If you feel you’ve been in Berlin too long and you’re tired of walking up and down the same familiar streets every day, or riding your habitual bike path, it might be time to plan your great escape. There are plenty of accessible destinations just a train ride away. Sometimes just being on a train might do the trick, but other times we need some fresh reboot time, with a day or two to see and do something new. Luckily for Berlin locals, there are plenty of great places just an hour or two away from this culturally wild city. We’ve narrowed down the list to some of our very favorite destinations.
Sächsische Schweiz (Saxon Switzerland)
Don’t be fooled by the name, this heavenly abode is one of Germany’s most beautiful natural landscapes and does not belong to Switzerland. Saxon Switzerland is a national park that shares the border with the Czech Republic. Here you can go hiking for days on end and still only see a small portion of this grand park. In the summer you can go wild camping, what the region calls Boofen, which means camping without a tent in the rocks. They also have designated camping grounds for the less adventurous camper. The landscape in Saxon Switzerland will truly change your perspective of what you used to think was the German landscape. In each small town, close to the Elbe, there are also plenty of bed and breakfasts for the light and easy traveler. From Berlin, it’s a three-hour drive, or about 4.5 hours by train. A beautiful location all year round.
You can easily get to Dresden by train or bus for as little as five euros (or so they claim), but you can find bus tickets for sure for around 12 euros fairly easily. Even though most of the city was destroyed during WWII, there are still plenty of historical sites that have either been rebuilt or have survived the bombing raids. There are plenty of museums to visit, great graffiti to check out, surviving squats, and, of course, bars and restaurants. Discovering Dresden is an authentic way to get to know Germany outside of the multicultural city of Berlin. Dresden might be your best weekend getaway trip this year.
If you really want to go all out without having to travel too far, Schloss Gamehl is a top-notch choice. Schloss Gamehl is a resort surrounded by farmland and nature. It’s a great option as a romantic or personal getaway. It’s not necessarily on the budget-friendly side for the hustling backpacker, but a good option of you need a break from work, stress, and the city buzz. They have a spa and serve dinner and breakfast. The staff is extra friendly and accommodating, so if you come by car, they can suggest some nearby sites and delights.
Gamehl 26, Gamehl, Germany, +49 38426 22000
They’ve been saying Leipzig is the next Berlin just as long as they’ve been saying Lisbon is the next Berlin, or Wedding is the new Neukölln, but there must be something to it, or else why would they be saying it, right? You can get from Berlin to Leipzig in a little over two hours by bus, for sometimes as little as 7 euros. Rumors have been flying around for years that rent is cheap, and that there are plenty of empty and abandoned studios and buildings and a booming art scene in this little city. There are lots of cafés, bars, parties, and students looking to set up their own studio or art space. However, they say, the population is the biggest it’s ever been since before the War, but it’s still a great place for a weekend getaway so you can check it out for yourself.
A train ride to Szczecin, Poland can cost anywhere from 20-30 euros and is an easy Berlin escape plan. If you need a break from Germany as a whole, here is your easiest and best destination. You can still get by with your German since it is a border city, but you can enjoy the pleasure of being in a new culture and cuisine. If you thought Berlin was cheap, well, there are parts of Eastern Europe that are even cheaper. Many come here for the duty-free alcohol and cigarettes, but we think there is plenty more to Szczecin than that.
If you are looking for an opportunity to take out your camera and capture the perfect setting, Spreewald is a great option for you. Spreewald is made up of many towns that are tied together one after the next. You can start in Burg, enjoy the canals, and have a picnic with whomever you have chosen to spend some little getaway time. You can go kayaking one day, and hiking the next day. Bring your bikes along if you’re keen on exploring the groovy bike trails. You may see other tourists along the way, but that shouldn’t deter you from having a relaxing time. You should check out their motor-free boat tours. There is also an option to order your own private tour, which gives you the freedom to choose your locations and destinations around the peaceful green-scene waters.
The Baltic Sea is an affordable 48-hour escape. There will always be something charming and soothing about simply sitting and watching the calmness of the sea. You can visit the harbor to watch the sailboats and then take a walk around Ahrenshoop which is a well-known artist colony, with galleries and ongoing exhibitions. Another well-known artist colony is in Schwaan. Don’t forget to enjoy the fresh smoked fish, and Baerenfang for dessert (a honey-based liquor, yum).
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