There are countless things to see and do in the German capital, but if you decide to take a day trip from Berlin's hustle and bustle for a while, we've got you covered.

From idyllic lakes and scenic forests to wartime relics and an island full of peacocks, there are many great ways to experience Germany without straying too far from Berlin.

Teufelsberg: enjoy wonderful views over Berlin

Nestled in the scenic Grunewald forest, Teufelsberg is a hill made with debris left over from WWII. In addition to providing beautiful views of Berlin, the site is also home to an abandoned Cold War-era US listening post, now a shabby reminder of the city’s history. A trip here is an opportunity to combine sightseeing with stunning scenery.

Locals and tourists alike can often be found trekking up the hill before setting down a picnic blanket and enjoying a few well-earned beers – and you might even see a few wild boar on the way.

Getting to Teufelsberg: Teufelsberg is a 25-minute trek from the M49 bus stop Mohrunger Allee, or a 30-minute walk from the Olympiastadion S-Bahn. Well within the AB fare zone, travelers can make the journey on a single trip ticket (€3). Getting there from the city center takes around one hour in total.

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Berlin day trips - Sanssoucci Palace in Potsdam, which can be visited as a day trip from Berlin. The palace sits above a long flight of stairs which are flanked by statues and greenery. There is a copper-domed roof above the yellow walls and many curved windows.
Marvel at the grandeur of Schloss Sanssouci on a day trip from Berlin to Potsdam © Mike Mareen / Shutterstock

Potsdam: visit grand palaces overflowing with history

Best known as the place WWII’s victors met to decide the fate of central Europe, Potsdam is practically overflowing with history. It was once the official home of Prussian rulers and German Kaisers, and later used as a connection between East Germany and West Berlin during the Cold War. After reunification, it became the capital of the state of Brandenburg.

Visitors can expect stunning parks and gardens, along with lots of palaces and some truly exciting culture. The Unesco-listed Sanssouci Palace gives an insight into the life of Prussian royalty, while a former KGB prison offers a more sombre attraction. Other points of cultural interest include the Dutch Quarter, the Russian colony of Alexandrowka, and the Chinesisches Haus, a celebration of Chinese architecture.

Getting to Potsdam: Potsdam is less than an hour from central Berlin, on the S1 or S7 suburban rail lines. The city lies within Berlin’s C fare zone, so an ABC ticket (€3.80) is required if traveling from the center of the city.

Berlin day trips - Pfaueninsel Palace on Pfaueninsel, which means 'Peacock Island' in German. The palace is white with two turrets and sits amid leafy green trees against a clear blue sky
Pfaueninsel is a Unesco World Heritage Site © Alfred Sonsalla / Shutterstock

Pfaueninsel: relax on a protected island

Pfaueninsel, literally meaning “Peacock Island”, is a small isle in the middle of the Havel river home to – you guessed it – a lot of wild peacocks. The island was chosen as the site of a summer palace by Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm II, who had a fairy-tale-style castle (closed for renovation until 2024) built on the grounds. Not content with having the entire island and palace to himself, the King also brought along a flock of peacocks to keep him company.

The Prussian royals are long gone, but the descendants of his avian pets still remain – making it an ideal spot for a picnic or a long day in the sunshine. The whole island is a Unesco-listed protected habitat, so dogs, bicycles, and smoking are banned.

Getting to Pfaueninsel: Pfaueninsel can be reached by traveling to the S-Bahn station Wannsee then taking the 218 bus to the river. A ferry (€4 each way) is available during daylight hours to reach the island.

Berlin day trips - recreational boats moored along the bank of Schlachtensee. The boats have orange wooden exteriors and are painted white on the inside. The lake is calm and we can see lovely green trees on the opposite bank
Schlachtensee is a favorite spot for locals © Jannis Tobias Werner / Shutterstock

Schlachtensee: chill out by the lake

Situated on the southern border of the Grunewald forest, Schlachtensee is a quiet lake loved by locals for its high-quality water and good transport connections.

Like most of Berlin’s lakes, sunbathing and swimming are common here during the warmer months. Boats are available for rent, too. Relax in a quaint beer garden or enjoy a spot of fishing on the banks of the lake.

Getting to Schlachtensee: Schlachtensee is a 30-minute ride from central Berlin by suburban rail line S1 using an ABC ticket.

Tropical Islands Resort: hit the slides at a huge indoor water park

In an old airship hangar two hours south of Berlin is Tropical Islands Resort, the largest indoor water park in the world. From adrenaline-inducing waterslides to languishing lazy rivers, there’s a little something for everyone.

The resort offers overnight lodging, activities for children, a spa, and its very own mini-indoor rainforest. Tickets start at €47 for adults, €37.50 for children.

Getting to Tropical Islands Resort: Take the RE2 train (around €10) from Berlin to Brand Tropical Islands. A free shuttle bus service runs from there to the resort.

Berlin day trips - an image from inside the Spandau Citadel. The Renaissance military fortress has a cobbled courtyard and red-brick buildings
Visit Spandau Citadel, an incredibly well preserved 16th-century fortress © Alfred Sonsalla / Shutterstock

Spandau Citadel: learn local medieval history

Berlin has no shortage of attractions for history buffs, and the Spandau Citadel is a must-see for anyone with an interest in medieval conflicts. Built in the 16th century, this resilient building now stands, surprisingly well preserved, despite being used to defend the area as recently as WWII.

In addition to the museum detailing the Citadel’s history, the grounds also play host to concerts in the summertime, and visitors can climb the 30m-high (98ft) Julius Tower for exceptional views. Just watch out for bats – there’s around 10,000 of them. 

Getting to Spandau Citadel: The Citadel can be reached on the U7 underground line (get off at U Zitadelle), or you can take the X33 bus from the Spandau S-Bahn station through Old Spandau to double up on your sightseeing. Spandau is within the C fare zone, so an ABC ticket (€3.80) is required.

Britzer Garten: wander sprawling parkland 

Ever wanted to see the largest sundial in Europe? You’re in luck. But that’s not all this sprawling park has to offer – Britzer Garten also packs in 90 hectares worth of playgrounds, rose gardens, lakes, and even its own mini-railway.

Getting to Britzer Garten: Take the M44 bus to Britzer Garten from S+U Hermannstrasse. The garden is in the B fare zone, so an AB ticket (€3) is all you need.

Berlin day trips - Spree Forest house, in Spreewald, viewed from a canal. The house's peaked roof prtrudes from colourful flowering trees and there is a wooden bridge over the canal in the distance
Explore Spreewald from the water on a

Spreewald: take a tranquil tour of forest waterways

Around 62 miles (100km) south of Berlin is the picturesque Spreewald forest, a Unesco-listed biosphere littered with more than 200 beautiful canals and stunning nature scenes. Many Berlin residents make the journey to Spreewald for hiking, camping, boat trips, and pure relaxation.

For a tranquil tour of the Spreewald’s waterways, take a trip on a shallow punt-like boat called a Kahn. The area is famous for its gherkins (pickle), so be sure to try some authentic Spreewälder Gurken if you have the chance.

Getting to Spreewald: The Spreewald is most easily reached by car, or by taking the RE2 train from Berlin to Lübben or Lübbenau (tickets are around €10).

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This article was first published June 2019 and updated December 2021

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