Potsdam in Two Days
Start your first day in Potsdam with a short stroll through the Russian Colony Alexandrovka . The fairytale-like wooden blockhouses originally were built in honor of the Russian Tsar Alexander who was a good friend of Friedrich Wilhelm III. Thanks to the spacious apple orchards, a lot of days start with some fog that creates a quiet and cozy mood.
Passing the gorgeous Russian Orthodox Church on Kapellenberg Hill your next stop is the Belvedere Pfingstberg . This romantic lookout palace is the cities highest elevation. Seeing the historical city centre, pompous palaces glimmering in orange morning light as well as the vast river landscape, this is just the right spot to make plans for the next two decelerating days in Potsdam. The hectic and loud metropolis of Berlin is seen by its skyline on the eastern horizon.
A walk through a green area planned by Peter Joseph Lenné will bring you to a neighbourhood with big historic mansions. This neighbourhood wasn’t always as inviting as it is today. During Cold War Years only residents, who lived here and agents where aloud to enter this part of Potsdam as it domiciled the German Headquarter of the Russian secret service KGB. Those days it wasys called the Forbidden City. The former KGB-prison in Leistikowstrasse still has numerous inscriptions on its cell walls. The permanent exhibition tells you about the fates of former prisoners.
Cecilienhof Palace in the New Garden is just a 5 minutes walk away. Here the “Big Three”, the American President Harry S. Truman, the British Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and the Soviet Head of State Joseph Stalin after World War 2 decided with the “Potsdam Agreement” to divide Germany into four occupation zones, which led to the division of Europe in the end. Take a look inside. The permanent exhibition shows the rooms were the Potsdam conference took place as well as the big round table where Stalin, Truman and Churchill made decisions that influenced the world’s political map for decades.
Not far from Cecilienhof Palace is the Meierei craft brewery & restaurant. The views from the beer garden over the river Havel invite you to let your thoughts drift.
After a nice refreshment, the walk to the southern end of the New Garden will lead you to a green painted truss bridge – The Glienicke Bridge . Connecting Potsdam and West-Berlin in Cold War Years, the Glienicke Bridge was the place to exchange captured spies. This gave the bridge its second name “The Bridge of Spies”. Despite its historical importance, Glienicke Bridge is also a great spot to take pictures of the English seeming Babelsberg Palace on the other side of the river Havel.
From Glienicke Bridge you can easily take tramline 93 back to the city centre. The is not even 10 minutes away. Way more enjoyable is a ride on the Watertaxi. A ferry that offers a regular service to tourists and shows cultural important places along the riverbanks between April and October. The relaxing trip over the waves of the river Havel offers you perfect views to Babelsberg Park as well as to the sail-like architecture of the Hans-Otto-Theater that may remind you of the world-famous Sydney Opera House. Seeing yachts, sailing boats, rafts and canoes crossing your way, there is no doubt that locals and their visitors know that Potsdam is perfect to be explored from the riverside.
20 Minutes later you will reach the jetty at Potsdam Main Station. Walking down the bridge Lange Brücke you will see a pink coloured palace right in front of you. In fact, it isn’t a palace at all. It’s the Brandenburg State Parliament which’s façade is an almost 1-to-1 reconstruction of the City Palace’s façade that stood here until 1960.
The Parliament building is also the western border of the Old Market. With the huge St. Nicholas’ Church, the Old Townhall and the Museum Barberini you might already can imagine why this place was used to be called Europe’s most beautiful place. With more reconstruction going on till 2025 the Old Market has a great chance to get back its showpiece place. There are plenty museums surrounding the place already, which make the place one of the most visited in Potsdam. Here are just a few examples, what to see and do here:
- Immerse into the more than 1025 years old history of Potsdam at the Potsdam Museum inside the Old Townhall
- Marvel at world famous works of art at the Museum Barberini
- Interactively get involved in filmmaking at the permanent exhibition “The Dream Factory – 100 years of Film in Babelsberg” at the Film Museum Potsdam
- Wander through the perennial gardens on the island Freundschaftsinsel
For even more ideas and tips, the Potsdam experts at the Tourist Information Centre Old Market will be happy to help you.
Enjoy your evening strolling through the small streets of the Dutch Quarter . Walking on cobblestone streets between these red brick buildings you may think, you just travelled directly to the Netherlands. Actually the Dutch Quarter is considered to be the greatest collection of Dutch-style houses outside the Netherlands. Originally built for Dutch craftsmen, nowadays the streets are filled with cafes, bars and restaurant. In summer you get the best city spirit sitting outside a restaurant around the gate Nauener Tor with street musicians playing almost every evening. Just the perfect set for your dinner followed by one or two drinks.
With the walk through the New Garden and the Watertaxi passing Babelsberg Park, you have already seen two of the historic park areas that are UNESCO World Heritage. So this day is all about Sanssouci Park, the most famous one of all the Parks in Potsdam. 300 hectares of garden art await you with more than 11 palaces and historic buildings. To see Sanssouci Palace from the inside, please get to the visitor centre at the historic mill as early as possible. This way your chances are higher, to get a ticket for the inside visit within the next hour. But even if you get a ticket for the entrance a couple of hours later, there is a lot more to explore in this beautiful park area.
You want it all planned ahead? Get a sanssouci+ ticket at with the following benefits:
- One-time entrance to all palaces in Potsdam
- Choose your fixed time to enter Sanssouci Palace (even days in advance)
- Get the ticket at the visitor centers in Sanssouci Park, the Tourist Information Centers at Old Market and Potsdam Main Station
From the historic mill, take the way further west to walk along the 300m long Orangery Palace. Its huge halls are used as a winter residence for all the orange trees and other not native
plants you can see in the park area in summer.
If you’re into arts, please get inside the palace. The imposing Raphael Hall displays a great collection of about 50 copies of Rafael’s paintings such as the Sistine Madonna and the Transfiguration. The deep red walls of the hall accentuate the paintings in a great way. Also the Orangery Palace has two lookout towers from which you have a great overview over the park and its historic buildings.
Further west you will see an avenue with four tree rows leading to the Belvedere Klausberg. This building is another proof of Frederic the Great’s love for Italy and its architecture.
Another 5 minute walk you feel like you just changed continents. With its curved roofs topped with golden dragon statues, the Dragon House looks just like a Chinese pagoda. Originally built as the royal winegrowers’ house, the Dragon House is now a good café and restaurant in the middle of the idyllic Sanssouci Park. Take a rest here to recharge your batteries with a lunch made with local ingrediences. The house sommelier will be happy to recommend you the right wine for every dish out of their 100-position wine cellar.
Crossing the Maulbeerallee you will see a huge red bricked palace – the New Palace. It’s by far the biggest palace in Potsdam and in strong contrast to the intimate and rather modest Sanssouci Palace.
The building, which Friedrich himself referred to as Prussia's "boast", became famous for its impressive interiors: the Grotto Hall, the Marble Hall, the Concert Room and the palace's own theatre. The Grotto Hall with the glitter of thousands of shells, quartzes and minerals was intended to impress the guests of Frederick the Great and can now be experienced again by you.
To get back to the city center you can either take the bus line 695. But if we couldn’t quench your thirst for palaces and garden art yet, you better take your way back through the park. With the Chinese House, Charlottenhof Palace and the New Chambers (just to name a few), this park is packed with culture, architecture and vistas that emanate the certain “savoire vivre”. It goes without saying that the palaces in Sanssouci Park are a breathtaking setting for events such as
- The Music Festival Potsdam Sanssouci. Several music performances from Rennaissance, Baroque, Classic and romantic taking place in June.
- The Potsdam Palace Night. Taking place for one weekend in August with music, literature and plays in the illuminated Sanssouci Park.
- The Winteroper taking place for several days in November/December at the freshly renovated Palace theater at the New Palace
At the eastern end of the park you will reenter the city getting to the square Luisenplatz with the gate Brandenburger Tor. Don’t mistake it for the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. They only share the name. Actually the one in Potsdam was built 20 years before its bigger brother in Berlin.
The gate is the entrance to Potsdams shopping promenade the Brandenburger Strasse. Lovely backyards along the busy pedestrian area with regional shops, boutiques and cafés invite you to linger. Maybe you will find just the right souvenir for your loved ones at home.
After so much input from your eyes, your taste buds may already be jealous. There is a great fine dining scene in Potsdam waiting for you to be explored. The following restaurants are or have been awarded by Michellin, Gault & Millau or regional labels: