If you're planning to head to Germany as part of a gap break, a must-visit is the city of Berlin. The capital is full of interesting sights to behold, as are its surrounding areas; to take in all the important landmarks in the region, hire a boat and cruise along the waterways of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg.
Travelling by canal boat is a wonderful way of enjoying a short break in Europe, as you can do away with the annoyances of traditional getaways, such as daily check-out times and noisy hotels. Instead, you'll have the freedom to explore at your own pace, with the knowledge you have a peaceful spot to return to every night.
Before you reach Berlin, you'll need to get established onboard your chosen vessel at a port in the area. Potsdam is one such location offering various canal cruisers to visitors looking to explore the area. Known as the Versailles of Germany, Potsdam is renowned as being the former home of Frederick the Great (Friedrich II), King of Prussia. Spend some time looking around before you set sail and you'll come across the king's former summer palace in Sans Souci Park. Other landmarks to spot as you tour the vicinity include the pretty Charlottenhof Palace, which dates back to 1826, and the New Palace, which was built in the 1700s after the Seven Years' War had ended.
Back onboard, embark on your holiday by boat and travel to the pretty town of Rheinsberg, which is located on the River Rhine. The settlement boasts numerous awe-inspiring old landmarks, including the 13th century church of St Laurentius and a castle. The fortress was once the home of Friedrich II and is surrounded by beautiful grounds. Take a stroll and you might discover the grotto and grave of Prince Heinrich. There's also a monument to King Frederick in the vicinity known as Alter Fritz, which was one of the monarch's nicknames.
Once you've seen all there is to admire, journey on to the harbour town of Zehdenick. The spot was once East Germany's largest producer of bricks before the factories closed in 1991 just after the east and west were reunified. Now, the vicinity is better known for its nature, with wildlife flocking to the clay pits that once housed the factories and are now filled with water. As well as beavers, birds and otters, you might just be able to spot a chimney poking through the surface of the lakes here, belonging to one of the abandoned factories.
If you fancy getting active, rent some bicycles and follow the trails through the area, or call in at the Cistercian convent of Zehdenick or the maritime museum, Schiffermuseum, to find out more about the area's heritage.
The third stop on your short European break will be culturally-rich Berlin. Well-known for its turbulent history, the city is also renowned for its many museums, galleries, theatres and other enriching landmarks. Among the most popular attractions are the Reichstag buildings, the Holocaust monument, Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and the Gendarmenmarkt - one of Europe's loveliest squares.
To find out more about the city's past, pay a visit to the Berlin Wall Memorial in the centre of the settlement. The monument contains the last piece of the Berlin Wall, which once separated the east and west of the city. The area of land behind the section of wall has been preserved over the years so visitors can experience life during the period when the wall was still intact. You might also want to see the famous border crossing building Checkpoint Charlie during your visit to Berlin, and you can find the little building inside the Allied Museum of Dahlem.
Animal lovers will be in their element at Berlin Zoo, where you can admire a range of animals from penguins and hippos to zebras and orangutans, while historians and culture vultures should visit the Old National Gallery, Deutcher Dom, German Historical Museum Berlin and the Natural History Museum.
Call in at the Berliner Museum during your German boating holiday and you can delve into the city's past with the Story of Berlin exhibition. The interactive display spans a number of rooms, in which you can explore the events of the Third Reich and see exactly how people on each side of the wall lived. A bomb shelter tour, light and sound shows, information boxes and touchscreens combine to ensure your visit is a memorable one.