Expertly Guided Battlefield Tours From £209
2014-2018 marks a special anniversary for battlefield tours as the centenary of World War One. If you have a fascination with Battlefields or would like to pay homage to the fallen, this year is the perfect chance to keep those memories alive with Battlefield tours. For many, this will be an experience of a lifetime as many of us can only imagine what life must have been like in the muddy trenches, tending to the wounded, defending towns and villages from the enemy or even flying a war plane. Hopefully, war on a grand scale is something that none of us will have to contend with, but for many between 1914 and 1945 these tragic events were a reality.
Tours to the Battlefields visit key locations of WW1 and WW2, featuring visits to famous battlefields, memorials and cemeteries among other significant war-time sights. In most cases you will be accompanied by an expert guide who will be able to bring the events and experiences to life, answering any questions you may have.
The main focus of these Battlefield tours will of course be significant locations used by the Allies and their opponents during World War One and World War Two. Experience The Last Post at Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium. Go behind military lines and visit locations of The Great War which were off the beaten track. Discover the lost battlefields of Fromelles. Walk along the D-Day Landing Beaches of Normandy, France. Learn about military executions of World War One. See the locations of where the first and last shots were fired of WW1. Follow the story of Anne Frank in Holland and Oscar Schindler and the rise and fall of the Third Reich. Visit Flanders Fields, see war re-enactments and broaden your knowledge of the American Civil War.
Our battlefield tours are available by coach and air throughout the year.
Check out our battlefields map for just some of the locations you can visit:
World War 1 Tours
2014 marks a very special year for World War One Battlefields as it will be the centenary of the First World War – known by many military enthusiasts as The Great War. Special Centenary Battlefield Tours will enable you to visit some of the famous sights where some of the greatest battles took place. There is a great selection of Battlefield tours available to pay homage to the fallen and honour those marvellous heroic acts of men and women who laid down their lives so we could live in peace today.
Between 1914 and 1918, Flanders Fields was the scene for some of the bloodiest battles of the First World War. It is thought that about a million soldiers were either wounded, missing or killed in action. Whilst thousands of ordinary people were left homeless, WW1 devastated entire cities and villages with some completely beyond recognition. Flanders Fields itself has become a region dedicated to the events of WW1 with hundreds of monuments and cemeteries that all have great historical significance to people from across the world. There are a variety of interactive museums as well, each explaining the different aspects of conflict and outlining the implications of war in general. Here are just a few of the sights you can see when you take a guided WW1 Battlefield tour:
Flanders Field Museum, Ypres:
This has recently been renovated to mark the centenary of WW1 featuring stories from ordinary people who were affected by the tragedy of war. The museum itself has doubled in size and has a variety of objects and documents connected with WW1. Climb to the top of the Bell Tower where you can experience views of the region that was once destroyed by war.
Battlefields of Flanders, Belgium:
This was the main WW1 battlefront for the British. More than 200,000 soldiers from the British and Commonwealth forces died here. See the trenches at Sanctuary Wood with its museum before visiting the Tyne Cot Cemetery. You will see the Messines Ridge sector and the Irish Peace Tower which is dedicated to the role of the Irish troops. Study the Christmas Truce at Ploegsteert and visit the memorial before observing 'The Last Post' at Menin Gate.
'The Last Post' at Menin Gate, Belgium:
Every evening at 8pm, a moving ceremony takes place underneath the arch of the Menin Gate and this is a simple service dedicated to the 55,000 soldiers who fought but whose bodies were never found.
French Flanders and Artois, France:
This region of Northern France was the most badly damaged by the WW1 battles particularly Arras, Bailleul and St Omer among others. Anyone who visits these battlefields, will find a variety of small museums, and over 300 cemeteries to visit with monuments dedicated to thousands of Allied and German war casualties.
The Somme, France
Located in Picardy, the battlefields can be found in an area from St. Quentin in the east to the coast of Amiens. The Somme is a particularly haunting place to visit. You can see the Historical Museum at Péronne and the largest British Mine Crater at La Boisselle. There's the preserved trenches at Newfoundland Park, the memorial at Thiepval, the Ulster Tower and the Serre where Wilfred Owen fought and took inspiration for his war poems.
The Western Front, Belgium and France:
This was a stretch of battlefields covering landscapes from south west Belgium through to north east and eastern France. The varied landscape of this area had a huge effect on the strategy and tactics used by both the Allies and the Germans.
Ypres Salient Battlefields, Belgium:
It's hard to believe as you stand in the Main Square and observe ornate buildings that this area was completely flattened by the battles of WW1 but once the war was over, the area was rebuilt. There are a variety of museums and memorials dedicated to the war effort.
Visit the Wellington Quarries, a complex of tunnels that were used by the British during WW1. Pay homage at the Arras Memorial. See the preserved trench system at Vimy Ridge that was captured from the Germans by the Canadians. The memorial on Hill 145 and its museum are impressive and must be visited.
Marne and Verdun, France:
This was the turning point in WW1 which prevented the Germans from advancing in to Paris. Visit Fort La Pompelle which remained on the front line for four years. Visit the Russian Cemetery, the Champagne-Marne Museum, Sommepy Trenches, Navarin Farm and the American Memorial on Blanc Mont. Admire an outstanding collection of uniforms and equipment from WW1 on display at the Meaux Museum. Discover the story of the 'Doughboys', the American Memorial and the Dormans Memorial at Château-Thierry. Visit Meuse-Argonne at Verdun where you'll see the largest American Cemetery in Europe.
This is where the very first shots of WW1 were fired by the British in August 1914. Start at Casteau where Corporal Thomas fired the first shots. Visit Nimy and walk along the front defended by 4th Battalion Royal Fusiliers to Nimy Bridge where the first two Victoria Crosses were won. Cross over the border into Feignies to Fort Leveau, an excellent war museum. Follow the route of the attacks from Valenciennes to Nouvelles and visit the St Symphorien Military Cemetery.
World War 2 Tours
The Second World War was a global battle fought between 1939 and 1945, whereby more than 100 million people served in a variety of military units from over 30 different countries. World War II is remembered as being one of the deadliest conflicts with over 50 million fatalities and most of these were caused by the Holocaust and the use of nuclear weapons. There have been lots of debates as to when WW2 actually started but the majority believe it began on 1st September 1939 when the Germans invaded Poland leading to the French and the British declaring war on Germany. Here is a selection of sights you can see when on WW2 Battlefield Tours:
D-Day Landing Beaches, Normandy:
Start your Battlefield tour with the British Sector and visit Pegasus Bridge where you can see Café Gondré and the Pegasus Memorial Museum. Pay homage at the Ranville Commonwealth Cemetery and Bréville Ridge. Visit the Merville Gun Battery, Sword Beach, Juno Beach, Arromanches and the Mulberry Harbour Museum. The American Sector is known to be highly emotive especially the American Cemetery and tragic Omaha Beach. Visit the Airborne Museum at Ste. Mère Église, Utah Beach, the German Peace Garden Cemetery, the headland at Pointe du Hoc and the huge guns at the Battery at Longues-sur-Mer. Gold Beach is where the only Victoria Cross of D-Day was won and see the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Bayeux.
Operation Market Garden, Netherlands and Germany:
General Montgomery attempted to shorten World War Two and this visit follows the ill-fated operations of his plan. Begin by visiting the German Cemetery at Ysselsteyn and travel through to Son, Veghel, Uden and Grave. See the National Liberation Museum and the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Groesbeek that lists the names of 1,103 servicemen who were killed, many of them at Arnhem, who have no known grave. Explore Heelsum and Wolfheze to the bridge at Arnhem. See St Elizabeth Hospital where some of the most bitter fighting took place and Acacialaan where the Victoria Cross was won by Sergeant Baskeyfield. Conclude your visit at the 1st Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek which was once the headquarters for the Arnhem Division.
Battle of the Bulge, Belgium:
Start your Battlefield tour in the north of 'The Bulge' visiting the American War Cemetery at Henri-Chappelle. Follow the route of the 'Kampfgruppe Peiper' through Bullingen, Thirimont, Baugnez and Ligneuville. See the scene of the Malmedy massacre. Travel to La Gleize to explore the Battle of the Bulge Museum before visiting Stourmont, Werbomont and the American War Memorial. Visit the German Cemetery at Houffalize before entering the British Sector at Bure and Bande. See the location of the infamous roadside cellar massacre by the SS and pay homage to the fallen at the Commonwealth Graves Commission Cemetery in Hotton.
The Maginot Line, Belgium:
This tour focuses upon the fortifications in Belgium such as the famous Eben Emael that came under assault by German Airborne troops. Take a guided tour of Fort d'Aubin-Neufchâteau which was extensively damaged in 1940. Explore the amazing system of bunkers and tunnels at Ouvrage Fermont where you descend in the original lifts and take a ride on an old ammunition train. Visit Villy la Ferte which also saw some heavy fighting in May 1940. You can also visit Ouvrage Immerhof and Ouvrage Hackenberg where you can see the cemetery at Luttange which is where the first soldier of WW2 is buried.
In addition to guided Battlefield tours of World War One and World War Two, there is the option to broaden your knowledge of other military battles that have taken place across the world. Discover how the military campaigns of the Napoleonic War led to the downfall of Napoleon Bonaparte. Travel to Vietnam where the conflicts there lasted for almost 30 years or join a tour to Washington DC and Gettysburg where the American Civil War threatened to tear the nation apart. Here is just a selection of places you can visit:
The Peninsular War, Portugal and Spain:
This was a series of military campaigns that took place during the Napoleonic Wars between 1808 and 1814. It resulted in victory for the Allies and led to the downfall of Napoleon Bonaparte. View Wellesley's positions along the Rio Alberche and Portina Brook. See the battlefield memorial on the slopes of Cerro de Medellin Hills. Travel to Badajoz, the scene of some of the bloodiest battles and where Viscount Wellington apparently wept at the sight of so many fallen. Also visit Fort San Cristobal where you can view Badajoz below, explore the ramparts and learn about the French and German garrison. Visit 'Bloody Albuera' commanded by General Beresford where you can view the 'Fatal Hill'. Travel to Salamanca and visit Cuidad Rodrigo, the Battlefield of Fuentes de Onoro and walk around selected battle routes in the hills surrounding Los Arapiles. You will also get to see the Mendoza Bridge, Tres Puentes Bridge, walk the riverbank of Bidassoua, the church at Arcangues, the Battle of St Pierre, the Palace of Fontainebleu and the Battle of Orthez.
Gallipoli Battlefields, Turkey:
Arrive in Gallipoli Town that overlooks the Dardanelles where you'll visit Helles Memorial and the Turkish Gun Battery. See the location of the British Landings at Capes Helles, Krithia and visit the V Beach Cemetery and the X Beach. Visit ANZAC Beach which is where soldiers from the Australian and New Zealand forces landed, see the Lone Pine Memorial and Cemetery. See preserved Turkish trenches at Chunuk Bair and see where the first Australian won the Victoria Cross in WW1. Head to Suvla Bay where some of the first British troops came into action during August 1915. Look at the history of the 'Lost Battalion', visit the new Suvla Bay Museum in Anafarta, see the peaceful Shrapnel Valley Cemetery and walk up to Shell Green where Australians played a cricket game in full view of the Turks!
Battle of Waterloo, Belgium:
Travel to Belgium where you can attend a variety of Battle Re-enactments marking the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. See what a British or French Battle Camp would have looked like back in 1815 where re-enactments will take place so you can witness drill, camp life and see equipment on display. Visit the Wellington Museum in Waterloo and the farms of La Haye Sainte and Hougoumont where you can walk in the footsteps of soldiers. Take a look inside the Lion Mount Visitors Centre followed by a climb to the top of Lion Mound which provides fabulous views of the battle locations below.
Follow the story of a conflict that lasted for nearly 30 years which was escalated further by the landings of American Troops in Da Nang. There are a variety of sights to be seen when joining a guided battlefield tour of Vietnam such as Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, the B-52 Memorial Lake and the One Pillar Pagoda. Travel down Kham Thien Street which was completely destroyed by the Americans in 1972 and see the 'Hanoi Hilton' a prison where American pilots were kept. Take a walking tour of Hoi An. Transfer to Hue and visit China Beach and Red Beach where American pilots landed and where some of the bloodiest battles took place. In Dong Hoi, see the former US Marine Base at Khe Sanh and the Da Krong Bridge as well as the Vinh Moc Tunnels. You will also get to follow the famous Ho Chi Minh Trail, the Khe Gat runway, the Cu Chi Tunnels and meet a Vietnamese War Veteran.
The American Civil War, USA:
This was one of the deadliest battles in the history of America and took place between 1861 and 1865. Start your guided battlefield tour in Washington DC to learn about the history of Civil War with a visit to the Museum of American History. Travel to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where you can see the location of the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 and where Abraham Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address. Visit the battlefield of Antietam and Harpers Ferry where the slave uprising led to the start of the Civil War. Travel to Lynchburg, Virginia for a tour of the town that was the scene for the Battle of Lynchburg in 1864. Appomattox is where General Lee surrendered to Lieutenant Ulysees S. Grant. This surrender led to the Southern States ending their attempt at creating a separate nation. It also brought about the end of the Civil War where the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments were added to the Constitution.
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Door2Tour.com Miniguide to Battlefield Tours
What do I wear?
Make sure you dress according to the weather - a rain coat is always useful, just in case. Wear comfy shoes as there may be walking involved depending on your tour and the ground may not always be completely even.
What to take with you?
Take a bag with you to carry a few essentials such as a bottle of water, camera, binoculars and anything else you may need. There are no shops around the cemeteries so it’s best to be prepared.
Will there be opportunities to explore?
It depends on the tour as to whether you can explore in your own time as there are lots of different itineraries which will all have varied schedules. Some tours include knowledgeable tour guides which will tell you about the area and the battlefields.
What sort of tour would suit me best?
Depending on what interests you most, there are a number of different tours available. World War 1 Battlefield tours tend to explore the sites, cemeteries and museums, with many including a visit to Ypres and the Menin Gate.
World War 2 Battlefield Tours all vary and can include visits to sites such as the D-Day Beaches, Pegasus Bridge and parts of Normandy, Arnhem Bridge from Operation Market Garden and Anne Frank’s House in Amsterdam.
For a more laid back option perhaps look at Battlefield cruise tours which visit Normandy and other Battlefield sites.
When is the best time to visit?
It’s best to visit the Battlefields in Spring, Summer or early autumn. They tend to get very busy in November around Remembrance Day. The weather should hopefully be in your favour too, making it more pleasant to spend your time outside.
What if I am in a wheelchair?
A Battlefield tour may not be suitable for people in wheelchairs as the Cemeteries may be grassy and hard to navigate. There can also be uneven ground under foot which isn’t always ideal and could turn muddy!
What is the etiquette?
Be respectful. You can talk amongst yourselves, but please take notice of your surroundings and those around you.
Can I take photographs?
You can take photographs at your discretion, but again check your surroundings. Many of the museums will not allow you to take photos inside, so be aware of this and look for signs when you enter
Can I bring back a souvenir?
No, unless you buy it from a gift shop or authorised trader. Please don’t take your own ‘souvenir’ from any of the historical sites as this is prohibited.
Are there toilets to use?
There aren’t always toilets available near some Battlefield sites, so be aware of this when travelling, although there will be regular comfort breaks. Also, it’s worth noting that some toilets have a charge payable for usage so ensure you have some loose change with you!
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