This is the second in our series on the best day trips from European capital cities. This week we take a look at the top five day trips you can take from Germany’s capital city, Berlin.
Berlin is typically touted as an exciting, vibrant city that exudes cool. There is plenty to do in Berlin, from eating at fabulous restaurants, to enjoying Berlin’s hipster nightlife, to visiting the many historical monuments that attest to Berlin’s important role in European and world history. This doesn’t mean, however, that visitors won’t benefit from taking a day or two to explore the areas surrounding Berlin, to take a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the city and to experience another side to Germany.
1. The other city: Potsdam
You need only hop on the train for forty minutes from Berlin’s city centre to find yourself in another city entirely. Potsdam is the perfect mix of cityscapes, green space and splendid palaces. The city contains a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which includes Schloss Sanssouci and its park. The palace was the retreat of Frederick the Great (King of Prussia from 1740 to 1786) and his final resting place, having been reburied there in 1991. The palace boasts fantastic 18th-century architecture and opulent décor. The grounds are also noteworthy, with unusual vineyard terraces cascading down the hillside from the palace to the park. Other interesting areas of Potsdam include the Dutch and Russian areas, which are testament to the Dutch and Russian settlers that came to the city in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Dutch Quarter has rows of picturesque Dutch-style houses and the Russian town has twelve very quaint wooden houses in the Russian style. To reach Potsdam from Berlin, take the S-Bahn (S7) from Berlin Central Station to Potsdam Hauptbahnhof.
2. Family day out: Tropical Islands Resort, Krausnick
About an hour’s drive from Berlin is the Tropical Islands Resort, which is a very large water park within an aircraft hangar, designed to look like a tropical paradise. The kids are bound to enjoy this unusual oasis, filled with fun water slides, waterfalls and a lagoon. Parents can also enjoy the spa and sauna. You can easily spend the day there, as there are plenty of eateries and bars to keep everyone happy. If the weather is good you also enjoy the new outdoor pool area. To reach the Tropical Islands Resort, take a shuttle bus from Brand Station or a train from Alexanderplatz.
3. A whole other world: Spree Forest (Spreewald), Lübbenau
Another area protected by UNESCO is Spree forest, an hour away from the centre of Berlin. The forest is full of many meandering waterways, making it truly a sight to behold, and a real change after the clamour of the city. Visitors can take boat trips around the waterways, departing from the larger villages. These are conducted in punts, with guides pushing the vessels along with sticks. The region also has areas where you can enjoy walks or bike rides, or even a spot of fishing. Not only can visitors take in the natural landscape, they can also experience the traditions of one of Germany’s minority populations – the Sorbs. This group of people, with their own unique traditions and language, derive from Slavs who migrated to the region 1,400 years ago. To reach the Spree Forest from Berlin, you can take the train to Lübbenau and from there take a punt tour into the Spreewald.
4. Get some R&R: Bad Saarow
Head to the spa town of Bad Saarow to indulge in some you-time. The town boasts hot springs and mineral mud, making it the ideal spa location. The SarrowTherme Spa offers thermal baths, saunas and steam rooms, plus all manner of spa treatments. If your other half isn’t a fan of spa treatments, you can compromise and spend half the day playing a round of golf. There are a few golf courses to choose from in Bad Saarow, including the Arnold Palmer Golfplatz and the Stan Eby Course. To get to Bad Saarow, take the train from Berlin’s main station to Fürstenwalde and change there to a train to Bad Saarow. The journey should only take about an hour. Click here to learn about sending golf clubs to Germany with Send My Bag.
5. A piece of history: House of the Wannsee Conference
Located in a peaceful lakeside setting, this pretty villa has a dark past. This is where the horrors of the Holocaust were planned by SS officials in 1942. It is a more sobering day trip, but an informative one. A permanent exhibition explains the history surrounding the conference and tours of the exhibit can be taken. The exhibition is open daily from 10 – 6 and entry is free, with a 2 euro donation requested. To get there, take the S-Bahn (S7) or regional train from Berlin Central Station to Wannsee Station, then Bus 114 to the villa.
Don’t forget that you can send your luggage to Berlin with Send My Bag and so avoid the hassle of dragging bags behind you onto public transport.
Have you enjoyed any memorable day trips from Berlin? Let us know on our Twitter page.
Heading to Paris? Check out our blog on the best day trips to Paris.
If you are not proficient in a European language, you can still study for your degree in Europe by choosing a country that offers courses taught in English, such as the Netherlands or Sweden. In the last in our series on 'studying in Europe', Send My Bag takes a look at how to apply for a degree course in these countries and how much it might cost you.