A UNESCO World Heritage Site and the capital of Brandenburg, Potsdam is located on the banks of the Havel River and a short distance from Berlin. With its authentic charm, picturesque brilliance and rich history, the city is a cultural gem well worth visiting. Here are 15 reasons why you need to visit Potsdam at least once in your lifetime.
The Versailles of Germany
Just as many flock from Paris to Versailles each year to experience the French palace’s opulence and grandeur, Potsdam’s impressive Sanssouci Palace has landed the city on many tourists’ bucket lists. Alike Versailles, this palace, built between 1745 and 1747, was a relaxing royal retreat for the high society of the time and is known for its gold-hued treasures inside and out. Dripping in grandeur and surrounded by fragrant gardens, Sanssouci Palace is a unique window into a regal past.
Sanssouci Palace, Maulbeerallee, Potsdam, Germany +49 331 9694200
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sanssouci Park is bursting with elegant charm, grand palaces, lush parklands and posh rose gardens. Acting as former Prussian King Frederick the Great’s summer refuge, it features many top attractions, including the New Palace, Sanssouci Palace, the Roman Baths, the Chinese House and the Antique Temple. Neighbouring parklands also include the Orangery Palace, Dragon House and Charlottenhof Palace.
Park Sanssouci, Zur Historischen Mühle 1, Potsdam, Germany +49 331 9694200
Explore the city’s gates
Once surrounded by an extended wall with multiple entry points, only three of Potsdam’s original five city gates remain standing today. The oldest, Jägertor, still stands in its original form, while the Nauener Tor, redesigned in 1755 by Johann Gottfried Büring, shows off a neo-Gothic style. The third gate, Brandenburger Tor, was built as a triumphal arch and is not to be confused with its younger Berlin counterpart.
Taste authentic German cuisine
Experience Holland in Germany
Potsdam’s Dutch Quarter contains 134 red brick houses built in the 18th century by King Frederick William. The historic area stretches over four city blocks and is home to the largest number of Dutch-style houses outside of the Netherlands. A bustling part of the city, it is also home to a number of boutiques, quaint cafes and bars.
Although Potsdam might not be famed for its nightlife like closeby Berlin, it is home to some amazing cocktail bars. Dotted around the city and ranging from über fancy to relaxed and cool, this city has some world-class cocktail joints.
A rich history
Potsdam is bursting with history and notable sites for tourists to delight in. Prussian kings and the German Kaiser utilized the city as a residence until 1918. Much of its architecture and sights were built during this time, giving the city its historic charm. The city was also used in World War II and during the Cold War as a place for political prisoners.
Walk along the Bridge of Spies
Glienicker Brücke, the infamous set for the film Bridge of Spies and a site where the West German and East German regimes would exchange secret agents caught as political prisoners, is just a short drive from the centre of Potsdam. Visitors can walk along this famous bridge at their own leisure or with a guided tour.
Wander through Russia Town
In the 19th Century a number of Russians settled in Potsdam and, in order to welcome them, King Frederick William III ordered the construction of a new neighbourhood for these colonists. The ‘Russian Town’ consisted of 13 picturesque wooden houses and was named Alexandrowka after the Tsar of Russia. The collection of houses can still be experienced today in their cosy glory.
Alexandrowka, Russische Kolonie 2, Potsdam, Germany +49 331 8170203
Visit one of the best preserved Baroque squares in Europe
In the heart of Potsdam are two historic market squares. The first, Alter Markt, features a 16-metre obelisk in its centre, complete with carved portraits of the Potsdam architects Knobelsdorff, Schinkel, Gontard and Perseus. Opposite this, tucked away behind a row of houses, lies Neuer Markt, dating back to the 17th century. It is one of the best-preserved baroque squares in Europe.
Feel like a 30s movie star at the Filmpark
Potsdam’s Filmpark Babelsberg is the site of some of Germany’s most famous films, including the 1927 masterpiece Metropolis and the 1930 feature The Blue Angel. Visitors can wander through old film sets and experience a stuntman and special effects display.
Filmpark Babelsberg, August-Bebel-Straße 26-53, Potsdam, Germany +49 331 7212750
Taste local German craft-beer
With a range of brewpubs, breweries and local beers, Potsdam is a great place to explore craft beer in Germany. Located on the banks of Lake Jungfernsee, Meierei Brewery is one of the most notable spots to taste craft beer, and with a traditional German restaurant adjoined, it’s the perfect spot for some authentic German flavour.
Meierei Brewery, Im Neuen Garten 10, Potsdam, Germany +49 331 7043211
Shop till you drop
Potsdam’s shopping district on Brandenburgerstraße is affectionately named “the boulevard” by locals, and visitors can explore a range of boutiques and larger shops. Be sure to check out the beautiful Karstadt Stadtpalais, the perfect place to spend an afternoon shopping or simply browsing.
Walk through a former Stasi prison
Gedenkstätte Lindenstraße is a former political prison and memorial in the heart of Potsdam. Used as a prison by the Nazis, the Soviets and the East German Stasi police, the building is filled with a dark and rich history. Now, it stands as a memorial to commemorate the victory of democracy in the peaceful falling of the Berlin Wall.
Gedenkstätte Lindenstraße, Lindenstraße 54, Potsdam, Germany +49 331 2896136
The perfect day trip
Just 25 kilometres southwest of central Berlin, and easily accessible by S-Bahn, Potsdam is the perfect, cheap and convenient day trip or weekend escape from Germany’s capital. Potsdam’s city planning embodies ideas from the Age of Enlightenment, carefully creating a balance between architecture and landscape. The city centre and major attractions are all within walking distance of one another, and its larger sites act as helpful landmarks along the way, making Potsdam the perfect city to explore leisurely by foot!