1. Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island)
Pfaueninsel Castle. Photo: NoRud/Wikimedia Commons.
The Pfaueninsel is located in southwestern Berlin, right at the border with Potsdam and inside the River Havel.
According to archaeologists, the island has been inhabited for around 2,500 years, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Prussian King Frederick William II built a castle on the 243-acre isle in the late 1700s, and the island ultimately became a haven for wildlife: his son, King Frederick William III, collected exotic animals for the island like monkeys, kangaroos and – of course – peacocks.
Most of the animals were transferred to the Berlin zoological gardens in 1842, but the peacocks are still very much ubiquitous, as are a range of exotic birds.
Frederick William II was a big fan of medieval architecture, hence the nature of the white palace and the wrought-iron bridge, which were actually built at the end of the 18th century.
How to get there: take the S1 or the S7 to Wannsee, then the 218 bus to the Pfaueninsel stop. From there, a ferry will take you to the island for €4.
Tropical Islands Resort. Photo: DPA
Don’t miss out on a visit to the world’s largest indoor water park, the Tropical Islands resort, which covers a massive area of 66,000 square metres.
Converted from an old aircraft hangar by the Malaysian owners, this tropical paradise includes a beach, a lagoon, a spa and wellness centre, and mini golf.
You can also take a ride in a hot air balloon or see a dance show.
Day tickets cost €42 for adults and €33 for children over five years old.
How to get there: take either the Regional Express RE2 train or the RB24 train to the Brand, Tropical Islands station. A free shuttle from the Brand station will bring you to the resort.
Stained-glass windows in Frankfurt-an-der-Oder's Marienkirche. Photo: DPA
If you're feeling more like an intellectual trip, the historic town of Frankfurt an der Oder is a perfect choice.
Not to be confused with the major financial hub of Frankfurt am Main in the west, the smaller Frankfurt an der Oder is right on the Polish border. This means you can simply cross the bridge over the Oder River and then you're in the Polish town of Słubice (though apparently it's not so easy if you're a refugee).
Also known as 'Kleist Town' after the famed poet Heinrich von Kleist, who was born and studied there, this 'other Frankfurt' boasts unmissable cultural attractions including the Marienkirche church with its beautiful stained-glass windows, the Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach concert hall and the Museum of Young Art.
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For families, Frankfurt has its very own puppet theatre as well as a wildlife park only a roughly 30-minute journey away from the town centre.
If you simply want to escape the hubbub of city-life, why not relax in the Lenné park, or take a boat or surfboard out onto the Helenesee lake?
How to get there: the regional train RE1 from Berlin's central station (Hauptbahnhof) takes just over an hour to get there.
Bad Saarow baths. Photo: Clemensfranz/Wikimedia Commons
If you want to take it easy, you can relax and unwind in SaarowTherme's thermal baths and enjoy the benefits of physiotherapy and wellness treatment.
Sport-lovers will not be disappointed: you can try out numerous water sports on the Scharmützel Lake where the baths are located, and there is also a wealth of other activities available, such as tennis, walking, cycling, horse riding and cycling.
How to get there: take the RE1 in the direction of Frankfurt (Oder) and get off at Fürstenwalde station. From there, take the bus 430 to Bad Saarow, and then it's a roughly five-minute walk to SaarowTherme.
A man taking in the view at the Liepnitzsee. Photo: DPA
Idyllic scenery, hidden spots off the beaten track, calm waters and relaxing boat trips – this lake is the perfect antidote to busy life in the capital. You can swim out to the island in the middle of the lake if you’re feeling adventurous!
Why not also visit the nearby Wandlitzer See while you’re there? This tranquil spot boasts deep forests, beautiful meadows and plenty of places to sit and relax, as well as opportunities for swimming and rowing.
How to get there: there are several regional trains that will take you to Bernau train station, and from there you'll need to take bus 894 to Wandlitz train station. Alternatively you can take the S2 to Karow train station and then take the RB27 to Wandlitz.
Tip: take your bike with you, otherwise it’s about a 30-minute walk from the train station to Liepnitzsee's beach area.
The peaceful tranquility of the Spreewald woods. Photo: DPA
Enjoy fresh air, scenic walks and beautiful views in Brandenburg's Spreewald region – one of only 15 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in Germany.
The wildlife is unbeatably diverse. There are 830 known species of butterfly present, 48 kinds of dragonfly and 270 species of bird.
The Spreewald is a cyclist’s and hiker’s paradise: there are countless bike routes and hiking trails winding their way through leafy forests, picturesque villages and verdant meadows.
The hiking trails range from 5-25km long, so there’s something for everyone from walkers with little experience to serious hikers.
Alternatively you can rent out a kayak, canoe or even take a boat tour if you want to skip leg day.
How to get there: take the RE2 to Lübbenau station – about an hour ride from Berlin Hauptbahnhof.
By Ali Butt and Verity Middleton