by Ellen Curham
Berlin is one of the best cities in Europe—it’s Germany’s political and cultural capital and a firm favourite with Hostelbookers’ customers. However, if you’re lucky enough to have more than a couple of days in this energetic city, you should try and explore beyond its boundaries.
Escaping the city for a while is always an interesting way to learn about a region and experience a little tranquillity. While the city of Berlin itself has so much to offer, there are also some amazing day trips to be had in the surrounding areas.
Gorlitz is one of the most easterly towns in Germany, located right on the Polish border and about three hours from the capital. You’ll probably experience déjà vu when admiring the Baroque and renaissance architecture as you’ve likely come across it before. The impressive and quirky buildings in this small town have served as the backdrop in some big movies like The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Reader. While you’re here you can even cross into Poland via a footbridge as the town of Gorlitz is divided between the two countries and separated by the Neisse River.
Kladow is served by the Berlin Metro system but couldn’t feel like less of an urban centre. It’s a tiny village of around 11,000 surrounded by gorgeous woods and walkways. Get the S-Bahn to Wannsee and then hop on a ferry to Kladow to spend the day outdoors. If you’re tempted to stay overnight, it is also a popular destination for campers.
This small island located on the River Havel is named after its famous residents: peacocks! In fact, the whole island is a nature reserve and home to a wide variety of plants and animals. Originally designed as a summer residence for Germany’s former royals, the island now serves as one of Berlin’s most popular day trips, accessible by the S-Bahn to Wannsee and a ferry.
Take a train from the Hauptbahnhof in Berlin to Luebbenau and experience the lush Spree Forests. This UNESCO Biosphere reserve features thousands of small waterways that run through idyllic woods. One of the best ways to enjoy the area is by a guided boat trip but there are also some wonderful cycle paths and hikes. After a day of exploring make sure to try some of the pickled cucumbers that the region is famous for before heading back to the city.
Tropical Islands Resort
For a slightly surreal day trip, check out the Tropical Islands Resort in Krausnic, south of Berlin and accessible by train. In the 1990s this aircraft hangar was tuned into a small slice of Bali-themed paradise where the temperature reaches a sweltering 26 degrees. Inside you’ll find the biggest indoor rainforest in the world, swimming pools, beaches, floating islands, a golf course, temples, restaurants and more. Sounds weird? It is—but it’s an enjoyable day trip none the less!
Potsdam is the capital of Brandenburg and an extremely important part of Germany’s political history. A former home to royals, it boasts fine architecture along with impeccable gardens. It is also where the future of Germany was decided upon after World War II, in the form of the Potsdam Conference. Spend the day visiting palaces, museums and quaint little cafés in this elegant eastern city that can be reached by S-Bahn.
Where to stay?
The beauty of day trips is that you head back to the city for the world-famous Berlin nightlife scene. Check out some of these top-rated Berlin-based hostels.
The U in Berlin Hostel is small and cosy with a real community feel. They’re located close to Berghain and tons of the kind of quirky boutiques that can only be found in Berlin. You can even rent bikes!
The Heart of Gold Hostel in Berlin is a spot that creative types will love—we adore their ‘Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy’ theme. There’s an onsite bar, secure lockers and a great beer garden.