The Bürgerpark is a 12-hectare park situated in Berlin-Pankow. It was designed in 1856 as a private park, but has been open to the public since 1907. The park withstood the regime changes of the Weimar Republic, the Second World War, and the DDR, and is still flourishing today. The main entrance gate on Wilhelm-Kuhr-Straße can be seen as a metaphorical transition to another world. Leaving behind the crowded, noisy situation of a metropolis, visitors enter a peaceful sanctuary for people and fauna. Inside the park there is also a cafe selling baked cakes and offering German culinary specialties.
This amazing castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been called ‘the Prussian Versailles.’ Built in the Rococo style, Schloss Sanssouci was constructed for the Prussian King Frederick II between 1745 and 1747. Literally meaning a ‘castle without a care’ in French, it was the castle to which he retired to as a refuge from his daily stresses. He was so connected to this place that he wanted to be buried here, and in 1991 his wish finally became true. His grave can be found in the highest terrace of the castle. The castle serves as a reflection on the connection between the man and nature. It is situated on a little hill and surrounded by fields on all sides.
These three lakes are worth heading out of town to see at any time of the year. Wannsee and Schlachtensee belong to the neighborhood of Stegliz-Zehlendorf, and the Großer Müggelsee can be found in the area of Treptow-Koepenick. The countryside and quality of the water for summer swimming make these some of Berlin’s best close-by destinations. When the weather picks up and the sun comes out, thousands flock to these lakes for bathing, relaxing, and picnics.
The Grunewald forest, or ‘the green forest,’ is the biggest in Berlin. It is made up of three thousand hectares of land, much of which is protected by law. Within the sprawling expanses of the park there are various species of rare birds and trees, and many lakes and ponds. This may be the fastest escape from the city as it is still within the city itself.
Another pleasant forest can be found in the neighborhood of Reinickendorf, next to Tegeler Lake. It is not as large, but for lovers of the outdoors and green environments, the Tegeler Forest is a place of beauty. Furthermore, there is a park for kids within it where children can be booked in to have playgroups, and nights in the bungalow in the park can be arranged as well.
Just 60 km from Berlin, Tropical Islands is the largest tropical holiday environment in Europe and possibly the most unique. It was originally an airship hanger of huge dimensions: 360m long, 210m large and 107m high. In its stead there now sits a gleaming beach with a tropical climate and water lapping at its shores. In fact, the temperature is constantly maintained at 26 degrees with a humidity of 64% to give the sensation of a tropical paradise. It is no surprise that this amazing construction attracts thousands of visitors from all Europe every year who wish to escape from the long, cold winters. As if that weren’t enough, it is open 24/7 and rooms can be booked for an extended stay.
The Natur-Park Südgelände is an 18-hectare park found in Berlin-Schöneberg. It is in fact an old rail station, renovated as a green and creative space. Inside one can find the remains of old steam trains as well as new installations by artists, all in a very placid environment. Recognized as part of the EXPO Project 2000, it is a thrilling mixture of technology, nature, and art.
Located to the south-east of Berlin, Cottbus is the second-biggest city in the region of Brandenburg. It is a small place with plenty of charm. Worth a visit is the park of Branitz, built following the style of English gardens. Furthermore, not very far from there are the Rhododendron Park in Kromlau and the Rakotzbrücke, a particular bridge that reflects in the river, creating a perfect circle. They are both astonishingly good, and winter is the prime time to visit.
Another way to feel like you have escaped the city without actually leaving it is to pay a visit to Treptower Park. With an area of 88 hectares, it is one of the largest green areas in the eastern part of Berlin. The park extends to the shores of Berlin’s river Spree and its numerous restaurants and bars. Furthermore, in the park there is an island, Insel der Jugend, ‘the island of youth’, connected to the land with a bridge, the Abteibrücke, which was built in 1916 by the prisoners of prisoners. The famous Soviet war memorial can also be found in Treptower Park.
The Botanical Garden and Botanical Museum of Berlin is one of the most important in the world and without a doubt the largest in Europe. It covers 43 hectares and contains more than 22,000 different species of plants. It was built between 1897 and 1910 under the guidance of architect Adolf Engler, in order to present exotic plants brought back from the German colonies. The garden was partially in Dahlem when it was founded, but after that Dahlem became part of Steglitz-Zehlendorf, which is today is the district to which it belongs. It is now also part of the Freieuniversitaet of Berlin. It contains the biggest greenhouse in the world, the ‘Große Tropenhaus,’ where thanks to a controlled climate visitors can see all manner of rare species. Next to the garden, the museum can be found, which includes the ‘Herbarium Berolinense,’ a very important collection of plants and a specialized library.