South west of Berlin, Potsdam – once part of East Germany – is linked to Berlin via the Glienicker Brücke (Glienicke Bridge). Home to Prussian royalty in the 1700s, the Baroque Sanssouci Palace and gardens are the main attraction in town. The palace was lucky to remain completely unscathed during the Allied bombings that destroyed the city centre during World War II. Set aside at least half a day to explore the palace, grounds and excellent museum.
The palace, often called ‘Germany’s Versailles’, is not the only drawcard in Potsdam. The Old Town has numerous castles and ancient Roman ruins. Don’t miss the Dutch Quarter with its cobblestone streets and the Alexandrowka, a museum on the site of a former Russian colony. This city holds an important place in history as the site on which the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union met to portion up Germany after World War II had ended.
Potsdam is often featured on itineraries that explore the Elbe River – passengers are shuttled overland between a port destination such as Madgeburg and Potsdam.
Cruise ships docking at Magdeburg will arrive at Magdeburg pier on the Elbe River, right near the centre of the Altstadt (Od Town). The Hauptbahnhof (central train station) is a 20-minute walk from the pier. The transfer from Potsdam takes approximately one-and-a-half to two hours via bus or train.
The pier has no facilities of its own, but, as it lies next to Old Town, many facilities are a very short walk.
Facilities near the port in Magdeburg include:
- Tourist information centres
- Public toilets
- Restaurants and cafés
- Post office
How To Get Around
Potsdam is quite spread out, so the majority of attractions are not within walking distance of each other. The public transport system – a network of buses, trams, trains and even water taxis – is easy to use and an affordable way to get around the city. The 695 Bus connects the Old Town to Park Sanssouci. Tickets are purchased on buses and trams.
Travel times from the Potsdam Hauptbahnhof (the central train station):
- It is a 23 minute journey to Holländisches Viertel (The Dutch Quarter)
- It is a 37 minute journey to Schloss Sanssouci
- It is a 42 minute journey to Memorial Site Leistikowstrasse (KGB Prison).
- It is a 6 minute journey to Schloss Sanssouci
- It is a 7 minute journey to Holländisches Viertel (The Dutch Quarter)
- It is a 9 minute journey to Memorial Site Leistikowstrasse (KGB Prison).
- It is a 11 minute journey to Holländisches Viertel (The Dutch Quarter)
- It is a 20 minute journey to Schloss Sanssouci
- It is a 22 minute journey to Memorial Site Leistikowstrasse (KGB Prison).
Currency – The currency in Potsdam is the Euro (€). Notes come in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, and €500 denominations. Coins come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent and €1 and €2 denominations.
Time Zone – Potsdam is one hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), as it follows Central European Time (CET). From March to October only, during daylight savings time, Potsdam is two hours ahead of UTC.
Weather – Potsdam has a marine west coast climate, with relatively warm summers and cold winters for Germany. July is the hottest month in Potsdam, with an average temperature of 18.7 degrees Celsius. January is the coldest month, with an average high of only -0.5 degrees Celsius.
Schloss Sanssouci – The name Sanssouci translates as ‘without a care’, and this relaxed label sums up this grand building’s initial purpose as the summer resort for the Prussian king, Frederick the Great. Constructed in the mid-1700s, the Palace’s façade is ornate and dramatic with a large copper dome and elaborate Baroque statuary. The grand scale of the Palace and gardens is impressive; the intricately landscaped grounds cover 1.6 square kilometres! Listen to the audio-guide or join a guided tour to get the most out of your visit.
Memorial Site Leistikowstrasse (KGB Prison) – This former KGB prison (seized by the Soviets in 1945) is now a memorial to its inmates who suffered inhumane imprisonment and interrogation techniques. Prisoners were locked up for many charges including Nazi complicity, insubordination, espionage or desertion and were often tortured to elicit confessions, tried without a lawyer to defend them, then sent to Soviet work camps (Gulags) or executed. The haunting exhibitions include documents, photographs, interviews and even messages scratched into the cell walls in German and Russian that illustrate the suffering and isolation of the inmates. This memorial is a chilling reminder of the atrocities of the Cold War.
Holländisches Viertel (The Dutch Quarter) – In the Altstadt, you’ll find four blocks of distinctly Dutch red-brick houses with sweeping gables and shuttered windows. This quaint section of Potsdam is a great place to shop or to stop to indulge at one of the many excellent coffee houses and restaurants.