Berlin is an especially exciting destination with renowned nightlife, rich in culture and history, with major sites in its historical heart like Brandenburg Gate, while also offering a wealth of green spaces. But there is plenty to see outside of the city too. While you’re visiting, you might as well do some exploring and these day trips are especially unforgettable.
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Dresden (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Only two hours from Berlin, Dresden is sometimes referred to as the “Florence of the Elbe,” a lush city on the banks of the Elbe River that’s filled with forests, gardens and parks. It offers lots in the way of culture, art and history too, with theaters, castles and gorgeous buildings and it boasts one of the best Christmas markets in Germany. Operatic composer Wilhelm Wagner debuted a number of works here in the 19th century and visitors can discover many outstanding examples of baroque architecture along with interesting museums, like the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister and Grünes Gewölbe. While much of its historic center was destroyed during World War II, all of the landmarks were rebuilt to their former splendor, making it fun to simply wander around. Be sure to make time to visit its main squares, Theaterplatz and Schlossplatz, and for one of the best views over the river, cross the Augustus Bridge.
Prague (Hotel Prices & Photos)
While Prague is three-and-a-half hours south of Berlin, it’s worth the drive to enjoy this incredibly romantic city with its fairy-tale castles, Gothic churches and luxury hotels. It’s like an open-air museum, with just about everything here a work of art. The banks of the Vltava River are lined with pastel-hued buildings, making a walk alongside it especially enjoyable on a sunny day. You can also look forward to popping into interesting shops and enticing cafes along cobbled streets or even taking a cruise for a gorgeous perspective of the city from the water. One of the must-dos is a visit to Prague Castle, a large complex and UNESCO World Heritage site with Gothic and Romanesque architecture. The grounds host a number of other impressive landmarks like the Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, and St. Vitus Cathedral.
Hamburg (Hotel Prices & Photos)
The port city of Hamburg, just over three hours from Berlin, hosts one of Europe’s biggest harbors. Look forward to strolling alongside and crossing the hundreds of picturesque canals, and you’ll understand why it’s often referred to as the “Venice of the North.” You won’t want to miss one of Europe’s best urban parks, Planten un Blomen which is spread across 47 hectares, showcasing gardens, ponds, greenhouses, vast lawns and botanical plantations. Not only is it this city particularly scenic, but it’s also famous for its nightlife if you have time to stick around after dark. Its nightlife hub is the “Reeperbahn” which offers plenty to do along with an interesting red light district. In the Sternschanze you’ll find a less crowded, more relaxed scene. Of course, you’ll have to try a hamburger while you’re in Hamburg, and Otto’s is said to be the best place to do it.
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp (Nearby Hotels)
Less than an hour north of Berlin is the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. While visiting is a rather sobering experience, it’s an important slice of the world’s history as a concentration camp under the Nazis and later the Soviets. Over 30,000 people died here via execution, as part of medical experiments and sheer exhaustion. Today it serves as a museum where visitors can view gas chambers, labor rooms and holiday cells.
Usedom Island (Nearby Hotels)
Usedom Island is rather interesting and makes for a fun escape. It’s divided by both Germany and Poland, with the majority of it part of the German district of Vorpommern-Greifswald, while its eastern section belongs to Polish West Pomeranian Voivodeship, the largest city of Świnoujście. It calls itself Sonneninsel, which translates to Sunny Island, thanks to being one of the sunniest spots in the country, despite its northern location. It can be reached in less than three hours from Berlin, and visitors can expect to enjoy 28 miles of coastline and sandy beaches, taking in the scenery while relaxing in one of the strandkorbs (German beach chairs). Stroll the scenic piers that lead out onto the water and advantage of the many amenities at multiple resorts. There are also thermal spas and paths for bike riding as well as a beautiful garden, Botanischer Garten Mellenthin with some 50,000 plants organized by over a dozen geographic regions.
Görlitz (Hotel Prices & Photos)
About three hours southeast of Berlin, Görlitz is a popular day trip from the city – so stunning that it’s been used as the backdrop for several films, including “The Reader,” “Inglorious Bastards” and “Grand Budapest Hotel.” As it isn’t well-known outside of Hollywood, even among Germans, it’s not jam-packed with tourists either. One of the best things to do is simply wander the streets, getting lost while gazing at the magnificent architecture and experience some of the filming locations, including the Grand Budapest Hotel. While you’re here, it’s so close to Poland, you can even walk across the border to explore the Polish city of Zgorzelec.
Kromlau (Nearby Hotels)
Kromlau is especially popular with Instagrammers. It’s so picture-perfect you’ll want to snap lots of shots, especially of its 19th-century Rakotzbrücke, or Devil’s Bridge. The arched bridge is extraordinary, forming a perfect circle that is completed by its reflection in the water. While you can’t walk over it, you can take as many photos as you’d like. It can be found in the large, beautifully-landscaped Kromlauer Park, also home to Kromlau Castle.
Luneburg (Hotel Prices & Photos)
One of northern Germany’s most beautiful places, you could easily spend a day just walking around its gorgeous Old Town. Climb the water tower for a panoramic vista over it all, enjoy a bite to eat alongside the river and check out the quirky German Salt Museum.