Aim for a dry day to Potsdam which is on an easy S-bahn ride from Berlin. Follow the signs to the bike renting place upon leaving the station - it's only five minutes walk on the way to Potsdam centre. The 17km (11 miles) bike ride takes you through beautiful Potsdam, UNESCO Heritage site, to Sanssouci, baroque palace of Friedrich the Great, rococo OTT New Palace and myriad of other architectural curiosities in Sanssouci's opulent landscaped grounds. The trail continues through the stunning New Gardens with lakes and more palaces before crossing the Glienicke bridge immortalised in cold war films. Babelsbeg Park with its German film heritage is the oasis of tranquillity before the full circle is completed. Beautiful!
Google map: bit.ly/RsKmaE
This charming pavilion and beer garden throwback to the GDR days occupies a prime position overlooking the Landwehr Canal as it emerges from the Tiergarten. There's a small, sometimes raucous, bar area and a larger dining section from where you can peer into the water through the vast windows. The beer's good and so's the hearty food although it does get unbearably busy in summer (thanks to the leafy biergarten). There's also the noisy accompaniment while you quaff your ale of the zoo just over the fence.
Just an hour outside Berlin by car lies a real hidden gem. The Woerlitzer Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is one of the most dazzling examples of landscape gardening in continental Europe. Having been inspired by a trip to England, Prince Leopold III started work on the 122 hectare public garden in 1764. Now it stands – a stunning series of labyrinthine paths, winding rivers and ponds – as an oasis of calm, and a true work of art.
For directions see
A fantastic park that is home to more palaces than you can shake a stick at, plus a Chinese teahouse thrown in for good measure.
If you're lucky enough and it snows, the park looks like a scene out of the Chronicles of Narnia.
Take the S-Bahn to Potsdam Hauptbahnhof and walk the short distance to the park entrance.
Head to this sprawling flea market between Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg and Wedding for a colourful mix of buyers and sellers, buskers, beer and bratwursts. The perfect chilled out Sunday if you've got an eye for a bargain, an impulse to haggle or just want to nurse a Weissbier while the Berliners sell off retro furniture, oversized sunglasses and classic LPs around you. All in the middle of a leafy park - and there's even a place to leave the dog.
Bernauer Straße 63–64
13355 Berlin (Mitte)
It's a fantastic and beautiful lake in Berlin-Zehlendorf, 20 minutes from Charlottenburg. You can swim in it, and the cafe is a very trendy place that's popular with Berliners at the weekend.
U-station Schlachtensee, Am Schlachtensee, Zehlendorf, Berlin, 14163
Because Berliners love the outdoors, visiting a park or garden is no guarantee of getting away. In the summer, the beaches are packed, but as soon as you start to walk through the woods or round the lakes the crowds disappear. The Botanical Garden is nice, and has a dinky cafe.
Nearest S-Bahn: Botanischer Garten or 101 bus
Magical island near Wannsee, reachable only by ferry (€2). Gardens, fountains, fake ruins, peacocks … (in May big patches of Lily of the Valley). Afterwards (with your back to the water), go right up into the woods and have supper on the terrace of the Blockhaus Nikolskoe. Built in the style of a Russian Dacha, you can watch the sun set over the island. Alternatively, go left and down from the bus stop to a picturesque river beach with willow trees.
Pfaueninselchaussee 14109, Berlin-Zehlendorf; Tel: 80 58 68 30
Idyllic lake in Berlin’s main park, the Tiergarten. Hire a boat and drift among the ducks and the blossom. Relax in the cafe afterwards over a big yummy beer.
Nearest S-Bahn: Tiergarten; Cafe am Neuen See, Tel: 2544 9300
A crazy park for children aged six and above. Using recycled materials, children build huts, tree houses and other structures. With a forge on site to make the metalwork neccessary and a kitchen which child regulars help run, the park is a home from home for many local kids. Very friendly and if your child is a fan of building things, then this is a chance to do the real thing!
www.kolle37.de, on Kollwitzstrasse near Kollwitzplatz in Prenzlauer Berg
Berliners would say I am crazy but I was quite intrigued by the former Eastern neighbourhood of Schöneweide. The facades of the buildings show many aspects of the Communisty way of life, and people's attitudes too. Not far from it, there is a beautiful park called Köpenick. It is definitely worth visiting - if you want to see real life rather than playing safe and seeing only what is touristy.
Park. Sprawling green space - very kid friendly. Several play areas, one that defies belief (in the centre) based on '101 Arabian Nights'. Open-air cinema, jogging paradise, enclosed 'dogs-only' field, petting zoo, mini golf...it goes on and on. Even the drug dealers are polite. Easily combined with your visit to the Vatican's embassy at Sudstern.
South/Central berlin in Kreuzberg. U-Bahn: Sudstern or Hermann Platz
Gi-normous, fenced in park with plenty of room to roam, masses of stuff for kids and adults to do (wee train trips, water areas, lakes, all sorts of animals (free on the range), open air music and theatre) and masses of space to do nothing in, if that's what takes your fancy. Beautifully maintained and not at all corporate feeling. Couple of euros to get in. Bargain.
Neukoln, in the south east of the city. It's big, so no 'one' place to get in. Get a map!
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