But if you have the time, consider taking a day trip or two. There is a mix of great cultural and nature trips possible, and there’s something out there for every kind of traveler. Here are the best day trips from Berlin to help you get out and explore eastern Germany.
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It’s easy to get from Berlin to Dresden in about two hours, so it makes an easy day trip from Berlin. While I think there’s more than enough in Dresden to spend a few days exploring, if you’re short on time then it deserves at least a day trip.
Some of my favorite things to do in Dresden include exploring the elegant Altstadt (old city), crossing the bridge to see the hip Neustadt (new city) with its amazing street art, and going on a Kurt Vonnegut Slaughterhouse-Five tour.
Dresden is called the Florence of the North, and it’s a truly beautiful city that’s arisen from the ashes of the Dresden bombing campaigns in World War II.
Hamburg is a beautiful German city that cannot be compared to any other city. The city is mostly known for being a Hanseatic town that has one of the biggest harbors in Europe. Hamburg has wonderful cafes, great museums to visit and plenty more things to do.
One of the most special things you can do in Hamburg, Germany, is visiting one of the tallest buildings in Hamburg. The reason for that is because this tall building, of more than 100 meters, is the Elbphilharmonie (the building on the right), which is a concert hall. This concert hall in Hamburg is one of the most acoustically advanced concert halls ever built. If you love music, then you have to go to a concert of the Elbphilharmonie Orchestra.
Another part of Hamburg that you must visit is the Speicherstadt. This area is nowadays protected as a World Heritage Site and exists of beautiful red warehouses with a canal in the middle. Walking through this area of Hamburg and admiring the beautiful houses, is one of my most favorite things to do.
There are plenty of more things to do in Hamburg, so when you’re visiting this beautiful city I’m positive that you won’t be bored. To get from Berlin to Hamburg you should take the ICE train in the direction of Hamburg HBF. This should take you around 1 hour and 45 minutes, one way.
Contributed by Manon van Schagen from Visiting The Dutch Countryside.
Leipzig is less than 200 kilometers from Berlin and the train is an efficient way to get there, taking around an hour and a half. Leipzig is a city on the up, and you will feel the young and student vibe immediately.
For a day trip, I recommend homing in on the arts and culture. Leipzig is a very musical city and the best way to get an overview is on a walking or cycling tour. Your guide will show you the opera house and Gewandhaus Concert Hall, introduce you to the interactive music trail and the houses of Leipzig’s famous composers.
In the afternoon you might want to conduct an orchestra for fun using digital technology at the Mendelssohn House. Or enjoy the fine arts with a visit to the impressive Spinnerei galleries and artist’s studios converted out of an old cotton mill. If you fancy something more active you can rent a skateboard at Bastl Boards and scoot around the street art in the city center. Finish by winding up with coffee and cake at one of the elegant cafes like Café Riquet.
Contributed by Kirstie Pelling from The Family Adventure Project
Looking for a fun day trip from Berlin? Consider Rostock and Warnemunde, on the northern coast. Rostock is a university town with a rich history, and Warnemunde is a charming seaside resort, just a 20-minute train ride from Rostock.
In Rostock, you can take a tram to the center of town and then just walk around to enjoy the sights. If you love history and architecture, there are many sights in Rostock you will not want to miss. In medieval times, Rostock was a powerful member of the Hanseatic League, and Rostock’s wealthy merchants built high walls around the town to protect their assets. Remains of these walls, along with some of the old town gates, can still be seen today.
At Neuer Markt, the town’s market square, you will see pretty houses with pastel facades and a Baroque pink town hall. The square, along with most of the town, was heavily bombed in World War II, and the facades have been restored since. Rostock is also home to several medieval churches. St. Mary’s Church, right off the square, houses a very old astronomical clock that still works. Also visit the university, which was founded in the 15th century and is one of the oldest universities in Europe.
In Warnemunde stroll along the waterfront and visit the historic lighthouse or spend time as a beach. You will love the charming little seaside resort with its many cafes and little shops.
Rostock is just under two hours from Berlin by fast train.
Contributed by Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles
Located in Oranienburg, just an hour’s train ride from Berlin is Sachsenhausen, a former concentration camp used by the Nazis during World War Two and then repurposed by the Soviets to hold prisoners during their occupation. The former political prison camp is now an open-air memorial and whilst it’s harrowing and confronting, it certainly feels like a way to try to come to grips with the horrors persecuted people faced during these regimes and really gain some perspective. Sachsenhausen was not intended to be an extermination camp, like Auschwitz, however, in later years a gas chamber and ovens were installed where many innocent people were exterminated. This section of the museum is particularly poignant, with photos of the victims and scattered flowers in remembrance.
Admission is free to the memorial and museum and whilst some of the structures have been razed to the ground, there are cell blocks still standing to really get a sense of the torture these people endured as prisoners. Visiting is a harrowing experience, so go mentally prepared to come face to face with grief and devastation. To get to Sachsenhausen from Berlin, take the train to Oranienburg station which will take around an hour. From there, it’s either a 30 min walk or a bus ride to Sachsenhausen. At Sachsenhausen, audio guides can be collected from the entrance and then visitors are free to wander at their leisure.
Contributed Emma Caldwell from Emma Jane Explores.
Sächische Schweiz (Saxon Switzerland)
Germany is full of spectacular national parks. One which is a do-able as a day trip from Berlin is arguably the most intriguing of them all. The Sächsische Schweiz (Saxon Switzerland) is a national park just south of Dresden. Expect a day full of incredible landscapes, strange rocky structures, and epic hiking trails!
Whilst this day trip is a little bit far from Berlin there is a fast train which leaves from Berlin and arrives in Saxon Switzerland in just two and a half hours. So pack a little picnic the night before and head to Berlin Hauptbahnhof (the main station) for 7 am. Get comfortable as you go straight to the beautiful Barack city of Dresden then transfer onto a train which meanders through the spectacular national park. A trip to the national park is also a popular day trip from Dresden.
The Sächsische Schweiz boasts huge towers of stone, scary caves, medieval stone bridges, wonderful hikes, and breath-taking views. You are spoilt for choice! The train stops at many little villages dotted along the river Elbe in the park. There are ferries to transport you across the Elbe if you wish to hike on the eastern side. The various trails can take anywhere between a couple of hours to a few days. A perfect day trip hike is to the Basteii bridge. Yet you could also pop over the border in the Czech Republic to see the epic sandstone arch. There are so many wonderful trials, you cannot choose a bad one!
If you need to escape the hustle and bustle of the city of Berlin, the Saechsiche Schweiz is a fantastic day trip!
Contributed by Anna Liddell from MyTravelScrapbook.com
The UNESCO biosphere reserve Spreewald makes for a super easy day trip from Berlin.
Think of the Spreewald as a large nature reserve interlaced by canals and channels with residential housing, holiday waterfront properties, and historic towns and villages.
Located 100 km southeast of Berlin, you can get there in just over an hour by car or even by train. Start your day trip either at Lübbenau or Vetschau, the two most accessible towns. Taking a punt boat (Spreewaldkahn) tour is the most popular way to explore the waterways around the Spreewald. Come prepared to wait if you arrive in the summer.
If an organized tour doesn’t appeal, rent a canoe or kayak and explore the canals by yourself. I haven’t done that yet but I’d imagine getting off the beaten track in the more than 270 km of waterways would be a great way to spend the day.
If you prefer to stay on dry land, visit one of the villages with some dating back to the Middle Ages. Raddusch offers some fascinating Slavic history going back almost 1,000 years, while the open-air village museum of Lehde will give you insight into Spreewald life in the 19th century. Or visit Branitz Castle and its sprawling gardens, part of the UNESCO world heritage since 2004.
This area is also home to Germany’s Sorbs, a linguistic and cultural minority, and witnessing one of their colorful festivals would be a great day out!
Contributed by Kati Craythorn from Queensland & Beyond.
5 Things to Pack for Berlin
I have an entire post on exactly what to pack for Germany, but here are five things you absolutely need to have with you in your suitcase.
- TheLonely Planet Germanyguidebook for your trip. I’ve been looking for a hard copy here since I don’t like getting stuff delivered to me in Bulgaria, and I can’t find one. Definitely get your guidebook ahead of time.
- An Unlocked Cell Phoneso that you can use a German sim card to navigate the city.
- Melatoninif you’ll be traveling transatlantic and your sleep schedule will be disrupted.
- Universal Outlet Adaptersif your appliances are from North America or the UK or any part of the world that uses outlets different than continental Europe.
- Travel Insurance Policy information, because things happen on the road. I pay for World Nomads, and I happily recommend them. It’s especially important to get travel insurance when in cities like Berlin where there are pickpockets that target tourists.
I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for travel insurance for two years, and I happily recommend them. It’s especially important to get travel insurance when participating in outdoor activities. Even in the cities, though, you’ll be happy when you’re able to replace your stuff if it’s lost or stolen.
More about Traveling to Berlin, Germany
- Germany Packing List
- 21 Things to Know Before Traveling to Germany: Tips & Advice
- Berlin Souvenir & Shopping Guide
- Exploring Wartime Berlin (Podcast Episode)
- 10 Reasons to Travel Germany in Autumn
- How to Get from Berlin to Dresden on the Cheap & Hassle-Free
- How to Get from Dresden to Berlin
Leave your best Berlin day trip tips and any questions you have below!