Whether you have 24 hours in Berlin or weeks, you’ll forever feel as if you’re barely scratching the surface. The decidedly-complex capital of Germany is one of the best cities to visit in Europe. But Berlin’s finer points won’t always emerge on a tight schedule.
The longer you spend in Berlin, the better chance you’ll fall in love with this gritty, offbeat city. Not only will you find plenty of things to do in Berlin itself, the capital is one of the best places to base yourself for visiting other destinations in Germany. Get yourself some awesome digs in one of Berlin’s best neighbourhoods, pick one of the best times to travel to Berlin, and you’re all set!
Got one week in Berlin or even an extra few days? Use the opportunity to escape the city to explore Germany deeper on one of these 7 awesome day trips from Berlin:
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Need ideas? Start with these 7 awesome day trips from Berlin.
Berlin day trips don’t fall into a single category. From picture-perfect German towns to big city urban exploration, and just about everything between, you’ll find something to smile about with one of these best day trips from Berlin.
No escape gets more attention than a day trip to Potsdam from Berlin. The reason is simple. Within 25-60 minutes you’ll trade 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 all of Europe. Even in the Netherlands, seeking out buildings that match Jan Bouman’s 18th-century creations in Potsdam is impossible.
On the fringes of the Old Dutch Quarter, let out your inner knight by clopping around the deliciously-medieval Nauener Tor. The fairytale façade betrays the age of Nauener Tor, an 18th-century example of Gothic Revival architecture rather than a true relic of the Middle Ages. Along with Brandenburg Gate (in Potsdam, not Berlin) and Hunters’ Gate (Jägertor), Nauener Tor represents the trifecta of Potsdam’s original city gates along the now-defunct city wall.
From Nauener Tor, swing west along the leafy Hegelallee to the feather in Potsdam’s cap, Sanssouci Park. Take your time wandering through the gardens and palaces of Sanssouci Park and you’ll see why so many travellers love visiting Potsdam on a day trip from Berlin.
Throughout the park, opulent palaces and incredibly-manicured gardens, spring forth in the shade of towering oak trees. The three major palaces—Sanssouci Palace (Schloss Sanssouci), Orangery Palace (Orangerieschloss), and New Palace (Neues Palais)—all built in different architectural styles, are worth seeking out as you wander throughout the park. Peek inside each for a taste of the grandeur that King Frederick the Great of Prussia sought for his summer residence city.
How to Get to Potsdam from Berlin
By public transportation, the most common route to Potsdam from Berlin is via the S7 S-Bahn (approx. 50 minutes). This route is, although convenient and comfortable for traveller, not the fastest way to Potsdam. Instead, hop on one of the regional trains towards Brandenburg and Magdeburg, taking about 25 minutes between central stations.
If you decide to rent a car in Germany, the trip between Berlin and Potsdam should take about 45 minutes to 1 hour. While a longer journey, with a car you can combine your day trip to Potsdam with other nearby Berlin day trips such as Brandenburg an der Havel.
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
You can hardly call a day trip to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp a “fun” day out from Berlin. But if you have even a passing interest in 20th-century history, visiting this former Nazi concentration camp is one of the most important tours you’ll take in and around the German capital.
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp 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 inmate lost their lives through starvation, execution, exhaustion, and medical experimentation.
How to Get to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp from Berlin
By public transportation, find a regional train towards Oranienburg. From S Oranienburg Bahnhof, it’s a 25-30 minute walk or a 7-minute bus ride to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. Travelling to Oranienburg will require a Berlin Transport ABC Zone ticket, costing €3.30 each way.
To avoid navigating to Oranienburg on your own, hop on a guided tour from Berlin. The Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial Walking Tour leaves at 10am from Hackescher Markt S-Bahn station in central Berlin. The tour doesn’t include the Berlin Transport ABC Zone ticket. These will be available through your guide, who will lead you to the camp via public transportation without hassle.
As relaxing as lapping up sunshine along the shores of Berlin’s most popular beach getaway can be, don’t expect a day trip to Wannsee to be the idyllic lakeside escape you’ve always dreamed of. Summer at Wannsee’s Strandbad, Europe’s largest inland outdoor beach, usually means hustling to carve out space amongst the hordes of locals running away from the urban heat of Berlin. For the pleasure of sunbathing and swimming with half of Germany, bring along €5.50 for admission to Strandbad.
After you’ve hunted down the perfect spot on Strandbad and cooled down in the Wannsee’s waters, swing to the opposite side of Wannsee and walk down Am Großen Wannsee for a glimpse of some of Berlin’s most impressive historical homes. Pop into the Liebermann Villa am Wannsee, the summer house of German painter Max Liebermann, and the House of the Wannsee Conference, the haunting venue for the infamous Wannsee Conference where the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” was settled upon during WWII.
How to Get to Wannsee From Berlin
From central Berlin, hop onto S-Bahn S7 or S1 exiting at Nikolassee (for Strandbad) or Wannsee (for Am Großen Wannsee). The S-bahn trip takes about 45 minutes.
If nearby Wannsee’s too packed for your tastes, drift a little further west along the River Havel for a relaxing day trip to Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island). This small nature reserve island, stretching only 1.5 kilometres in length and 0.5 kilometres in width, teems with greenery, stately historic architecture and wildlife, including the colorful peacocks that give the island its name.
Breathe in the fresh air off the Havel and wander through the winding paths to the tune of exotic birds singing. Besides peacock spotting and bird watching, be sure to sniff out the Schloss auf der Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island Castle). This castle was built by Fredrick William II in the late 18th century as love retreat with his mistress. The 19th-century Kavaliershaus in the middle of the island is also worth scoping out.
How to get to Pfaueninsel from Berlin
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.
There might be no better escape from the bustle of Berlin, especially on a summer road trip, than slipping away on a day trip to the Spreewald. The Spreewald (Spree Forest) is a UNESCO protected nature reserve that sprouts from the Spree River. Tranquil waterways, brushed with lush green landscapes and idyllic farmhouses, lead the perfect ensemble of natural attractions that wins over everyone who steps foot into the 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 be much help 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.
Or if seeing the Spreewald from the river is more your style, rent a kayak or canoe in Lübbenau or Burg (advanced reservations recommended in summer) and spend your day floating leisurely through the waterways alongside traditional wooden houses, age-old bridges and thick forests.
How to Get to Spreewald from Berlin
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).
If Eastern Germany was a family, Leipzig is East Berlin’s hip little brother. Saxony’s biggest city has become one of Germany’s coolest cities, attracting young creatives looking for a quieter—and cheaper—alternative to the capital.
Leipzig is often brushed over by visitors. The city is one of Germany’s top trade fair destinations, regularly attracting businesspeople from all around the world. On a day trip to Leipzig from Berlin you’ll have to a chance to see a side of the Leipzig that quick business trips often ignore.
Start your day trip off 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 and 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.
For 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 here from the ever-changing menu of regional and international favourites in a pub-like atmosphere.
How to Get to Leipzig from Berlin
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?)
Although you’ll need more than 24 hours in Dresden to truly appreciate it, a day trip to Dresden from Berlin is the most stunning of all urban outings from the capital.
Not unlike Berlin, there wasn’t much to behold in Dresden following the Second World War. Much of the Saxon city was levelled in firebombing campaigns, leaving behind little of its magnificent Baroque for onlookers. Fortunately, Dresden’s beautiful Altstadt has since been restored. And what an impressive sight it is!
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, a large central square that’s home to Frauenkirche.
Not only is this beautifully-restored Lutheran church jawdropping inside and out, but it also features one of the finest panoramas of Dresden in its dome’s viewing platform. Grabbing the view will set you back €8, a worthwhile expense if you want to see Altstadt from above.
Before moving on to explore Altstadt further, spin along Augustusstraße, a block west of the backend of Frauenkirche, to see the Fürstenzug (Procession of Princes). This 19th- and early 2oth-century porcelain masterpiece depicts over 800 years of the royal ancestors of the House of Wettin, Saxony’s ruling dynasty.
Stretching just over hundred metres, the Fürstenzug is the longest porcelain artwork of its kind in the entire world. Somehow Fürstenzug, while the rest of Dresden laid in ruins, survived the 1945 firebombing. What you’ll see here, unlike most of the Altstadt, 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, and Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments.
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 the Neustadt, weaving in and out of galleries and hip cafés, as you hunt for interesting street art and vintage clothing.
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.
How to Get to Dresden from Berlin
To complete your day trip to Dresden from Berlin by public transportation, you’ll have to be careful to choose the right trains. The fastest routes leaving Berlin 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. Check prices and schedules on Deutsche Bahn.
Summary: The best day trips from Berlin
Can’t decide which of these Berlin day trips are right for you?
- 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.