Guide to a fun Day Trip from Berlin to Spreewald (Lübbenau)
Guide to a fun Day Trip from Berlin to Spreewald (Lübbenau)

Guide to a fun Day Trip from Berlin to Spreewald (Lübbenau)

A day trip from Berlin to Spreewald isn’t your typical German travel experience. Instead of the usual scenes of tourists glugging huge beer steins at Oktoberfest, the crazy Berlin nightlife or hiking in the Alps, you’ll find yourself gliding along idyllic canals as you weave through serene forest.

Sometimes called the ‘Venice of Germany’, the fairytale-esque Spreewald biosphere attracts people who want to explore its waterways, nature and hamlets. It’s an adventurous yet relaxing day trip from the capital that allows you to see a different side of Germany.

In this guide, I’ll break down how to get to the must-visit destination, the canal route I took to  explore the natural reserve, where to rent a kayak from and some of the other activities you can do here as part of your day trip from Berlin to Spreewald. 

What is Spreewald?

Spreewald (Spree Forest in English) is a UNESCO biosphere reserve in Brandenburg state roughly 100 km southeast of Berlin. The forest area covers 475 km² and contains meadows, fens (peat-accumulating wetland) and plenty of wildlife.

A map of a region in Germany. The region is UNESCO Spreewald biosphere reserve.

What makes Spreewald such an interesting place are the roughly 276 km² of navigable canals and channels fed by the River Spree.

These canals snake their way throughout the forest and are the most scenic transport route connecting the towns and hamlets that sit within the biosphere. Some of the largest towns in UNESCO Spreewald Biosphere include Lübben, Lübbenau and Burg (a scattered hamlet).

Spreewald is one of the most enchanting places I’ve visited. Journeying along its waters is a serene experience thanks to the tree-lined canals, quaint hamlets and the sounds of nature.

How to get to Spreewald from Berlin

The best way to get to Spreewald is to take a train from Berlin to Lübbenau. Currently there are 2 trains you can take. These are the RE2 and RE7 services.

Train tickets cost roughly €30 for a return and both leave from Berlin Hbf train station. If you’re not staying near Hbf, then you might need to take a U-Bahn or S-Bahn train to get there.

The train journey from Berlin to Lübbenau is direct with a travel time of just over 1 h. My train was comfortable, so I just sat back and relaxed without having to worry about any connections.

The train will stop at Lübben before you get to Lübbenau, but you want to stay on until Lübbenau. Although you can explore Spreewald from Lübben, this day trip guide is for starting out at Lübbenau.

Walking from the town of Lübbenau to Spreewald

It’s a short walk from Lübbenau train station to the canals. Once you’re off the train, it should take you about 15 minutes to walk to where you can rent kayaks. I’ve outlined the walk and kayak rental locations on the map lower down.

The best way to explore Spreewald: kayaking

A kayak on a canal. There are boathouses to the right.

I think that the best way to explore the Spreewald canals is to rent your own kayak and follow your own route. This way you can go at your own pace and explore the areas which interest you most.

Renting your own kayak is also the best choice if you want to save money. Per hour it works out to be the cheapest option to get on the water.  

There is also the option to pay for a guided boat tour, which I’ll talk about later on. But first I’ll explain where you can rent kayaks from and outline areas I explored during my day trip from Berlin to Spreewald.

Where to rent a kayak in Lübbenau

There are several different options for kayak rental in Lübbenau. Luckily they are all a stone’s throw from each other. I’ve marked them in Google maps for you here.

I rented a single-person kayak from Bootsverleih Franke. They are the oldest bootsverleih (boat rental) in Lübbenau and are run by the local Franke family. I chose them because I looked at prices online beforehand and saw that they were one of the cheapest options.

If you want to rent a kayak from Bootsverleih Franke, bring cash because they currently don’t accept card payment. The more people you are, the bigger the kayak you’ll need, and the more expensive per hour it gets.

At some of the kayak rentals you can pay for a waterproof storage bin to take on the canoe and keep your things in. I didn’t do this, but I did bring plastic bags which I recommend you do too.

Whichever rental you go to, you should get a laminated map of the canals to help you navigate them.

My kayak route

Now I’ll explain my kayak route, the places I stopped to get out at and timings. I got as far as Wotschofska, stopping in Lehde along the way and was kayaking for roughly 5 h in total.

From Bootsverligh Franke I headed east to a crossroads of canals where Schleuse (river lock) Lübbenau is located. This is one of several river locks in the Spreewald.

At this crossroads I joined Hauptspree canal, which is kind of like a ‘main road’. It’s a wide, long canal and you’re bound to cross quite a few other boaters on it.

There are lots of little canals sprawling off Hauptspree which I explored too. Although, you have to kayak carefully along these. They have shallow waters, and logs and other natural debris can build up in them.

After kayaking down Hauptspree I turned back on myself and headed towards Lehde.

Lehde (district of Lübbenau)

A canoe on a canal. There are barns along the bank of the canal. This is a canal in the UNESCO Spreewald Biosphere Reserve.
Kayaking into Lehde.

This is a small town named after the Lehde district of Lübbenau. Lehde town is a great place to stop for a coffee and a bite to eat—which is what I did.

Lehde has some small shops, restaurants and accommodation. There’s also a museum about the Spreewald’s heritage (more on that lower down). The locals in Lehde (and this area of Germany in general) don’t speak much English. So, it’ll be handy if you know a few phrases in German.

Wotschofska

After Lehde I paddled northeast to Wotschofska. This is a small hamlet right in the heart of the UNESCO Spreewald biosphere reserve. It’s a bit of a trek from Lehde and there isn’t too much to see here.

However, the journey is fun and the surroundings are beautiful. Upon arrival you’re greeted by a picturesque footbridge crossing the canal with a ‘welcome’ sign on it.

A canoe on a canal heading towards a wooden footbridge that crosses the canal.

I headed back to Lübbenau from Wotschofska and the return journey took roughly 1 h 30 m. Give yourself plenty of time to paddle back. I took a wrong turn at one point and had to go back on myself.

To be safe, I recommend  at least a couple of hours to return to Lübbenau. You don’t want to risk it taking too much time and miss your train back to Berlin.

When is a good time to do a day trip from Berlin to Spreewald?

You can visit the biosphere all year round and some kayak rentals/boat tours operate 365 days a year. I did my day trip from Berlin to Spreewald in mid September. Despite the hottest months of the year already having gone, it was still warm.

July and August tend to be the hottest months in Germany, so visit Spreewald then if you want to kayak in shorts and t-shirt. The autumn months bring the changing colours of leaves, which is arguably the prettiest time to visit.

The winter frost in Spreewald can be equally picturesque, if you don’t mind the cold, that is. Your best chance of experiencing the biosphere as a winter wonderland, though, is to visit in December or January. This is when snowfall is most likely in Brandenburg.

A kayak passing underneath a wooden footbridge. There is a welcome sign on the bridge.

High season in Spreewald

The high season in Spreewald runs from March – October. This is when tourist numbers peak and prices are highest. Although these are drawbacks, I think this is the best time to do a day trip. You’ll have the most chance of good weather and the longer days mean more time exploring the canals.

Top tips for a day trip from Berlin to Spreewald

To make the most of your day trip to Spreewald from Berlin I recommend:

  • Bringing cash. To be safe, I’d say at least €100 because some kayak rentals don’t accept card and card machine signal can be bad
  • Arriving early. The earlier you arrive the more hours you’ll have on the water
  • Bringing enough food and drinking water. Kayaking is tiring so have enough calories and water to keep you going. Also, you’ll save money by bringing your own
  • Wearing layers. If you get too hot when paddling, then you can easily cool off by removing a layer. And if you get cold, then you can pop another layer on. Make sure to bring a waterproof layer in case it rains
  • Giving yourself at least 2 h to kayak back to Lübbenau. Towards the end of the day you’ll be tired and will want to paddle more slowly

Other activities for your day trip from Berlin to Spreewald

Although the main draw of the area is its canals, you don’t have to make it the main activity of your day. You don’t even have to head out on the water if you really don’t want to. There are other activities and ways you can explore the biosphere.

Stroll through Lübbenau old town

The old town of Lübbenau is paved with cobbled streets that are lined with quaint and colourful shops and houses. You’ll also find Stadtkirche St. Nikolai (St Nicholas’ Church) in the centre. 

Check out Lübbenau Castle

Nestled among the forest just a 5-minute walk the old town is Lübbenau castle (Schloss Lübbenau). The castle now operates as a high-end hotel and restaurant, but you can walk around the grounds for free.

A house next to a canal. There are pumpkins in the garden.

Walk in the UNESCO Spreewald biosphere

You can explore Spreewald by foot as well as by canoe. There are plenty of walking trails in the nature reserve ranging from 5 km – 25 km. Walking tours are also available with park rangers if you want to explore and learn about the biosphere at the same time.

Here’s an article that lists some the top walking routes with maps.

Cycle in Spreewald

If you don’t fancy exploring Spreewald on foot or sitting in a canoe, then you can rent a bike. Here are a few of the bike rental locations in Lübbenau:

Guided Spreewald boat tour (‘punt’ tour)

The easiest way to enjoy the Spreewald waterways is on a guided boat trip. Also called a punt trip, you’ll ride in a traditional flat-bottomed barge. A punt ferryman will navigate you and your group through the canal network for around 3 h.

During high season punt trips usually leave Lübbenau every hour. You’ll typically be treated to traditional local foods such as Spreewald gherkins and bread while aboard.

During the winter season (November – March), punt trips run less frequently and from less harbours. However, there are special winter and mulled wine punt trips.

Although I personally don’t find punt trips appealing, they are a good option if you want to explore the Spreewald canals without doing any exercise.

A house on the bank of a canal.

Lehde Open-Air Museum

If you fancy learning about the local history of the Spreewald, then head to Freilandmuseum Lehde (Lehde Open Air Museum). This is the oldest open-air museum in Brandenburg and it sheds light on the lives of Spreewald residents over 100 years ago. 

The museum is located in the town of Lehde and you can get to it on foot or by canal. Note that Freilandmuseum Lehde is closed from November to March.

Is Spreewald worth visiting?

A day trip to Spreewald from Berlin is definitely worth it. The plethora of nature and activities means that the biosphere is great for outdoorsy travel. It’s such a beautiful area and the option to explore it by canal makes it a unique experience too.

More adventure travel tips on A World Over

I hope you use my guide to plan your day trip from Berlin to Spreewald and have the best time in the UNESCO biosphere. Let me know in the comments if you found it helpful and also about your day trip experience.

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