[April 2018: Hey everyone, there is an update: here you can visit my Potsdam Guide 2.0 with a new illustrated map and some new recommended activities. Have fun!]
Hello, hello, dear readers! Wow, I can hardly believe that I finally finished working on my Potsdam guide, a project which has been on my to do list for so long!
All year I have been taking photos of my favorite places, sights, cafes, restaurants and shops and collected ideas for how I wanted my guide to look like.
The idea to write such a guide for the city in which I live and which I truly love came to my mind after having received the hundredth mail in which a reader travelling to Potsdam asked me for my favorite spots in Postdam. It was really time-consuming to each time write an email and listing some spots and favorite places, so I once decided to write a whole article about it to which I can then always refer.
So let’s get started with virtually walking around Potsdam, the city which I love so much! I put together a guide with the places you should definitely see and visit and of course I also included my favorite spots for culinary delight and tasty snacks during a long sightseeing day. :)
To let you better understand what is where just at one glance, I made up a map with the most important sights:
On this map (map download in full size here), you can see all big parks, lakes and sights and get a feeling for what is where. On the bottom of this blog post, I also gave some advice for certain routes to explore Potsdam by bike or by foot. :) After having looked at this map, now let me introduce the city where my heart belongs:
When walking over the long bridge from the central station towards the city center, you will at first see the reconstructed palace in which there will soon be Brandenburg’s government and you will also see the big church (Nikolaikirche). This church was the first thing which caught my attention when first coming to Potsdam and it always reminds me of all the excitement in my heart when I moved here to my new home.
When you are in Potsdam’s heart, in the city center, you will see lots of old buildings in pretty soft colors, most of them restored. On the top photo above, you see the church which is next to the Bassinplatz and there’s a farmer’s market each weekday and on Saturday morning. On the lower photo above, you see the Brandenburger Straße, Potsdam’s main shopping street.
Nikolaikirche, Nauener Tor (one of the city’s old gates), Brandeburger Tor (another old city gate) and the sight along the Friedrich-Ebert-Straße towards its northern end, looking at the Nauener Tor. When you arrive in the city from the central station, this sight will be one of the first things you see of Potsdam. :)
During World War 2, many buildings in Potsdam have been destroyed, but the city invested lots of money to restore everything and to recreate the old cityscape. I really love all the old houses in pretty colors and sometimes there’s a nice contrast between all those new housefronts and the old, rotten buildings which haven’t been restored, yet.
On the Bassinplatz (at the eastern end of the Brandenburger Straße, south of the Dutch quarter), there’s a farmer’s market every weekday and on Saturday morning. Most of the food is regional and organic and everything is grown by small farmers. I love all the bright colors and the smell of fresh food and I really enjoy going there.
In the Friedrich-Ebert-Straße, you can find the bakery Braune, the best bakery in town. Everything is freshly homemade and also super inexpensive and delicious!
On the southern side of the Dutch quarter, there’s Q-Regio, a small store which sells regional products like bread, cheese, meat and milk products. Their variety of cheese is awesome and they also have regional delicacies like jam or mustard.
This is exciting, I’m gonna show you Potsdam’s most interesting sights! First of all, there’s the Dutch quarter, located directly next to the city center. It has been build in the 18th century and was supposed to attract Dutch craftsmen. This quarter is super pretty and crowded with small shops and restaurants (but most of them with average tourist food, so be careful ;)).
When leaving the city center towards the northern end of Potsdam, you can visit the New Garden (= Neuer Garten). In the middle, there’s the Holy Lake (= Heiliger See) where you can swim in summer (but only in the north where there’s a special area for swimming). On the right side of the lake, there are many impressive mansions, but on the left side, there’s the park with some sights like the Marble Palace (= Marmorpalais), Castle Cecilienhof (on top of the photos above) where the Allied Forces met and divided Germany after World War 2 and some other buldings which belong to the Dutch quarter. I especially like this park in summer.
North of the city center, there’s the Russian quarter, Alexandrovka. There are some of those old houses, one is even a museum and can be visited.
East of the city center, there’s what Potsdam is most famous for, Park Sanssouci with its castle (seen on the two top photos above). The castle is quite pretty, but not too spectacular. Park Sanssouci is a park where you could spend a whole day (when Flo and I first came to Potsdam, we spent there four hours without even have seen everything), visiting all the historical buildings like the castle itself, the New Palace (= Neues Palais, on the buttom photo above) with its super pretty old halls and Potsdam’s university (photos above in the middle row). Moreover, there are various other sights like the Chinese Tea House or the wind mill. When you go there, you should definitely take enough time for everything and also simply enjoy walking around the park. If you are really interested in visiting the castle, don’t go there during summer holidays, it’s like hell full of tourists! :)
Besides the New Garden, I really enjoy spending time in Park Babelsberg. I especially like this park in fall, because there are a small forest and lots of old trees in this park and they look so beautiful when the leaves have turned red and orange and yellow. In this park you can find an old castle – Schloss Babelsberg (top left photo), a historic tower and many other buildings. This park is next to a lake and river and in summer, it’s perfect for swimming and relaxing.
Belmundo is such an awesome place! They have the best Kumpir (potatoes baked with cheese and filled with tasty stuff) for a nice afternoon snack and most important, the prettiest furniture! All the pretty vintage chairs, tables and cabinets and the pretty decor. Moreover, they sell handmade items by crafty people from Potsdam.
Another place that I like – especially as a vegetarian – is Cafe Kieselstein (at Hegelallee) There you can get all kinds of delicious and healthy vegetarian dishes. My favorites are Falafel and their veggie pizza with salad, mmmhh!
When we crave for fast food like French fries or when Flo and his friends want spare ribs or a Schnitzel, we go to Craddoc, an American diner. I like their food and I like going there in summer when you can sit outside. On the inside, their diner is okay, but neither super comfy, nor with special furniture, but as long as the food is tasty, I’m fine with that. ;)
Ohhh, Café Heider, the coziest place in town! They call themself “the living-room of the city” and they are one of Potsdam’s oldest cafés and restaurants. At Heider, you can get all kinds of fancy tea, coffee or hot chocolate, they have the best cakes in town, savory German food and a super delicious cheese plate which is my favorite. I especially like going there in winter, because this place is so cozy with its red velvet chairs, candle light and marble tables.
When we have the desire to eat a good burger and drink a cocktail, the Daily Coffee next to the Nauener Tor is one of the places where we sometimes go and I really like their veggie burger because of the tasty homemade patty and their raspberry-rhubarb mojito, yum!
Hafthorn is Potsdam’s student pub and restaurant. They open in the evening at 6 p.m., have inexpensive beer and really good burgers. Flo really likes their meat burgers and the vegetarian ones are fine (especially for the fair price), but not super super special. Their fries are sooo tasty and their homemade cole slaw is, too. Moreover, they also have other dishes like salads, baked potatoes, finger food and noodles.
When visiting Potsdam in summer and when you and your friends like good and fresh beer, you should definitely visit the Meierei. It is located on the northern end of the New Garden, left of Cecilienhof. They brew their own beer, one can sit at the water while drinking it and it’s so refreshing. I especially like their ‘Potsdamer’, beer mixed with Fassbrause, a lemonade from Berlin. What’s super special is that you can go there by water taxi which even departs from the central station.
In the Dutch quarter there has just opened Potsdam’s first vegan cafe, good dEATs. You can get all kinds of delicious vegan food such as bagels, cupcakes, cake, muffins and chai latte, mmmhh!
This is absolutely one of my favorite places in Potsdam, the Eismanufaktur (Brandenburger Straße). It is my very favorite ice cream parlor in the world, there’s no better ice cream! They have ice cream made with milk and also sorbets, they are amazing!! My favorite flavors are strawberry, mango and raspberry-lime, but they also have flavors like cheesecake, melon, fig and white chocolate.
When you are into DIY projects and sewing, you definitely have to visit Texstile (Jägerstraße 38). This is a fabric store and also place for sewing classes and there you can find the prettiest fabrics and ribbons for your creative projects. Definitely go there and say hi! :)
Salvere (Gutenbergstraße) is the bestplace for homemade soaps in all kinds of colors and shapes, perfect as gift or for your own bathroom. The smell there is heavenly!
If you like handmade jewellery, go to Perlentaucher (at the Dutch quarter) where you can buy tons of supplies for making your own earrings, necklaces and other pieces of jewellery.
Another place which I also really like is the Möbelbörse (at Häckelstraße), the perfect place for vintage treasures, especially dishes. They have old furniture, pretty plates as props for food photography or grandmas old tea cups for your kitchen. This is meant to be an inexpensive place for people who don’t have much money and that’s why everything does not cost much, so if you go there, please be fair and pay more than you have to or even donate you don’t need anymore!
Last but not least, I like shopping at Captain Card (Gutenbergstraße). There you can get pretty stationery, paper stuff, lots of stamps and masking tape, yay!
Especially in summer, there’s much you can do outside. Everywhere in and around Potsdam, there’s lots of water and you could for example hire a boat at the Freundschaftsinsel. My very favorite one is the swan boat, but it’s already taken each time I go there.
Another activity could be a bike tour around all the lakes (you can see them on the map above), a nice destination is Schloss Golm (on the top left photo above) where you can have a cold beer or wam coffee in their beautiful garden next to the lake.
One of my favorite places close to Potsdam (especially in spring and summer) is Peacock Island (= Pfaueninsel). It’s a small island in the Havel where you can go by ferry (which is rather inexpensive) and where there is a pretty castle and lots of peacocks which walk around the island freely. If you are lucky, you can snap beautiful photos with them. :)
Last but not least, my very very favorite thing in summer is going to Werder (a few kilometers south east of Potsdam) where you can hire boats. Of course you can also do this in Potsdam (as I wrote above), but if you have a car or want to go on a short train ride, you should definitely go to Werder and hire a boat there. You can hire a normal pedal boat, a rowboat or even a motor boat (some of them can even be used without a driver’s licence). Hiring a boat there isn’t expensive, especially when you share it with friends. The landscape around the lakes is beautiful and you can go swimming from your boat, some of them even have a slide. :D
Below, there’s again my city map so that you can better imagine where to find all the places I introduced above. :)
If you are exploring Potsdam by bike, I can absolutely recommend a
certain route: start at the central station and ride north-east along
the Havel towards Park Babelsberg. On the northern side of this park,
there’s a bridge over the Griebnitzsee and you can then head west over
the Glienicker Brücke and to the New Garden (= Neuer Garten) where there
are some great sights. Afterwards, drive through the northern part of
the city center and explore Park Sanssouci with all its interesting
buildings. By bike, this route will take you all day or a really long
If you are exploring the city by food, you can simply walk from the central station to the city center, have a look the the Dutch Quarter (= Holländisches Viertel), the Russian Quarter / Alexandrovka and Park Sanssouci.
So what do you think, will you soon go on a little journey to Potsdam? Which one is the place that excites you most? :)