Top 15 things to do in Potsdam

La porte de Brandebourg

Visit Potsdam: the 15 best things to do and see in Potsdam, Germany’s historic princely city!

Neighboring Berlin, Potsdam was once an important city for the Prussian and later German monarchy. Although Berlin was once the official capital of Prussia and later of the German Empire, the Court remained in Potsdam.

From this golden era, the city has preserved an impressive historical and cultural heritage. It’s well worth a visit!

A visit to Potsdam can be combined with a trip to the German capital, just a few kilometers away. But the city can also be discovered on its own during a romantic weekend away. Discover the 15 best things to do in Potsdam during your stay.

1. The old town

La vieille ville de Potsdam

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Mistervlad

The first stop on a visit to Potsdam, the Old Town is obviously at the heart of the city. If you arrive by train, this is the first place you’ll see. You’ll then cross the two river arms, admire the parks on the island in the middle and reach theInnenstadt.

This lively city center is famous for its cobblestone streets, authentic restaurants, quaint cafés and stalls.

Take a stroll around the beautiful Place du Vieux Marché and gaze at the magnificent St. Nicholas Church. Lose yourself in the narrow streets and enjoy the beautiful historic buildings that populate this old center.

2. The Dutch Quarter

La porte de Nauen - visiter Potsdam

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Sergey Dzyuba

To the north of the old town lies the Dutch Quarter. Here you’ll admire houses inspired by Amsterdam mansions, with front gardens and pretty painted shutters.

Nearby, you’ll find the impressive Nauen Gate, evidence of the ancient ramparts. Take a stroll through the narrow streets and discover some charming boutiques.

3. Brandenburg Gate

La porte de Brandebourg - visiter Potsdam

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Mistervlad

The Brandenburg Gate is located to the west of the Dutch Quarter and just north of the Old Town. It is a landmark of Potsdam. Built in 1770 at the request of Frederick II of Prussia, it stands at thewestern end of Brandenburg Street. It faces the Catholic Church of St. Peter and Paul, another landmark to be admired.

Brandenburger Straße is also Potsdam’s busiest shopping street during the day and at weekends.

Start at the church and work your way up to the Gate. Enjoy the pretty buildings and stores along the way. After the Gate, you’ll find other must-see sights in Potsdam.

4. Sans-Souci Palace

Le palais de Sans-Souci - visiter Potsdam

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Mistervlad

Sans-Souci Palace is the former summer palace of Prussian King Frederick the Great. It is one of the city’s most beautiful and emblematic monuments. If you’re visiting Potsdam, this is a must-see.

Built between 1745 and 1747 by architect Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff in the rococo-Frederick style, it is set in a sublime park. Its name derives from its purpose: the palace was King Frederick II’s destination for relaxation and escape from his royal duties in Berlin.

The palace sits atop a terraced vineyard, where the king’s simple mausoleum also stands. Its interior, designed for comfort and conviviality, is all stucco, carved marble and gilding typical of the Rococo style. If you can, visit its beautiful rooms and admire its facades and exterior architecture.

5. Sans-Souci Park

Le parc de Sans-Souci - visiter Potsdam

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Dainis Derics

Adjacent to the palace of the same name, Sans-Souci Park is another must-see in Potsdam. The palace and its terraced garden are at the center of the park. The park covers almost 300 hectares and has been developed over the decades.

In the park, you can discover the Bildergalerie, which houses a collection of the King’s art. You can also contemplate the Neptungrotte, a Chinese tea house, with its kitchen garden and flower garden, or the magnificent Château de l’Orangerie.

The latter is located to the north of Parc de Sans-Souci. Imposing in size, it is astonishing in its singular architecture and sumptuous rooms. It is inspired by Rome, and more particularly by the Villa Medici.

6. Neues Palais

Neues Palais à Potsdam

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Christian Draghici

Located on the west side of the Sans-Souci Royal Park, the Neues Palais was built under Frederick the Great and after the end of the Seven Years’ War, to celebrate Prussia’s successes. It is considered the last great Prussian Baroque palace.

Used as a reception area rather than a residence, it is impressive for its marble, stone and gilding. If you’re visiting Potsdam, it’s a must-see, not to mention its sublime interior rooms.

7. Cecilienhof Castle

Le château de Cecilienhof - visiter Potsdam

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Seqoya

Located in the Neuer Garten, Schloss Cecilienhof is the last Prussian castle built during the reign of the House of Hohenzollern. Built in the style of an English Tudor palace, its architecture is atypically charming.

But the palace is best known for hosting the Potsdam Conference from July 17 to August 2, 1945. The aim of this conference was to determine the fate of the enemy nations defeated by the Allies after the Second World War.

8. Neuer Garten

Neuer Garten

Photo credit: Flickr – Andreas Levers

Neuer Garten is a park north of Potsdam, on the shores of the Jungfernsee and Heiliger See lakes. English in style, it is very different from Sans-Souci Park, where straight paths and flowerbeds dominate.

Over a hundred hectares in size, nature is left more to its own devices. It’s a pleasant place to stroll, with some charming and surprising buildings scattered here and there.

9. Pfingstberg lookout

Belvédère Pfingstberg - visiter Potsdam

Photo credit: Shutterstock – travelview

To the west of Cecilienhof and Neuer Garten, you can climb to the top of the Pfingstberg lookout. Built under Frederick William IV of Prussia, it features neo-Renaissance architecture. In addition to its beauty and elegance, this sublime monument offers visitors a superb view of the surrounding area and the city.

10. Barberini Museum

Le musée Barberini - visiter Potsdam

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Ulf Wittrock

In the heart of the old town lies the charming Barberini Museum. Opened in 2017, this art museum features works dating back to the former German Democratic Republic. The permanent collection is the result of private contributions by Hasso Plattner.

But the museum also presents three exhibitions a year in collaboration with museums around the world. These are devoted to painting and sculpture, and are generally well worth a visit!

11. Potsdam Film Museum

Le musée du film de Potsdam

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Mario Hagen

Thanks to Babelsberg Studios, once one of the world’s centers of film production, Potsdam has become a city of cinema.

In its center, you can visit the Potsdam Film Museum. Here, you’ll discover and immerse yourself in the history of German cinema. If you’ve got a bit of time on your hands, don’t miss out!

12. The Russian Quarter

L'église Saint-Alexandre-Nevsky - visiter Potsdam

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Tobler Christian

Between the Old Town and the Pfingstberg lookout lies Alexandrowka, also known as the Russian Quarter. If you’re visiting Potsdam, this is also the place to get lost in. Here you can admire Potsdam’s magnificent St. Alexander Nevsky Church.

You’ll also discover a surprising part of the town’s history. Alexandrowka was in fact a Russian colony, the fruit of a friendship between the Hohenzollern and Romanov houses.

13. Park Babelsberg

Park Babelsberg - visiter Potsdam

Photo credit: Shutterstock – immodium

Potsdam is rich in palaces and parks. Among them, we also recommend a visit to the beautiful Park Babelsberg. This magnificent woodland park overlooks the lake and the river Havel. It also boasts a beautiful castle and, above all, superb views. It’s the ideal place for a romantic and refreshing stroll through nature!

14. Filmpark Babelsberg

Filmpark Babelsberg

Photo credit: Flickr – Pete Shacky

The Filmpark Babelsberg is held on the same site as the studios of the same name. A must-see attraction in Potsdam, it’s sure to delight film buffs and families alike! In this theme park, you’ll discover German cinema and the history of Babelsberg Studios.

15. Glienicker bridge

Le pont Glienicker

Photo credit: Shutterstock – D.Bond

Known as the « Spy Bridge« , the Glienicker Bridge once marked the border between Potsdam and Berlin. From August 13, 1961 to November 9, 1989, the bridge was one of the border points between West Berlin and the GDR. Several exchanges of prisoners and agents took place here. It also features in Steven Spielberg’s film Bridge of Spies.

How to get to Potsdam

By car

To visit Potsdam, you can fly to Berlin and then take the train. You can also reach this beautiful city by car from France or another destination. However, the journey takes over 10 hours from Paris and almost 6 hours from the border. The fastest and most convenient option is still to fly and take the train.

By plane

Flying is undoubtedly the best way to reach and visit Potsdam. You’ll need to land in the German capital, Berlin. Potsdam is only 2 hours flight or less from Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse or Marseille.

Flights operate weekly. You can then take the train directly from Berlin-Brandenburg airport to Potsdam. The beautiful city is less than1.5 hours away.

To find your flights at the best prices and with the best connections, we recommend Skyscanner, one of our partner sites.

Once on site

To get around Potsdam, you can rely on an efficient public transport network. The German city has an excellent streetcar network and a variety of buses. It is well connected to the neighboring capital, Berlin, by train and bus.

As mentioned above, Berlin-Brandenburg airport is linked to Potsdam by train. This means you’ll have no trouble transferring from Berlin airport to Potsdam city center. You can also combine a visit to Potsdam with one to Berlin.

Where to stay in Potsdam?

Potsdam, the capital’s tourist neighbor, has no shortage of hotels and charming homestays. We recommend staying in the historic center if possible, but the outlying districts are also good options. The city is medium-sized, and public transport makes it easy to get around.

To be as close as possible to the cultural and tourist activities, we can only advise you to stay in the historic center. But if you do, this should not affect your stay.

To choose your hotel, we recommend you use the online hotel comparator Booking, also one of our partners. You can also find pleasant accommodation with local people, via the Airbnb platform for example.

Map of hotels and accommodation – Germany