If you’re visiting Berlin and are looking for a nearby city to spend the day, chances are you’ve already read somewhere else what a great choice Potsdam might be. Located within a 30-minute suburban train ride away from the capital of Germany (with a single-ticket costing about 3,30€), Potsdam is famous for its outstanding palaces and jaw-dropping parks, having served as a playground for Kaisers, Prussian Emperors and people of high status. Despite being the most popular day trip from Berlin, here’s an honest heads-up: if all you want is to spend a nice day outside Berlin, then you have nothing to worry about; but if you really want to see and experience all of Potsdam, then one day will not do!
4 REASONS WHY POTSDAM ISN’T JUST A DAY TRIP FROM BERLIN
IT’S A DIFFERENT CITY
And I mean it both visually and administratively! Although Berlin and Potsdam are only 35km apart, these cities actually belong to different states and couldn’t be any more different from one another. In fact, if not for the German language, you could go as far as thinking they wouldn’t even belong in the same country. While Berlin is a true metropolis, home to 3.5 million people, Potsdam has a small town feeling and a population of just a little over 160 000. While Berlin’s troubled 20th century has given it a frenzy and chaotic appearance, the result of heavy destruction followed by the impact of the Berlin Wall, Potsdam is peaceful and harmonious. In Berlin you will see some of the most interesting history-related attractions, but in Potsdam you will marvel at majestic palaces and magnificent parks. To put it bluntly, Berlin represents post-war Germany – modern, wiser and with strong signs of its past – and Potsdam represents pre-war Germany – quaint, beautiful and imperial.
It’s a true clash in landscape, architecture, atmosphere and daily rhythm. One that will require time to properly appreciate both realities.
IT’S TOO BIG
Not the city per se. Potsdam is actually fairly small when compared to other German cities, but, as a result, its public transportation system (although good) is not as efficient, and is clearly harder to find clear information online on how to use locals buses or trams to reach its landmarks. This is also a city whose greatest attractions are huge parks with many sights. As you can imagine, no public transportation runs through the parks’ grounds, so if you want to see everything you’ll have to walk… a lot. Let’s take a look at Sanssouci Park for a second: the quickest way to get from Neues Palais (in one end of the Park) to the main entrance (in the other) is through a straight 2.2km path. That means you’ll have to walk over 4km to see that palace and get back to the city-centre without even checking the remaining attractions in the Sanssouci Park! Not trying to scare you here, but during our day in Potsdam we walked 18km, and we didn’t even manage to see Babelsberg Park! Here’s the tip, if you want to see all of Potsdam without any kind of private transportation one day will not be enough.
TOO DAMN MUCH TO SEE IN 1 DAY
Even if you try to rush through all of the sights, one day might not be enough in Potsdam, especially if you’re visiting during winter when it gets dark by 16h00. Oh and If that one day is all you have, you better forget about touring the local palaces, as you won’t get to see all of them! But besides those palaces (Sanssouci; Cecilienhof; Neues; Marmorpalais; Babelsberg; …) and the remaining attractions in their respective parks – which are just too many to mention – you’ll still have to explore the city centre to be able to say you’ve truly visited Potsdam. Go pay a visit to the stunning Nikolaikirche and the remaining sights at the Alter Markt, see the unbelievable Dutch Quarter, walk through the majestic city gates (Brandenburger Tor and Nauener Tor) and, if that isn’t enough, experience Potsdam’s Prussian heritage while touring the former colony of Alexandrowka. Believe it or not, and in spite of all the things we’ve already mentioned, there are a lot more activities and attractions waiting for you in the capital of Brandenburg… just stay longer if you want to see it all!
IT SIMPLY DESERVES MORE TIME
It all comes down to this doesn’t it? We’re not saying you won’t enjoy Potsdam if you choose to spend just one day there, but with beautiful and diverse architecture, great history and some of the best green areas in Europe, Potsdam doesn’t need to play second fiddle to no city. It’s great in its own right, and that is ultimately why Potsdam is more than a day trip from Berlin.
Have you ever been to Potsdam? Do you agree with us? Or you think the city can be conquered in a single day and be rightfully considered just a day trip from Berlin? Let us know on the comments below!