Our first year in Berlin we traveled all over Germany. We loved train travel and getting to know small-town Germany. This time around, we have discovered the wonders of budget air travel and have been able able to go a bit further afield (but still just in Europe).
But a little bit of cash poor means that we have shrunk our circle of travel to day trips around Berlin. This isn't a bad compromise considering there are hundreds of places within just a few hours of Berlin. We've been canoeing in the Spreewald, to a "tropical island" and a Berlin Garden House. Next on the list: the rural attractions of Pfaueninsel.
In my new gig as Germany Travel Guide for about.com, I was disappointed to see the site was already written about by the previous guide. I need to make these fun times count people! But really, there was little to be disappointed in. The weather was brilliant, we were enjoying one of our last days with an expat couple that have become our best fiends abroad and Pfaueninsel was the perfect place for an almost springtime wander.
Once the romping grounds of King Friedrich Wilhelm II, this quiet island on Wannsee is a well-known warm weather getaway. We weren't alone as we struggled to find a parking space and make our way through the woods to the lake. I wondered what could attract all this people on one of the first nice days in the dwindling winter.
The island is named "Peacock Island" for the many that call the place home, but the only birds we saw were in the aviary. Several luminous peacocks made their terrible cat screams as chickens strutted around the yard.
What we saw more of is the working farm. Sheep, a couple ponies and gorgeous old barns were interspersed with the grand castles and temples.
The first signs of spring, of Berlin shaking off its winter coat, reminded me of why we love it here. I wouldn't say Pfaueninsel is a must-see or an overly exciting day out, but it is lovely. It has the quiet grandiosity you see so many Berlin escapees looking for.
Information for Visiting PfaueninselThis royal island paradise is pristine with no dogs, cars or smoking allowed. Kids, however, are plentiful.
The site is reachable by car or S-Bahn & bus (about 1 hour journey either way). Take the train S1 or S7 towards Potsdam, get off at Wannsee station, and then take bus 218. Guide to Berlin transport.
To reach the island, a tiny ferry (€3 return) takes you on a two minute journey across. It literally takes longer to buy the ticket. Operating hours of the ferry: November till February: Mon - Sun: 10am - 4pm; March and October: Mon - Sun: 9am - 6pm; April and September: Mon - Sun: 9am - 7pm; Mai and August: Mo - So: 8am - 9pm
Pfaueninsel Adresse: Am Ende der Pfaueninselchaussee, 14109 Berlin
Pfaueninsel Website: http://www.spsg.de/schloesser-gaerten/objekt/pfaueninsel/
or http://www.visitberlin.de/en/spot/pfaueninsel-and-pfaueninsel-palace (English)
For more history of the island, SlowBerlin's William Thirteen did a nice write-up.