During last days of World War II, following the surrender of the Nazis, the Potsdam Conference was held here from 17 July to 2 August 1945, where British prime minister Clement Attlee, American president Harry Truman and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin met to discuss the administration of occupied Germany. Potsdam was chosen due to being close to Berlin, but still offering a relatively undestroyed representative building that could host major world leaders for a conference.
For most of its recent history Potsdam has not been accessible from the former West Berlin. The last station before the former GDR was Wannsee. Many of the buildings that are visible today have been reconstructed after the bombings of the Second World War and after the lax care of the East German Government. The city as we see it today is the work of five architects (After the Great Elector said: "Das ganze Eyland muß ein Paradies werden" ): Peter Joseph Lenné, Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, Carl Phillipp Christian von Gontard, Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Friedrich Ludwig Persius, and of course King Frederick the Great and Emperor Wilhelm II.
Most attractions in the city are UNESCO World Heritage sites: Sanssouci Park and the Crown estate of Bornstedt, The New Garden (including the Pfingstberg and the Russian colony of Alxandrowka), Babelsberg Park and Sacrow Park.
The suburb Babelsberg is home to the Media City Babelsberg (Medienstadt Babelsberg), an area joining movie and media people together. The film studio Babelsberg, the Konrad Wolf Film University of Babelsberg and other schools, radio and TV stations, a museum and an archive, an amusement park and much more is located there. Babelsberg was one of the first large scale studio complexes in the world and movies produced here enjoyed an excellent reputation until the Nazi era and World War II destroyed much of Germany's cultural output and potential. Today the Berlin area is competing with the Cologne region for the top spot in the German media landscape.
By suburban railPotsdam is in the Berlin metropolitan area and served by both inner and outer suburban trains, called S-Bahn and RegionalExpress (RE) trains respectively. Several lines serve Potsdam, but not the same parts. Almost all trains that go from Berlin to Potsdam can be used with an ABC or BC zone ticket for Berlin.
For central Potsdam, you should travel to
Potsdam Hauptbahnhof, which is the terminus for S-Bahn S7 and also served by Regionalexpress RE1 towards Brandenburg or Magdeburg. From the most centrally located station, Berlin Friedrichstraße, it takes 47 min to Potsdam Hbf by S1 (40 min: S7+S1) and 28 min by RE1, the latter making limited stops in inner areas.
For the Schloss Sanssouci, Park Sanssouci and Krongut Bornstedt, you should take an RE1 train direction Brandenburg (not Magdeburg) and get off at Charlottenhof, the station following Potsdam Hbf. From there the mentioned attractions are 10 minutes away on foot.
For Babelsberg, you should take the S-Bahn S7 to Babelsberg, the station preceding Potsdam Hbf.
For the Medienstadt (film studios), you should take an RE7 train direction Bad Belzig or Dessau and get off at Medienstadt Babelsberg.
Your ticket must be valid for at least Berlin zones BC in order to travel to Potsdam; however, tickets and travelcards valid for the entire metropolitan area are of course also valid. For more information on this, visit the local transport website of the Berlin metropolitan area.
By busWhile Berlin has had intercity bus service even before the deregulation of the market the fact that buses can't sell tickets for trips shorter than 50 km makes Potsdam somewhat underserved. There are several stops in Berlin however and ZOB (the central bus station) is served by the S-Bahn
- highway A10 or A115
By planeBerlin has two airports which are not far away from Potsdam. From Tegel (TXL) bus X9 connects to Jungfernheide S-Bahn station, from where you can take S42 to Westkreuz and then S7 and S1 to Potsdam (for passengers to Charlottendorf or Medienstadt RE trains connect to the S7 at Wannsee).
From Schönefeld (SXF), suburban train line RB22 connects to Potsdam Hbf (and also stops at Potsdam Charlottenhof). For going to Babelsberg you should change to S-Bahn S7 at Potsdam Hbf.
By tram and bus
Potsdam itself lies in Berlin's Zone C, so if you have a ticket for Berlin ABC or Berlin BC, you can use public transport in Potsdam with it as well. Don't confuse Potsdam's zones with Berlin's zones.
Tickets can be bought at ticket machines in every tram and bus. Unfortunately they're of no big help when it comes to choosing the right ticket, and furthermore they only accept coins and rechargeable "Geldkarten", but no bills. It's best to get detailed information about prices and zones at Potsdam's central station or on the VBB website.
The transport, although confusing at first, is pretty logically laid out - each tourist attraction has its own bus / tram stop (with the appropriate name) and the staff of the VBB are extremely helpful, although language barriers can exist.
For tourists there are five main lines in and around Potsdam:
- Schlösser-Linie (Palaces Line): Bus No 695 from Potsdam Hauptbahnhof - Bahnhof Pirschheide. With stops for: The Historic Steam Engine House, Sanssouci Palace and Park, The Orangery, the Dragon House, the Belvedere, The New Palace and a path to the Charlottenhof Park.
- Krongut-Linie (Crown Estate Line): Tram No 92 from Potsdam Hauptbahnhof - Bornstedt Kirschallee. With stops for: The Dutch Quarter, The Russian Colony (Alexandrowka), the Pfingstberg, the Potsdam Biosphere and the Volkspark.
- Tropen-Linie (Tropics Line): From Potsdam Hauptbahnhof - Viereckremise. With stops for: The Historic City Centre, the Russian Colony (Alexandrowka),the Pfingstberg, the Potsdam Biosphere and the Volkspark.
- Cecilienhof-Linie (Cecilienhof Line): From Potsdam Hauptbahnhof take Tram Nos 90/92 to Reiterweg / Alleestraße, then Bus No 692 - Höhenstraße. With stops for: The Russian colony (Alexandrowka), the New Garden, the Marble Palace, Celcilienhof Palace and the Pfingstberg.
- Filmstadt-Linie (Film City Line): From Potsdam Hauptbahnhof - Stern-Center / Gerlachstraße. With stops for: Babelsberg palace and park, Flatow Tower, the Arcaded Court House, the Neubabelsberg Villa Colony, Babelsberg Media City and the Film Park.
Holländisches ViertelRight in the middle of Potsdam are the "Dutch Quarters", built in the 18th century by Dutch master builder Johann Boumann to attract other Dutch artisans. The quarters consist of 134 red brick houses, divided into four blocks. The history of the Dutch Quarters can be seen in the Jan Bouman house in Mittelstraße 8.
Alter MarktThe old market is the historic city center, the Stadtschloss (city castle) is under re-construction. You can visit the Nikolaikirche there.
New MarketThe new market is an original preserved market square from the 18th century.
Park BabelsbergA beautiful park with a gothic-style castle. It is also part of the World Heritage site. One part of the university is placed here, so expect some students.
address: Ribbeckstraße 6/7An architectural complex in Italian style with a palace and a garden.
Park SanssouciThis immense park outside Berlin in the city of Potsdam is on the UNESCO World Heritage list, along with all its outbuildings, such as Sanssouci Palace and New Palace. Walk around this park with its many castles, follies, cascading terraces, mini-gardens, and romantic ruins.
phone: +49 331 9694200address: MaulbeeralleeA fabulous rococo palace with amazing interiors. The baroque decoration is wonderful. Get there early: there is a 2000 person/day entry limit at Schloss Sanssouci.
GemäldegaleriaThe beautiful collection of paintings at the Sanssouci Palace.
phone: +49 331 9694200address: Am Neuen PalaisThe Neues Palais is also worth a visit, one of the most noteworthy rooms in the palace is the Konzertsaal (concert hall) - dripping in rococo glory.
The New GardenStroll around New Garden (part of the UNESCO world heritage ensemble), on the banks of the river Havel. Spanning an area of 102 hectare, this park was created in 1787 by Friedrich Wilhelm II in contrast to the Baroque Park Sanssouci. It borders with two lakes, and hosts the Marble Palace and the Palace Cecilienhof. It was here that Churchill, Stalin and Truman met for the Potsdam Conference, at the end of World War II.
phone: +49 331 9694200address: Im Neuen Garten 11
phone: +49 331 9694222address: Im Neuen Garten 10
address: Leistikowstr. 1Memorial and meeting place at the former KGB prison. From August 1945 it was occupied by soviet forces. It has been reconstructed as a prison for the counterintelligence. Today it's been left standing to remind people of the depressing reality of dictatorships.
address: Alexandrowka 2Alexandrowka consists of a few "Russian Style" houses built for Russian immigrants during the reign of "The Soldier King". House No. 2 (Haus 2) has a very interesting museum while House No. 4 (Haus 4) has an excellent café.
phone: +49 331 6208550address: Am Neuen Markt 9A museum about Prussia's history.
phone: +49 331 2896707address: Breite Straße 13
phone: +49 331 2718112address: Breite Straße 1AExhibitions about cinema history in Potsdam and movie theatre.
phone: +49 331 2896808address: Am Alten Markt 9
Altes RathausChanging exhibitions at the old town hall.
Glienicke BridgeIt is a bridge between Berlin and Potsdam which spans the Havel River to connect the cities of Potsdam and Berlin near Klein Glienicke. It was completed in 1907. The bridge was used to exchange spies.
- Schloss und Schlosspark Glienicke (Glienicke Palace, Casino and Garden) in Berlin/Steglitz-Zehlendorf
- The Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island) in Berlin/Steglitz-Zehlendorf is a small island with free living peacocks.
CyclingTake a cycling tour of the city.
- Climb the Babelsberg
- Visit the Dutch quarter, the Russian Colony, and the Weberviertel in Babelsberg (the 'weaver's quarter', built to accommodate artisans from Bohemia) - three architectural oddities commissioned by the Prussian kings to attract foreign craftsmen to Potsdam.
NikolskoeJust north of the city, in the woods overlooking the river, is a historic Russian church and lodge by the name of Nikolskoe. Now a popular cafe, it makes for a good pit stop on the way to nearby Peacock Island.
Lake Griebnitz and NeubabelsbergWalk around the picturesque south bank of lake Griebnitz, and into the streets of Neubabelsberg - a typical German 'Villenkolonie' of the Belle Epoque. Many of the grand homes' Jewish occupants were evicted by the Nazis, who then moved in themselves.
phone: +49 331 7212750address: Großbeerenstraße 200Movie theme park. Well worth a visit, the first German expressionist film in the world was made at these studios. The next-door studios are home to Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten, a famous German soap opera.
address: August-Bebel-Straße 26-53The Babelsberg film studios - Germany's Cinecitta. The centre of German celluloid expressionism, Marlene Dietrich, Fritz Lang and so many others worked here in the 1920s; more recently, Quentin Tarantino shot Inglourious Basterds on the premises. Studio tours are offered (in German only) on request at least 10 days in advance (phone: +49 331 7212132) and cost €25 per person (minimum 2 people).
Deutsches Filmorchester BabelsbergBased in the Studio Babelsberg, this orchestra gives public concerts (not only in Potsdam).
address: Am Luftschiffhafen 2The Potsdam Royals play their first ever German Football League season in 2018, ironically having beaten the Berlin Adler in the promotion/relegation round.
- The Dutch Quarter (Holländisches Viertel) has over 70 antique shops.
- Fruit Wines are made in the Potsdam-Werder area with flavours such as sour cherry, strawberry, blackberry. There is a store at the central station (opposite of the S-Bahn information center) where you can buy them, although if you have time, the nearby Kaufland (where the Sanssouci buses leave, also in the train station) has the same wines at far cheaper rates.
phone: +49 331 73042562address: Jägerstraße 16The Potsdam branch of the bakery and delicatessen chain.
phone: +49 331 240726address: Breite Straße 1Student pub.
phone: +49 331 6471026address: Hermann-Elflein-Straße 10Cultural Centre and pub.
address: Charlottenstraße 28Alternative pub. Very basic furniture. The pub is operated by basic democratic club.
address: Leipziger Straße 60Alternative youth centre. Here you regularly find parties and concerts.
address: Friedrich-Engels-Straße 22It is a big area near the Hauptbahnhof where you find a lot of different activities: concerts, parties, youth clubs, art clubs and a lot of social organisations.
phone: +49 331 2800820address: Friedrich-Ebert-Straße 90Famous pub with a really nice Biergarten in summer and it is famous for it's handmade burger.
phone: +49 331 5838408address: Benkertstraße 1Coffee/bar for the gay-lesbian-scene, but also hetero guest are very welcome.
phone: +49 331 2705596address: Friedrich-Ebert-Straße 29
address: Geschwister-Scholl-Straße 82Szenekneipe. Here you have a lot of different beers, menus and you can wash your clothes.
On the RocksRockbar in the Lindenstraße.
Rückholzaddress: SellostraßeGemütliche Kneipe in the Sellostraße. You can sit on sofa or easy chairs while you have a talk or watch the art that you find on the walls. Eating is recommended because the hosts have a lot of good ideas and all the dishes are handmade and with good ingredients.
address: CharlottenstraßeHere you find nice concerts and parties.
phone: +49 331 271560address: Schiffbauergasse 6Here you find parties, concerts, cinema, art exhibitions etc.
LindenparkThe traditional address in Babelsberg - concerts, parties, skater park and more.
PalmenzeltThis club is only open in autumn, winter and early spring. The parties take place between a lot of palmes in summer the club organises regularly parties on a ship. Located at the harbour (near main station
Stilbruch - Lounge
phone: +49 331 2739939address: Ribbeckstraße 41Directly on the border of the park. For breakfast, the Potsdam Hostel offers a wide range of option everyday from 7:00. Gender exclusive shared rooms come with 4 beds and include access to bathrooms and showers. Community room offers complete kitchen facilities, TV, free wireless access, as well as a PC.
dedicated to workers: Monteurzimmer / Wohnen auf Zeitaddress: Heidereiterweg 59
address: Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 92, 14482 Potsdam (use the postcode, because the street exists twice in Potsdam)
address: Grenzstr. 11, 14482 Potsdam
Gästehaus UrbanWebsite in German.
Youth Hostel: Jugendgästehaus „Siebenschläfer“ Potsdamaddress: Lotte-Pulewka-Straße 43, 14473 Potsdam
address: Katharinastr. 23, 14480 Potsdam
address: Rudolf-Breitscheid-Str. 190-192
phone: +49 331 - 9090-0address: An der Pirschheide 40 14471 Potsdam
Steigenberger Hotel Sanssouci
address: Lange BrückeThe socialist-era concrete tower has grown to be a notorious eyesore, with ongoing public discussions whether to have it removed for spoiling the view and harmony of the gradually-rebuilt historic city centre. That said, to a traveller it provides both central location and unparalleled views, also given the Maupassantesque patency that it is the only place from where you cannot see it. Inside, it has been refurbished to a modern standards, even if lacking a bit on the service front.
phone: +49 331 2740address: Jägerallee 20, 14469 PotsdamThe multi-award-winning congress hotel offers 292 rooms and suites as well as a large pool area.
Potsdam is a safe city for tourists. During daylight the city is full of tourists that visit the amazing castles and gardens.
- Berlin — this is the most obvious place to go, unless you already came from there
- Werder an der Havel — a small town just west of Potsdam. Every year it is the home of the Baumblutenfest, to celebrate the large amount of fruit trees blooming in spring (especially sour cherry trees, of which they make wine).
- Brandenburg an der Havel — less than 30 minutes away by train
- Magdeburg — the historic capital of Saxony-Anhalt, taking an hour from Potsdam to cover the distance (the train to Brandenburg an der Havel continues to Magdeburg)
- The Potsdam railway station is on a bit of a side line, so for high-speed connections to German cities farther afield, one has to go back to Berlin#Go next