Berlin is widely regarded as one of the best tourist destinations in Europe. The German capital is so big that it’s ready to offer something for everyone. A bustling tourist city meets an energetic academic and artistic community to turn into Berlin.
From a walk through the artistic streets of Kreuzberg, to a stroll next to the East Side Gallery, a visit to the Rathaus or the striking Holocaust Memorial, to the bustling nightlife with some of Europe’s most exclusive clubs, you can spend days in Berlin without discovering its full potential.
However, as it’s also the biggest city in Germany, you can easily feel overwhelmed by the crowds coming from everywhere. If you’re wondering where to head off for a relaxing day trip, you’re spoiled for choice. Here are the best day trips from Berlin:
One of Germany’s most famous imperial cities is right on your doorstep from Berlin.
Fabulous Potsdam is only a 20-minute ride away from Berlin on one of Germany’s famous high-speed trains.
The city offers a plethora gorgeous sights to explore, from the Prussian Rococo palaces, protected under Potsdam’s UNESCO World Heritage Site status, to the multiple gardens and lakes, ideal for a romantic stroll at sunset.
One of the more famous landmarks is Sanssouci Park, with its lavish gardens and impressive collection of art.
Allow a few hours to explore the park with all its wonders, including the famous Neptune’s Grotto and the Picture Gallery with works from Caravaggio, Rubens, van Dyck and many more.
Make sure to drop by one of the city’s multiple palaces too to get the best impression of Potsdam’s imperial glory.
Available tour: From Berlin: Potsdam 6-Hour Tour by VW Bus
2. Peacock Island
A short ferry trip up the river Havel will take you to Pfaueninsel or Peacock Island.
The island is tiny – just one and a half kilometer long and 500 meters wide.
It was laid out in the style of an English park and now its biodiversity definitely warrants a lovely day trip.
But it’s not just flowers and trees you’re there to see – Charlottenburg Palace and its sandstone portico are lovely examples of German architecture to admire.
If you’re there, make time to visit Peacock Island Castle as well.
Its ruins bear all the signs of its former grandeur and the iron footbridge is a great place for photos of some stunning views.
It’s no coincidence that Dresden was often referred to as the “Florence on the Elbe” before war broke out.
It suffered quite badly in World War II as it was heavily bombed, however after gruelling restoration work that went on for decades, Dresden is now almost back to its former glory and you can enjoy everything it has to offer.
Make sure to stop by the historic Old Town and take a few hours to just wander around the winding streets.
The stunning Frauenkirche cathedral is definitely one to put on your list with stunning architecture and gorgeous murals and arches on the inside.
To feel more of the city’s grandeur, go to the plaza of Bruehl’s Terrace and enjoy the sun going down among all the gorgeous architectural treasures around.
Dresden is about 2 and a half hours’ drive or bus journey from Berlin and it’s worth every minute.
Suggested tour: Day Trip to Dresden from Berlin
4. Spandau Citadel
The gorgeous Citadel in the fortress town of Spandau is probably one of the easiest day trips you can take from Berlin – it only takes 30 minutes on a combination of the highly effective S-Bahn and U-Bahn.
The little town of Spandau is still a sight to behold, huddled between the rivers Spree and Havel, but the imposing Citadel is by far its highlight.
The large construction has more or less remained the same since it was built in the 16th century.
Surrounded by water from all sides, there’s a bastion at each corner of the Citadel, which makes it completely unconquerable.
If you’re feeling adventurous, take the climb up the 145 steps to the Julius Tower, and enjoy the breathtaking panoramic views of the city.
5. Tropical Islands Resort
If you’re up for a day of rest and relaxation after all your excitement in Berlin, then make sure to visit the Tropical Islands Resort.
Even if you’re not planning a full day there, it’s still a fascinating sight.
The Tropical Islands Resort is about 60km away from Berlin and it’s Europe’s largest indoor pool.
But not just that – the pool is actually in an aircraft hangar! It might look very unassuming on the outside but once you go in, you’ll see what all the fuss is about.
It’s appealing to tourists of all ages and it’s a great place if you’re looking for a relaxing spa day.
It’s not just the pool and the sauna that make the Tropical Islands Resort fascinating, though – there are lots of exhibits of natural rainforest life and its atmosphere is very uniquely tropical.
6. River Havel
The river Havel flows through Berlin for 30 of its 340 kilometers – it’s truly one of the most fascinating and beautiful rivers to flow through Germany.
The best way to explore it and really take in all the surrounding scenery is to take a ferry upstream – there are many guided tours available.
A few of the city highlights around the Havel include Schildhorn, Lindwerder, Schwanenwerder and the Pfaueninsel, or Peacock Island.
The river also flows past the Grunewald, which is Germany’s largest forested parkland.
If you’re a bit sea sick and don’t like boats, you can also drive along the river.
We recommend taking the Havelchaussee that will take you straight through the Grunewald and along the riverbank.
Even better – if you like to cycle, the Havelchaussee is also a popular cycle route.
If you’re eager to explore another one of Germany’s biggest cities then head over to Leipzig.
Medieval Leipzig was a hotspot for trade and later on, Leipzig became one of the biggest hubs of the Holy Roman Empire.
Centuries later, Leipzig has still retained some if its former grandeur.
Make sure to explore the medieval Old Town, with its winding cobbled streets and marvel at the huddled houses.
Then head over to St. Thomas’ Cathedral, a true cultural hub and gorgeous to look at, too.
Leipzig’s cultural heritage is enviable – it’s the home of famous German musicians and writers such as Goethe, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Mendelsson.
In fact, Bach even used to work in St. Thomas’ Cathedral.
If you want some gorgeous natural sights, then don’t miss a visit to the zoological and botanical gardens.
Any fan of medieval architecture and gorgeous woodlands shouldn’t miss out on Köpenick.
Berlin’s largest district was once a Bronze Age settlement and is now flourishing as a part of the capital.
Köpenick is also the district with the largest number of woodland and lakes, an astonishing 14,700 acres.
Don’t miss on a visit to Köpenick Palace, a breathtaking 17th century mansion.
Inside it is the Museum of Decorative Arts, which always has some great exhibitions out.
Finally, take a walk around the Old Town and sit down for lunch in one of the many independently owned restaurants.
As Köpenick is technically a part of Berlin, it’s very easy to get to – only about 30 minutes on the tram.
A quick 1-hour ride on the S-bahn and the train will get you right in the heart of this UNESCO-protected biosphere.
It’s been preserved ever since the 1900 and it’s a completely wild uninhabited piece of land.
One of Spreewald’s unique features is its patchwork of irrigation systems, which has been turned into a winding network of canals.
It’s also the home to many protected species of plants and animals.
The park is an ideal trip for all nature lovers and history enthusiasts will also find traditional farmhouses, home to the Sorbs, a Slavic tribe that used to reside in Spreewald.
Suggested tour: From Berlin: Bus Tour to Burg in Spreewald with Boat Tour
Only a 30-minute train ride from the city center of Berlin will take you to Wannsee, the locals’ favorite destination on a hot summer’s day.
If you’re there at the right time of year, you’ll see many tourists and residents alike enjoying the lake’s glistening waters and the white beaches.
If you’re up to it, you can always explore the nearby marina and houses.
Wannsee is a hotspot for the creme-de-la-creme of Berlin society, with many yacht clubs and villas scattered on the coast.
Make sure to visit the infamous Villa Marlier, once a holiday spot for notorious Third Reich figures, now a museum with fascinating exhibits.
Take a stroll along the promenade or, if you just want some relaxation, bask in the sun on the gorgeous beach.
Available tour: From Berlin: Wannsee tour in small group
11. Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
Sachsenhausen was one of the biggest concentration camps in Germany and, due to its proximity to Berlin, a training spot for officers of the Third Reich.
It’s easily accessible via public transport and a train to the nearby town of Oranienburg.
Once a site of great atrocities, Sachsenhausen is now a museum and memorial.
Along with countless Jewish inmates, the camp is infamous as an execution site for resistance fighters and political prisoners of war.
Several camp facilities have been reconstructed to their former state and a visit to Sachsenhausen is a sobering reminder of some of the darkest pages of German history.
Suggested tour: Berlin Half-Day Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Tour
12. Klein Glienicke
The picturesque village of Klein Glienicke – literally meaning Little Glienicke – is on the Glienicker Lake very close to Potsdam.
A 50-minute train from Berlin will take you straight there.
One of its main attractions is the Glienicker Bridge, which opens up gorgeous views down the River Havel.
If you’re there, make sure to pay Glienicke Palace a visit, the summer residence of Prince Karl of Prussia, built in the early 19th century in Neoclassical style.
Another must-see is the Klosterhof, a Venetian-style monastery built in the 1850s.
Finally, make sure to check out the Volkspark Glienicke and its gorgeous views towards Potsdam and the surrounding areas.
13. Military History Museum
Near Gatow and a very easy trip from Berlin is the Military History Museum.
The museum’s focal point is Gatow Airfield, which was used by the British RAF for various military purposes during the war.
Now, the museum hosts an impressive collection of wartime planes, ranging from aircraft from WW1 to various machinery during the NATO period.
The site has over 100 original and replica planes, as well as jet fighters from WWII. Some of the displayed aircraft are still under restoration – but they are all a fascinating sight to see.
Not just that, the Museum also has an impressive collection of over 200,000 artefacts – uniforms, engine parts, weapons and more.
Don’t be fooled by Düppel’s size – the museum village is currently one of the most popular tourist attraction for families from far and wide.
It’s a very straightforward hour-long trip from Berlin and once you’re there, you’ll definitely see why it’s so famous.
Düppel is a fascinating reconstruction of a 13th century medieval settlement.
It has hundreds of old houses, workshops and barns.
Among the highlights are traditional blacksmith shops, pottery and a cobbler shop.
Staff are all dressed in traditional clothing and display various skills of medieval folk, including bread making, pottery and weaving.
The village is also famous for rare animals that have been bred back from extinction, such as the Düppel pig, and its use of traditional farming methods to grow long-forgotten herbs and vegetables. It’s amazing fun for the whole family.
Often overlooked because there isn’t seemingly much to do there, Kladow is one of the easiest and cheapest day trips you can take from Berlin – it can cost as little as €5! Take the S-Bahn to Wannsee and from there hop on the ferry to Kladow.
On a sunny day, Kladow is indispensable as a great place to swim and walk along the shore.
It’s a lakeside area with lots of greenery and you can take your time looking at the red squirrels or the various boats on the lake.
Given there isn’t much else there, it’s the perfect place for a picnic away from the city – and it’s guaranteed to give you a break from the hordes of tourists.