Though Berlin is one of my favourite cities, sometimes you just need to get away from the big city for a day. In this post I’ll highlight some great days trips from Berlin for those days where the city’s buzz get a bit too much.
Located about 1 hour away from Berlin, Potsdam is a beautiful city with plenty to see and do. Though you could easily spend the entire day exploring the city’s streets and people watching at a cafe, there are many historic sights to see in this gem. First check out two quaint historic quarters, the Russian Colony Alexandrowka and the Dutch quarter (Hollandisches Viertel). You can also have a look at the Potsdam Museum for some beautiful historic paintings and photographs of the city. If you’re a total history buff like I am, be sure not to miss Cecilienhof Palace – this is THE place where Churchill, Truman and Stalin discussed how to partition Germany after the end of World War II.
How to get here: Take S7 (dark blue) S-Bahn to Wansee, then change to the S1 (pink). Get off at the last stop, Potsdam Hauptbahnhof. The journey will take approximately 50 minutes.
Tip: Day trip #2 (Schloss Sanssouci and Park) is quite nearby so try to combine them into one day if you are running low on time!
2. Schloss Sanssouci and Park
As I mentioned above, Schloss Sanssouci and Park is located on the outskirts of Potsdam, so it is possible to squeeze both into one day if you are running low on time. This was the highlight of my day trip to Potsdam as it is absolutely gorgeous. The reason I put it as a separate day trip was because I wish I had been able to spend the entire day there instead of just an afternoon. I strongly recommend packing a lunch and just wandering the grounds for the whole day.
So, for a little bit of history about this place so you know what you’re going to be visiting, Schloss Sanssouci was built for Frederick the Great in 1747 as his SUMMER RESIDENCE! I mean come on, I wonder what his other house looked like. You’ll learn plenty more when you visit, so I won’t spoil all the fun for you 😉 In addition to Sanssouci, be sure to check out the grounds, the Chinese Teahouse and the New Palace.
Admission to all buildings is 19 euros, but you can also buy individual tickets if you don’t plan on visiting all three. Also keep in mind that you need a photo permit (3 euros) in order to take pictures inside the palaces. If visiting the inside of these palaces isn’t really you’re thing or you just don’t want to spend the money on them, be sure to walk around the grounds as they are beautiful and free to visit!
How to get here: Take S7 (dark blue) S-Bahn to Wansee, then change to the S1 (pink). Get off at the last stop, Potsdam Hauptbahnhof. Take bus #695 to Schloss Sanssouci (the palace is located about 5 km away from the S-Bahn station). The journey will take approximately 1 hour.
Tip: There is a student discount available!
On a sadder note, Sachsenhausen was established in 1936 and used as a prison for political prisoners, a training ground for SS officers, as well as the headquarters for all concentration camps during World War II. After its liberation by Russian soldiers in 1945, the camp became a Soviet-run prison. Then, in 1956, the GDR turned the camp into a memorial site and this is what it remains today. Visitors can take a guided tour (which I highly recommend) and learn about all the horrible things that occurred here. I know this may not seem like the funnest way to spend your day, but I am a strong believer that we must learn about our history in order to avoid repeating it.
Admission to the museum/memorial is free, but guided tours cost around 15-20 euros.
How to get here: Sachsenhausen is located in the town of Oranienburg, about 40 minutes from Berlin. Take the S1 S-Bahn (pink) to Oranienburg (the last stop) and walk to Sachsenhausen by following the signs marked ‘Gedenkstatte Sachsenahusen’.
4. Strandbad Wannsee
If you’re just sick and tired of walking around, why not go to the beach? Strandbad Wannsee is a great place to cool off in the summer and is very popular with Berliners and tourists alike! You can spend the day sunbathing (be sure to lather on the sunscreen!), splashing in the cool waters and playing beach volleyball. There is an admission fee of 5.50 euros, and you can also rent covered beach chairs for an additional fee. Note that there are also showers, changing rooms and food vendors, so don’t worry if you don’t bring your lunch!
How to get here: Take the S7 S-Bahn (dark blue) to Wannsee, the last stop. It should take around 45 minutes to get there.
5. Gedenkstätte Berlin-Hohenschönhausen
Another chilling, yet extremely educational place to see, Gedenkstätte Berlin-Hohenschönhausen is now a museum/memorial for what used to be a Stasi prison. Much like the above mentioned Sachsenhausen, Hohenschönhausen has been witness to many horrible crimes against humanity. Visiting this place was one of the most emotional days of my life and this was mostly due to our guide.
Our guide, who was an inmate at Hohenschönhausen when it was operational, brought us through the prison and told us his story as we went through different parts of the prison. He told us a distinct memory for every place we walked. It’s one thing seeing these places and reading what happened there, and a completely different experience when you have someone in front of you telling you what happened to them while they were there. The things this man has gone through and survived was amazing to me. Though he did not speak English and we were only hearing the translated version of his words, you could see the emotion in his eyes and in his voice as he spoke. Emotion like that does not need to be translated.
How to get here: From Alexanderplatz take tram M5 to Freienwalder str. and walk 10 minutes.
Want to know more? Check our our post on 20 things to do in Berlin!
Need some Berlin travel inspo? Check out some of our photos!
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