Berlin is unlike anywhere in Germany – and unlike anywhere else in the world, for that matter! Shaped by decades of war and an influx of international immigrants, Berlin has a lot to offer in terms of history, culture, and atmosphere. But if you’re willing to leave the city, you’ll see that Berlin’s outskirts also have a lot going for it too.
A day trip from Berlin will undoubtedly deepen your understanding of German culture and Germany in general. And thanks to the well-connected public transportation system, most of these places can be visited by bus or train as well as by car. So, regardless of whether you’re interested in nature or history, consider checking off one of these exhilarating day trips in your Germany list!
Table of Contents
- What is the Best Day Trip from Berlin?
- Peacock Island
- Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
- The Harz
- Wannsee Beach
What is the Best Day Trip from Berlin?
Berlin has plenty of day trips for city dwellers, nature lovers, and history buffs. The most popular trip for first-time visitors is to Potsdam, a city known for its royal palaces and sprawling gardens. However, Spreewald and the Harz are also ideal destinations for those looking to spend more time outdoors.
And if you want to wander the streets of more German cities, you can’t go wrong with a day trip to the architectural town of Magdeburg.
However, those are just a few places that you can reach from Berlin. Read on to discover more spectacular German destinations waiting for you to explore.
Although it’s only 40 minutes away from Berlin, Postdam couldn’t feel any different from the gritty, cutting-edge capital. The city was once the residence of the Prussian kings and German kaiser, which means you’ll find ornate palaces, lush gardens, and grand Baroque buildings.
With so much beautiful scenery, it’s easy to see why it’s home to multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Start your day trip with a visit to Sanssouci Palace, which many consider to be the German Palace of Versailles.
The large 700-acre park surrounding the palace is also worth a visit, especially thanks to the numerous fountains, sculptures, and flowerbeds. Other must-see attractions in Postdam include the Filmmuseum Potsdam, the Dutch Quarter, and Brandenburg Gate (not to be confused with the larger one in Berlin).
For a quick day trip out of Berlin, head to Peacock Island. The entire island is a nature reserve with sprawling meadows, rose gardens, and, yes – lots of peacocks! There is also a castle, which was built by the King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm II.
The white palace is made to resemble marble used in Italian villas, although with a closer inspection, you’ll see that it’s just painted wood!
Peacock Island is only accessible by ferry from the Wannsee district, which is roughly 45 minutes from Berlin. But once you’re onboard and see the magnificent views of the Havel River, you’ll realize that the journey was well worth the effort.
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
Walking the grounds of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp is guaranteed to be a somber yet unforgettable experience.
During the Nazi regime, this labor camp in Oranienburg imprisoned more than 200,000 people, including numerous politicians and political figures. Some of the most notable prisoners included Joseph Stalin’s oldest son, the Prime Minister of the Second Spanish Republic, and the family of the Crown Prince of Bavaria.
The grounds are now home to a memorial site and museum dedicated to the crimes and atrocities that were committed here. The quickest and easiest way from Berlin is by car, although you can also take buses and trains if you don’t mind a 30-minute walk from the station.
The highlights of Harz may be one of the longer day trips on this list (2.5 hours from Berlin), but its lack of tourists and untouched natural beauty means it’s something you should seriously consider.
In addition to picturesque towns like Quedlinburg and Goslar, the area is also known for its plethora of outdoor activities.
There are also numerous limestone caves, churches, palaces, and abbeys dotted throughout the forest.
Visit during the spring or summer and take advantage of the numerous hiking, hang-gliding, and white-water rafting opportunities. But if you’re in Germany in winter, you’ll also be treated to miles of downhill and cross-country ski runs.
While they aren’t as developed as the ski resorts of the Alps or the Black Forest, they are some of the best within driving distance from Berlin.
You don’t have to drive to the North Sea to spend time on the water. Instead, you can make the quick 15-mile journey over to Wannsee, which is considered to be one of the best beaches in all of Germany. With over 4,000 feet of golden sand, it’s actually one of the longest inland beaches in all of Europe!
The shores around the lake have imported sand from the Baltic coast with enough space to accommodate over 30,000 bathers during the summer.
In addition to swimming and sunbathing, you can also play volleyball and basketball or rent paddle boats to cruise around the lake. Keep in mind that services and facilities on the beach are only open from late March to mid-September.
Home to wetlands, pine forests, and over 18,000 species of plants and animals, Spreewald is a scenic getaway for those looking to leave the city.
This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is best explored by boat, as there are over 170 miles of canals in the forest. You can also go on a tour with a flat-bottomed punt boat if you’d rather explore Spreewald with a knowledgeable guide.
Besides the abundance of outdoor activities, there are also a few villages you can visit (or spend the night if you want to extend your trip).
The most famous is Lehde, a small village inhabited by a Slavic community that speaks Sorbian and not German! You can travel from Berlin to the main Spreewald station (Lübbenau) in just an hour, although having a car will give you more flexibility to explore the rest of the reserve.
Magdeburg is one of those off-the-beaten-path cities that most travelers have never heard of. Perched on the banks of the Elbe River, this quiet city has seen a fair amount of destruction over the last century.
But despite being heavily destroyed, the old town remains full of charm worthy of a day trip from Berlin (expect your train journey to take around two hours).
The most impressive site is the cathedral, which at 341 feet tall, is the highest in all of Eastern Germany. Although the original building is from 1209, the one that stands there today was rebuilt in 1955 after WWII.
Other fascinating architectural sights include the Romanesque Kloster unser lieben Frauen (art museum), the Hundertwasser’s Green Citadel of Magdeburg (offices and shops), and the Moritzplatz Magdeburg Memorial (history museum).
It’s easy to see why Berlin is a must-see European city for many international travelers. And while this vibrant capital has a lot to explore, visiting other areas in Germany can also make your trip more unique and memorable.
So if you’re planning a vacation to Berlin, make sure to plan at least one full day to visit one of these fascinating destinations on this list.