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Day Trips from Berlin

We've changed part of our summer travel plans. Instead of seven or eight days in London after about five or six days in Ireland, we've decided on five or six days preceding our Ireland adventure, with departure from Heathrow for the end of an approximate couple of weeks. We'll probably never tire of London with four previous stays there, but my wife and I continue to be interested in World War II and have visited Central Europe with that as sort of a theme wrapped in a touring holiday. I spent close to two years stationed in Germany more than 50 years ago and remember bits and pieces of the language but served my time in a small town, Bad Kreuznach, closer to the southwestern region of Germany, and, of course, it eas two Germanys then and travel quite restricted to theveast for US personnel.

We've not yet started our study of hotel possibilities, but for now, I'm curious about opportunities for day trips (we'll be traveling solely by rail and perhaps the occasional bus) from Berlin. I'm sure there are more important sights for us in Berlin but I wondering about day trip options on public transport. Are there several bahnhofs in the city? It may make some difference in selecting lodging if day trips are contemplated, otherwise not. We'd like to be centrally located in any case so that to the extent possible we can walk to important landmarks (churches, museums, monuments, memorials, etc). It has seemed variable by cities we've visited but some rail station locations, while often providing less costly accomodations, are in what we old folks might term "seedy" neighborhoods where, frankly, at our ages, we might feel less comfortable, especially in the evenings.

Posted by
30931 posts

Jim,

There are quite a few WW-II day trip possibilities from Berlin, as well as in the city. You could split your time between day trips and exploring the city. One day trip that to consider would the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, which you can tour either on your own or take a guided tour with Original Berlin Walks. While in many ways it was typical of the camps, it also has several unusual aspects including the fact that it was the site of one of the largest counterfeiting operations in history. OBW also offer some excellent walking tours of the city, including WW-II themed walks which visit the site of the former Führerbunker (there's nothing left to see but I found it interesting to visit the site). Some of the other sights that you could visit are.....

  • Site of the Wannsee conference, a short distance from Berlin
  • Potsdam
  • Museums in Berlin
  • Air raid towers or Berlin Underground tours
  • Topography of Terror Dokumentation centre which is located at the site of the former Gestapo headquarters, the former Luftwaffe headquarters (a building which is still in use) and part of the Berlin Wall as well as the very touristy Checkpoint Charlie.
  • Memorial of German Resistance, located in the Bendlerblock on Stauffenbergstrasse (as depicted in the movie Valkyrie which was filmed at the site of the actual executions). Some of the buildings in that area still show considerable marking on the exteriors from machine gun damage.

You'll find lots of souvenir stands selling cold war era Soviet uniform items and other trinkets near Checkpoint Charlie If you feel adventurous you can try a Trabi tour or perhaps a Segway tour. You won't have any shortage of things to do and see in Berlin.

In terms of which area to stay, the Guidebook provides a good overview of the different areas. I quite enjoyed staying in the area between Bahnhof Zoo and Savignyplatz. It's a vibrant area and very convenient for transportation and I didn't find it "seedy" at all. Have a look at THIS website to see if that might work for you.

Yes, there are several stations in the city but the relatively new Berlin Hauptbahnhof is likely the one you'll be arriving at. It's HUGE, on multiple levels and has shopping and restaurants as well. You can easily reach the area mentioned in the previous paragraph by using the S-Bahn trains, which are accessed on the top level of the Hbf.

Happy travels!

Posted by
865 posts

Not related to WW2, but anyway... day trips from Berlin:

Posted by
7640 posts

There are many WW2 themed tours you could go on that will show you Berlin like a tour book can't. My favorite company is Insider Tours, as I have been on 4 of their tours and will be going on 2 more this July when I am back in Berlin. Their tour to Sachsenhausen is excellent, with many personal stories. You can tell that the guides have done tons of research on their subject. Though many people go to this KZ, you might also consider going to Ravensbruck as this was the women's camp. It offers a very different viewpoint. Track 17 is also a good spot to visit, as is the Wannsee Villa.

Potsdam and the Spreewald have already been mentioned, but you are also close enough to Lübeck or even Quedlinberg to visit. Even Hamburg isn't that far away and could be done as a day trip. Dresden could also be considered.

The public transportation in Berlin is everywhere, so it doesn't really matter that much where you stay, there is always an U-bahn, S-bahn, or bus to take.

I keep it simple, staying in the wallet friendly Motel One, either by the main train station or in Bellevue. It gives me easy access to all the trains, has great showers, a decent breakfast and wifi, as well as AC in case it gets hot.

Posted by
149 posts

Thanks, folks. This is very useful information. I have RS Germany book ordered from the public library because we're probably about 70-75% set on the Berlin alternative to our original plans. When we're at 90-95%, I'll buy one from our local brick and mortar bookstore as I already have my RS Ireland book. I do believe we'll not visit any of the camps. When we toured the Jewish Quarter in Prague in 2006, we saw the artwork of the children held in Theresienstadt, and knew that those children had little or no idea that they would never grow up and old. We're not Jewish (and you don't have to be, of course), but I remember that I was very close to tears, and seeing the Anne Frank Haus in Amsyerdam last September was enough for us. I think we want to observe some more of this history but from just a step away, much as we're not averse to observing a cobra through a very solid glass window in the zoo.