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Berlin, the capital and largest city in Germany, is one of Europe’s most happening cities. It’s a place that’s packed with both history and culture, and you can delve into the city’s long past before enjoying the delights of contemporary Berlin, be it in the food and drinks, or in the art and nightlife.
The city has a lot to offer, but once you have explored iconic sights such as the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag, and once you have seen the remains of the Berlin Wall and cruised along the River Spree, then there are some excellent day trips to make from the capital too!
By train, you can visit many more classic German cities, with great destinations such as Hamburg, Dresden and Hanover being just a short journey away from Berlin. You can take your partner on romantic trips into the German countryside, to spend the day visiting romantic lakes, and beautiful gardens, while if you’re travelling with the kids and a family, there are old airfields turned public parks to visit, as well as indoor waterparks and much, much more!
This is a great city to visit, and to inspire your trip to the German capital, here are our favourite day trips from Berlin, hand picked by our best travel experts!
Table of Contents
Day Trips From Berlin by Train – Dresden
Romantic Day Trips From Berlin for Couples – Seven Lakes
Best Day Trips from Berlin with Kids – Tropical Islands
Dresden is one of Germany’s most well known and important cities, and from Berlin, it’s just a two-hour train ride to the south!
Take the fast train from the capital and you’ll soon be stepping off and into the capital of the state of Saxony, where all things history and culture await you. The city, like many in Germany, was destroyed during World War II, and unfortunately, Dresden was harder hit than most, being the scene of an infamous firebombing attack by the Allies that wiped out almost the entirety of the Old Town.
When you arrive in the city, head to the Museum of Military History, where you’ll find one of Germany’s best museums. Although it’s found inside an old military arsenal, the focus of this museum isn’t weapons and tanks, but the human side of the war, and you can learn much about Dresden during World War II before you explore the rest of the city.
The Old Town was restored in the decades after World War II, and today you can still find the historic buildings standing as they did for centuries. The city is renowned for its Baroque style architecture and you can stroll through the old streets and admire the likes of the Opera House and the grand, royal palaces.
Visit Bruhl’s Terrace for wonderful views over the river, and take a cruise if you want to see the city from the water!
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Hanover is one of the most fascinating cities in Germany, and from Berlin, there are regular fast trains from the Central Station which take as little as one and a half hours to complete the journey.
This is just about as historic a city as you can find in Germany, with Hanover having been the capital of many independent Germanic kingdoms over the centuries until it became an important part of modern Germany in more recent years. These days it makes for an excellent tourist destination, and you’ll find that there are plenty of excellent sights to keep you busy all day long!
Once you jump off the train from Berlin, head straight into the Old Town, where you can find the city’s most iconic attractions. Unfortunately, most of Hanover was destroyed during World War II, but the most important buildings were saved where they could be and were refurbished and restored faithfully to their former glory.
You can walk past the wooden houses that are found lining Kramerstrasse, admire the grand architectural designs of the City Hall and stroll through the stately rooms of Hanover’s Marienburg Castle.
Explore the local lake, hang out at the local parks and enjoy some wonderful food in traditional German bars and restaurants before jumping on a train back to Berlin in the evening!
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Hamburg is less than two hours by train from Berlin Central Station and it makes for an excellent day trip from the German capital!
Hamburg is Germany’s second largest city, and it’s a must-visit destination when you are staying so close in Berlin. The city is sprawling, so when you arrive, you might want to consider purchasing a Hop on Hop off bus pass to allow you to get around quickly and to see all the major sights in one day.
The city is where German history meets modernity and you can find a mix of heritage and culture alongside skyscrapers and new attractions to visit. Start your day out by visiting the World Heritage Listed ‘City of Warehouses’, an iconic district that dates back to the 9th century when Hamburg began booming economically.
The restored area of the city is lined by canals and built in a distinct red-brick style, while nearby you can also find the HafenCity, a new development built on the river, where you can see the up and coming side of the city in all its flashy glory.
Take a cruise of the harbour to learn more about Hamburg’s maritime history, and if you are an art fan, then head to the Kunsthalle where you can find one of the most impressive European art collections in Germany. There’s a lot more to do in Hamburg too, but don’t miss the last train back to Berlin in the evening!
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Leipzig is another fantastic German city that’s just a short train ride away from Berlin. This is one of the easiest day trips to make by train, because the fastest journey will see you in Leipzig in just over one hour
This is the largest city in the state of Saxony, and it’s a fascinating place to spend the day! The city has a long history of cultural traditions, and it’s always been a centre for trade and commerce in the east of Germany too.
You can visit the St Thomas Church to see where the famous composer Johann Sebastian Bach worked as a musical director, and to see where he was buried too. Afterwards, call in at the dedicated Bach Museum in the city to see more of the composer’s life and times, and relationship with Leipzig.
You can also visit the St Nicholas Church, to see where in the 1980s the residents of Leipzig began peaceful protests that would eventually lead to the fall of the East German government and reunification. Visit the excellent Fine Arts Museum, admire the restored majesty of the City Hall and the Old Town, and enjoy a wonderful day out from Berlin!
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Magdeburg is one of the less well known and less touristy cities to visit in Germany, and being just a short train ride away from Berlin, it makes for a great day trip if you are looking for a unique destination to see!
Magdeburg is found to the west of Berlin and it’s one of the oldest cities in the region. The city was once one of the most important in the ancient Holy Roman Empire, evidenced by the fact that past Emperors can be found buried in the cathedral.
That cathedral is the most iconic sight in the city, with twin spires rising high into the sky. The cathedral dates back to the early 16th century and is one of the tallest in Germany. You can tour through the historic corridors and climb the spires for incredible views over Magdeburg!
You can also visit the city’s many other historic buildings and unusual works of architecture, before relaxing in local restaurants and cafes and taking in the delightful atmosphere of what is a somewhat offbeat German city to visit.
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The River Spree is the long river that flows through most of Saxony, Brandenburg and right through the centre of Berlin too. It’s the city’s most important feature, and Berlin grew over the centuries on either side of the Spree, into the capital it is today!
One of the most romantic things to do in Berlin is to explore the River Spree by boat, and you’ll find that there are many cruises and trips heading along the famous waterway every day.
Boat cruises will have you spending the day on the water. You will see the best sights within the centre of Berlin as you cruise past famous attractions, including palaces and government buildings, before heading further out of the city to enjoy lesser known districts and suburbs from the water.
You and your partner will just need to sit back and relax on the boat, as you’re guided along the River Spree and given expert commentary on the city’s history along the way.
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Another great, water-based activity for couples to join when they are visiting Berlin is a day tour around the Seven Lakes. Berlin is surrounded by a beautiful network of lakes which are fed by the River Havel, and many are interconnected and perfect for cruising around!
You can join tours from Wannsee, a southern suburb of Berlin, and you’ll quickly realise that you are no longer in the city, but have escaped into the lush German countryside!
Despite being so close to the capital, as you cruise along the waterways you’ll be taken into a rural idyll, and you’ll pass by charming, small villages that are seemingly unchanged in hundreds of years. The countryside here is spectacular, and with your partner, you’ll be in a romantic setting as you enjoy the great outdoors and the peace and tranquillity of the lakes.
The best time to visit the lakes is summer, when you can sit outdoors on the deck of the boat and take in the fresh air and enjoy the sunshine, but any time of year you can still tour through the lakes too, to see a unique side of Berlin that is more often than not forgotten about in the hustle and bustle of the city centre.
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Potsdam is just a short journey away from Berlin, and in fact, the two cities have grown so much that they now border each other. Potsdam though is not just a suburb of the capital, but is in its own right the capital of the German state of Brandenburg, and a very different place to visit!
For couples, Potsdam makes for not just an easy getaway from Berlin, but a great day out too. This is a city that was built for romantics, and here you can find elegant palaces and exquisite gardens just waiting to be explored.
Potsdam was built for German Kings and Queens, and it was here that the last German Kaiser lived too, until the end of World War I saw the overthrow of the monarchy. You can tour through the palaces of old, and marvel at the lavish luxury that the monarchy lived in during their reign over Germany in centuries since past.
The city is also home to some wonderful museums, including the refined galleries of the Barberini, which as well as housing many classics of European art, is also home to intriguing exhibitions based around artistic life in East Germany during the Cold War.
This Cold War history, while perhaps not so romantic to delve into, can also be seen at the Glienicke Bridge, which is otherwise known as the Bridge of Spies.
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An abandoned airfield on the outskirts of Berlin might not seem like the best place to take the kids on first inspection, but Tempelhof actually makes for one of the best days out from the city.
The Germans are very good at repurposing old public works and turning them into even better, public spaces for the modern age, and when the Berlin Tempelhof Airport closed in 2008 it was quickly decided to turn the airfield into a new public park.
With the old terminal building in the background, the grassy airfield is now open to the public and it’s become an incredibly popular outdoor, recreation area. The huge, grassy park is a great place to spend the day, and you can bring a picnic, relax on the grass, ride bicycles around the old runways and enjoy the lively atmosphere.
On weekends and in summer, the park is particularly busy, but with so much space, you can still let the kids run free. If you’re interested, you can even join tours through the old airport buildings, to learn more about the Nazi and then Cold War history of Tempelhof, although that’s perhaps one for the adults, rather than the kids!
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Tropical Islands is another wonderful example of German repurposing and strangely enough, it’s also one of the best days out from Berlin with kids!
Found to the south of the capital, Tropical Islands is an enormous water park and resort that will transport you far away from the streets of the German capital. The park was built inside an old aircraft hangar, which just happened to be one of the largest buildings in the world!
It’s a fantastic use of the space, which otherwise would have been torn down or left to waste away in the middle of nowhere, and it’s now given people the opportunity to experience a tropical paradise just an hour’s drive from Berlin.
Inside the former aircraft hangar, you can find huge swimming pools, water slides, lazy rivers and much, much more!
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The Spreewald is a vast biosphere that makes for a great day out from Berlin with the kids. The Spreewald is found to the south of Berlin and encompasses a rich area of unique ecosystems that are found around the River Spree.
It’s a great chance to get the kids out of the city and back to nature. The Spreewald Biosphere is protected as a UNESCO site because it’s one of the most unique natural reserves in Germany. The River Spree forms a wonderful area of wetlands, and you can explore this dense world of beautiful scenery, canals, natural waterways and small lakes on a day trip from Berlin.
There are a variety of ways to enjoy the Spreewald, and when you are visiting you can join boat tours along the river, where the whole family can sit back and relax as you’re taken through the magical world of greenery and wildlife.
If you’re feeling adventurous, and you are travelling with older kids, then you might want to hire out kayaks or canoes for a few hours, allowing you to get some exercise and to travel to some of the more remote parts of the Spreewald too!
It’s a great part of Germany to visit, and it’s incredibly accessible from Berlin. You’re kids – and the whole family! – are guaranteed to love the outdoor activities and the fresh air of the Spreewald!
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Berlin is one of the most exciting cities to visit in Europe, whether you are travelling solo, with friends, your partner or as a family. The German capital is packed with history and culture, and it’s a difficult city to become bored with quickly!
You’ll be hard-pressed to leave Berlin, with so much going on, but it’s important to remember that the city is also a fantastic base from which to day trip. There’s so much more waiting outside of Berlin, and even just down the road, you can find some of Germany’s best attractions.
There are abandoned airfields which have been turned into public spaces, abandoned hangars which are now water parks while the romantic streets, palaces and castles of Potsdam are always worth visiting, and are just a short journey away.
The efficient, fast and regular German rail network means that you can also travel much further afield. What would be a four-hour car journey, becomes just a two-hour train ride in Germany, and from Berlin, you have access to some of the biggest and best cities in the country.
The historic cities of Dresden and Hanover are just a short train journey away, while the cosmopolitan streets of Hamburg, German’s second largest city, are just as close.
There’s a lot of opportunities when it comes to day tripping from Berlin, and there’s much more than we could ever fit into this one article!
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Emma Johnson lives to travel! Born in Washington D.C., Emma is a hotel connoisseur and a staff writer at Hotel Jules. An army brat, Emma got the travel bug early and has never been able to stop. Now, she has proudly visited 70+ countries and plans to visit every country in the world! Passionate about her ukelele (obviously) and her family, Emma eventually wants to retire in Thailand and write a book about all of her travel experiences.