Germany’s extremely hip capital is definitely one of those places you need to visit once before you die!
But if you fancy a break from exploring hip art galleries, checking out Soviet-era landmarks or throwing yourself into Berlin’s crazy nightlife scene, (yes for most of us that means idly standing outside Berghain fascinated by what actually lies inside) there are loads of awesome places you can visit in a day just beyond the city limits.
From fun-packed water parks that’ll put a smile on even the grumpiest traveller’s face to areas of natural beauty ideal for escaping the hustle and bustle of the big city, here’s our round up of impressive, poignant and just plain dreamy day trip destinations within a few hours of Berlin.
Dreaming of wild swimming surrounded by wonderful scenery? Get yourself down to Kladow
While many people like to flock to the huge inland beach at Wannsee to swim and sunbathe in the River Havel, those in the know travel just across the water to quieter Kladow.
OK, iPhone at the ready. You could get lost easily as the entire area is a warren of wonderful woodlands. It’s also blessed with a huge lake called the Groß Glienicker See. The water is safe and shallow for swimming, and there’s even a free-to-use volleyball court right on the shore! We’ll be Maverick, you can be Goose.
If you really want to make a day of it, there are plenty of boat trips along the Havel. Why not check out Peacock Island (home to an 18th century palace) or the Glienicke Bridge? Captured spies were famously exchanged between East and West Germany during the Cold War here. It’s all a bit James Bond!
Drive time: 35 minutes
To get an important dose of history, brave a visit to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
It may seem like a morbid place to visit on your holidays, but this museum is actually an important memorial of one of Germany’s most horrific chapters of history.
Less than half an hour away from Berlin you’ll find the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. From 1936 to 1945, the Nazi concentration camp housed political prisoners, including the Crown Prince of Bavaria, a former French Prime Minister and one of Joseph Stalin’s sons. After it was captured by the Soviet Army at the end of the war, Sachsenhausen was used by the NKVD to hold 60,000 prisoners until 1950.
If you head there today you can learn about the camp’s harrowing past in the Sachsenhausen Museum, tour reconstructed buildings such as guard towers and cell blocks, or have a quiet moment of reflection at the towering memorial statue.
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, Str. der Nationen 22, 16515 Oranienburg, Germany
Drive time: 45 minutes
Your inner tree hugger might just burst out with a trip to Spreewald
This lush locale just an hour from Berlin is a hotspot for those looking to get back to nature. Tree-hugging is optional, but hey, why not?
Spreewald – meaning Spree forest – was made a biosphere reserve in 1991 and it’s pretty amazing for the eyes. First things first, there’s plenty of room. Over 1000km in fact! There’s also 200+ canals (which can be explored in wooden punts), tiny islands and a few back-time-villages. Talk about picture-postcard-perfect. Wow that was a tongue twister!
Drive time: 80 minutes
When nothing but a touch of the topics will do, Tropical Islands Resort is just 60km from the city!
If you’ve got the kids with you or you’re a big kid at heart, there’s nothing better than a day out at a waterpark – and this one is an absolute corker!
It’s quirky, unique and a whole lot of fun! First off, it’s in a disused aircraft hangar – we said it was quirky! And it’s tropical themed? OK, we’re in, sounds fun!
Tropical Islands Resort is also the biggest tropical-themed indoor pool in Europe! One of the main attractions is the huge Bali-inspired lagoon which has lush palms, traditional huts and even a waterfall. You’ll also be able to bathe in balmy waters in the Tropical Sea (it even has a sandy beach!) and whizz down four slides at the 27m high water slide tower.
It’s also great for the little ones, plus there’s a massive spa and sauna complex if you need a little pampering. We’ll meet you in there!
Tropical-Islands-Allee 1, 15910 Krausnick, Germany
Drive time: 60 minutes
A tour of Sanssouci Park promises the ULTIMATE fantasy house viewing
It really wouldn’t be a German road trip if there weren’t a couple of castles thrown in, now would it?
While you might not be in Bavaria or the Rhine Valley, you can still potter down to Potsdam instead.
The beautiful city south-west of Berlin is the capital of the Brandenburg region and it’s a hotbed of Imperial architecture. That’s nice buildings to you and me!
And the cherry on top of the cake has to be Sanssouci Park. It’s the former summer residence of Frederick the Great of Prussia and it rivals France’s Versailles for its elegant design. We just can’t get enough of the intricate stone carvings, gold detailing and gorgeous original furnishings.
If you want to relax in the gardens, well you’re covered for that too. The spectacular gardens are home to follies, a lush terraced vineyard and an impressive fountain surrounded by marble statues of Greek and Roman gods. That’s what we’re talking about.
Fun fact: Sanssouci means “without worries” in French and it certainly fits the bill as a relaxing oasis far from busy Berlin!
Sanssouci Park, Zur Historischen Mühle 1, 14469 Potsdam, Germany
Drive time: 35 minutes
Why not explore more of gorgeous Germany once you’ve finished up in Berlin? For some inspiration, check out our guide to Frankfurt’s top vineyards or tick off some of Germany’s most beautiful lakes during the ultimate country-wide road trip tour.