The Spreewald (Spree Forest) is a protected UNESCO biosphere reserve since 1991. It includes low-lying areas in which the river Spree meanders in thousands of small waterways through meadows and forests. It is a beautiful, unique landscape about one hour south of Berlin and well worth a day trip or a weekend trip to relax from the buzzing city life. Besides its beautiful nature, the Spreewald is home to one of the two recognized minorities in Germany, the Sorbs with their unique culture. Many old, traditional farmhouses along the waterways offer beautiful sights.
Most people only speak German (at least the standard variation without major accents). Some younger people understand and speak English, some older people might still remember a few words of Russian. Some people may still speak Low Geman dialect and Sorbian is still spoken in the south of Brandenburg.
- The main entry points to the Spreewald are Lübben, Lübbenau and Burg (Spreewald). Lübben and Lübbenau are pretty touristic but can be reached directly by train. Burg (Spreewald) is more quiet and more beautiful if you are interested in nature and canoeing. However, the latter can only be reached by car.
- By car from Berlin: Follow the A113 south out of the city. At "Schönefelder Kreuz", continue south on the highway A13 to Dresden. Leave the A13 at the exits Lübben or Lübbenau or continue to the "Dreieck Spreewald" (junction of highways A13 and A15) and then on the A15 towards "Vetschau". Leave the A15 at the exit "Vetschau" and continue to Burg(Spreewald).
- By train from Berlin: Take the hourly regional train RE2 from Zoologischer Garten, Hauptbahnhof, Friedrichstraße, Alexanderplatz or Ostbahnhof to Lübben or Lübbenau. Some of the hotels in Burg (Spreewald) offer a pick-up service from the Vetschau railway station when you book in advance.
Get around on your feet, on a cycle or by boat. Not every location can be reached by motorized transport. Visiting the Spreewald means getting around by muscle power. Public transport is virtually nonexistent.
- Take a guided boat tour on one of the traditional barges to experience the beautiful nature in this area. The barges are moved forward by punting - similarly to the gondolas in Venice. The ferrymen explain the nature and culture of the Spreewald on the way. If you need an English-speaking ferryman, you are most likely to find one at the larger touristic stations in Lübben or Lübbenau.
- Hire a canoe or kayak from one of the plenty to paddle some of the hundreds of kilometers of waterways yourself.
- Go on a hiking or cycle tour in the beautiful nature and landscape. Numerous quiet hiking and bicycle tracks lead through the beautiful countryside.
- Relax in the great new Spreewald Therme (Thermal Spa) in Burg (Spreewald).
The Spreewald is a preferred region for short holidays of people from Berlin and Saxony. Around the holidays in April and May (Easter, Pentecost, Ascension) and during the summer holiday season, it may be hard to find accommodation without prior reservation. During the rest of the year, finding accommodation should be no problem. The local tourist offices will assist in finding accommodation.
- Camp with your tent or caravan at one of the numerous camping facilities in the middle of nature.
- Rent one of the many holiday apartments.
- Stay at one of the numerous bed & breakfasts and hotels.
- Do not miss to try the large variety of pickled cucumbers (cornichons), horseradish, linseed oil and "Sauerkraut" - that is what the region is famous for. Pickled cucumbers are available sour, with herbs, with garlic, with mustard - the choices are almost infinite.
- Pike and pike-perch (sweetwater predatory fish) served with a heavy sauce made from cream, flour and horseradish.
- Potatoes with cream cheese, onions and linseed oil. Be careful with the latter, it is said to be very healthy but you really have to get used to it. In other regions, they use the stuff to produce putty to seal windows and not to eat.
- Alter Spreewaldbahnhof in Burg (Spreewald) - Located in the historic station of a now closed light railway that connected the villages in the upper Spreewald with Cottbus. Drinks and desserts (with small firework fountains) are delivered to the table by a large model railway. Very nice interior with uncountable antiques and collectibles related to railways. Reasonably good regional and German cuisine, but not top end. But definitely great fun, especially when you are with kids or a fan of model railways yourself.
- 17fuffzig in Burg (Spreewald) - Haute cuisine, located in the Resort & Spa "Zur Bleiche" (see Stay / Do). Pretty expensive, but worth it.
- Kaupen Nr. 6 in Lübbenau - Authentic local food served in an authentic place, an old renovated farmers' house. Can not be reached by car, only on foot or by boat (both from Lübbenau).
- Zum Grünen Strand der Spree in Schlepzig - Excellent food served in a nice ambience in a small village in the lower Spree Forest.
- Glück Auf! in Burg (Spreewald) - Here, the GDR (German Democratic Republic) is still alive! Three old ladies in nylon aprons serve good plain cooking. Huge servings and great value. Better to skip the other meals of the day before you go there. Sometimes closed for no obvious reason or because of private parties.
- Local beer from a small brewery in Lübbenau ("Babben-Bier") is served in many restaurants in the area.
- The restaurant / hotel "Zum Grünen Strand der Spree" in Schlepzig serves beer from its own in-house brewery. Seasonal beer specialities are offered. The beer can also bought for take-away.
- Canoeing is absolutely safe because most of the waterways (except for a few larger ones) are only knee-deep.
- Mosquitoes and horse-flies can be pretty annoying in wet summers and summers following mild winters. However, repellents will help.