Being the perfect getaway from Berlin, Spreewald offers an enchanting scenery, green dense forests and labyrinthic water canals.
Either you are canoeing at one of the over 200 streams branching out from the Spree River during Summer or wandering through snow-covered villages and rivers during Winter, Spreewald is always a good choice if you want to experience something new and different of what the rest of Brandenburg has to offer.
I visited this day-trip getaway and discovered why Germans love Spreewald so much and how to make the most of it.
Germany’s natural paradise
First of all, Spreewald is not a city or a region in Germany. It’s a biosphere reserve located just 100 km south from Berlin. It is the place where the Spree River transforms into dozens of narrow streams and the forest surrounding the landscape turns into a home for thousands of species of flora and fauna. It is a marvel of nature and with small villages set along the canals, many consider this a version of Venice in Germany.
Green wetlands, thick forests, 1.500 km of labyrinthic canals and around 18.000 different species of plants and animals. Spreewald is an example of how nature change just an hour away from Germany’s largest and most hectic city.
How to get there
Even though it is more comfortable and easier to rent a car and plan a road trip to Spreewald, Germany’s railway system, Deutsche Bahn, has direct connections from Berlin Central Station to the village of Lübben in just 1 hour. Lübben is the main center of Spreewald and the most common destination for travelers to visit.
Cycling enthusiasts can also depart from Berlin and in 1 or 2 days reach the town of Lübben. Many see this as a beautiful multi-stop cycling trip and an opportunity to see more of the state of Brandenburg.
What to do in Spreewald
Spreewald offers various adventurous activities for travelers looking to explore the nature of the reserve. It also has some cultural treats and hidden getaways for those staying longer. Since the communities living inside the biosphere reserve depend a lot on tourism, there is definitely no lack of activities to do here.
Even though Spreewald and its beautiful water canals are not very popular for travelers coming from abroad, this is one of the most popular places to visit for Germans living in the region.
Kayaking and canoeing
The most common activity is paddling in the canals. During my stay in Spreewald I had the option to rent several types of canoes, kayaks, or small boats. While kayaks offer a more flexible and adventurous trip, small canoes for 2 or 3 people are the perfect choice for simply relaxing and enjoy a warm day.
My friends and I rented a 3-person kayak for 10 EUR and we were able to paddle around the key areas of Spreewald. We did several stops at some of its charming alleys, as well stopped for some snacks from time to time.
Maps of the Spreewald canals are available at most kayak tour shops and if you feel lost in Spreewald’s canals, you can always follow other boats until you find a place you recognize.
There are multi-day kayak tours that start in Lübben and go all the way to Berlin. They take anything between 3-5 nights and offer a unique experience in Spreewald and Berlin. You can stay at the several lodges located along the Spree and spend your days kayaking your way north.
Not everyone wants to spend the whole day in the water and it’s fine. Spreewald has some of the most beautiful hiking trails in Brandenburg and many visitors who plan to stay for multiple days in Lübben, combine water activities with hiking and sightseeing.
The hiking paths of Spreewald charm their visitors with fairy-tale forests, picturesque houses in a traditional style and one or another castle hidden in the woods. Spreewald’s most popular hiking trails start from the villlages of Burg and Lübben and can be done in half a day or even less.
When I go for a hike, I like to use the app Komoot, a German navigation app, where locals and outdoor enthusiasts create hiking routes in all levels of experiences. Just like my last 4 or 5 hiking trips in Germany, I have used Komoot to decide which route I want to take or what I want to see along the way.
Although you can come to Spreewald with your own bicycle (either by train or cycling the whole way), bike rentals are very popular in the region. Germany has one of the best cycling networks in the world and excellent routes to discover – including Spreewald.
Private companies also offer half day, one day or multiple day tours, in which you travel with a small group around the key spots of the biosphere reserve and at the same time they explain you about the history, culture and natural diversity of the region.
NOT TO MISS
Spreewald pickles are famous all over Germany. If you are going for a culinary treat, try any of the local dishes with pickles. They have them with all different kind of variations and if you feel brave enough, you can also get a taste of the traditional pickle vodka – something I’ve only seen in Spreewald.
I visited many spots in Germany during the past 10 years. However, I still think Spreewald is one of the most beautiful. I felt welcome by everyone I crossed and felt part of the little community that has been living in this region for more than a century.
My visit to Spreewald was short. Still, I saw a getaway from Berlin that left me wanting to come back as soon as possible.