Spreewald Forest, Germany

Situated about 60 miles southeast of Berlin, a day trip to Spreewald Forest, Germany is a visit to an area with a unique mode of living that has remained largely unchanged for over a century. The area is named for the forests and waterways that make up the delta landscape. “Spree” means river; “Wald” means woodland. With a network of 170 miles of navigable waterways in Spreewald’s interior, the punt is the traditional form of transportation. Spreewald Forest makes for a great day trip from Berlin Apartments and hotels.


Spreewald Forest, GermanyGlaciers once covered the entire North German Plain. As the climate changed and the icebergs retreated, lakes were formed. Centuries of periodic floods left deposits of silt that gradually transformed the area into floodplains. In the early 20th century, flood protection measures were implemented. In 1991, Spreewald was designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve. The wetlands feature forests of alder, grasslands and fields. Pine forests cover sandier regions.

Many of the 50,000 people that inhabit the area are descendants of Spreewald’s first settlers, the Sorbs/Wends, a Slavic tribe who first came to the delta more than 1,400 years ago. Most of the tribe were assimilated into the Germanic culture. Only Spreewald’s Sorbs/Wends have retained their language, clothing and culture.

The best way to explore the beauty and tranquility of Spreewald is by water. English-speaking guided boat tours are available from nearby Lübben or Lübbenau. Ferrymen use punts to propel the barges through the waterways, explaining the unique culture of the Spreewald along the way.

The area can be easily explored by canoe as well. Canoes can be rented from one of the numerous punt stations and boathouses. Trail maps can be purchased for a nominal fee. Since almost all of the waterways are shallow, canoeing in Spreewald is safe, although it does entail a fair amount of physical effort.

Guided canoe tours are available as well, with stops at tourist attractions like the Lehde Open Air Museum. The museum features traditional homes, clothing and handicrafts, as well as a display about the pickling of gherkins. The Spreewald includes some 110 square miles of agricultural land, and the area is known as one of Germany’s kitchen gardens. A broad array of vegetables are cultivated in Spreewald, but the area is best known for its pickled cucumbers.

Trains depart from Berlin to Lübben or Lübbenau hourly, and the trip takes about an hour making this a easy day trip from hotels and apartments in Berlin. Both towns have a variety of restaurants and accommodations. Spreewald can also be reached by car.