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Top Berlin Day Trip Ideas: Plan the Perfect Berlin Excursion Now!

Updated on:  
February 9, 2022
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Robin Vochelet
Robin Vochelet
Contributor
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Plan the perfect day trip from Berlin with our itinerary guide to see all the amazing destinations with your friends and family! Read on to find out how you can make this day trip from Berlin unforgettable.

It’s official: you’re all booked to travel to Berlin soon! If you haven’t found your dream accommodation, the Pilot team has your back, with our guides on the best neighborhoods to explore and the best hostels to stay in

While you’re there, you might even have time to spend a day or two venturing into the outskirts of the city and discovering what eastern Germany has to offer. This blog list provides some of my favorite day trips from Berlin, most of which I had the opportunity to try out myself and would highly recommend. 

Whether you’re traveling alone or with your best friends, you’re assured to find exciting activities that will make your trip to the German capital and its surroundings a blast.

Keep reading to find out what these activities are!

ICE train in berlin
Photo credit: Murat Tost/Unsplash

Transiting outside Berlin: a few things to keep in mind

Similar to most European capitals, Berlin is well embedded in the German intercity transit system. Nearly all German cities are connected to the capital via the Intercity Express, the country’s high-speed train network also known as the ICE. ICE also operates smaller networks of regional trains that connect smaller cities within the same state, known as commuter trains.

For those of you who want some more independence and don’t like to rely on public transit, renting a car can also be an affordable alternative. Major rental companies such as Hertz, Sixt, and more offer preferential discounts for travelers if you reserve ahead of time. Additionally, car rental points are available at nearly every railway station or airport in Germany, allowing you to simply head to the Berlin Bahnof station if you decide to rent a car at the last minute. However, we still recommend looking at our options ahead of time, preferably before your trip starts, to make sure you get the best deals on rentals.

It goes without saying, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many aspects of international travel and tourism, which could also affect your day trip plans while in Berlin. As such, we recommend checking on your preferred destination’s website what the business hours are and if the store/attraction is still operating despite the pandemic.

Spandau classic street view
Photo credit: Visit Berlin

Spandau

Located just 30 minutes outside Berlin, Spandau is a gorgeous attraction for anyone seeking to explore Germany’s medieval history. Established as an independent trading town in the early 13th century, Spandau is divided between two settlements: the Old Town Island and the Citadel Island. The walled fortress is surrounded by four small parks in each corner and hosts a public garden and a local museum in its center.

If you are not afraid of doing an extra workout, take on the almost 150 steps of the Julius Tower, located right next to the citadel. Doing so will allow you to access the tower’s rooftop which offers a breathtaking view of Spandau with the old town, and the best-sighted of you might even catch a glimpse of the Berlin skyline far on the horizon.

Crossing into the old town, you will have the opportunity to explore more of the settlement’s history, including the old courtyard in the Prince’s Room, the Palas that was built in the 14th century, and the castle’s residential quarters. The old town also offers several taverns and cafes if you want to grab a bite or sit down for a drink with your party. 

How to commute there: ICE1524 (high-speed train), S47 and U7 (S-Bahn and U-Bahn connection)

Estimated commute time: 15-30 minutes from Berlin city center depending on transportation

Price: about €3.80 for a one-way trip with either the S-Bahn/U-Bahn or ICE train

Potsdam Schloss sanssouci
Photo credit: Leon Seibert/Unsplash

Potsdam

Located a mere 40 minutes southwest of Berlin, Potsdam is the closest large German city. The capital of the state of Brandenburg is known for its rich history and architecture that will take you on a journey back in time to Germany’s imperial hayday. Most monuments and palaces in the city are protected under the UNESCO Potsdam World Heritage status.

Additionally, Potsdam is home to world-renowned parks and gardens, the largest of which is the Sanssouci Park, characterized by the Great Fountain that lies in its center with its representation of the four elements, as well as the Sanssouci Palace and the New Palaces. Both castles are among Germany’s most gorgeous architectural masterpieces and are a cornerstone of 18th century imperial Prussia.

If you are feeling adventurous and want to make the most of your time in this lovely city, you may also choose to hop onto the six-hour-long Discover Potsdam walking tour that will take you to all must-see spots around Potsdam.

How to commute there: S7 (S-Bahn line from Berlin Central Station), RE1 (regional commuter train), rental car

Estimated commute time: 30 minutes from Berlin city center

Price: about €3.80 for a one-way trip with either the S-Bahn or regional train

wannsee from berlin amazing lake view
Photo credit: Murat Tost/Unsplash

Wannsee

For many Berliners, the Wannsee shares the same importance as the Hamptons for New Yorkers. The similarity between both places is particularly striking when going down the main road that borders the lake, filled with old sumptuous villas. The Wannsee is a popular vacationing spot in Berlin, owing to its prime location near the city — it shouldn’t take you more than 45 minutes to transit there — and the two lakes that host several beaches, ideal for swimming, rowing, or even sailing.

The Great Lake (Grosse Wannsee) is part of a larger basin that flows into the River Havel, which runs through much of eastern Germany, and allows you to sail down the Wannsee to Potsdam, Berlin, and even near the Polish border. If the thought of maneuvering a sailing boat gives you anxiety, fear not, for the Wannsee provides tourist boats in Spandau and Potsdam that will take you on the lake and allow you to snap gorgeous pictures.

Driving along the Am Grossen Wannsee road also allows you to gorge on the scenery, as the road borders both the great and small lakes. Additionally, you will come across many cute restaurants and cafes situated right on the shore, allowing you to enjoy a delicious meal or pastry while admiring the Great Lake and the Havel.

How to commute there: RE7 (commuter train) and bus 118, S7 (S-Bahn) and bus 118/318, rental car

Estimated commute time: 30-45 minutes from Berlin city center depending on transportation

Price: about €3.80 for a one-way trip using public transportation

Kopenick old settlement
Photo credit: Nathan Wright/Unsplash

Köpenick

The old settlement of Köpenick, situated on the outskirts of Berlin similar to Spandau, is one of Germany’s oldest towns, established during the Bronze Age. In addition to being the largest town accessible just outside Berlin, Köpenick also boasts impressive woodlands and lake areas in its immediate vicinity, making it a top choice destination for whoever wants to escape the hustle and bustle of Berlin’s city center, even for just a day.

If you are one for nice, long summer walks, Köpenick should definitely be on your list when coming to Berlin. The town is particularly known for its numerous walkways along the water, allowing you to cover the entire shoreline by foot, as well as the Long Bridge that links the old town to the many lakes. In addition to admiring the gorgeous scenery, and snapping a few pictures should you feel the need to update your Instagram feed, you will also get a workout out of this journey, definitely a win all throughout!

A day trip to Köpenick wouldn’t be complete without visiting the old town, which is a vitrine of the town’s history and German traditional architecture. Monuments like the Old Town Hall and the Köpenick Palace will take you back to Germany’s glory days as Prussia. You will also have the opportunity to visit Berlin's Museum of Decorative Arts that will provide a further outlook on the city’s rich culture and art.

How to commute there: S9 (S-Bahn) and tram 67, S3 and tram 62

Estimated commute time: 50 minutes from Berlin Central Station

Price: about €3.80 for a one-way trip

Klein Gleinicke village
Photo credit: Visit Berlin

Klein Glienicke

The village of Little Glienicke is located down on the Havel between Potsdam and Berlin, allowing you to hit two birds with one stone if you decide to hop on a day or even weekend trip to the former. The village’s most popular attraction is the Iron Bridge, a sumptuous work of art that offers an even more breathtaking view of the Havel River.

There, you will also have the opportunity to explore the Glienicke Palace, a gorgeous villa built in the 1820s as the summer estate of Prince Karl of Prussia, which now houses a small museum and luxurious gardens. In the summer, the castle also hosts a restaurant with outdoor seating, which will assuredly fulfill any dream you might have of eating at a fancy European banquet. The Nikolsoe viewpoint nearby also provides a delightful spot to admire the villa, as well as a broader overview of the town.

Klein Glienicke is also home to a Venetian monastery, the Klosterhof, which is open for visitors and a renowned attraction in the village. If you want to further explore the religious culture of Klein Glienicke, you are in luck, as the village is also known for its Russian-inspired church, the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, with its onion-style dome making for gorgeous Instagram pictures.

How to commute there: S7 (S-Bahn) and bus 616, rental car

Estimated commute time: 55 minutes from Berlin Central Station

Price: about €3.80 for a one-way trip

Leipzig trams
Photo credit: Dirk Pohlers/Unsplash

Leipzig

Located a little further south of Potsdam, the city of Leipzig epitomizes the cultural development of Germany from the late 19th century imperial era to its division into East and West Germany and the later reunification. With a population of about 600,000 people, Leipzig is the largest city in the state of Saxony, boasting an incredibly rich culture. A vitrine of Germany’s history, the city is home to many notable monuments, including the Old City Hall, the Battle of the Nations monument. Leipzig is all well-known for its many churches that exemplify German neoclassical architecture, such as St Nicholas Church and St Thomas Church.

In addition, the city is also a top-choice destination for anyone who is a fan of the arts, with numerous museums and art galleries located in the city center, including the Museum of Fine Arts or the Grassi Museum. If you have a sweet spot for German pastries or need to sustain your caffeine addiction, Leipzig will provide you with a plethora of renowned cafes and restaurants that serve amazing food, also allowing you to explore Madlerpassage, the city’s oldest shopping arcade.

Finally, for anyone wanting to use this opportunity to better interact with nature, Leipzig hosts one of Germany’s largest zoos as well as magnificent botanical gardens, ensuring that everyone in your party finds an exciting way to spend their time in the city.

Hw to commute there: ICE507 (high-speed train), rental car

Estimated commute time: 1 hour from Berlin city center

Price: about €90 for a round trip with an ICE train

Dresden, Germany's richest cultural capital with unique buildings
Photo credit: Oliver Guhr/Unsplash

Dresden

Located two hours south of Berlin, Dresden is the capital of the state of Saxony, and assuredly one of Germany’s richest cultural capitals. With over a dozen museums, gardens, and palaces accessible immediately from the city center or just outside, the city will provide you with a unique opportunity to gorge in Germany’s signature baroque architecture and enjoy some of the country’s finest works of art.

Some of the most popular museums in Dresden include the Royal Palace, Europe’s second-largest and oldest public museum just behind the Vatican, the Dresden Kulturpalatz, a vitrine of the Soviet-era socialist culture that characterized Leipzig and the rest of East Germany, and the German Hygiene Museum, which despite its interesting name provides a fascinating overview of Germany’s rich medical history and practices, although many more are open for you to visit.

In addition, Dresden offers gorgeous landscapes and sceneries, which are particularly noteworthy around the Pillnitz Palace gardens and the Great Garden and Zoo, ideal for whoever is looking to capture aesthetic photos and/or improve their Instagram feed. If you are visiting the city and find yourself hungry or thirsty, head toward Brühl’s Terrace to explore the many restaurants and bars that combine tasty food and breathtaking scenery along the Elbe river.

How to commute there: ICE2175 (high-speed train), rental car

Estimated commute time: 2 hours from Berlin city center

Price: about €90 for a round trip with an ICE train

Leipzig temples
Photo credit: Agent J/Unsplash

Plan your day trips with Pilot

You might have noticed that this list was organized in order of distance from Berlin city center and that most of the main tourist attractions recommended are along the Havel. If you’re feeling adventurous, I would highly recommend exploring several of these destinations back to back to make the most of your journey. The Berlin-Potsdam corridor is perfect for anyone willing to get out of the buzzing city for a day or two and allows you to enjoy the scenery of the German countryside, in addition to visiting opulent castles and palaces, and eating from the local food scene.

While there are so many ways to organize your escapade outside Berlin, the Pilot social travel planner is a valuable tool to help you and your loved ones plan the best experience in Germany. If this sounds like something you are interested in, you can sign up to join our early access list now!

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Originally published on:  
August 14, 2021

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