Can’t go on a “proper” two week holiday? Fear not, that isn’t a good enough reason to not treat yourself to a trip. Ausflüge, aka excursions, are a great way to ensure you make the most of your precious downtime. From mid-week mini-breaks to long-weekend getaways, there is always an opportunity to build adventure into your routine.
I try, as a minimum, to go on one Ausflug a month (whether it be for an evening, a day or a weekend), and, as a result, my little black book is bulging with ideas, especially my “easy from Berlin” section.
With this in mind, I wanted to share my insider tips with you - beyond the classics of Potsdam, Teufelsberg, Wannsee, Spreewald, Rostock and Hamburg - so you don’t have to spend hours planning how to make the most of your time.
INSL Kyritz: idyllic island life
So often, the idea of a holiday is entwined with visions of island life, dangling our feet into the water while sipping a fresh glass of wine. Luckily for us Berliners, this reality lies just an hour north of the city.
To access the island, you walk along the edge of a clear lake to a footbridge where there’s a gong. When rung, a boat comes to pick you up and takes you across to the island, where you find an idyllic garden and a cosy terrace that expands over the water.
Make a trip of it and stay at Old School Brandenburg, a stunningly-renovated 1920s schoolhouse with eclectic interiors, hidden at the edge of a nearby Brandenburg village.
The Müritz National Park: active adventure
Long, leisurely bike trips are the epitome of a good Ausflug, and the Müritz is the perfect place to do just that. It’s just over the border of Brandenburg, in Mecklenburg Vorpommern, and is the largest lake in Germany (it’s bigger than Paris), surrounded by thick forests.
Instead of taking a loop around the whole lake, I cycle down to Müritzhof (on the east side) to fill up on beer and cake, before peddling to Feisnecksee for a dip. The town of Waren (north coast) itself is rather charming, and it’s well worth lazing about in the harbour. You can get here so easily with the train, it’s just over an hour from Gesundbrunnen.
Make a trip of it and stay at Müritz Water Tower, a striking, 120-year-old water tower boasting 4 industrial-chic apartments at the water’s edge in Germany’s Lake District.
Leipzig: culture hit
Leipzig is a wonderful city, buzzing with energy and creativity. I fell in love with it at the tender age of 14, and have visited countless times ever since. It’s wonderful for a lot of reasons, but a good one is that you can get here by train in an-hour-and-a-half from Berlin.
To get a true taste of the place, I’d recommend you take a walk in Clara-Zetkin Park, have lunch in the Plagwitz district (and explore the artist studios at Spinnerei), visit the Völkerschlachtdenkmal and Thomaskirche, and go for a drink along Karl-Liebknecht-Straße. As a bonus, check out what exhibition Yadegar Asisi has on at the Leipzig Panometer.
Make a trip of it and stay at The Wool Factory, quirky-cool apartments, boasting chic industrial architecture, in a former wool factory at the heart of Saxony's coolest city.
Buch forest: nothing but trees
Buch, reachable with the S2, makes for a wonderful outing. There are acres of forest, crisscrossed by trails such as the sculpture walk.
What I love most is that the area is perfect for foraging. Bärlauch season is in the spring, and Pfifferlinge season is at the end of summer. Take a basket and fill it with these delicious treats: there’s no better feeling than returning home after a day in the fresh air to cook with ingredients you gathered yourself.
Make a trip of it and stay at the Michelberger, a hyper-hip hideout hidden at the heart of Berlin, with individually styled rooms, an exceptional restaurant and sleek wine bar.
Fischland-Darß peninsula: fresh sea spray
White sand stretches as far as your eyes can see, cooling saltwater washes over your feet, and the dunes hide all things manmade. This is escapism at it’s finest.
While people flock for their annual Urlaub an der Ostsee in the summer, I prefer the Baltic Sea in the spring or autumn, when it’s much easier to seek solitude on one of the coast’s unspoilt beaches. It’s probably easier to get here and explore with a car, though you can also get here with a Flixbus.
Make a trip of it and stay at Siegfried Cabin, a modern cabin with bright, minimalist interiors on an unspoilt Baltic-Sea peninsula.