19 Berlin Day Trips By Train: For a Taste of Travel Close to Home
Berlin day trips can be a total lifesaver! Sometimes, all we need to refuel is a quick trip to another city. Or even another part of the city. I’m a huge fan of day trips, as there is so much to discover just around the corner. In the blog post, you’ll discover 19 Berlin day trips easily accessible by train. Conveniently, all destinations are within 35 minutes to 3.5 hours of the Central Station.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I have been to 16 out of 19 of these places myself. The other three (Pirna, Poznań and Děčín) are on my post-lockdown bucket list.
Berlin Day Trips An Hour Away Or Less
Brandenburg an der Havel
Travel time from Berlin’s Central Station: 45 minutes by IC or 55 minutes with the RE1.
Why you should visit. There is lots of history in Brandenburg, the capital city of its eponymous region until Berlin took over in 1417. Today, you can get lost in the cobblestone lanes of the old town, with half-timbered houses left and right.
Although 70% of Brandenburg was bombed during the Second World War, some of the original fortifications, a stately cathedral, and many beautiful homes remain intact. What’s more, Brandenburg is set on the Havel River, where locals like to stroll or relax.
Travel time from Berlin’s Central Station: 35 minutes with the RE2.
Why you should visit. This town is home to a 14th century castle (remodelled in the 18th century as a hunting lodge) on the Notte Canal, only a few 100 meters from the Dahme River and several swimming lakes.
Königs Wusterhausen has a Tiergarten of its own, with waterways, walking trails and 250-year-old oak trees. This town was a favourite of several Prussian Kings.
Travel time from Berlin’s Central Station: 1h05 with the RE2.
Why you should visit. Imagine Venice in Germany and you’ll have a good idea of what to expect in Lübbenau. Berlin day trips to the Spreewald typically include leisurely gondola rides along pristine canals – or kayak tours, if you’d rather be more active. The Spreewald’s canals do not look man-made, even if they are. When you get off the water, don’t forget to try a local delicacy: Spreewälder Gurken, or Spreewald Gherkins.
Travel time from Berlin’s Central Station: 54 minutes (take the S3 to Friedrichshagen, then catch Tram 61 for 3 stops or walk 1.8 km.
Why you should visit. Müggelsee is to East Berlin what Wannsee is to the West: a large lake surrounded by forested walking trails. Locals love spending the day here for the expansive beach and water sport offerings in the summer, and hiking year-round.
Travel time from Berlin’s Central Station: 30 minutes with the RE1 or RE7.
Why you should visit. Potsdam is officially referred to as “the city of castles and gardens”. Isn’t that a promising start? If you love history, culture or simply taking breathtaking pictures, do not skip out on this Berlin day trip! And being so close to Berlin, you can actually visit Potsdam as much as you like.
Berlin Day Trips to Other German Cities & Towns
Travel time from Berlin’s Central Station: 3h05 hours with the ICE.
Why you should visit. It may take a bit longer to reach Bamberg, but the 3.5 hours train journey is well worth it. Bamberg is a stunning medieval town, designed over the centuries to resemble both Venice and Rome.
Like Rome, Bamberg has 7 hills providing sweeping views over the 13th century old town. Like Venice, you’ll find yourself crossing ornate bridges as you explore the Altstadt‘s intricate laneways. Make sure you stop at at least one cafe to refuel – Bamberg arguably has the best selection between Munich and Berlin. And don’t forget a relaxing boat ride along the river!
With ICE trains running every hour, you can leave as early as you wish and return quite late to get up to a good 12 hours in the city. Of course, this applies to summer day trips. As we all know, the sun likes to disappear around 4 pm in the winter.
Travel time from Berlin’s Central Station: 2 hours by train or 2.5 hours by bus.
Why you should visit. Once the seat of Saxon royalty, the Dresden of today is one of Germany’s most visited destinations. Although much of the city was destroyed during World War II, Dresden was rebuilt to exactly replicate its former glory.
As you wander around the Old Dresden, you’ll have stunning cathedrals and palaces at every turn. Dresden is as captivating during the day as it is at night, with all the monuments and heritage buildings lit up after dark.
Travel time from Berlin’s Central Station: 2h40 with the ICE.
Why you should visit. Erfurt is one of the closest places to Berlin to experience “traditional Germany”, with its rows and rows of half-timbered houses. In fact, Erfurt boasts the oldest merchant bridge in Europe, entirely covered by half-timbered homes. Today, people still live and work in the houses on the bridge. This instantly makes Erfurt one of my top Berlin day trips!
The first time I visited Erfurt, I arrived at around 11 in the morning and the bridge was already crawling with tourists. The second time, I was able to get to the Old Town by 8 AM and had the medieval squares and Krämerbrücke all to myself.
Travel time from Berlin’s Central Station: 3.5 hours
Why you should visit. Freiberg is a great option if you’re looking for Berlin day trips that change the pace of big city life. The university town has existed for over 800 years, and today, the centre is a UNESCO heritage site. Freiberg has many cafes, a colourful, tidy town square and cobble stone streets, as well as a palace and several museums.
While you’re there, don’t miss the Tierpark Freiberg. This zoo is home to over 170 animals, ranging from local farm animals and pets to more exotic species. All the animals have plenty of space to roam. Entry and parking are free.
Travel time from Berlin’s Central Station: 2h40 with the RE2, followed by the RB65.
Why you should visit. Berlin day trips to Görlitz will leave you dreaming! The old town is in perfect movie set condition, with ornate residences, a cathedral with white steeples and one of the most beautiful – and complete – libraries in the world. In fact, many famous movies were filmed in Görlitz: The Book Thief and The Grand Budapest Hotel among them.
Plus, you can simply walk across a bridge and be in the Polish town of Zgorzelec.
Travel time from Berlin’s Central Station: 1h40 by ICE.
Why you should visit. The closest big city to Berlin, Hamburg has much for visitors to see. The famous Elbphilarmonie, Hamburg’s futuristic philharmonic orchestra, watches over water’s edge. Some of the world’s largest cargo and cruise ships dock in the port.
Plenty of lovely cafes and restaurants are tucked away off the main boulevards. And while you’re here, don’t forget to buy some fish and chips at eat them at the marina to soak up the Portside atmosphere.
Travel time from Berlin’s Central Station: 2h30 with the ICE and local S-Bahn.
Why you should visit. This one is for lovers of the great outdoors. The village of Königstein is nestled in the mountains of Saxon Switzerland. You can easily combine a day of exploring the village with a hike up Pfaffenstein.
At the same time, you’ll be transported out of Germany to the Swiss Alps. This part of Saxony is aptly named; it really does feel as though you could run into Heidi at any moment.
Travel time from Berlin’s Central Station: 2h20 via ICE and local S-Bahn.
Why you should visit. Pirna is a romantic town on the Elbe River and the gateway to Saxon Switzerland and a local wine region. Visit the charming old town’s ivy clad buildings or make your way up to the Landschloss Zuschendorf – a palace surrounded by botanical gardens.
Travel time from Berlin’s Central Station: 3h15 hours with the RE1, followed by the RE11.
Why you should visit. Quedlinburg is another one of those Berlin day trips well worth the 3-hour journey. All you have to do is see one photo of Quedlinburg, and you’ll most likely want to visit ASAP. Or at least, that was my case!
The UNESCO World Heritage site is half-timbered heaven: a perfect introduction to this architectural style, especially for non-European visitors. You’ll find half-timbered homes from 5 different centuries here. The oldest building in town (and one of the oldest in Germany) dates back to the 1300s.
Escape to the Sea for the Day
Travel time from Berlin’s Central Station: 2h40 via ICE
Why you should visit. I was pleasantly surprised to discover this coastal suburb of Rostock. Warnemünde is a traditional German holiday destination and gateway to 15 km of sandy beaches.
If you’re ever in the mood for a beach day but cannot leave Germany (Corona, I’m looking at you), grab your sunscreen and hop aboard the ICE to Warnemünde. You’ll get all the coastal atmosphere you can absorb.
Now you know that Berlin day trips include getting some Vitamin Sea!
Berlin Day Trips Abroad
Travel time from Berlin’s Gesundbrunnen Station: 1h50 with the RE66
Why you should visit. If you love pretty squares, palaces that look a little bit like wedding cakes and delicious food, you should go to Szczecin. Even visiting on a cold February day did not dampen my joy at being in this lovely city.
For the perfect Instagram snap, do not miss Stare Miasto. In all fairness, you’ll likely stumble upon it as you amble around the old town.
Travel time from Berlin’s Central Station: 3.5 hours transiting through Görlitz, where you can catch a local train for the rest of the journey. But you can also get off the train in Görlitz, walk through the Old Town and cross the border on foot (it takes about 20 minutes to walk from Görlitz’s train station to Zgorzelec).
Why you should visit. If you’re looking for offbeat Berlin day trips, I highly recommend Zgorzelec. Grittier than Szczecin but wielding its own charm. In fact, if you like the grungier side of Berlin, you’ll like Zgorzelec. The architecture is gorgeous and there are plenty of hideaways along the Neisse River where you can relax and unwind in nature. Not to mention cafes tucked away in basements serving delicious home-made pierogis.
I wandered around a lot in areas where people did not speak German and loved every minute of truly being in a foreign country, even if I was just across the border.
Travel time from Berlin’s Central Station: just under 3 hours via direct train (EC 59)
Why you should visit. The grand city of Poznań is one of the oldest in Poland, with a splendid Renaissance old town and a thriving business district. The sights are endless, with the Imperial Castle, the vibrant Old Market Square and a Gothic cathedral figuring prominently among them.
Děčín, Czech Republic
Travel time from Berlin’s Central Station: 2h40 via direct train (EC 379).
Why you should visit. Děčín’s castle on the cliffs is enough to get me on a train. If you’re an architecture lover, you’ll also appreciate the beauty of the Old Synagogue, or simply strolling around town. Děčín is set on the Elbe River and surrounded by hills, making it a very romantic escape.
Save Money on Berlin Day Trips by Train
I went on quite a few Berlin day trips before discovering this handy tip. You can purchase a “Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket“, a day pass for Germany’s entire network of regional (RE and RB) trains. This ticket costs 42€ and is valid on all regional trains – including cross border into Poland – plus public transport in every city:
- From 9 am to 3 am the following day (week days)
- From 12 am to 3am the following day (weekends).
Up to 5 people can travel on the same ticket. Each additional person is only charged 6.50€, so the more people you bring with you, the cheaper it gets.
Save These Berlin Day Trips for Later:
Which Berlin Day Trips Have Inspired You the Most?
As you can see, there are so many Berlin day trips easily accessible by train. There truly is something for every taste! From beautiful old cities to nature retreats, you’ll quickly be able to escape Berlin – even if you’re only free for the day. Let me know in the comments which excursion you’ll be going on first!