Berlin in summer is an exciting place that has a lot to offer. Festivals, outdoor pools, beach parties, you name it, there is no way to get bored. However, if you want to escape the urban jungle and immerse yourself in nature, Spreewald is the place to go.
Why you should go to Spreewald?
Spreewald is located just one hour from Berlin so it makes a perfect day trip or weekend destination. It’s a great place for spending an active day kayaking or cycling. You can also find kanu tours which are a unique attraction and a good alternative if you don’t feel like rowing or want to impress your date and create a romantic atmosphere. With 300km of canals and 260km of cycling paths, Spreewald offers something to explore for everybody and is very high on my list of Berlin getaways.
How to get there?
If you have a car you can get to Lübben or Lübbenau, which are main towns of Spreewald, within less than an hour taking A13. If you want to avoid crowds, you can go to Schlepzig, Alt Zauche, Leipe, or Lehde. Spreewald is also easily reachable by regional trains from Berlin’s main station. Trains to Lübben and Lübbenau depart every hour and the trip takes only one hour. If you go in a group of three to five people it is worth getting the group ticket (Kleingruppen-Tageskarte) instead of single tickets.
Be aware that when you take the regional train you have to buy and validate before entering it. It is a general rule in Germany and the only exception is when you depart from a station which doesn’t have a ticket machine or if it was broken. Departing from Berlin Hauptbahnhof though, you better arrive a few minutes before the train and take time to get a ticket.
The advantage of regional trains is that tickets work the same way as in public transportation- if you buy a ticket you can validate it whenever you want so there is no stress of being late for a train.
Kayaking in Spreewald
Spreewald is known from canals and beautiful nature. Kayak tours offer a unique perspective on this diverse area.
You can rent a kayak in any town, kayak rentals are easy to notice and there is a lot of them. In high season and on weekends people tend to book kayaks in advance (sounds ridiculous, I know) so you can either do it too (just google Kajakverlieh and google will show different rentals), start your trip outside of Lübben or Lübbenau or just arrive early, around 9 there should still be some kayaks available. Renting a double kayak for a whole day costs between 25 and 30€.
Besides a kayak, you will get a map and the staff will explain to you the possible routes. All waterways are well marked so finding your way is pretty straightforward. When you arrive at bigger towns, you will find platforms to get out of your kayak comfortably and make a small break, many restaurants also have platforms so you can park your kayak and stop for lunch there.
Cycling in Spreewald
Spreewald has a lot of scenic bike routes, the most popular of them is Gurkenradweg. Just look for a sign with a cucumber riding a bike and you will know you are on a good path. The map is available on spreewald.de. The whole route is 260km but some parts of it are in cities or go through not particularly charming villages without any trees or shadow and were not worth cycling through for me. My favourite part of Gurkenradweg was a ride from Burg to Lübben. Both ways through Lübbenau and Neu Zauchen are well worth visiting.
You can either transport your bike on a regional train for a small extra fee or rent a bike in Spreewald. A lot of bike rentals offer e-bikes and tandems too. Renting a bike for a whole day costs around 15€.
Tips for a weekend in Spreewald
If you plan to stay for two days, try both activities. Your arms may get sore from rowing so plan a cycling trip for day one and leave kayaks for the second day.
If you want to make your trip to Spreewald budget friendly, it is a good idea to bring your own snacks and products for breakfast and dinner. Food in restaurants in this area is quite expensive but taste doesn’t justify its price and eating out more than once a day every day quickly adds up.
If you want to lower your cost even more, spend a night in a tent. Accommodation can be pretty expensive in Spreewald. I paid over 25€ for a night in a double room in a youth hostel and the conditions were way worse than in other hostels I stayed in for similar or cheaper prices in Germany and abroad. Camping sites in Spreewald are the cheapest accommodation option and they are clean, well-equipped, and offer a great value for their price.
Download the offline maps before going there. No signal is a common problem in Germany outside of big cities and preparing for that beforehand can help you a lot.
There is no strong current so even if you are a beginner at kayaking, you should be fine.
Having such a quiet, and green place nearby Berlin offers a great opportunity to relax. It is a must-see for everyone who lives in Berlin and likes nature. If you are only visiting Germany, I also recommend visiting Spreewald or other places with lots of nature (like Saxon Switzerland) instead of only going to big cities. It will give you a much wider and fuller perspective on this country. Let me know in the comments what are your favourite Berlin getaways.