels: landing craft of all kinds in addition to warships that made up the flotilla for the English Channel crossing. Nearby, General Dwight D. Eisenhower set up the advance command post of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, where he, Naval Commander Ramsay, Army Commander Montgomery and staff would meet to plan the invasion.

DAYS 5 - 9 Normandy

We will spend days 5-9 in Normandy (five nights) where guests will visit all the key sites mentioned below and attend the official 80th Anniversary of D-Day Ceremonies at the Normandy American Cemetery. Once you are assigned to a departure date and historian, we will send more detailed information and itineraries specific to your group.

  • Following breakfast, we will board the cross-channel ferry and embark for Normandy as the troops did in 1944. In the afternoon, we will begin our visit to Normandy at Ste-Mere-Eglise, one of the villages where the American Airborne Division descended on D-Day. Here we will view and explore the iconic church where John Steele and his landing on the steeple are memorialized. We also visit La Fiere Bridge where the 82nd Airborne Division successfully delayed a German Panzer counter-attack against the Allied landing forces.

  • We will begin “The Longest Day” at Brécourt Manor where Lt. Dick Winters with members of Easy Company successfully silenced German artillery firing on American troops landing at Utah Beach. From there we will visit Utah Beach itself, where the 4th Division landed, and the Invasion Museum that depicts their heroics. Next we will stop at Ste-Marie du Mont where the unique Renaissance-style steeple used as an observation post by the Germans still stands. From there, we will proceed to the town of Carentan where we will follow the exact steps taken by American Paratroopers during the Battle of Normandy.

  • There will be a visit to Pointe-du-Hoc, where Rudders’ Rangers scaled the cliffs to neutralize heavy German guns defending the expanse of beaches on D-Day.

  • We’ll spend the morning at Omaha Beach where the Americans landed and faced the strongest German resistance of the day and incurred the greatest losses. We will walk the beach and visit some of the German defense fortifications. We explore these sands from the tide’s ebb to the distant dunes to understand the emotions of the young soldiers of the 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions as they approached the “gates of hell.”

  • We will pay our respects at the American Cemetery with its 9,387 American soldiers’ graves stretching along the top of the bluff overlooking the beach. In the afternoon we will view the battery at Longues-sur-Mer, a fine example of the great defenses that made up Hitler’s Atlantic Wall. We will proceed along the British Beaches from there to Pegasus Bridge, where the first shots were fired on D-Day. Here the British Sixth Airborne led by Major John Howard with a miraculous glider landing carried out a surprise attack that yielded great success in overtaking this crucial bridge across the Caen Canal.

DAY 10 On the road

After a half day of final site visits in Normandy, we work our way to the Netherlands with an overnight stay on the road.

DAY 11 Arnhem

After breakfast, we begin our study of Operation Market Garden, the early attempt by the Allied forces to strike directly for Berlin. Control of the bridges at Eindhoven, Nijmegen, and Arnhem was essential for the push into Germany. We drive “Hell’s Highway” where the 101st and 82nd Airborne Division broke through to connect with the British in Arnhem. We visit Nijmegen to see the daring crossing of the Waal River by the 82nd Airborne Division. From there we proceed to Arnhem where again we cross the “Bridge Too Far.”

Our historian will recount the desperate three days and four nights that British soldiers from the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment under the command of (then) Lieutenant Colonel John Frost held it. Afterwards, we finish at the Airborne Museum at Oosterbeek.

DAY 12 The Ardennes

This is where Hitler put everything he had into his only counter-attack. On December 16, 1944, Lt. Lyle Bouck was one of the first people to see the German columns coming on. We’ll make our first stop in the Ardennes at Lanzereth, the town where Bouck and a platoon of 19 men held off a full strength German SS Battalion under the infamous Joachim Peiper for an entire day. We’ll visit the American positions and hear their story, a breathtaking tale of heroism.

On December 17, 1944, the second day of the offensive, the Germans had several breakthroughs and many Americans surrendered near the town of Malmedy. Outside the town, Peiper’s SS lined up about 150 GIs and fired at them point blank. Less than half escaped alive. We will view the site of the massacre and the American Memorial at Malmedy. From there, we have a scenic drive through the Ardennes Mountains to our evening lodging.

DAY 13 Luxembourg

We’ll drive to Bastogne where the Americans rallied and stopped the German attack. Here we’ll view the route of the initial American retreat and the place where the 101st Airborne Division and elements of the 10th Armored held off fifteen German divisions for six days. Our group will visit key sites in and around this historic crossroads town. We’ll also go to General McAuliffe’s HQ where he replied to German surrender demands with one word: “NUTS.” After our visit, it’s a short ride to Luxembourg. This afternoon affords some relaxing free time in the center of this bustling but charming old world city.

DAY 14 Frankfurt

We drive to nearby Hamm and the American cemetery and the site of General George Patton’s grave. America’s foremost WWII field general rests here among his men.

We’ll drive to the Siegfried Line to see remnants of the German communication trenches, pillboxes and dragon’s teeth that American GI’s fought so hard to take in late 1944. This evening we gather for a farewell dinner and discussion after an enriching campaign into history

DAY 15 Home

Early morning airport transfer to Frankfurt International. If you are interested in extending your tour, we are offering two post-tour extensions: Nuremberg & Berchtesgaden; or Berlin.

OPTIONAL POST D-DAY TOUR EXTENSIONS

Guests on the 80th-anniversary tours have the option to book one of two post-tour extensions. These extensions start in Frankfurt.

Nuremberg & Berchtesgaden - SOLD OUT

  • 3-nights
  • $1,790 per person based on double occupancy
  • If rooming alone, the single occupancy supplement is $490
  • Highlights: Nuremberg, Dachau Concentration Camp, Berchtesgaden, Eagle's Nest and Munich

Berlin

  • 4-nights
  • $2,390 per person based on double occupancy
  • If rooming alone, the single occupancy supplement is $690.
  • Highlights: Reichstag, Topography of Terror Museum, Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, Karlshorst, Soviet War Memorial

Berlin Extension Day 1 (Day 15)

Your tour begins at the “The Bunker” where Adolf Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945, marking the collapse of National Socialism, the Nazi Party, and World War II in Europe. It is just a parking lot now, but the location still provides the opportunity to analyze the historic moment that happened here. Your solemn meditation on this tragic history will continue at your next stop, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which stands nearby. After that moving experience, you will view the Reichstag where the fire on February 27, 1933 set in motion the consolidation of Nazi authoritarianism. Along the way, you will admire the Brandenburg Gate, which is still one of Germany's most famous landmarks. Your day ends at the Soviet War Memorial, with a lesson about the Battle of Berlin and its repercussions.

Berlin Extension Day 2 (Day 16)

The site of Gestapo headquarters on the Niederkirchnerstraße in Berlin is now a museum known as "the Topography of Terror." You will begin the day by touring its galleries and learning about the ways that the schizophrenic National Socialist security apparatus operated a police state throughout the Second World War. It is not a positive or uplifting experience, but it offers a cautionary tale to the contemporary world that should not be ignored. After that gross reminder, you will proceed to the Berlin Story Bunker, a former World War II bomb shelter that is now a raw and powerful museum. Your day ends with a visit to "Checkpoint Charlie," the location that allowed the only movement between East and West Berlin when the Berlin Wall divided the city for a period of 28 years, until November 1989. 

Berlin Extension Day 3 (Day 17)

Not every German blindly followed Adolf Hitler, and the National Resistance Memorial Center at the Bendlerblock demonstrates the surprising degree of German resistance to the Nazis, honoring such figures as Claus von Stauffenberg who led the July 20th plot to assassinate Hitler. Your next stop is at the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park where the Red Army commemorated the 81,000 troops it lost during the Battle of Berlin. Last on this day, you will tour the nearby Karlshorst neighborhood of the city where the German-Russian Museum offers exhibits that relate to the end of the war. This is also where the German forces signed the surrender that ended World War II in Europe on May 8, 1945, VE-Day.

Berlin Extension Day 4 (Day 18)

A brief 30-minute ride in your coach to the southwest of central Berlin will bring you to Wannsee, where a notorious conference took place on January 20, 1942, in a villa owned by the Sicherheitsdienst (Security Force or "SD"). The villa is now a museum that documents the way that SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich and SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann presided over the initial meetings with top Nazi officials to organize the annihilation of the Jewish population of Europe. There is no better place to understand the dark truth of genocide.

In the afternoon, you will travel the five miles to the Schloss Cecilienhof in Potsdam. Here, President Truman met the Soviet leader Josef Stalin for the first time at the last Allied Conference of the war. The critical Potsdam Conference also featured two British Prime Ministers, Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee. In laying the plans that would shape the postwar world, they issued the Potsdam Declaration here that demanded the unconditional surrender of Japan. Hence, your visit to Schloss Cecilienhof also concludes your tour.

Berlin Extension Day 5 (Day 19)

Return flights to the USA

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Tour Dates

  • Nuremberg & Berchtesgaden Extension - June 13 - 16, 2024 - Waitlist Only!
  • Post-tour option: Berlin Extension, June 13 - 17
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TOUR COST $7,990

Prices are per person based on double occupancy. For a single room add $1,590. Please note that there are a limited number of single rooms available.

Berlin Extension

$2,390 per person based on double occupancy; for post-tour single room add $690.

Nuremberg & Berchtesgaden Extension

$1,790 per person based on double occupancy; for post-tour single room add $490.

Book This Tour
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