Less than an hour from Berlin, Potsdam is a popular choice for day-trippers and a picturesque alternative to staying in the capital. One day is just enough time to explore the UNESCO-listed palaces, visit the infamous Bridge of Spies, and learn about Potsdam’s fascinating history. Here’s how to spend one day in Potsdam.
Morning: Prussian Palaces and Parks
Potsdam’s sights are spread out over a large area, so it’s worth exploring with a guide to make the most of your time, as well as gain historic insight. Join a walking or bike tour, or if you prefer to travel independently, a hop-on hop-off bus tour offers the best of both worlds with on-board commentary. Start with a visit to the city’s star attraction, Sanssouci Palace, which was the 18th-century residence of Prussian King Frederik the Great. Leave time to explore the highlights, from the magnificent palace interiors to the vast parklands, which feature a terraced vineyard, Orangery Palace, and Charlottenhof Palace.
Afternoon: City Landmarks and Soviet Sites
Potsdam’s historic center is home to a number of significant landmarks including St. Nicholas' Church and the Brandenburg Gate. Take a walk down Brandenburg Street, the city’s principal boulevard, where you can pick up souvenirs, and then head north to visit the famous Glienicke Bridge. Nicknamed the Bridge of Spies, the bridge across the Havel River marked the border between East and West Germany during the Cold War and was a notorious exchange point for Soviet and American spies. If time allows, Cecilienhof Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and nearby Babelsberg Park are both worth a visit.
Night: Drinking and Dining in the Dutch Quarter
Summer visitors might want to time their visit for the annual Potsdam Palace Night, when Sanssouci Palace hosts an evening of music, theater, and fireworks. Otherwise, head into the Dutch Quarter, so-called for its characteristic redbrick houses, built in the 18th century to house Dutch craftsmen. Today, the historic houses are populated by shops, bars, and restaurants, making the quarter one of the liveliest spots to spend the evening in Potsdam.