Our city's endearing wackiness evokes a wonder all its own — and so do the fantastical worlds that lie just beyond Berlin's borders. Whether you fancy swimming with penguins, climbing trees or lounging on a tropical beach, there are many ways to spend a day outside more typical urban confines. For your exploring pleasure, here are the most wildly imaginative day journeys just out of town.

Kayaking on the Spreewald

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There is no better way to explore the storybook scenery and riverside serenity of the Spreewald than by kayak. To enjoy this heavenly little slice of nature with maximum convenience, a variety of hourly boat rentals can be found at Hafen Waldschlösschen. Whether it’s a solitary canoe ride or a rambunctious group trip you seek, launch here.
 
Where: Waldschlösschenstraße 29 c, 03096 Burg/Kauper
When: Daily, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
More info: +49 (0) 35433 72299; spreewaldhafen-online.de
 
 

Dive In at Spreewelten Bad

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Also in the area around the Spreewald is none other than Spreewelten Bad. Besides being an exquisite spa with a relaxing sauna and delicious local restaurant, its main claim to fame is without a doubt the swimming pool, situated right next to Germany’s most adorable penguin tank. What does that mean for you? Yes: It means you get to swim with real live penguins.
 
Where: Alte Huttung 13, 03222 Lübbenau/Spreewald
When: Mon.-Thurs., 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri., 9 a.m.-11 p.m.
More info: +49 (0) 03542 894160; spreeweltenbad.de

 

Practice Your Parkour with Climb Up

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Arboreal escapades are a rarity in the city, which is why Climb Up is such a standout way to spend your day. Deep in the forest but just outside Berlin are obstacle courses and climbing walls for every skill level. You can leap from tree to tree, conquer a couple of ziplines or laugh as your friends squirm around like sloths — all while securely harnessed in a way that can only encourage your inner risk taker.
 
Where: Landhausstraße 16-18, 15344 Strausberg
More Info: +49 30810 381000; climbup.de
 
 

Find Your Spirit Animal at Zoo Eberswalde

Photo by Austin Neil


Zoo Eberswalde has a forested, intimate vibe that no city zoo can emulate. Surrounding a lake with a monkey island in the middle (seriously), it’s a one-of-a-kind destination for animal spectating, especially if you want face-to-face encounters with lions. The special enclosure makes you feel like you’re in the cage and the lions are looking at you. Just don’t make them roar.
 
Where: Barnim Nature Park, Am Wasserfall 1, 16225 Eberswalde
When: Daily, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
More info: +49 3334 22733; zoo.eberswalde.de
 
 

Enjoy the Oil Paintings at Palast Barberini 

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From the dreamy works of Edvard Munch to the clandestine figures of Edward Hopper, the most evocative new fine art gallery in Germany already has a lot going for it. Located at Palast Barberini in the middle of that baroque wonderland that is Potsdam, the gallery houses a breathtaking private collection of impressionist paintings, among an array of other modern masterworks.  
 
Where: Humboldtstraße 5-6, 14467 Potsdam
When: Mon. & Weds.-Sun., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
More info: +49 331 236014499; museum-barberini.com

 

Island Vibes at Tropical Islands Resort

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Saving the most outlandish for last, there truly isn’t anywhere on the planet quite like Tropical Islands Resort, nestled just 60 kilometers from Berlin. Built inside an old zeppelin hangar by a company based in Malaysia, this space maintains tropical temperatures and humidity, as well as surroundings designed to feel more like a steampunky version of the Bahamas than Brandenburg. Part waterpark, part beach spa, part jungle, it guarantees you an experience that’s as beyond the ordinary as you can get.
 
Where:
 Tropical-Islands-Allee 1, 15910 Krausnick
When: 24/7
More Info: +49 35477 605050; tropical-islands.de

By Jesse Van Mouwerik

Berlin-based illustrator and columnist Jesse Van Mouwerik is an avid fan of art, whisky sours and being alive. When the aliens land, he will draw them a picture.