While staying in Berlin for a week I wanted to go for a day trip outside the city. Potsdam came as the perfect option because it’s a short ride on the train from central Berlin and has a lot to see so it’s easy to spend a whole day there.
The city of Potsdam is located southwest of central Berlin and it’s the capital of Brandenburg.
The Prussian Kings settled there making it their official residence until 1918. They wanted to embrace nature and a place to relax away from Berlin, so they ordered to build one of the most remarkable palaces I have ever seen, the Sanssouci Palace, the largest World Heritage Site in Germany.
Although the palace and its surroundings are one of the main reasons people visit Potsdam daily, the city has lots of other attractions. The beautiful historic city center is full of outdoor restaurants and parks that will make a really enjoyable day out completely different from busy Berlin.
GETTING TO POTSDAM FROM BERLIN
There are several options of transportation to get to Potsdam: train, car and even boat. You check further details of all types of transportation here.
For this post I will be focusing more on getting there by train from Berlin, as its super easy and the way I got there too.
So, from a central Berlin train station it takes about 20 minutes if you decide to take the regional express train or 40 minutes if you opt for the S-Bahn trains.
I took the S-Bahn S7 towards Brandenburg. The final stop is Potsdam Hauptbahnhof (Hbf) where I got out and then took a bus to the Sanssouci Park.
Alternately if you take the Regional RE1 you can get out at Charlottenhof after Potsdam Hbf and that’s a 10 minute walk to the Sanssouci Park.
Make sure your tickets are valid for Berlin zones ABC. Some tourism cards to visit Berlin are also valid to travel to Potsdam.
GETTING AROUND POTSDAM
Arriving early it’s important because to see the Sanssouci Park takes at least 2-3 hours, so I got to the train station at about 10 am.
Just outside the train station there is a large bus station and I took the Bus 695 (Potsdam Hauptbahnhof – Bahnhof Pirschheide) that stops on the side of the Sanssouci Palace.
On the way back I took the tram directly into the city centre and from there just walked back to the train station, which is a 10 minute walk.
Tickets can be obtained inside every tram and bus and they accept cash and debit cards.
If you want to take a tour there, there is a Hop/Off Bus Tour that you can take from the train station. Check more here.
WHAT TO SEE IN POTSDAM
I arrived early to Potsdam and went straight to the Sanssouci Park because I knew it would take me some time to explore all the palaces and gardens that are part of the park.
King Frederick the Great, King of Prussia in Potsdam ordered for the Sanssouci Palace to be built in 1745 as an escape from life in Berlin. The name Sanssouci translates ‘without concerns’ and what he wanted from the palace was exactly that, a place for relaxation. Decorated in the Rococo style it’s impressively beautiful; no wonder it’s listed as World Heritage Site since 1990.
The garden is styled with symmetrical terraces and a huge fountain at the bottom. As you walk around the park there are other fountains and a lot of marble sculptures. Close to the palace you’ll find the tomb of King Frederick returned there after German reunification in 1990.
A visit inside the palace is possible. You have to buy a ticket online before your visit here.
The Orangery Palace was a former palace for foreign royal guests. It was built in the Italian Renaissance style.
Straight after a large corridor with gorgeous gardens it’s the New Palace built in 1763 to celebrate the end of the Seven Year’s War of Prussia. It was not a residence but more a display to receive other royals and important people. With 200 rooms, 4 gathering rooms and a theater for balls and other state celebrations, the place is incredible and it was one of my favourites.
Charlottenhof Palace was built in 1826 by Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel as a summer residence for Crown Prince Frederick William.
Other interesting buildings in the park include The Roman Baths and The Chinese Tea House.
As you can see, you will easily spend a whole morning or afternoon just walking around the park to see these magnificent buildings. I suggest you take a picnic and snacks to have there.
Historical City Centre
Not far away from the train station is Potsdam’s historical city center. The Old Market Square and St. Nicholas’ church are some of the attractions there together with numerous restaurants and cafes.
A miniature of Brandenburg Tor it’s also something to see there. On a walking distance from that you will get to the picturesque Dutch Quarter with the characteristic red brick houses.
Potsdam Filmmuseum it’s not only a beautiful building but a place to understand the history of movies produced in this area. Check it here.
On the way back to the train station and if walking you will go through the Bridge of Spies nicknamed this way for its history. During the Berlin Wall time this bridge was one of the most mysterious sites of the Cold War because it connected the soviet side in the East with the US side in the West where they would exchange captured spies and secret agents.
Potsdam is one of these fairy tale places, where most of the buildings make you just dream of kings and queens. The architecture that most of them were designed reflects just reflects the environment you can feel around and the peace within the nature.
It makes a great day out from Berlin and I can’t recommend it enough if you’re spending some time there.
Have you been to Potsdam or would love to? What was your favourite area?
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