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Sanssouci Park is known as the Versailles of Berlin, and is undoubtedly the top attraction of any trip to Potsdam. Just 26 kilometres (16 miles) from Berlin, Potsdam is bursting with magical palaces and landscapes, which means many people end up rushing through the Sanssouci Park and not taking time to experience it in its full glory. Here are our top tips for making the most out of a visit to the beloved summer residence of the Prussian king, Frederick the Great.
Before you do anything, take a moment to appreciate the fact that this wonderland can still be enjoyed by the public today. Sanssouci was King Frederick the Great’s private refuge, and he was against any repairs, as he imagined the palace would exist only in his lifetime. Sanssouci also survived World War II, while many of the surrounding areas crumbled.
Paying for single-entry tickets to each of the palaces in the park can really add up. Rather, opt for a pass that allows you to enter all the buildings for a sweet €19, and includes a timed slot for entering the Sanssouci Palace.
Built in 1747, this gorgeous palace has just 12 rooms. Visits to the main palace have allocated time slots; you’ll get your time slot when you buy your ticket.
If you’re short of cash, remember that it’s free to visit the palace grounds and magnificent gardens, and the gardens themselves are considered by many to be the best part of the palace. Set time to explore these magical vineyards, fountains and baroque terraces designed by Peter Joseph Lenné, Prussia’s foremost landscape gardener.
You’re not allowed to use your bicycle in the park itself, but it is a great thing to have on your trip to Potsdam, and is useful for getting to the park from the train station. Lock your bike outside the park and begin your adventure through the gardens and palaces on foot.
Each season brings its own unique charm to the park. In mid-April, the magnificent cherry blossoms can be seen, while in autumn the colours burst into red and orange splendour. Summer is green and lush and perfect for picnics. The park is best explored anywhere between May and September.
The park is open from 8am and closes when the sun goes down. Note that there are two main palaces, Sanssouci Palace and the New Palace, which are open all year round. The other buildings, however, are generally closed between November and March. During April, the park has limited opening hours, with some palaces open only at weekends.
If you want to see the palaces from the inside, note that everything is closed on Mondays. You can still enjoy the gardens.
Besides the main Sanssouci Palace, the park has a bunch of other jewels and gems that shouldn’t be overlooked. Make sure to visit the stately New Palace, the New Chambers building and the gorgeous Italianate Orangery Palace. The Chinese House is also a thing of wonder, with its ornate mix of rococo, chinoiserie and three gilded figures.
The entire complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and recognised as ‘an outstanding example of architectural creations and landscaping’ and ‘a cultural property of exceptional quality’. After a day of taking in all this magnificence, you’ll probably work up an appetite. Enjoy an elegant meal at either Drachenhous or Movenpick Restaurant, while Cafe Eden in the southern part of the park offers more simple and affordable options. Alternatively, pack your own picnic to enjoy in the gardens.