Stay in Berlin or village around there?

I am taking my 18 year old granddaughter to the Berlin area. I was going to stay in Berlin and take side trips but I don't like big cities. What do you think of the idea of staying in some outlying area and going into the city to see the wall remains and museums? We will be going to the small WWII camp in the outskirts. We will be tired by then, so anyone know some quaint town to stay in and then take day trips? Our goal is more any age of history rather than modern. Thanks! This will be next Sept.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
11069 posts

It's not a village, but perhaps Potsdam? The ride into downtown Berlin on the S-bahn takes about an hour, if I remember correctly. I was only there briefly, but Wannsee also looked like a nice place to stay.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
24177 posts

Kris, I found Berlin to be quite pleasant and the neighborhood I was staying in didn't seem like a big city. There's a tremendous amount of history there and lots of interesting sights. The problem with staying in an outlying "village" is that you'll have to deal with travel times and costs every time you want to visit some of the sights you've come to see. There are lots of interesting Museums and other historic sights in Berlin, and staying in the city will give you more time to visit them. Which "small WWII camp" are you referring to - Sachsenhausen? It's easily visited as a day trip from Berlin. I visited the camp on a day tour with the Original Berlin Walks, and would absolutely recommend that approach. The Guide was excellent and I learned far more about the history than if I'd gone on my own. Some of the MANY places you might consider for your sightseeing list: > Berlin Wall remains > Topography of Terror Museum (this is close to one section of the Wall and also the foundation of the former Gestapo headquarters) > Checkpoint Charlie (quite a tourist trap but interesting to see) > Deutsches History Museum > Holocaust Memorial > Bendlerblock (office and execution location of von Stauffenberg and others involved in the July 20th assassination plot) - I'd recommend seeing this on the Infamous Third Reich sites tour with Original Berlin Walks.) If your time and budget will allow, you could also consider taking a Segway Tour while in that area. They're a lot of fun and a unique way to get a quick glimpse of some of the history. You might find it helpful to order the Snapshot Berlin book ($6.99) as it will help to sort out sightseeing, lodging and transportation options. Happy travels!

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2030 posts

I too would stay in Berlin. Some neighborhoods there feel more like "villages" than others, if you pick the right one. Consider Prenzlauerberg, off any main street it's quiet, with leafy trees and nice cafes. You could also stay somewhere in the western part of the city, which (away from the Ku'damm area) is quieter and less "modern big city feeling" than many neighborhoods in the east.

Posted by Kris
Los Angeles, ca.
32 posts

Thanks, this is the guidance I seek and appreciate all! I'm getting the book. Kris

Posted by Mark
Berlin, Germany
334 posts

If your main focus is Berlin, I would stay inside the city limits (i.e. the 'B' zone for public transport) and in easy walking distance of a S or U-Bahn (light rail and subway) station to cut down on transportation cost and time. Luckily for you there are a few villages which have been incorporated into Berlin without loosing their character completely. Marienfelde (especially around the old village green, the village church is the oldest building inside Berlin's city limits) in the south springs immediately to mind, but there are several others. Another idea which may combine your preferences with those of your granddaughter may be Dahlem, the location of the Free University (the American sponsored university of the former West Berlin). Dahlem feels a bit like a mixture of village, rich suburb (lots of villas), and collage town.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
5068 posts

Kris, That is exactly what Berlin is: a big city, it's huge made even larger when some of the former suburbs, such as Köpenick, Charlottenburg, Spandau, Wannsee, etc were added to the city after WW I. I would also suggest staying in the city, there is indeed this neighborhood feeling whether you're walking around in Köpenick, Charlottenburg, or Prenzlauer Berg, etc. If you are set on staying outside, then Potsdam is the closest and most logical choice. An HI hostel is located there, close to Babelsberg. To be connected by speed train (ICE) instead of the S-Bahn and regional train from Berlin, I would suggest Lutherstadt Wittenberg, a "quiant town." Re: "...any age of history rather than modern." There are tours focusing on WW II and Nazi sites as well as DDR communist period. The concentration camp you're refering to is located a bit north of Berlin in the town of Oranienburg. Other than "modern" history, there are still evidence of Prussian history...don't know of any tours, you just have to look for it in Berlin and Potsdam.

Posted by Mark
Berlin, Germany
334 posts

The districts of Charlottenburg, Prenzlauer Berg, and so on are both quite big areas and urban. They're not bustling hectic downtown/city center-style urban, but there not like quaint small towns either. They're simply residential urban neighborhoods were people actually live. Potsdam is a city of +150.000 inhabitants, not really a quaint little town. And you'll have to pay more for public transport (zone 'C') because it's outside the city limits. If that's OK you could also look at Oranienburg (near the Sachsenhausen camp), a ~40.000 pop town. Spandau is IMHO closer to the solution: essentially a ~40.000 pop "town" inside Berlin.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
3410 posts

There is so much to do in Berlin that I would suggest that you stay in the city. I think commuting into Berlin will be far more tiring than staying in the city. I stayed in an apartment offered by Berlin Habitat last June. They were very easy to deal with. I stayed in the "Parkview Capri" apartment near the Rosenthaler Platz station and really liked the location. They have several apartments in the same building. There was a small park, lots of local cafes, and it was only about a 20 minute walk to the Museum Insel. I posted a review on tripadvisor.