Our 4 days in Berlin on a relaxed family trip went swiftly, there is so much to see and do within this vibrant city. But if you are used to a more active itinerary or are staying a bit longer in the area, there are some great options for day trips from Berlin by train. Depending on the time taken to travel, you could consider a few of them even for an overnight trip.
The good part about day trips from Berlin is that train travel in Germany is fast and very easy. You can purchase a ticket on the platform from the ticket machines. Most have an English translation or normally there is someone who is more than happy to help you use the machine if you ask. Here are the 8 of the best days trips from Berlin – that you can do by train or by car – contributed by travel experts.
Quick day trips from Berlin by train
Potsdam, full of UNESCO World Heritage sites
Berlin is a wonderful city full of life, history and culture. But if you want to get out of the hustle and bustle for just a little while, a day trip to Potsdam from Berlin should be on top of your list. This amazing place was chosen by the Prussian Kings to be the centre of magnificence with many of them building a grand castle or palace here to call home.
It was also the home of the German Kaiser (King) until 1918 and because of the many castles and palaces in such a small area, it is Germany’s largest World Heritage Site.
For anyone wanting to visit Potsdam from Berlin, it is a 45-minute train ride from the city centre. You will arrive at the train station in Potsdam where you can either walk the city, catch public transport to the sites or you can use the hop-on-hop-off bus.
If you are travelling with teenagers or small children, the hop-on-hop-off bus will get you to all of the popular sites in Potsdam quickly. This will maximise your time there. It will also take you to some unique places in Potsdam that may be slightly off the main tourist trail as the bus cruises the streets. The onboard commentary will also help you decide where in Potsdam you want to stop at if you are unsure.
Plan to arrive at Sanssouci Palace as early as possible. It is one of the most popular sites in Potsdam and the grounds fill with people early. The gardens are also stunning so save plenty of time to wander them and take in their beauty. This is a great place for you to relax and if you are travelling with kids for them to have some fun too. Neues Palais is also a must-see when you are visiting Potsdam. End your day wandering the streets of Potsdam and find a gorgeous little cafe or restaurant before heading back into Berlin.
Contributed by Bec Wyld |Wyld Family Travel
History lesson at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
Visiting the former concentration camp Sachsenhausen is an important day trip to take from Berlin. Whilst a visit to this former Nazi and Soviet prison camp is undoubtedly disturbing, the events of World War Two are not something than can be shied away from when in Germany. In fact, the country overall does a great job of ensuring that the horrors of the past are remembered, so that they can be avoided from ever happening again.
Arriving at Sachsenhausen is very straightforward from Berlin on the train. Visitors can take the S1 to Oranienburg and then either walk or catch a short bus trip to the camp itself. The total travel time will take just over an hour.
The Sachsenhausen concentration camp has now been turned into a memorial where visitors can walk through the sparse, harrowing complex and learn more about this terrible time in history.
It is definitely possible to make this trip with kids. However it is important to prepare children for the experience by explaining that the memorial is a solemn place, and they need to show respect. Admission to Sachsenhausen is free and guided tours are also available. Audio guides are also available if you’d prefer to explore at your own pace.
Contributed by Emma Caldwell |Emma Jane Explores
Nature recharge at Spreewald
If you’re looking for a change of scenery while you’re in Berlin, a day trip to the Spreewald is a great option.
The Spreewald is a forest area south of the city, and it’s a protected biosphere reserve.
It’s also only about 100km (62 miles) from Berlin, so it’s an easy day trip to do. The easiest town to visit in the Spreewald is Lübbenau. To get there, take the RE2 train from Berlin Hauptbahnhof, and you’ll arrive in 1 hour 5 minutes. Explore Lübbenau old town before heading out in to the forest. At the Spreewald Museum, you can learn more about the area. Go shopping at the local stores, or stop at a cafe for some atmosphere. Go to Pickle Mile (don’t worry, it’s not anywhere near a mile long) where you can try endless varieties of famous Spreewald pickles.
From Lübbenau, you can also take a punt boat tour. These flat bottomed boats take you through the forest to see more of the area, and it’s one of the most popular things to do here.
For outdoor enthusiasts, there are loads of options. You can go for a hike in the Spreewald and enjoy nature. The tourism office can suggest routes and provide maps. You can also rent a canoe or kayak and explore the area on your own. Another great option is to rent a bike to see Lübbenau and the surrounding areas.
It’s easy to see the highlights and enjoy Lübbenau and the Spreewald on a day trip. But if you want to take it slow, there are lodging options from budget to splurge for an overnight stay. Just be aware that the town is mostly used to day trippers, so restaurants and other shops close early.
Contributed by Ali Garland | Berlin Travel Tips
Short or overnight trips from Berlin
Hiking at Bastei Bridge
Bastei Bridge is part of the Saxon Switzerland National Park which is located about 3 hours by car from Berlin (about 4 hours by train). The park is well worth getting out of the city and doing great hiking among some of the most amazing rock formations in the world.
The sandstone rock formations were made as the nearby Elbe River changed course and left a huge gorge. Now dry, the rock formations are all around and there are many hikes you can take through them. If your kids enjoy hiking, running around tall rock columns, and just getting outdoors it will be a welcome respite from all that city sightseeing. One hike takes you to the Bastei Bridge which is the most beautiful and instagram-worthy stop.
Bastei Bridge is the perfect setting for a photo shoot, and the hikes, landscapes, and nature that is all around you makes it that much more alluring.
To get the most out of the area around Bastei Bridge, spend the night right there in the park or in one of the small neighboring towns. It will give you a glimpse into rural Germany, and give you a chance to try some local food and take in the breathtaking views. You can easily spend the entire day exploring and hiking in the park. However, if you plan on taking photos on the bridge, plan to get to that part around a little before sunset so the light is just right for portraits. There is a restaurant at the beginning of the hike, but it’s a good idea to bring a picnic lunch and water for the day.
Contributed by Corinne Vail | Reflections Enroute
Cultural trip to Dresden
Dresden is one of the most visited cities in Germany and it’s easy to understand why this is so.
Apart from the plethora of art, culture and stunning architecture, Dresden also has a rich, albeit tragic, history.
Reaching Dresden from Berlin takes about 2.5 hours by car and 3 hours by train / public transportation. That being said, although Dresden is a big city, you can easily cover all the best things in Dresden in one day itself. This is because the Dresden Altstadt contains all the famous attractions which can be covered by foot in a day.
Some of the top places in this area include the Dresden Zwinger Palace which is open all day and free to visit if you’re just touring the grounds and the terrace. The Theaterplatz and the Schlossplatz which are right next to each other are impressive squares surrounded by historic buildings. From the Schlossplatz, you can make your way to Fürstenzug where there is a massive artwork showcasing the rulers of Dresden, drawn on a wall. The Brühl’s terrace is another iconic structure in Dresden which overlooks the Elbe river and parts of Dresden Altstadt. You even get an iconic view of the Frauenkirche from this terrace.
If you’re looking for fun and hipster vibes, cross the river to the Neustadt where you will see graffiti, art installations and find the coolest clubs. All in all, consider spending a day (or two) in Dresden – one of the most beautiful cities in all of Germany.
Contributed by Soujanya Rai | The Spicy Journey
Hamburg is for everyone
Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany, and it can be easily reached from Berlin by fast train, in less than 2 hours. There are so many things to see in Hamburg, something for everyone. No matter what you are interested in, Hamburg will deliver. It would be best if you can stay overnight and spend two days in Hamburg, in order to experience the night life and the Reeperbahn as well.
One of the most interesting areas of Hamburg is Speicherstadt, the world’s largest continuous warehouse complex. In the past, ships would bring here goods from all over the world. Today, here you can visit the spice museum and the customs museum, but also spend hours marvelling at the miniature world of Miniatur Wunderland – the world’s largest model railway.
Near Speicherstadt you will find Hafen City, a modern neighbourhood which is home to the Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg’s new philharmonic which has a unique acoustic. Seeing a performance here is such a special experience. For children, a visit to the nearby chocolate museum is a must. Here you can make your own chocolate and learn more about cocoa.
The best way to explore the canals of Hamburg is on a boat cruise.
If you are spending the night, make sure to get up early and visit the fish market. This is not just a place from where you can buy fish but also a great place to party. Usually locals come here after a night out to eat some fish, have some drinks and listen to the live music in the auction hall, at 6AM.
Contributed by Joanna |The World In My Pocket
Mecklenburg Lake District: Land of Lakes
The Mecklenburgische Seenplatte or Mecklenburg Lake District is a great day trip just 2 hours north of Berlin by car and by train. It’s perfect if you have explored central Berlin as well as the city’s hidden gems like the debris hills or free viewpoints and long for nature but you don’t want to drive all the way to the Baltic Sea.
There are 1117 lakes in total. Many of them are interconnected forming the largest water sports area in Europe.
The lakes are a paradise for windsurfing, sailing, stand-up paddling, and canoe tours – no matter if you’re travelling alone, with your significant other or with your whole family.
On land, the flat area is a paradise for cyclists. Keep an eye open for the many birds in the region. You can explore villages, churches, and old manor houses. Additionally, charming cities like Malchow, Waren, and Neustrelitz are worth a visit.
Here’s what a perfect day in Waren (Müritz) can look like: Arrive in this spa town by car or by train. Afterwards, explore the cute city centre with its many brick buildings and churches. Kids will enjoy a visit to the Müritzeum, the largest freshwater aquarium for domestic fish in Germany. Go on a relaxing boat tour with the blue and white fleet before you venture into the Müritz Nationalpark to relish in nature on your own.
If you want to stay overnight, there are a plethora of options. Nature lovers and families will enjoy one of the many campgrounds, couples can relax in a spa hotel, individual travellers can rent holiday apartments, and if you don’t want to leave the water you can spend the night on a houseboat.
Contributed by Carina Klein | Bucketlist2life
Time Travel at Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of the most easily recognized and photographed medieval towns in Germany. Located approximately 538 km from Berlin, Rothenburg would make a wonderful overnight trip for the whole family. The easiest way to get to Rothenburg is by car, or with a guided tour. Since there is very little street parking in town, you will need to park just outside the city walls. Once there, the town is completely walkable.
Aside from being a photographer’s dream, there are so many things to do in Rothenburg! The cobblestoned main street is filled with wonderful shops, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants to explore.
Head to the main square (Marktplatz) where you will find a Farmer’s Market during the summer and an incredible Christmas Market in December. And while you are there, be sure to check out the Glockenspiel as it marks the hour! Rothenburg is also home to a quirky yet interesting museum. If you have the kids with you, be sure to check out the Christmas Museum, filled to the brim with unusual and rare Christmas decorations from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
If you have the time, be sure to explore outside the city walls as well! There you will find 13 incredible and well-marked hiking trails that take you around the city limits, and down to the Tauber River Valley. During the evening, be sure to take advantage of the Night Watchman Tour. This tour goes over the history of Rothenburg while taking you for a walk above the town on the fortification walls.
And of course, you can’t leave Rothenburg without sampling a Schneeball!
These delicious treats can be found all around town. Made of fried pastry in the shape of a ball, the Schneeballs are usually covered in powdered sugar. Other varieties include ones that are chocolate-dipped or covered in candy toppings. Be forewarned – they are MESSY!
Contributed by Marianne | Journeying Giordano’s
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Which of the trips from Berlin has been your favourite? Has anything interesting been missed? Share in the comments below.
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