Are you a seasoned Berlin traveler and can walk through the Brandenburg Gate with your eyes closed? Then steal yourself away from Berlin and take a day trip to one of these destinations, all within 2 hours from the German capital. From wellness, and nature, to culture, and history, these Berlin day trips are great escape from the big city.
This destination is still within Berlin’s city limits, but it feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the German capital; a ferryboat brings you to the Pfaueninsel (Peacock island), a nature reserve in the lake Wannsee. On the island, you'll find a dreamy castle, which was built in the 18th century for the Prussian king and its favorite mistress, various greenhouses, and fountains. But the best are the free roaming peacocks and the beautiful gardens and trees - it's the perfect getaway for romantic strolls and pick-nicks.
(Take the S1 or S7 towards Potsdam, get off at Wannsee station, and then bus 216 or 316; app 1 hour)
When Frederikc the Great wanted to escape the formalities of his life in Berlin, he retreated to his summer palace in Potsdam. You should do the same: After a short train train ride from Berlin, you can enjoy the rococo style palace, which is surrounded by 700 acres of ornate royal gardens, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Then head into the Old Town of Potsdam and wander the narrow cobble stone streets of the Dutch Quarter. The lovely townhouses are home to cafes, little shops, and tasty bakeries.
(Take the S1 or S7 to Potsdam; app. 45 mins)
About 30 minutes north of Berlin lies the memorial site Sachsenhausen, a former concentration camp in Oranienburg. The camp was erected in 1936, and until 1945, more than 200,000 people were imprisoned here by the Nazis. Sachsenhausen was in many ways one of the most important concentration camps in the Third Reich: It was the first camp established under Heinrich Himmler as Chief of the German Police, its architectural lay-out was used as a model for almost all concentration camps in Nazi Germany.
4. Bad Saarow
Bad Saarow is a small spa town 60 km East of Berlin; located at the shore of a big lake and surrounded by hills and farmland, this is the ideal spot to kick back. Make sure to visit the state-of-the-art thermal salt-water spa, one of the best ones in Germany. End your day with a dinner at the restaurant called “The Buehne” (“The stage”), right next to the train station, where you can enjoy regional cuisine in the atmosphere of the 1920s.
(Regional train to Fuerstenwalde, then local train to Bad Saarow; app. 2 hours)
Shaped during the ice age, the landscape of the Spreewald (Spree forest) is breathtaking; more than 200 canals criss-cross a long stretch of marshland, which is dotted with pine forests, grasslands, meadows, and islands with old villages. The locals of the Spreewald still use these waterways to get to work or to go shopping; many of them are descendants of the Slavic tribes of the Sorbs, who preserved their language, traditions, costumes, and recipes; make sure to try a Spreewald gurke, a pickled cucumber. The best way to explore this extraordinary biosphere reserve is by taking a trip in a traditional punting boat.
(Regional train to Spreewald Therme/Burg app. 2,5 hours)
If you are a car enthusiast, head to the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, which prides itself in being the largest auto plant in the world. The adjacent “Autostadt” (car city) is an automobile theme park and offers everything from a car museum, and pavilions dedicated to various VW cars, to driving courses for adults and kids. Of course you can also tour the factory itself and see how the Volkswagen is made from start to finish.
(ICE train to Wolfsburg, app. 1,5 hours)