For sure, Berlin it’s a never-ending source of things to do and puts out an incredible variety of places and experiences. Just spending a few days here, or even a week, can’t be enough for saying you saw it all. But if you find yourself in Berlin, you have some extra days and you want to discover great spots around the city, hop on the subway or the car and try one of these one-day trips from Berlin:
Potsdam & Schloss Sanssouci
Potsdam, the former residence of the Prussian kings and the German Kaiser, is less than one hour away from Berlin, easily reachable by subway or car. The city is the capital of the Brandenburg Region and the largest World Heritage Site in Germany.
The main Potsdam’s attractions are the Sanssouci Palace and the Park. I was there just for a few hours, but if you have the time, you can save at least half a day for walking around the park, which is really large, and for paying a visit inside the castle. The name Sanssouci comes from the french “sans souci” (no worries) and perfectly illustrates its purpose in which it was built: a summer residence, where Frederick the Great could relax and enjoy the beauty of life. Don’t miss also the Orangery, the Chinese tea-house and the Dragon House.
You can buy a ticket for 12 euros, including an audio guide, and for an additional 3 Euros, you can purchase a photo pass which allows you to take pictures inside the palace.
But Potsdam is more than just Sanssouci. Visit the Spy Bridge, the Peacock Island, the Film Museum, the Russian Colony, or sit down for a drink in the Dutch Quarter (Hollandisches Viertel), where you can see a small part of Holland in Germany.
How to get there:
By train, from Berlin Hauptbahnhof or by S-Bahn.
Time: 40 min
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
Sachsenhausen it’s definitely a must see and it will give you a deeper understanding of the tragic period in Germany’s history. The former concentration camp is today open to the public as a museum/memorial, and all the place is very well preserved.
Established in 1936, Sachsenhausen was, at the beginning, used especially for political prisoners. It was also an administrative center for the other camps in Germany and a training point for the SS officers. But later, nearly 50.000 people found their end here and 200.000 were imprisoned during the camp existence. After 1945, the camp was turned into a special prison camp for the Russian KGB, known as the “silencing camp”.
The entry is free, but you can make a donation for the memorial. Once there, you can spend almost a whole day visiting the camp grounds and find out how everyday life was for a prisoner held there. Guided tours are also available, but you must book them in advance.
For me, the walk through the Sachsenhausen camp grounds was like a journey back in time. This place seems to still shelter all the silent voices of the past. You enter in one of the camp buildings and you can hardly imagine and accept how life could be for the prisoners who lived here. It’s an overwhelming emotional experience that makes you wonder why all this happened.
How to get there:
By S-Bahn to Oranienburg and the bus 804
Time: 60 min
Warnemunde & Rostock
Rostock and Warnemunde are 2 hours / 2 hours and a half away by car from Berlin and can be an ideal destination for a day trip.
We arrived in Rostock few weeks before Christmas, and even though the main attraction seemed to be the Christmas Fair (I always thought the most beautiful Christmas Fairs are those in smaller towns and not necessarily the main stream ones), I couldn’t wait to go further, to Warnemunde, to see the Baltic Sea for the first time.
A walk through Rostock will reveal old homes (there are even six houses dating from the 15th and 16th centuries, built in Hanseatic style, preserved and refurbished), University of Rostock – one of the Europe’s oldest universities (dating from 1419), the Town Hall, Neuer Markt (New Market Square), Marienkirche (st. Mary’s Church) – where there is an astronomical clock built in 1472, Nicolakirche (St. Nicholas’s Church) – the oldest church in Rostock, dating from the 13th century, and remains of the medieval city wall.
On the other hand, Warnemunde is the seaside resort of Rostock, with large and sandy beaches on the Baltic Sea. Once a small fishing village, Warnemunde is today a top destination for sea lovers and maritime sports enthusiasts (kitesurfing, windsurfing, sailing, nordic walking, swimming). I have no idea how crowded is the beach in summer, but I can tell you in winter it’s almost an empty paradise. And, after all, when you should go depends on what kind of experience you are looking for.
How to get there:
By train or by car
Time: 2 hours