How to Spend a Perfect Day in the Spreewald

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If you’re looking for the perfect day trip from Berlin, pack your backpack and jump on a regional train, and head over to the charming town of Lübbenau. In just under an hour, you can start your day exploring the UNESCO Spreewald Biosphere Reserve. You can choose from floating down the seemingly endless canals on a traditional wooden barge, renting a bike and cycling along the 260km long Gurken-Radweg (the Cucumber Cycling Trail), or simply strolling along the harbourfront Gurkenmeile market and indulging in what has been the region’s #1 specialty since the 8th century: pickles.

Spend a perfect day in the Spreewald 200 canals in the biosphere reserve.
There are more than 200 canals in the Spreewald’s biosphere reserve, which span a total length of 1,300km. Photo by author.

Explore the most charming old town in the Spreewald

The oldest part of Lübbenau is the palace district and its accompanying English gardens. Already in the 8th century, the building was built as a former Slavic castle and later as a water castle. After it was demolished, it was replaced in the 19th century by the Renaissance castle which still stands today. In the last years, the palace has been transformed into a hotel so you can sleep like royalty during your visit.

The downtown of Lübbenau on a cloudy day. This city is the most popular place to visit in the Spreewald.
The downtown streets of Lübbenau on a cloudy day. Photo by author.

Only a few steps away from the palace district you get to the market square with its two-story townhouses and the Nikolaikirche from the 18th century. Don’t miss the unique fountain here with mythical creatures from the Spreewald! There are also several cafes and local shops worth visiting here.

The city hall, or Rathaus, of Lübbenau.
The city hall of Lübbenau. Photo by author.
The Nikolai Church towers over the market square of Lübbenau.
The Nikolai Church towers over the market square. It was completed in 1741. Photograph by author.

Visit the Spreewald’s only Gherkin Mile

At the main harbour, there are many small cafes overlooking the water that invite visitors to enjoy coffee and cake or regional specialties. However, the highlight is the Gherkin Mile where the gherkin picklers of the town present their range of products at a small waterfront market. Although pickles are in the limelight here, you’ll also find linseed oil and honey abound.

The famous Spreewald pickles.
Pickles can be found everywhere in the Spreewald. They’ve been a staple in the region for centuries. Photo by author.

Take a traditional Kahnfahrt through the Spreewald

At the end of the Gherkin Mile, you will find the lively port quarter of Lübbenau. This is a popular starting point for boat trips into the Spreewald.

A photograph from a Kahnfahrt tour through the Spreewald.
Many homes sit on the canals in the Spreewald and use private barges to travel to the nearby town. In some ways, this region of Germany is similar to Venice. Photo by author.

To solve agricultural challenges due to these natural wetlands, farmers since the sixth century dug these shallow canals to the Spree river, giving rise to their main mode of transportation — a traditional wooden, flat-bottomed boat. Each one has colorfully decorated tables and you can pick up snacks along the way at vendors who line the banks of the canal; otherwise, you can grab a round of drinks on board.

A typical wooden barge used by visitors to the Spreewald. It is the perfect way to spend a day in the area.
A typical wooden Kahn used by local villagers to travel around the Spreewald, as well as tourists who visit the region. Photo by author.

A 2-hour Kahnfahrt will cost you about 11€. You can also opt for longer tours that go up to 9 hours (with stops, of course!). Alternatively, you can rent your own boat for the day and explore the 200+ canals on your own.

Kayaks and canoes are for rent in Lübbenau and can be used by visitors to explore the Spreewald on a day trip.
Kayaks and canoes are for rent in the town and can be used to explore the Spreewald. Photo by author.

Visit the 19th-century village of Lehde

One of the oldest villages in the Spreewald houses only 130 residents. Here you can visit the open-air Freilandmuseum and be transported back to the 19th century to see how the residents of Spreewald ate, slept, and played. Often, you can see people wearing their traditional Sorbian clothing. There are also several cafes and restaurants where you can grab a drink and spend the afternoon.

Entrance Fee: 5€
Opening Hours: 9AM – 6PM
How to get there: Take this 5km walking round tour route, or choose a boat tour that takes you there.

How to get to Lübbenau

The easiest way to get to Lübbenau from Berlin is to take a regional train for 10-20€. The RE2 train leaves hourly towards Cottbus stops at Lübbenau (Spreewald) station.

Quaint houses along the canals of the Spreewald.
Quaint houses along the canals of Spreewald. Photo of author.
Pickle barrels are often repurposed in the Spreewald region and used as hotels, as saunas, and as storage facilities.
You can sleep in a pickle barrel in the Spreewald. Here’s just one option on Booking.com.
A visit to the Spreewald is not complete without a visit to the Gurkenmuseum. The sign is pictured here.
A visit to the Spreewald is not complete without visiting the Gurkenmuseum in Lehde.

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