There is plenty to do on a trip to Berlin. Germany’s capital is full of not only historical sights, but a burgeoning arts scene, as well.
But if you have the time, consider a visit to Potsdam as one of your Berlin day trips.
Potsdam is the largest city in the German state of Brandenburg. It has an important history of its own as the site of the Potsdam Conference, a meeting of the world’s “Big Three” to negotiate the terms of the end of World War II.
It’s also quite a bit more peaceful than Berlin, with opportunities to enjoy extensive green space and palaces with fewer crowds than in the city.
So what are you waiting for?
Berlin Day Trips: A Visit to Potsdam
How do I get to Potsdam from Berlin?
Potsdam is an easy day trip from Berlin and just a 35-minute train ride on the S-Bahn. You’ll board at Berlin Central Station and ride the train until you get to the main stop in Potsdam, S Potsdam Hauptbahnhof.
If your timing’s right, an even faster route is taking the RE1 train, which also leaves from Berlin Central Station to Potsdam’s city center. That journey will only take you 25 minutes from platform to platform.
How do I get around Potsdam?
Once you’re in Potsdam, you’ll find that the sites are quite spread out, making it difficult to plot a walking tour of the city. You’ll find many of the locals moving about on bicycles, and it’s a great way to see the city at your own pace. There are bicycle rentals just outside the main train station where you’ll be arriving in Potsdam.
Potsdam also has a network of buses and trams that transport locals and tourists from place to place. If your focus is Schloss Sanssouci, bus lines 614 and 695 leave from the main train station.
ALSO READ: Most Beautiful Cities to Visit in Germany.
Best Things to See in Potsdam
There is plenty to see in Potsdam to take up a full day on your Berlin day trip. Check out the highlights below to help you better plan your Potsdam day trip itinerary.
Find your favorite palace.
Potsdam gets high marks for its scenery, with several palaces for you to explore on your visit that are open to the public.
Schloss Cecilienhof, built-in 1917, is known for being the site of the Potsdam Conference. Now a museum, you can access the palace through Neuen Garten, or New Garden. The palace is closed Mondays. Otherwise, it opens at 10 am daily; closing hours vary by season but can be viewed on the palace website.
Schloss Sanssouci is an 18th-century palace known for its approach. In fact, some have described it as a yellow wedding cake thanks to its ornate exterior. You’ll have to climb a flight of very scenic vineyard terraces to get there.
Once you’re there, you can take a self-guided tour, which comes with an audio guide. You’ll learn the palace was a favorite residence of Frederick the Great, the former King of Prussia, who spent many a summer there with his dogs. His grave was actually moved there in 1991, to the highest terrace.
Schloss Sanssouci is closed on Mondays. Otherwise, it opens at 10 am daily; closing hours vary by season but can be viewed on the palace website.
When you’re done exploring Schloss Sanssouci’s interior, you can spend even more time exploring the park it’s in, Park Sanssouci. You’ll just need to decide whether you’re after botanical gardens, Roman baths, the Chinese House, Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s Schloss Charlottenhof, or Neues Palais, to name some of the main attractions.
Each site within requires separate admission, so you’ll need to plan accordingly, or better yet, purchase a combination ticket to the park’s attractions upon your arrival.
Neues Palais, or New Palace, within Park Sanssouci is worth a glance, at least from the outside. It was completed in 1769 by Friedrich II as a showing of Prussia’s power to the world. The palace is closed Tuesdays. Otherwise, it opens at 10 am daily; closing hours vary by season but can be viewed on the palace website.
Walk through Potsdam’s gates.
Potsdam was a city of magnificent gates at the time of Prussian rule, and three remain as a reminder of that historical past.
The Brandenburg Gate is perhaps Potsdam’s most well-known gate and often thought to be a replica of the gate with the same name in Berlin. Remember this for your next trivia night, though: this is the original Brandenburg Gate, built nearly 20 years before that other one. The plaza in front, Luisenplatz, is a great spot for people-watching.
Nauener Tor, or Nauen Gate, was built in 1755 as a protection measure for the city. It was constructed in the English Gothic Revival style and is a scenic centerpiece surrounded today by markets and restaurants, and all kinds of fancy stores perfect for window shopping.
The smallest gate of the three remaining in Potsdam is Jäger Tor. Despite its size, it’s the oldest surviving gate in the city, built-in 1733.
Stroll through the Dutch Quarter.
The Dutch Quarter is a neighborhood in Potsdam made up of over 160 red brick buildings in the Dutch style. Take Brandenburger Strasse to get there if you’re interested in seeing – and stopping by – Potsdam’s boutiques along the way.
This Potsdam neighborhood is actually the largest Dutch community outside of the Netherlands. It was ordered by Prussia’s Frederick William I as a way to welcome Dutch craftsmen invited there by the former king. Today, it’s full of coffee shops and eateries for you to spend some time in and watch the passerby.
Where to Eat (and Drink) in Potsdam
Potsdam has plenty of German food options, in addition to a burgeoning international food scene for the more adventurous. Check out these options for where to eat (and drink) while you’re in Potsdam.
If you’re looking for a casual brewery, the Meierei Brauhaus on the Jungfernsee lake offers traditional German beers alongside gastropub-style food and German classics. Hours are noon-9pm Tues-Sat, and noon-7pm Sun. Reservations aren’t necessary.
Another pub with welcoming vibes is Hafthorn. This place boasts “giant burgers,” in case that’s what you’re after, and a full menu of Bohemian beers. Hours are 6 pm-midnight Mon-Fri, 1 pm-midnight Sat-Sun. Reservations aren’t necessary.
It’s always the right time for French food, even when you’re not in France, and Maison Charlotte is a charming spot in Potsdam’s Dutch Quarter. Don’t miss the fish soup. Hours are noon-10pm daily. Reservations are recommended and available on the restaurant’s website.
If you’re looking for a bite near Park Sanssouci, the restaurant Potsdam Zur Historischen Mühle is geared toward tourists but offers a broad international menu that would satisfy even the pickiest eaters. Hours are 8 am-10 pm daily. Reservations aren’t necessary.
A short walk from Brandenburg Gate, Assaggi is an option for the authentic Italian food lovers out there, with a menu of traditional homemade pasta, seafood and cheese plates. They have an excellent wine list, too. Hours are noon-midnight daily. Reservations are available via OpenTable.
Should I stay overnight in Potsdam?
As it’s such an easy day trip from Berlin, you don’t need to stay overnight in Potsdam on your trip. But if it seems like there’s too much for you to see in a day, and you want to get a better feel for the city, Potsdam does have a range of accommodations available for you if you choose to do so.
Check out the well-reviewed options below for accommodations in Potsdam if you’d like to extend your stay:
Post by Agnes from Travel on the Reg.