When we first moved abroad, one of the inevitable first questions from Germans would be "Why did you move to Berlin?". We would start in on how we had always dreamed of living in Germany before they would interrupt with, "but Berlin is not Germany."
Excuse me - what!? This drove us mad...until we realized how true this was. Berlin is totally its own place, quite different from the rest of the country. The capital has unique museums, street food, and architecture - but more than that it is the way the city feels and moves. When other expats or travelers talk about their time in Germany, we'll tilt our heads and think Berlin is nothing like that.
That is why it is so important for the Germany lover to get out of the capital for the typical German experience. You don't need to go far to find a totally different German world. Take these 6 day trips from Berlin to discover typisch Deutschland.
This East German town had almost been forgotten before attracting the attention of film-makers. A perfect time capsule of Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) architecture, the town caught the eye of Wes Anderson and played a prominent role in his film, The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Brandenburg an der Havel is a medieval town located about an hour away from Berlin on the River Havel. A quiet village with a 1,000 plus year history, the majority of the altstadt is just 15 minutes walking distance from the train station. The Altstädtisches Rathaus (Old Town Hall) is a late Gothic red brick building with a 5.35m statue of the knight Roland erected in 1474. The tourist office (and a public bathroom) are also located just off the square.
You can also follow the town's medieval walls to the four remaining watchtowers or take a look at Germany's recent past with a visit to the Brandenburg Euthanasia Centre, a small but concise museum focusing on the treatment of the mentally ill and other "undesirables" during the National Socialist regime.
Swim-bound Berliners are in search of the perfect See (lake) every summer and Liepnitzsee might just be it. Surrounded by cooling forest, the waters are almost perfectly clear up to 3-metres and a center island (Großer Werder) is reachable by ferry.
If you are looking for more than an idyllic swim (or an eyeful of FKK bathers), the surrounding area offers a bit of GDR history. Elites of the party favored this location and created a Waldsiedlung (summer house colony). There are still plenty of fine estates as you make your way to the park surrounding the lake or wander the area.
Once a year in May rowdy groups of fruit wine drinkers make their way to this small agriculture hamlet for Baumblütenfest. One of the largest drinking festivals in Germany, this is the only times most city folks make their way to this peaceful town.
But with cheery blossoming trees and the nourishing waters of the Havel running through the center of town (which gives the city its name of "river island"), there is plenty to keep you occupied other times of the year.
This UNESCO protected forest just southeast of the city is known as the “green lung” of Brandenburg. Thousands of man-made waterways crisscross the area and are best toured by summer canoe, but winter adventurers can ice skate along instead.
Though most people visit for the detour out into nature, there are also some lovely town centers in Lübbenau, Lübben, Burg (Spreewald), and Leipe. And don't leave without sampling a famous Spreewald pickle.
Before visiting, all I knew of this town was its tough right-leaning football team. But upon further inspection, it revealed its Hanseatic roots with its red brick architecture, Fishermen's Bastion and bustling harbor.
Pass through one of the city's impressive city gates and make your way to Neuer Markt (New Market) and the Rathaus (Town Hall) where 13th -16th-century structures create an elegant roof line. Stop by Universität Rostock to discover one of the oldest universities in the world founded in 1419.