This is a Berlin & Around guest post by Matthias and Kent of Destination The World. From their base in Berlin, these travel bloggers go on adventures near and far. Matthias and Kent travel independently and often off the beaten path.
Spend the Weekend in Oderbruch, Hidden Gem on the German Border
The Oderbruch region in the federal state of Brandenburg is perfect if you are looking to spend an active weekend in the German countryside, away from the stress and noise of the big city.
This relatively unknown region has so much to offer. Bike along scenic routes between cute German villages or along the Oder River. Visit historic castles and windmills. Sample local cuisine. These are just some of the things you can experience at the heart of Brandenburg’s countryside.
Read on to discover our best tips for a great weekend in Oderbruch.
Where exactly is the Oderbruch?
As the name would suggest, the Oderbruch can be found on the banks of the Oder River, bordering Poland, in the county of Märkisch-Oderland. The region is around 60 km long and its width varies from around 12 to 20 km. The landscape is mostly flat, with fields, moors and small rivers.
The Oderbruch was heavily damaged towards the end of WWII, in connection with the largest battle on German territory. This is where the Red Army crossed the Oder River and proceeded to march into Germany. After the war, the Oderbruch became a part of Eastern Germany, or the German Democratic Republic (GDR).
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A Weekend in Oderbruch is Synonymous with Biking
If you’re looking for an active weekend in the German countryside, we can really recommend a bike excursion through the Oderbruch.
With its flat landscapes, the region is perfect for cycling. And due to the wide-open fields and moors, you will get great views from pretty much everywhere.
As this is rural Germany, you may not always find a separate bike path. However, traffic is not very heavy, so biking along the road is not a problem.
During your weekend in Oderbruch, you can choose to have one place as your base and do day trips by bike from there, or if you prefer, you can find accommodation in different locations and spend your days biking in between the places you have chosen.
Our Recommendation: The Oder-Neisse Cycle Route
The Oder-Neisse Cycle Route runs for over 600 km, starting in the Czech Republic. This trail first follows the Neisse (Neiße) River, then the Oder, all the way up to Albeck on the Baltic island of Usedom. On the way, the trail passes through larger cities like Görlitz and Frankfurt (Oder).
The Oder-Neisse Bike Route also meanders through Oderbruch. Even if you don’t plan to bike the whole way, you can still get a taste of it during your weekend in the region. This might actually be one of the highlights of your getaway!
Pro Tip: Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Wildlife
This area is also rich in wildlife. On our visit, we happened to spot several bird species, including a stork, and we passed a small (not venomous) snake on our way. There is also a population of beavers. With some luck, you might spot some close to the rivers and lakes during your weekend in Oderbruch!
Visit Picturesque Towns on Your Weekend in Oderbruch
Oderbruch is chock full of charming little towns. For our visit to the region, we were based in Letschin, but all the other spots on this list are within easy biking distance of each other.
Letschin can be a good starting point for many excursions. The municipality is surrounded by rapeseed fields, so if you visit in early summer, you’ll be able to witness a sea of yellow.
The main sights in Letschin include a church tower (the only remaining part of a church bombed during WWII), and a statue of Friedrich II, King of Prussia. Close to town, you can also stop by the Bockwindmühle Wilhelmsaue (a historic windmill in Wilhelmsaue).
Letschin may be small, but it has everything you need for your weekend in Oderbruch: supermarkets, a bakery, a butcher’s shop, and a few restaurants and Eiscafes.
The cute village of Groß Neuendorf is also worth a stop, with its picturesque setting on the banks of the Oder River.
The village itself has some charming houses and an old church, the remnants of a Synagogue and a Jewish cemetery. But the major attraction here is the Kulturhafen Groß Neuendorf (historic harbour).
This old harbour area has been transformed in recent years, and now you can find a few restaurants and a hotel here as well.
If you like unique accommodations, you are in the right place. The old loading tower has been renovated into a four-storey holiday home, with a viewing platform over the river.
What’s more, some old train cars have been refurbished and are now available as holiday rentals. You can wake up facing the Oder River, with Poland on the opposite shore.
The above-mentioned Oder-Neisse Cycle Route passes through Groß Neuendorf, too.
From Groß Neuendorf, you can bike a short distance along the Oder-Neisse Cycle Route to another adorable village called Kienitz.
In Kienitz, we recommend a stop at Himmel & Erde Cafe for a coffee and a piece of delicious homemade cake.
The cafe is actually located inside a church – the Radwegkirche (the Bike Route Church). It is set directly on the Oder-Neisse Bike Route, so you won’t miss it! This is the first bike route church in Germany and a nice pit-stop for refreshments, even you normally don’t visit churches.
Discover the Oderbruch’s Castles
Germany has thousands of castles, and there are quite a few in this part of East Brandenburg. To visit them all you would need more than a weekend in Oderbruch!
Some of the castles are private, run as hotels or even abandoned, while others are open to the public.
We chose to visit two castles in Oderbruch. One that is a castle hotel (but open for visits), and one that is abandoned.
Schloss Neuhardenberg (Neuhardenberg Palace) got its name from the Prussian chancellor Karl August Fürst von Hardenberg.
The architectural history of the castle began in the 1690s, but construction was only completed a century later. The palace had its ups and downs, and its heydays are long gone.
This white palace is surrounded by a lush, green park, and is definitely worth a visit during your weekend in Oderbruch.
Schloss Neuhardenberg itself is not the most well-preserved from inside, with much of the original decor gone. There are a few rooms open to visitors, but the big attraction is the exterior.
Some of the buildings on the palace grounds have been converted into a hotel, where you can find accommodation or just purchase some refreshments.
Seeing Schloss Gusow for the first time will make you wonder if you still are in Germany, or if you have suddenly been teleported to the French countryside.
This beautiful castle has the definite air of a French chateau. It was once the residence of a noble family. Later, Schloss Gusow served as a hunting lodge and summer residence, where Prussian Kings were occasional guests. It seems like they, too, were fans of spending the weekend in Oderbruch!
After World War II, the castle was used in different ways: first by the Red Army, and later as a school, kindergarten and seat for the village administration. Schloss Gusow previously also harboured a guest house and restaurant.
Sadly, this castle is currently closed due to lack of funds for restorations. The park is also closed, but you can still get a great view of this magnificent building from outside the gates.
How to Get to Oderbruch from Berlin
Ready to plan your weekend in Oderbruch? You can get to the region by car or train. From Berlin, count around 1,5h if you go by car. If you take public transport, these routes are your best bet:
- RB26 from Berlin Ostkreuz to Seelow/Gusow (every hour)
- RE3 from Berlin Haupbahnhof to Eberswalde – change here to RB60 to Letschin (every second hour)
For €3,60 you can easily bring your bike on the train.
In Conclusion: A Weekend in Oderbruch is NOT Enough
As you know by now, there’s plenty to see and do in the Oderbruch region. Gorgeous castles, scenic bike paths and charming villages await, making this the perfect rural German getaway for a weekend – or longer!
If you’re feeling inspired by our weekend in Oderbruch, make sure you check out this post on how to spend 48 hours in Bamberg.