Don't get me wrong, Berlin is a bustling city with amazing things to do. However, I feel you won't do Germany justice by just staying and exploring the main city.
While you’re there, you should definitely 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.
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.
Just a quick 30-minute hop away from Berlin lies the stunningly beautiful Spandau - an absolute must-visit for anyone craving a taste of medieval Germany!
Picture this: Spandau was once a bustling independent trading town, way back in the early 13th century, and it's split into two awesome settlements - the Old Town Island and the Citadel Island. 🏰
If you're ready for some exploring, you've got to check out the walled fortress that's encircled by not one, not two, but FOUR charming parks! And right at the heart of it all is a delightful public garden and a fascinating local museum. 🌳🏺
Feeling a little adventurous? Tackle the epic 150 steps of Julius Tower (you'll thank us later) that's just chillin' next to the citadel. It's a workout, but oh boy, you'll be rewarded with an absolutely breathtaking view of Spandau's old town, and if you're eagle-eyed enough, you might just spot the Berlin skyline far off in the distance! 🏙️👀
Time to dive into the old town? Get ready to immerse yourself in a treasure trove of history, from the ancient courtyard in the Prince's Room to the stunning Palas that dates back to the 14th century, and the cozy castle's residential quarters.
And hey, while you're at it, don't forget to unwind with a delicious bite to eat or a refreshing drink at one of the many welcoming taverns and cafes around. Cheers! 🍻🥨
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
Venture just 40 minutes southwest of Berlin and uncover a treasure trove of history that is Potsdam! This lively, large German city - which also happens to be the capital of Brandenburg - is practically your time machine to the glory days of Germany's imperial past. 🕰️🇩🇪
What's the big deal about Potsdam, you ask?
Well, for starters, this city is packed with stunning monuments and palaces, all protected by the fancy-schmancy UNESCO Potsdam World Heritage status. Talk about a dream come true for history and architecture lovers! 🏛️✨
But wait, there's more! Potsdam's also famous for its jaw-dropping parks and gardens.
Say hello to the star attraction: Sanssouci Park, where you'll find the mesmerizing Great Fountain (hello, four elements!) smack dab in the middle. And let's not forget the enchanting Sanssouci Palace and the opulent New Palaces - two of Germany's most incredible architectural masterpieces that totally capture the essence of 18th century imperial Prussia. 🏰🌳
Wanna squeeze every last drop of excitement out of your Potsdam adventure? Join the ultimate six-hour-long Discover Potsdam walking tour, where you'll hit all the must-see spots around the city! Strap on those walking shoes and dive into the heart of 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
Picture this: you're in Berlin and you're craving a dreamy getaway just like New Yorkers do with the Hamptons. Well, guess what? Berliners have their very own oasis - the fabulous Wannsee! It's got that chic, luxurious vibe, with jaw-dropping villas lining the lake's main road.
The Wannsee is the ultimate vacation hotspot, and it's just a breezy 45-minute ride from the city! Get ready for not one, but TWO lakes that serve up the perfect spots for swimming, rowing, and even sailing.
The Great Lake (Grosse Wannsee) is connected to the River Havel, which winds through eastern Germany. You can sail from Wannsee to Potsdam, Berlin, and even close to the Polish border! You can also hop on a tourist boat in Spandau or Potsdam and snap those Insta-worthy shots of the gorgeous lake.
Don't forget to take a drive along the Am Grossen Wannsee road, where you'll be treated to breathtaking views of the great and small lakes. And hey, what's a getaway without some scrumptious food? You'll find plenty of adorable restaurants and cafes right on the shore, so you can indulge in a tasty meal or pastry while soaking in the stunning views of 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
If you're ready for a hidden gem just outside of Berlin, Meet Köpenick!
Köpenick is one of Germany's oldest towns with its roots in the Bronze Age. Located on the outskirts of Berlin, much like Spandau, Köpenick offers a perfect escape from the city's hustle and bustle. It's not just the largest town near Berlin but also surrounded by impressive woodlands and lake areas – talk about a top-choice destination!
If you're a fan of leisurely summer strolls, Köpenick is a must-visit when you're in Berlin. This charming town is famous for its numerous walkways along the water, allowing you to explore the entire shoreline on foot. Don't forget the Long Bridge, which connects the old town to the many lakes. Admire the gorgeous scenery, snap some Insta-worthy pics, and get a workout at the same time – win-win-win!
No day trip to Köpenick is complete without exploring the old town, a showcase of the town's history and traditional German architecture.
You'll be transported back to Germany's Prussian glory days as you visit landmarks like the Old Town Hall and the Köpenick Palace. And if you're craving more culture and art, head over to Berlin's Museum of Decorative Arts for a fascinating insight into the city's rich heritage.
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
Looking for a picturesque village nestled between Potsdam and Berlin? Little Glienicke is the perfect spot, letting you make the most of your day or weekend trip. This quaint village's star attraction is the stunning Iron Bridge, an artistic masterpiece offering breathtaking views of the Havel River.
But wait, there's more! Discover the beautiful Glienicke Palace, an 1820s summer estate built for Prince Karl of Prussia. Nowadays, it houses a small museum and boasts luxurious gardens. In the summer, dine like royalty at the castle's outdoor restaurant, fulfilling your European banquet fantasies. And for an even better view of the villa and town, head over to the nearby Nikolsoe viewpoint.
Klein Glienicke is also home to a Venetian monastery, the Klosterhof, which welcomes visitors and is a popular attraction in the village. If you're interested in exploring Klein Glienicke's religious culture further, you're in for a treat!
The Russian-inspired Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, with its unique onion-style dome, is a must-visit and offers gorgeous photo opportunities for your Instagram feed.
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
Imagine exploring a city that embodies Germany's cultural evolution, from the late 19th-century imperial era to its division and later reunification. Just south of Potsdam, you'll find Leipzig, Saxony's largest city with a whopping 600,000 residents and a vibrant culture to match!
Leipzig is a living showcase of Germany's history, brimming with iconic monuments like the Old City Hall and the Battle of the Nations monument. The city's churches, such as St Nicholas Church and St Thomas Church, also offer a stunning glimpse into German neoclassical architecture.
But Leipzig isn't just for history buffs! Art lovers will rejoice at the city's numerous museums and galleries, like the Museum of Fine Arts and the Grassi Museum. If you're craving delicious German pastries or need a caffeine fix, you'll be spoiled for choice with Leipzig's fantastic cafes and restaurants. While you're at it, don't miss the chance to explore Madlerpassage, the city's oldest shopping arcade.
And if you're looking to connect with nature, Leipzig has got you covered with one of Germany's largest zoos and magnificent botanical gardens. There's truly something for everyone in this lively city, so get ready for an unforgettable adventure!
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
Imagine a captivating city just two hours south of Berlin, brimming with cultural treasures and stunning architecture. Welcome to Dresden, the capital of Saxony and one of Germany's richest cultural hotspots. With over a dozen museums, gardens, and palaces at your fingertips, you'll be mesmerized by the city's signature baroque architecture and Germany's finest works of art.
Some must-visit museums in Dresden include the Royal Palace, Europe's second-largest and oldest public museum, the Dresden Kulturpalatz, showcasing Soviet-era socialist culture, and the German Hygiene Museum, offering a unique look into Germany's medical history. But that's just the tip of the iceberg – there's so much more to explore!
Dresden is also a haven for beautiful landscapes and sceneries, especially around the Pillnitz Palace gardens and the Great Garden and Zoo. Get ready to snap some stunning photos and elevate your Instagram game! And when hunger strikes, head over to Brühl's Terrace, where you'll find an array of restaurants and bars serving up delicious food alongside breathtaking views of the Elbe river. Dive into the vibrant world of Dresden and create memories that'll last a lifetime!
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
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.
There are so many ways to organize your escapade outside Berlin. Use Pilot to start planning your trip now!