Best Day Trips from Berlin, Germany

If you’ve got more than 24 hours in Berlin, exploring beyond the city on one of the best day trips from Berlin is must. With a few days to spare, the gritty & offbeat German capital is the perfect base for visiting some of the top travel destinations in Germany.

Not far from Berlin, you’ll find picture-perfect German towns hidden in the Spreewald. You’ll indulge in classic Central European elegance in cities like Potsdam or Dresden. You can even country-hop and cross over to neighbouring Poland or Czech Republic.

Not sure where to start? Escape Berlin and explore Germany deeper with these top Berlin day trips, side excursions & tours.

Best Berlin day trips: Top 8 side excursions & tours

Potsdam

No side trip from Berlin gets more attention than Potsdam. And the reason is simple. Getting to Potsdam takes just 25 to 60 minutes from the centre of Berlin. You’ll never regret trading in the metropolis for a day of strolling among the gardens and palaces of this former Prussian royal city.

Start off your day trip to Potsdam wandering towards the Old Dutch Quarter. The red-bricked Dutch-style architecture of Potsdam’s Dutch Quarter is unique, not only in Germany, but in Europe. Finding buildings to match Jan Bouman’s 18th-century creations in Potsdam is impossible. Even in the Netherlands!

Potsdam Dutch Quarter

On the fringes of the Old Dutch Quarter, let out your inner knight by clopping around Nauener Tor. The medieval fairytale façade betrays the age of Nauener Tor. The gate is 18th-century example of Gothic Revival architecture, not a true relic of the Middle Ages.

Nauener Tor is part of a trifecta of original city gates along the now-defunct Potsdam city wall. The other two gates are Brandenburg Gate, not to be confused with Berlin’s, and Hunters’ Gate (Jägertor)

Sanssouci Park

From Nauener Tor, swing west along the leafy Hegelallee. Soon, you’ll find the feather in Potsdam’s cap, Sanssouci Park.

Take your time wandering through the gardens and palaces of Sanssouci Park. You’ll soon see why so many travellers love visiting Potsdam and why the park is considered one of the most beautiful places to visit in Germany.

Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam

Throughout the park, opulent palaces and manicured gardens spring forth in the shade of towering oak trees.

Sanssouci Park is home to three major palaces:

  • Sanssouci Palace (Schloss Sanssouci)
  • Orangery Palace (Orangerieschloss)
  • New Palace (Neues Palais)

All the palaces are built in different architectural styles. Each is worth seeking out as you wander through the park. Be sure to peek inside for a taste of the grandeur that King Frederick the Great of Prussia sought for his summer residence city.

Want to get more out of your time in Potsdam? Hop onto one of these hand-picked Potsdam tours:

  • Potsdam City and Castles Tour is one of the city’s best-selling tours. It follows in the footsteps of Frederick II’s grand vision for the former Prussian royal seat. Highlights include Potsdam’s Baroque Old Town, Sanssouci, Cecilienhof and the New Palace.
  • Discover Potsdam Day Tour is a value-laden 6-hour guided tour. It delivers the low down on the fascinating history of this Prussian city. The tour includes visits to Sanssouci Park, Babelsberg Castle, and the Dutch Quarter. You’ll also check out the “Bridge of Spies” and the old Russian village of Alexandrowka.
  • Potsdam Sanssouci Palace Guided Tour is another ultra-popular tour. It focuses on the magnificent gardens & palaces of Sanssouci Park. The tour includes entrance fees to Sanssouci Palace. Unlike most other Potsdam tours, you’ll also get round-trip transportation from Berlin.

How to get to Potsdam

By public transportation, the most common route to travel to Potsdam from Berlin is via the S7 S-Bahn. The journey time is approximately 50 minutes. Although convenient and comfortable for travellers, it’s not the fastest route to Potsdam.

Instead, hop on one of the regional trains towards Brandenburg and Magdeburg. It will only take about 25 minutes between central stations.

If you decide to rent a car in Germany, the journey should take about 45 minutes to 1 hour. While it’s a longer journey, with a car you can combine your day trip to Potsdam with other nearby destinations like Brandenburg an der Havel.

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

You can hardly call a day trip to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp a “fun” day out. But if you have even a passing interest in 20th-century history, visiting this former Nazi concentration camp is a must. Especially if you find yourself with some extra time in Berlin.

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

Sachsenhausen in Oranienburg is a grim reminder of the horrors of the WWII-era. Although originally conceived to house political prisoners, Sachsenhausen went much further.

Daily life in the camp was nothing short of brutal. Over 30,000 inmates lost their lives here. They suffered through starvation, execution, exhaustion, and medical experimentation.

Want to avoid hassles and experience the camp to its fullest? Embark on one of these recommended Sachsenhausen tours:

  • Sachsenhausen Memorial Walking Tour is a haunting 6-hour tour. You’ll join an expert guide who’ll take you on a journey through one of humanity’s darkest hours.
  • Half-Day Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Tour is another value-laden tour. It focuses on Sachsenhausen’s infamous role in the Holocaust. The chilling sites visited include the Infirmary, Pathology Laboratory, and Station Z.
  • Berlin Nazi Terror 6-Hour Tour is perfect for World War II history buffs. You won’t want to miss this chance to get an inside look into Germany’s most monstrous years. It includes stops at the Topography of Terror in Berlin and Sachsenhausen.

How to get to Sachsenhausen

By public transportation, find a regional train to Oranienburg. From S Oranienburg Bahnhof, it’s a 25 to 30 minute walk or a 7-minute bus ride to the camp. Travelling to Oranienburg will require a Berlin Transport ABC Zone ticket. It costs €3.30 each way.

To avoid complications of navigate to Oranienburg on your own, hop on a guided tour instead. The popular Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial Walking Tour is a good option. It leaves at 10am from Hackescher Markt S-Bahn station in central Berlin.

The tour doesn’t include the Transport ABC Zone ticket. These tickets will be available through your guide. He or she will lead you to the camp via public transportation without hassle.

Wannsee

Want to lap up sunshine along the shores on Berlin’s most popular beach getaway? As relaxing as it can be, a word of warning is due. A day trip to Wannsee might not be the idyllic lakeside escape you’ve always dreamed of.

Wannsee’s Strandbad is Europe’s largest inland outdoor beach. Spending a summer’s day here usually means hustling to carve out space amongst the hordes of locals escaping the urban heat.

Nonetheless, when you’re figuring what to do in Berlin in summer, the excitement and energy at Strandbad can’t be beat.

For the pleasure of sunbathing and swimming with half of Germany, bring along €5.50 for admission to Strandbad.

Evening crowds Strandbad Wannsee

Hunt down the perfect spot on Strandbad and cool down in the Wannsee’s waters. After you’re done, swing to the opposite side of Wannsee. Walk down Am Großen Wannsee for a glimpse at some of Berlin’s most impressive historical homes.

Pop into the Liebermann Villa am Wannsee, the summer house of German painter Max Liebermann. You’ll also find the House of the Wannsee Conference here. The building was haunting venue for the infamous Wannsee Conference. The conference proposed the fateful “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” during WWII.

Want to maximize your sightseeing at Wannsee? Check out these recommended tours:

  • Seven Lakes Tour from Wannsee helps you move past the usual Wannsee tourist bubble. This popular 2-hour cruise putters through several waterways. They include Pohlesee, Stölpchensee, Griebnitzsee, Glienicker Lake, Jungfernsee, and the Havel.
  • Berlin-Wannsee to Potsdam World Heritage Cruise is a popular 3-hour cruise to Potsdam and back. It floats leisurely along the Havel River. The cruise passes sites like Pfaueninsel, Cecilienhof Palace, Glienicke Bridge, and Babelsberg Palace.

How to get to Wannsee

From central Berlin, hop onto S-Bahn S7 or S1. Exit at Nikolassee (for Strandbad) or Wannsee (for Am Großen Wannsee). The S-Bahn journey takes about 45 minutes.

Pfaueninsel

Wannsee too packed for your tastes? Drift further west along the River Havel for a relaxing float to Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island). This small nature reserve island stretches only 1.5 kilometres in length and 0.5 kilometres in width. It teems with greenery and stately historic architecture. You’ll also spot wildlife on the island, including its colourful namesake peacocks.

Peacock Island Castle on Pfaueninsel

On this top Berlin day trip, you’ll breathe in the fresh air off the Havel. You’ll be able wander through the island’s winding paths to the tune of exotic birds singing.

Besides peacock spotting and bird watching, sniff out the Schloss auf der Pfaueninsel. Also called Peacock Island Castle, the castle was built by Fredrick William II. He constructed it in the late 18th century as a love retreat for him & his mistress.

The 19th-century Kavaliershaus in the middle of the island is also worth scoping out.

Want to float by the Pfauninsel in style? Hop aboard one of these boat tours:

  • Berlin-Tegel to Potsdam Boat Cruise is a 3-hour boat cruise relaxing on the waters between Berlin-Tegel and Potsdam. The ride motors past Kladow, Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island), and Cecilienhof Palace.
  • Potsdam Hohenzollern Palaces Tour is a popular 6-hour boat tour on the Havel aboard a luxury pleasure craft. Highlights include Babelsberg Park, the New Garden, the Church of the Redeemer, and Peacock Island.

How to get to Pfaueninsel

Getting to Pfaueninsel is easiest by car. To the ferry on Nikolskoerweg, the journey should be between 45 minutes and 1 hour from central Berlin in the direction of Potsdam.

Spreewald

On a summer road trip, there’s no better day trip from Berlin than slipping away to the Spreewald. The Spreewald (Spree Forest) is a UNESCO protected nature reserve, sprouting from the banks of the Spree River.

At Spreewald, you’ll find tranquil waterways brushed with lush green landscapes. You’ll float past idyllic farmhouses and villages. With its perfect ensemble of attractions, the Spreewald wins over everyone who steps foot inside.

Rowing along the river in Lehde, Spreewald

The best way to experience the Spreewald is manually: by bike, by boat, or by foot. Other than hiring a tourist boat, public transportation won’t help much in exploring this neck of the woods.

Start off in Lübbenau, the Spreewald’s most popular tourist centre. Walk one of the well-marked trails to Lehde, a traditional lagoon village, or Leipe, a small fishing village. For a relaxing day out, you can visit Burg, a popular German spa town.

Is seeing the Spreewald from the river more your style? Rent a kayak or canoe in Lübbenau or Burg. You can spend your day floating leisurely through the waterways. You’ll drift alongside traditional wooden houses, age-old bridges and thick forests. (Advanced reservations recommended in summer.)

Want to get the most out of your visit to the Spreewald? Check out these hand-picked Spreewald tours:

  • Spreewald Bus & Boat Tour offers a comfortable coach for a hassle-free trip to Burg. From here, you’ll begin to explore the unique natural world of the Spreewald. The tour includes a traditional schmalzbrot (bread and lard) and gherkin lunch. Once you’re fuelled up, you’ll float lazily around the Upper Spreewald in a traditional boat.
  • Archery in Spreewald takes a break from your usual Spreewald exploration. On this tour, you’ll enjoy unique regional foods and learn how to handle a bow and arrow like a pro in Burg at the largest archery hall in Brandenburg.

How to get to the Spreewald

By public transportation, the best entry points into the Spreewald are Lübben and Lübbenau. The RE2 regional train reaches either from Berlin in about an hour. It should cost no more than €11.70 each way.

To experience more tranquil locales in the Spreewald, rent a car and head towards Burg (Spreewald).

Leipzig

If Eastern Germany was a family, Leipzig would be East Berlin’s hip little brother. Saxony’s biggest city has become one of Germany’s coolest cities. It’s attracted young creatives looking for a quieter—and cheaper—alternative to Berlin.

Leipzig is often brushed over by visitors. It’s a shame considering how easily it slots in among the best day trips from Berlin. The city is one of Germany’s top trade fair destinations. Leipzig regularly attracts businesspeople from all around the world. On this excursion, you’ll have to a chance to see a side of Leipzig quick business trips often ignore.

Leipzig

Start your day exploring Leipzig Altstadt. From the Hauptbahnhof it’s about a 10-minute walk to the Markt (Market Square), the main square in Altstadt.

Along the way—and in & around the square—you’ll find stunning examples of 19th- and 20th-century Saxon architecture. Styles range from Art Nouveau to Post Modernist.

If you love music and art, Leipzig is one of the better places in Germany to dig in. A few of the better choices are the three-museums-in-one GRASSI, the Bach Museum and the Leipzig Museum of Fine Arts.

Want a taste of what’s driving Leipzig’s reputation as as the “New Berlin”? Head south on Karl-Liebknecht-Straße through the Zentrum-Süd and Südvorstadt neighbourhoods. On your walk, you’ll drift by colourful street art and a number of bars and restaurants.

Pop into the Cafe Puschkin (Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 74). Grab a quick and hearty lunch. The café has an ever-changing menu of regional & international favourites in a pub-like atmosphere.

Ready to experience Leipzig to its fullest? Check out these top recommended Leipzig tours:

  • Leipzig Hop-On Hop-Off Bus & Walking Tour zips around Leipzig on a double-decker bus with guided commentary. On this 2-hour bus tour, you can get off and explore whenever you see fit.
  • Leipzig Guided City Tour & Sightseeing joins an experienced tour guide who’ll take you through the biggest sites in Leipzig. Stops include Old Rathaus, Nikolai Church, the Mädler Passage, and Thomas Church. After a walk in the city centre, hop onto an air-conditioned bus to visit further-flung Leipzig landmarks. Highlights include Gohlis Castle, Schiller House, Waldstraßen Quarter, and Plagwitz.
  • Leipzig Trabi Tour is your chance to let the spirit of the DDR overtake you. With a tour guide, you’ll explore Leipzig behind the wheel of a vintage Trabi, East Germany’s most famous vehicle. It’s among Leipzig’s most unique experiences!

How to get to Leipzig

Intercity trains between Leipzig and Berlin depart several times throughout the day. Expect to pay up to a steep €48 each way for the privilege of this 75-minute high-speed train ride.

(Would be a good time to pull out your German rail pass, wouldn’t it?)

Dresden

Although you’ll need more than 24 hours in Dresden to truly appreciate it, a day trip to Dresden is the most stunning of the best Berlin day trips.

Dresden Castle Altstadt

Like Berlin, there wasn’t much to behold in Dresden following the Second World War. Much of the Saxon city was levelled in firebombing campaigns. The attacks left little of its magnificent Baroque behind.

Fortunately, Dresden’s beautiful Altstadt has since been restored. And what an impressive sight it is!

Altstadt

Unless you opt for a guided Dresden Old Town Walking Tour, exploring Altstadt is best done by wandering independently by foot. 

Starting off, find your way to Neumarkt. This large central square is home to Frauenkirche, one of the coolest places to see in Dresden. This beautifully-restored Lutheran church is jawdropping inside and out. Frauenkirche also features one of the finest panoramas of Dresden from its dome’s viewing platform.

Grabbing the view from the dome will set you back €8. (You can book your tickets in advance here.) It’s worthwhile expense, though, for seeing Altstadt in all its glory from above.

Dresden Neumarkt Frauenkirche

Before moving on to explore Altstadt further, spin along Augustusstraße. The street a block west of the backend of Frauenkirche. Here, you can spot the Fürstenzug (Procession of Princes).

Fürstenzug is a 19th- and early 20th-century porcelain masterpiece. It depicts over 800 years of the royal ancestors of the House of Wettin, Saxony’s ruling dynasty. Stretching over hundred metres, the Fürstenzug is the longest porcelain artwork of its kind in the entire world.

Somehow while the rest of Dresden laid in ruins, Fürstenzug survived the 1945 firebombing. Unlike most of the Altstadt, what you’ll see here is original.

Another architectural wonder to keep your eyes peeled for in Altstadt Dresden is the Zwinger. The Rococo-style palace is sure to impress with its painstakingly-elaborate architectural details. Entrance to the exterior courtyard is free.

Expect to pay €10 for entrance to the Zwinger’s three museums:

  • Old Masters Picture Gallery
  • Porcelain Collection
  • Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments

The Zwinger in Dresden, Germany

Neustadt

If you have some time after exploring stunning Altstadt, cross over the Elbe River to Dresden’s hip and raw Neustadt. Unlike the squeaky-clean tourism wonderland of Altstadt, Neustadt might take some getting used to. (Think: Dresden’s answer to Berlin’s Kreuzberg.)

Wander around Neustadt. Weaving in and out of its galleries and hip cafés as you hunt for interesting street art and vintage clothing.

Restaurants in Neustadt Dresden

With little room in your belly for a treat, waddle into Pfunds Molkerei (Pfund’s Diary Shop). The Guinness-declared “most beautiful dairy shop in the world” dates back to the late 19th century. This palatial milk shop is popular among German tourists, who enter not only to gaze upon the hand-painted story-telling tiles but to taste Pfund’s famous raw milk and cheeses.

Ready to get the most out of your visit to Dresden? Check out these hand-picked Dresden tours:

  • Day Trip to Dresden from Berlin is a great choice for most travellers (unless you’ve got a day to waste on your rail pass). Booking this full-day tour will help you save on transportation costs. You’ll also get the added bonus of a tour guide to show you around town. The tour hits up sites like Old Town, Semper Opera House, the Balcony of Europe, and the Zwinger.
  • Dresden Trabi Safari hops into an iconic GDR-era Trabi for a 90-minute driving tour of Dresden. You’ll be behind the wheel as live commentary on all the sights of Dresden echoes through the radio. Cold War kids should definitely not skip on this one!
  • Dresden City Center and Loschwitz Bridge Boat Tour lets you see Dresden’s beautiful Old Town from the Elbe River. On this relaxing 1.5-hour cruise, you’ll enjoy snacks & drinks while floating past stunning palaces & bridges. Highlights include Albrechtsberg Palace, Eckberg Palace, Lingner Palace, and Loschwitz Bridge.

How to get to Dresden

To visit Dresden from Berlin by public transportation, you’ll have to be careful to choose the right trains. The fastest routes will take less than 2 hours. Slower journeys will add on at least an hour. The quicker EC and IC trains generally leave every two hours starting at 7:04am. Prices start at €29 each way.

If you’re flexible with your dates and times you might be able to bring the cost of the train down. Check for special deals and schedules from Berlin to Dresden at RailEurope.

Szczecin

Who said you need to stick to Germany when planning out your Berlin side trips?

Lying just 150 kilometres northeast is the lovely Polish city of Szczecin. And it’s one of the most surprising retreats from Germany’s capital.

Stare Miasto Szczecin

Sure, visiting Szczecin can’t compete with a romp in other major Polish travel destinations. But it’s hardly a slouch when it comes to dousing travellers with a little Polish charm.

Here, all the things we’ve come to love about Poland—from stunning historical architecture to good beer & hearty food—are on display. And it’s all just two hours and change away from Berlin!

Start your day trip to Szczecin with a visit to Stare Miasto, the city’s historic district. Get your bearings at Hay Market Square, the main square of Stare Miasto. Here, Szczecin’s Hanseatic roots are clearly on display among its colourful traditional architecture.

Elsewhere in Stare Miasto, don’t miss out on Ducal Castle, the most important historical site in Szczecin. The towering Gothic and mannerist castle was built in mid-14th century. Reconstructed after WWII, Ducal Castle was once home to the dukes of Pomerania.

Wander around the castle grounds to get a sense of the castle’s unique architectural palette. Once you’ve finished, carve out time to visit the Castle Museum. Check out the museum’s Pomeranian dukes’ crypt and bell tower (open May 1 to Sept 30) for views above the city.

Want to get the most out of your time in Szczecin? Check out these recommended Szczecin tours:

  • Szczecin Minibus City Tour explores this old Pomeranian city in the comfort of a minibus. This 2-hour city tour focuses on Old Town. Highlights include the Gothic Town Hall, the Cathedral Basilica of St James, and the Castle of the Pomeranian Dukes.
  • Szczecin Traditional Polish Food Walking Tour lets the flavours of Poland shine. In 3-hours, you’ll visit some of the top sites of Szczecin and taste Polish specialities at four hand-picked local hotspots. Sample foods include dumplings, gołąbki, potato pancakes, and schabowy sausage rolls. Arrive with an empty stomach to get the most out of this epic food-tasting tour.
  • Szczecin Private Vodka Tasting Tour proves that Poland makes some of the world’s best vodka. Dig into the Polish drinking culture and taste some high-quality vodka samples along with some yummy bar snacks on this unique tour.

How to get to Szczecin

The best means of transportation between Szczecin and Berlin is by either train or car.

The quickest direct trains (RE66) ply the route in about two hours and cost approximately €29 to €36.

Depending on traffic, the trip by car will take anywhere between 1.5 hours and 2.5 hours.

Where to stay in Berlin for day trippers

For day trippers, the best area to stay in Berlin is Mitte. It’s got excellent transportation connections to let you scoot outside the city in a flash. Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, and Prenzlauer Berg are also good alternatives.

Here are a few ideas to start your Berlin accommodations search…

  • Grimm’s Hotel am Potzdamer Platz is a quirky & modern 3-star hotel off of Potzdamer Platz. Rooms are clean & spacious and most offer beautiful city views.
  • Pullman Berlin Schweizerhof is a stunning modern hotel. The hotel impresses guests with a host of awesome amenities. You’ll enjoy a relaxing spa with a heated pool, a 24-hour fitness centre, and two on-site restaurants. The Zoologischer Garten S-Bahn Station is just 10-minutes away by foot for your day-tripping pleasure.
  • Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin is the ultimate in classic Central European luxury. This decadent 5-star hotel sits inches away from Brandenburg Gate and other top Berlin attractions. The hotel’s even got its own double Michelin-star restaurant, Lorenz Adlon Esszimmer. The highly-touted restaurant serves up some seriously masterful European cuisine.

Final recommendations

  • Want to explore a city with classic European beauty? Saunter the alleyways of Altstadt Dresden.
  • Need some time in nature? Float along the tranquil riverways of the Spreewald.
  • Hunting for street art and youth culture? Explore the centre and suburbs of Leipzig.
  • Need a mid-summer cool-down? Brave out the crowds at Wannsee’s Strandbad.
  • WWII nut? Visit the sombre Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp or House of the Wannsee Conference in Wannsee.
Ryan O'Rourke

Ryan O'Rourke is a Canadian traveller, food & drink aficionado, and the founder & editor of Treksplorer. Join Ryan as he explores the world two to three weeks at a time from his home base of Canada with Treksplorer's independent and unsponsored mid-range luxury travel guides including itineraries, things to do, where to stay, when to visit, and hiking & walking trails.

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