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Although Berlin offers plenty to see and do, if you want to get away from the city for the day, there are several options for nearby day trips as well.
Just 20 miles from Berlin, a trip to Potsdam is a great way to spend the day. Located on the Havel River, Potsdam is home to the sprawling Park Sanssouci, with numerous palaces and gardens to explore; a historic Dutch Quarter full of shopping and restaurant options; and a look into Germany’s version of Hollywood with the Potsdam Filmmuseum’s take on the history of film production in the area and the theme park-like Film Park Babelsberg.
On a sunny day head to Berlin’s version of the beach—Lake Wannsee, the longest inland sea beach in Europe. Thirty minutes west of Berlin’s center by train, the lake features a 1-kilometer long sandy beach with a water slide, beach volleyball courts, and nudist area.
To take in some of Germany’s harrowing history, a trip 40 minutes to the north brings you to the memorial site of Sachsenhausen, a former concentration camp. Erected in 1936, the site was used as a model for many of the concentration camps in Nazi Germany. Today many of the buildings remain, including the gas chamber, prison cells, and barracks. It is easy to reach by train, a shot walk from the S-Bahn Oranienburg station.
A 45 minute train ride southeast of Berlin will take you to the wonderful lush greenery that is the Spreewald forest. A winter visit is the perfect time to take advantage of the area’s thermal baths; in warmer weather spend time hiking, canoeing, or riding paddle boats. Just make sure to try the famous Spreewald cucumbers!
The coastal town of Hamburg may be further than the rest, but the speedy German rail system can get you there in an hour and a half and, if you have the time, it’s worth a visit to this port city. Take a boat ride down the River Elbe; walk along the canals and bridges of the historic warehouse distric; and see the flashy lights of the Reeperbahn.