Is Potsdam Worth Visiting After Seeing All of Berlin’s Sights?

Are you wondering is Potsdam worth visiting? I can definitely say, yes! It’s an elegant small city near Berlin.

While living in Berlin, I used to go to Potsdam every month because it’s so easy to get to from Berlin and there’s just so much to see you can’t possibly do it all in one day!

This article will convince you to add Potsdam to your day trip list. It’s not just your average sightseeing trip – it’s a deep dive into hundreds of years of history, stunning buildings, and beautiful scenery. Plus, I’ll share some insider tips to help you plan your trip!

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Potsdam Is Worth Visiting, But…

palace with grand staircase and dome when visiting potsdam

Potsdam is an absolute must-visit! Right after you’ve seen the top sites in Berlin, of course. It’s such a welcome change of pace and let’s face it, Potsdam is a much more attractive city than Berlin is.

Before I share reasons why I think you should go to Potsdam, I do want to share some realistic expectations with you.

Unlike some cities, Potsdam’s attractions are spread out. As a first-time visitor, you’ll find two main areas of interest: the palaces and gardens, and the Old Town (Altstadt). Walking between these two areas takes about 30 minutes.

Both of these points of interest can take a full day to explore. I recommend ou choose the palace and park first, and if there is time, visit the Altstadt.

Despite being a small city, Potsdam offers walkable distances between attractions. Alternatively, you can catch the city bus, which runs every 15 to 20 minutes.

You also need to factor in time to get from the Potsdam Hauptbahnhof (main train station from Berlin) to reach either Altstadt or Sansoucci Park (3 km distance).

This will limit what you can see in a single day to factor in the extra travel time.

That’s why I, having visited multiple times from Berlin, can offer these valuable insights to you.

Now, let’s explore the compelling reasons why Potsdam deserves a spot on your itinerary! After you’ve explored Berlin of course!

Read my short story I wrote about Potsdam featured on Medium, an online publishing site, entitled “How Sanssouci Palace Revealed an Important Traveller’s Lesson.

Reasons to Visit Potsdam Germany

1. The Palaces

on Potsdam visit to yellow palace with staircase

Potsdam is regal! That’s because of a high concentration of Potsdam palaces where former kings and queens lived. Often dubbed the Versailles of Germany, it’s dripping in grandeur, opulence and awe-inspiring things of beauty.

  • Sanssouci Palace: The crown jewel, a Rococo masterpiece, and former summer residence of Frederick the Great built between 1745 and 1747
  • New Palace (Neues Palais): An awe-inspiring Baroque-style palace built by Frederick the Great, boasting a grandeur that befits its name and a stunning location at the western end of Sanssouci Park
  • Cecilienhof Palace: This palace hosted the Potsdam Conference in 1945. Its English Tudor-style architecture stands in contrast to other royal residences, offering a unique charm and is now a hotel
  • Orangery Palace (Orangerieschloss): A heavily influenced Italian Renaissance this is a beautiful palace and gardens
  • Charlottenhof Palace: This beautiful neoclassical mansion looks a bit like a Roman villa as it was built on the ruins of a farmhouse
  • Babelsberg Palace: The Gothic-styled Palace was constructed between 1833 and 1835 as a summer residence for the German Emperor William I sits on the banks of the Havel River

Travel Tip: while it may not be necessary, purchasing tickets in advance, especially for popular attractions like Sanssouci Palace, can help you avoid long lines and ensure entry, especially during peak tourist seasons.

2. The Parks & Gardens

pond with water reflection when visiting potsdam with garden, trees and arbour

The green spaces in Potsdam are among the prettiest I’ve seen. They display the elegance of royal extravagance, artistic inspiration, and beautiful landscapes made for strolling.

Due to its sheer vastness at over 500 hectares, I highly recommend you rent a bike to explore it fully. You might even find a few surprises like a herd of sheep used to mow the grounds in Potsdam Park like I did! A variety of gardens, from the Norse Garden full of pines, the palms of the Sicilian Garden, and the Paradise Garden with its exotic flowers.

Amongst the sophisticated parkland, some standout attractions include the Roman Baths, the Chinese House, the Antique Temple and the vineyard terraces at Sanssouci Palace and Charlottenhof Palace.

3. The History

is potsdam worth visiting with parkland, fountain and ruins

Potsdam’s rich history unfolds with pivotal events, including the Treaty of Potsdam in 1685 and the construction of Sanssouci Palace in the 18th century.

The city gained international significance as the site for the post-World War II Potsdam Conference in 1945 and the Cold War-era “Bridge of Spies,” Glienicker Brücke as the site of spy exchanges between the East and West.

Another poignant historical landmark, Gedenkstätte Lindenstraße, serves as a former political prison utilized by Nazis, Soviets, and the East German Stasi Police. I highly recommend visiting the fascinating Stasi Museum in Berlin, although it’s not one of the excellent free museums, it is one of the best ones to visit.

4. The Dutch Quarter

visit potsdam dutch quarter with red brick building, bike, bench with plants and clogs

Fondly referred to as “Little Amsterdam,” the Dutch Quarter is a delightful neighbourhood in Potsdam adorned with 134 red-brick houses that easily stole my heart.

Originating in the 18th century, these houses were home to Dutch residents who relocated from Holland to Potsdam, forming the largest settlement of the Dutch outside of the Netherlands.

This stands out as my favourite place to explore in Potsdam, captivating with its quaint charm and offering an abundance of cute cafes perfect for your afternoon Kaffee und kuchen, a popular German tradition of coffee and cake.

5. The Gates

potsdam is worth visiting for statue, pink building, archway and dome

Potsdam, formerly encircled by a protective wall with multiple entrances, now preserves only three of its original five city gates (Tor in German).

Among these, the Jägertor stands as the oldest, steadfast in its unchanged form whereas, the Nauener Tor, was transformed in 1755 into a neo-Gothic style.

The most famous, and not to be confused with the most famous one in Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate of Potsdam was built before Berlin’s landmark. It can be found in Old Town, next to Luisenplatz.

6. The Squares

is potsdam worth visiting the public square, building with column

In the heart of Potsdam are two historic and impressive market squares.

At Alter Markt, a central 16-meter obelisk adorned with carved portraits of Potsdam architects Knobelsdorff, Schinkel, Gontard, and Perseus takes center stage.

Across from this, nestled behind a row of houses, Neuer Markt dates back to the 17th century, emerging as one of Europe’s best-preserved Baroque squares.

I have to say, that most tourists by pass this altogether. It seemed empty, and didn’t have the same life as other squares in Germany.

7. The UNESCO Status

pond with water reflection with palace and gardens when visiting potsdam

Potsdam’s ensemble of palaces and parks, earned it UNESCO World Heritage status and was officially recognized in 1990. It not only recognizes the city’s role as a key cultural center during the Enlightenment but also underscores its significance in shaping European landscape design.

8. The Architecture

gold ceiling with chandelier makes potsdam worth visiting

Potsdam is a gem waiting to be explored if you love architecture as much as I do.

The city showcases an array of architectural wonders, from the opulent Rococo design of Sanssouci Palace to the neo-Gothic elegance of Nauener Tor. Notable architects such as Knobelsdorff, Schinkel, and Büring have left an indelible mark on Potsdam’s skyline.

The Dutch Quarter adds a unique charm with its red-brick buildings, reminiscent of Holland. And, the charm of the Russian Colony features thirteen 19th-century wooden houses built for Russian settlers named Alexandrowka after the Tsar of Russia.

9. The Charm

table and chairs on cobblestone street in front of red brick building while visiting potsdam

The quintessential charm of Potsdam begins in its Altstadt, a cute Old Town with narrow cobblestone streets.

Head to Bassinplatz for the daily market. Local produce, flowers, cheese, bakery and one or two food trucks along with local artisans where I bought some cozy alpha socks. I loved watching the locals come out in droves and catch up with their favourite vendors.

Perhaps what I loved the most was the charming vibe in Potsdam. Escape Berlin’s big city centre and you’ll immediately notice that Potsdam offers a more laid-back atmosphere. Things amidst an impressive historical backdrop and stunning architecture.

11. The Arts

orange arts building in potsdam germany when cyclist riding by

Potsdam’s arts and culture scene is dynamic. The Barberini Museum, housed in a reconstructed palace, showcases a diverse art collection, spanning from Old Masters to modern works.

Learn about the city’s cinematic history at the Filmmuseum Potsdam. A visit to Babelsberg Studio, one of Europe’s largest film production centers since 1912, continues to attract filmmakers from around the globe.

Perhaps the most interesting will be the Schiffbauergasse cultural quarter which serves as a cultural hub for theatres, galleries, and studios where you can see movie sets making it a must-visit for cultural enthusiasts.

12. The Food & Drink

bike on cobblestone street when visiting potsdam

There is no shortage of cozy cafes and delicious restaurants, another reason why I wanted to return! I recommend a visit to Altstadt and the Dutch Quarter for endless selections. Here is where I ate on my three visits to Potsdam:

13. The Shops

visit potsdam and see the red brick building with baskets of ceramics when shopping

Potsdam’s vibrant shopping hub, affectionately known as “the boulevard” along Brandenburgerstraße, is chock-full of boutiques mixed with larger retail chains.

While strolling through this charming spot, be sure to visit the beautiful Karstadt Stadtpalais—perfect for a leisurely afternoon of unhurried browsing.

With its signature shop and outlet, the renowned KPM porcelain is the ideal spot to pick up a unique and elegant souvenir from Germany.

cobblestone street in potsdam germany with chairs to see, umbrellas for dining and red brick buildings

Visit Potsdam From Berlin

is potsdam worth visiting for its lovely parks with iron trellis in park with gold details

📍30 km southeast of Berlin

🚉Take the S-Bahn (S7) which takes approximately 35 minutes or the Regional Express which takes 25 minutes (ticket prices will be higher than the S-Bahn).

  • If you take the S-Bahn option, purchase a Berlin ABC ticket (single ticket: €3.80 or day ticket: €10
  • If you have a travel card for areas A and B, you only need to purchase a ticket for zone C which costs € 1.60
  • If you have a Berlin Welcome card, it includes transit to Potsdam

As a Holidaymaker

Seeing that Berlin to Potsdam is easy, this is one day trip I recommend you adding to your itinerary.

If you enjoy touring this Palace, I think you will enjoy visiting Charlottenburg Palace and gardens in Berlin too.