Wanting to break up our visit to Berlin, and “escape” the city for a few hours, we decided to make a day-trip to the neighbouring city of Potsdam, located just thirty minutes from Berlin by regional train. Although still quite busy in its own right, Potsdam has long been touted as a favorite place of residence for the Prussian and German royal family until 1918 and now attracts visitors with it’s charming dutch influenced city centre, beautiful architecture, and extensive Sanssouci park and palaces.
After admiring the architecture and snapping many photographs, we stumbled onto a small market where we just couldn’t turn down the opportunity to buy some delicious raspberries. We ate them in the small park next door, and with the sun filtering down through the trees it was a perfect travel moment.
After exploring the city for an hour or so, we made our way to the main reason that most people head to Potsdam – Sanssouci park. We wandered through the grounds built by Frederick the Great before finding our way to the highlight of the park, the Sanssouci Palace (the park is actually home to two palaces, the Sanssouci Palace and the “new” Palace). Although relatively small for a “Palace”, the Rococo masterpiece was built in the likeness of Versailles, complete with a sculpture garden, fountains, and a beautiful terraced vineyard.
The park itself has tons of other things to discover and explore other than the palaces if that’s not your thing. Beautiful gazebos, temples, churches, a large windmill, and even some fake “Roman ruins” can be explored over a nice easy afternoon. After finishing at the park we wandered through some more of the exquisite architecture, all the while finding it hard to believe that Potsdam was part of the GDR for so long.
Potsdam is also notable on an international scale as the home of the well known Potsdam Conference, the largest post-WWII meeting between the Allies (the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States), during which they decided how to administer punishment to the defeated Nazi Germany, as well as establish a post-war peace treaties and outline the terms of surrender for Japan. After construction of the Berlin Wall, Potsdam lay just outside West Berlin, and completely isolated from the walled city.
Present day Potsdam is a university town and home to several UNESCO World Heritage sites, many of which are historic parks and palaces. It is also extremely easy to explore either by foot or bicycle, the later is available to rent at numerous places throughout town including just outside the train station.
The Logistics: 30 minute train trip on the RE-1 from Berlin, the city of Potsdam has two stops so pay attention to where you want to get off. An all day ABC transportation ticket may be a good idea as it also includes any transportation within the city of Potsdam (7.20 Euro/person).