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Around Berlin

Berlin is fabulous, and you'll certainly want to spend quite a bit of time there, but don't forget to earmark a day (or two or three) for the surrounding state of Brandenburg. A land shaped by lakes, canals and waterways, large swathes of it are protected as biosphere preserves and nature parks, creating a delightful escape from the urban hustle for Berliners and visitors.

Culture lovers, too, will be rewarded. Headlining the list of discoveries is the drop-dead-gorgeous park and palace of Sanssouci (the 'German Versailles') in Potsdam, a mere half-hour train ride from central Berlin. The Spreewald, one of Germany's most unique landscapes, is home to the indigenous Sorb ethnic minority, who cling to ancient customs and traditions in handsome remote hamlets. A sobering antidote to all that splendour – and no less important or memorable – is the Nazi-era concentration camp at Sachsenhausen, north of Berlin.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Around Berlin.