I'll be going to Berlin in September for one week. Since I don't have a lot of time, I'm planning on spending most of my trip in the city, but I would like to either do an overnight trip somewhere cool, or take a couple of day trips to places that are nearby (as in less than 2 hours away by train).
I've never been to Germany so I have no idea where to begin planning. I love cities but I also love exploring smaller towns and getting a feel for the local culture. Are there any places not too far from Berlin that I should definitely not miss out on? Thanks in advance for your help!
I'd say: No. You don't miss anything within a 2-hours radius. Especially when you are staying only for a week there's much more to explore in Berlin.
Maybe except from Potsdam (former east) which is right next to Berlin. You will find Sanssouci Palace which in the end is just another historical building of which you find more than you need for a week in Berlin.
Here are some links with tipps on Berlin that might be helpful:
My personal favorite underrated attraction is Sowjetisches Ehrenmal im Treptower Park.
Note that Spreepark Berlin / Kulturpark Plänterwald (abandoned luna park) which gets mentioned a lot has just been closed.
Latest concept shopping mall Bikini Berlin and 25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin (with NENI Restaurant Berlin and Monkey Bar both with spectacular view of the Berlin Zoo (Zoologischer Garten) have recently been opened.
Last but not least Berlin has lots to offer if you're a foodie. Streetfood markets, food trucks, coffee shops, private food events and more. Here's some read: http://www.berlinreified.com
So make sure you don't miss Street Food Thursday on a Thursday night at Markthalle Neun or Breakfast Market at the same location if you happened to be there on the third Sunday of September (http://www.stilinberlin.de/2014/06/food-berlin-breakfast-market.html)
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Or go to Leipzig- a beautiful city south of Berlin. A nice post about 48 hours in Leipzig: http://budgettraveller.org/48-hours-in-leipzig-colditz/
Another option could be Weimar, a small town with lots of history and beautiful architecture.
If you want to get away from the bustling city and enjoy a day or two at the rough baltic sea, you won't be disappointed. I am talking fresh fish, long beach walks, spectacular cliffs and a hanseatic flair. There are three destinations that I love the most:
Rügen is Germany's largest island and about a 3 hour train ride from Berlin.
Fischland-Darß-Zingst (Tourismusverband) is a 45 km long peninsula between Rostock and Stralsund and also only a 3 hours train ride from Berlin.
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Great question. I used this link from The Guardian for my last trip to Berlin. Potsdam would be at the top of my list.