Below are links to my Berlin blog with photos and descriptions of some of the places we have been to in and around Berlin. All are reachable by S-Bahn, train, or bike and are chosen to give you an idea of what Germany is really like beyond the tourist traps of Berlin.
Berlin is the capital of Germany and is one of the 16 states, or Länder, that make up the Federal Republic.
Berlin is Germany's largest city, with an area of about 892km2 and a population of 3.5 million.
Almost 18% of Berlin is forested, whilst another 12% is given over to public parks such as the Tiergarten.
Brandenburg is also a federal state of Germany and entirely surrounds Berlin.
Historically it was the core of the Kingdom of Prussia.
It has an area of almost 30,000 km2 and a population of 2.5 million. By comparison, Wales in the UK has an area of about 21,000 km2 and a population of 3 million. So as you can imagine, there aren't that many people in quite a sizeable area, ideal for trekking with just you and nature.
Berlin and Brandenburg are in North-East Germany, and Brandenburg shares its Eastern border with Poland, which is just a short hop away. North of Brandenburg and easily reachable by train is the Baltic coastline.
The best way to get around Berlin and Brandenburg is surely by public transport. Transport in the region is co-ordinated by the VBB (Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg), which is an association of public transport companies that have joined together to provide a common ticketing and fare structure.
The VBB covers Regional railways, U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams, buses and ferries in Berlin Brandenburg.
All-day travel anywhere on the VBB network is 19 €, or a better option if you can get a group of five together, is the Berlin-Brandenburg ticket for just 28 €. Further information here at VBB .
All-day travel in Berlin (zones ABC) is covered by the 6.80 € Tageskarte. Further information on the DB website.
For rail travel beyond Brandenburg, the best value tarrif is undoubtedly the Schönes Wochenende (beautiful weekend) ticket. This is valid for unlimited travel on the DB network throughout the whole of Germany, for up to five people on one ticket, at a cost of 39 €. As its name suggests, it is only for use on Saturdays and Sundays. Further information on the DB website.
For the more physical, cycling around Berlin and Brandenburg is usually a delight; Berlin has an extensive cycle network, and there are numerous long-distance bike routes around Brandenburg.
There are also many bike hire places in the region, especially in the centre of Berlin. Just remember that if you take your bike with you on public transport, you will need to purchase a ticket for it, which costs e.g. 4.50 € for a Tageskarte.
A mediaeval market town built on a number of islands in the river Havel. With monasteries, churches, a cathedral, and Gründerzeit town-houses it is the historical heart of the Bundesland to which it gave its name.
A quaint lakeside village SW of Potsdam with a Schloss and a cable-ferry from yesteryear. This was the chosen idyll for Albert Einstein, who had his Summer house built here before he was hounded out by 1930's Germany's anti-semitism. You can still visit his wooden house high above the lakes.
The romantic ruins of the Cistercian monastery at Chorin are the venue for deservedly famous music recitals and concerts, and the picturesque village can be the starting point for further adventures in the Schorfheide and to the Polish border.
SW of Berlin in the Sorbian heartland, Cottbus is a town that never fails to surpirse, be it the ultra-modern architecture or the earthen pyramids of Branitzer Park.
200km South of Berlin is the historic city of Dresden, whose marvelous architecture is all the more amazing when you consider it once lay in ruins after firebombing during the war. The rebuilt Zwinger Palace and Frauenkirche are worth the trip alone, but there is much else to see.
Ancient crossing-point between Germany and Poland on the river Oder. Still very much a trading post, especially its sister town Slubice on the other side of the river.
Berlin is 18% forest, a statistic that is most evident in the vast woodland of the Grunewald to the West of the city. Stroll in the woodland, swim in the Havel, or climb the Kaiser-Wilhelm memorial tower to get an unparalleled view of Berlin, the green capital of Deutschland.
A lively corner of Berlin Mitte night and day, this intriguing area has an interesting history too.
The architecture- and history-rich capital of Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) is 280km West of Berlin, but reachable for a day-trip on the ICE - and well worth the effort.
A vast boulevard running East from Alexanderplatz as straight as an arrow. This imposing road is lined with showpiece Soviet era architecture, and brings a reminder of Communist Russian majesty to this former showplace for East German May Day parades.
A town on the Elbe with contrasts between the old (a Gothic cathedral and numerous churches), and the new (the crazy modern architecture of Hundertwasser's Grüne Zitadelle), with lots of reminders of the Soviet influence on the former East Germany.
With a Dutch-style palace designed for a princess from the House of Orange, and walks beside the Oder-Havel canal, a visit to Oranienburg is never-the-less also grimly educational; on the edge of the town was located the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.
The capital of Bundesland Brandenburg and one-time Summer residence of the Hohenzollern Royal family. A baroque town on the edge of the Berlin rail network with lakes, parks, palaces, and more.
Three and a half hours by train SW of Berlin is the medieval town of Quedlinburg, with its prominent castle and cathedral towering above winding streets tumbling over with authentic half-timbered buildings. Worth the journey to this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The small town of Rheinsberg lies 75km NW of Berlin, but its Chateau designed for the francophile future King Frederich II gives it a feel of France.
The centrepiece of the capital of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern north of Berlin is a fairytale castle on a lake, and there is much else to see in this beautiful town, including the mischevious sprite Petermännchen.
The Sorbian region of the Spreewald is a wooded land of villages criss-crossed by canals and water channels. Whether it is canoing or cucumbers you are into, the area is a magnet for a very different contrast to Berlin.
A taste of authentic Poland in this important port and cultural town just over the German border.
The pearl of the Uckermark region, Brandenburg's lake district, Termplin is a walled town that still retains its mediaeval feel.
Largest town in the Mecklenburg Lake District. An ideal base for water-sports, cycling, and rambling, or just a lovely market town to visit and explore.
If you want something different from city-life in Berlin then a day-trip to the seaside cannot be beaten. Warnemünde on the Baltic coast offers all the trappings of a typical seaside resort.
A beautiful lake in the Schorfheide Biosphere north of Berlin, whose long shoreline is a joy to explore by bike or on foot.