Are you planning a day trip to Potsdam from Berlin? Potsdam is one of the most popular day trips from Berlin, not only because it’s nearby, but also because it is rich in culture and history. It also makes for a nice change of scenery if you’re spending several days in Berlin. In this article you’ll find lots of practical tips for how to get to Potsdam from Berlin and what to see in Potsdam in a day.
Why should you do a Potsdam day trip from Berlin?
I wouldn’t suggest any day trips if you’re only spending a few days in Berlin since there’s so much to see in the city. But if you have a longer trip, probably more than 3 days in Berlin, a day trip might be just the thing.
So why Potsdam? Well, it’s gorgeous for one thing. But let’s get into the specifics.
Potsdam was the location of the Potsdam Conference in 1945, which was held shortly after the official end of World War II. It’s where the leaders of the USA, the UK, and the Soviet Union met to work out all the details of dealing with Germany after the war. The town is significant from a historical perspective and worth visiting if you’re a WWII or Cold War buff.
Mostly a day trip to Potsdam includes visiting the many castles and palaces and their elaborate adjoining gardens. In fact, the Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site, and though some pieces are in Berlin, most are in Potsdam. Sanssouci Palace is the most famous palace in Potsdam, but trust me, you’ll be impressed by the others too.
The town of Potsdam is also worth spending time in. The Old Town and Dutch Quarters are charming areas to explore with several monuments, old city gates, and museums.
Hotels in Potsdam, Germany
Potsdam makes for a wonderful day trip from Berlin. But there is a lot to see here! If you want to explore more of the city, the parks, and the palaces, it might be worth booking a hotel in Potsdam and staying for a few days. Here are our suggestions:
Where to stay in Potsdam
How far is Potsdam from Berlin?
Potsdam is located southwest of Berlin in the state of Brandenburg. It is roughly 35 km (a bit less than 21 miles) from Berlin Hbf to Potsdam. This means it doesn’t take long to get to Potsdam, and you won’t lose too much of your day to transport.
You could drive to Potsdam from Berlin. But since Berlin has such great public transport, and it could actually take longer to drive, I don’t think it’s worth it. Driving could take 35 minutes to well over an hour if there’s traffic, plus you’d have to figure out where to park.
Instead I recommend taking the train from Berlin to Potsdam. Here’s how to do it.
How to get from Berlin to Potsdam by train
There are two options to get from Berlin to Potsdam by train. You can either take the regional train or the Sbahn. The regional train is a little faster, but depending on where you’re staying in Berlin, the Sbahn might be easier. It also depends on which Potsdam train station you want to arrive at.
Option 1: Regional train from Berlin to Potsdam
Taking the regional train is the best option in most cases because it will take you from Berlin Hbf to Potsdam Hbf in just 25 minutes. The regional train also makes fewer stops than the Sbahn.
Look for RE1 going towards Brandenburg Hbf. This route stops at Potsdam Hbf, which is the closest station to the old town. This is a good station to get out at if you are starting your Potsdam day trip in the old town and Dutch Quarter.
Otherwise, if you prefer to start with the palaces, stay on the train for one more stop and get out at Potsdam Charlottenhof, or two more stops and get out at Park Sanssouci Potsdam. This will get you close to the park and palace and save you some walking time.
Note: Not all RE1 train routes are exactly the same. The one that goes to Magdeburg as the end station stops in Potsdam Hbf but it does not stop in any of the secondary Potsdam train stations. So you can take that one, but you’ll either have to walk from Potsdam Hbf to Sanssouci Palace, or you’ll have to switch to another train (RB20, RB21, or RB22).
The RE1 going to Brandenburg Hbf runs once an hour, so plan accordingly. But if that timing doesn’t work out for you, switching to a different train at the Potsdam station shouldn’t be a big deal.
Where else can you get the RE1 from Berlin to Potsdam? The RE1 runs through several stations within Berlin, such as Alexanderplatz, Zoologischer Garten, and Ostkreuz, among others. To decide which train station in Berlin you should use, check which one is closest to where you’re staying so you don’t waste time getting to Potsdam.
Option 2: Sbahn from Berlin to Potsdam
You could take the Sbahn to Potsdam, but it will take about 10 minutes longer. From Berlin Hbf to Potsdam Hbf it takes about 35 minutes instead of 25 minutes. The Sbahn also makes more stops along the way.
If you decide to take the Sbahn to Potsdam, you will need the S7 going towards Potsdam Hbf.
Also note that the Sbahn does not go to Park Sanssouci Potsdam Bahnhof. So if you want to go to that station, you will need to switch to the RB20, RB21, or RB22 for an additional 5 minutes.
The Sbahn might be a good option depending on where you’re staying and where the closest Ubahn or Sbahn station is to your hotel. It might also work out that a slightly longer ride still gets you there earlier than waiting until the next regional train.
Things to see in Potsdam on a day trip
Potsdam really is a charming town filled with gorgeous sights and interesting history. There are plenty of things to see in Potsdam on a day trip from Berlin. In fact, you probably won’t have time to see everything in Potsdam in a day, but if you want to spend one day in Potsdam, you won’t be bored.
Sanssouci Palace and Park
This is the most well known palace in Potsdam. It was built in the mid 1700s for Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, and it served as his summer palace. Sanssouci is often compared to Versailles in France, though it is smaller. This Rococo palace now sees more than 2 million people a year.
The park that surrounds the palace is also a gorgeous sight to see. The palace sits at the top of a terraced vineyard, and at the bottom of this hill is the Great Fountain. Throughout the park, you’ll see flower beds, various statues, and more fountains.
New Chambers of Sanssouci
Part of the same palace complex, the New Chambers of Sanssouci was built as a guest house for close friends of the king when they were visiting. To show how important his guests were to him, these chambers were lavishly designed.
Historic Mill of Sanssouci
Dozens of windmills once stood in Potsdam, but only this one remains, though it has been rebuilt several times. Once again, the mill processes grain, and you can buy bread that was baked with Sanssouci flour in the gift shop.
Frederick II enjoyed thinking of faraway lands, and he had the Chinese House built to accent his garden. Golden life-sized figures are place around the outside of the building, and paintings on the ceiling were designed to depict Chinese society.
King Frederick William IV loved Italy and Italian architecture, and he had the Orangery Palace built in the mid 1800s with inspiration from several well known Italian buildings. The palace has an impressive wing of copies of Raphael paintings, a large plant hall, and towers you can climb for views of the whole park.
Charlottenhog Palace, or Charlottenhof Villa, was the summer residence of Crown Prince Frederick William, who later became King Frederick William IV. He had the architect remodel a farmhouse into the neo-classical villa you see today. The interiors of the palace have remained mostly the same over the years. The surrounding land was redesigned into an English garden and connected into Sanssouci Park.
Roughly 20 years after Frederick the Great had Sanssouci Palace built, he had the New Palace built in stark contrast. Where Sanssouci is more modest, the New Palace is more elaborate. It has over 200 rooms and was primarily used for hosting events and receiving important guests, such as royalty and dignitaries.
The palace is located at the end of a long pathway and is an impressive part of Sanssouci Park.
Babelsberg Palace and Park
Babelsberg Palace and Park were built for Prince William of Prussia and his wife Princess Augusta of Saxony-Weimar in an English neo-Gothic style. It served as their summer residence for more than 50 years. Though it was looted after WWII and the furniture lost, the facade has recently been renovated, and the fountains, which hadn’t functioned in over 100 years, have been fixed and are working again.
This garden is located in the northern section of Potsdam near the Heiliger See and the Jungfernsee lakes. It was designed in the English garden style for Frederick William II in the late 1700s. Here you’ll find Cecilienhof Palace, Marble Palace, and several other buildings and sights.
Built from 1914 to 1917 in the style of an English Tudor manor house, Cecilienhof Palace was the last palace built by the Hohenzollern family. They were the ruled the Kingdom of Prussia and German Empire until the end of World War I. Cecilienhof Palace is also famous for being the location of the Potsdam conference, which took place after the end of World War II. This is when the Allies met to discuss and decide how to handle post war Europe and Asia.
The Marble Palace sits on the shores of the Heiliger See (lake) and is a former royal residence of Frederick William II of Prussia. The facade is made of marble, hence the name. Under Soviet rule, the palace served as a military museum until 1972. Today it’s a popular attraction in the New Garden and offers great views of mansions across the lake.
The Belvedere Pfinstberg pleasure palace was built on Potsdam’s highest elevation for Frederick William IV in the mid 1800s, though he did not live to see it finished. His brother Wilhelm I had a modified version completed several years later. Today this hilltop palace makes for excellent views over Potsdam, and you can even see Berlin in the distance.
Don’t confuse this with the more famous Brandenburg Gate in Berlin! The one in Potsdam is actually older than its Berlin counterpart. It lies at the western end of Brandenburger Str. Each side was designed by a different architect, so you’ll see a city-facing side and a countryside-facing side.
The oldest of the remaining city gates in Potsdam is Jägertor. The top of the gate shows hunting dogs taking down a deer as this was the way to go to get to the former royal hunting grounds north of the city.
Nauener Tor is located near the Dutch Quarter of Potsdam near lots of shops and cafes. A promenade connects it with the other two remaining city gates where city walls once stood. Today a tram runs through the gate.
Opened only a few years ago, the Museum Barberini displays impressionist paintings. Though the museum is fairly new, the building is a reconstructed former palace on the Old Market Square.
Want more museums? In Potsdam, you’ll also find a film museum, a museum of natural history, a museum of Prussian history, a museum of art and history, and more!
The Neue Markt is one of the best-preserved Baroque squares in Europe, and one of the prettiest in Potsdam. Most of the buildings date back to the 18th century. You’ll find the Museum of Brandenburg and Prussian History and the Potsdam City Palace Royal Stables, which houses the Film Museum, on this square.
St. Nicholas’ Church
One of the many pretty churches in town, the St. Nicholas’ Church has a viewing platform that will give you a great look at Potsdam from above. Other notable churches to check out include the Church of Peace on the edge of Sanssouci Park and the St. Paul and St. Peter Church at the eastern end of Brandenburger Str.
In Potsdam’s historical area, go for a stroll in the Dutch Quarter. This is considered the biggest collection of Dutch-style houses outside of the Netherlands. They were built for Dutch immigrants in the mid 1700s, and today you’ll find cafes with Dutch food, shops, galleries, and a couple of museums.
This famous bridge once separated West Berlin from Potsdam in East Germany. The bridge was closed to civilians, and it became used for exchanging spies and agents during the Cold War. The movie “Bridge of Spies” with Tom Hanks was about this very bridge and was filmed there.
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Berlin Travel Resources
I want you to have the best trip to Berlin, and hopefully this information for how to take a Potsdam day trip from Berlin helps. But there are lots more tips on the site!
Here’s what you should know before coming to Berlin. From practical tips to quirky facts about the city, it’s all in there.
Read this helpful packing list for Berlin so you know what to bring and what to wear.
You’re probably going to be using public transport to get around Berlin. Read this handy guide to Berlin’s public transport system and how to get around Berlin.
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