A fantastic day trip away from the German capital of Berlin has to be visiting the nearby town of Potsdam. When Olga and I explored this city, we actually found one day in Potsdam is not enough to do everything so we headed to the main area where a lot of visitors go, Sanssouci Park, which can be done in one day. This is our guide on how to plan an excellent day at the park and make the visit an enjoyable one.
From the windmill which is the best place to start from, we took the short walk to where the New Chambers (Neue Kammern von Sanssouci) are located. The building was originally built as the orangery but when King Frederick the Great was here, he ordered the building to be converted into the guest palace. As he wanted to impress his guests, the building contains seven private suites and four ceremonial halls. The decor is simply amazing, especially seeing a lot of jewels and gold used in a lot of the design. The thing that got me was the building from the outside looks bland and boring but inside, it just wowed me. For example, two of the rooms were completely lined with wood paneling whilst other rooms had a lot of paintings of Potsdam which were produced in the 18th century. Visiting the New Chambers is a great way of starting a trip here to Sanssouci Park.
After checking out the New Chambers, we walked around the beautiful Nordischer Garden, Sizilianischer Garden, and along the paths through the woodland. We also saw the Orangery Palace which is one of the largest palaces in the park and built by Frederick William IV. However the day we visited, the palace was closed to the public.
We headed eastwards along the avenue known as Hauptallee where we saw the Sanssouci Palace. This is one of the highlights to check out in the park and one of the most beautiful palaces we have come across in Central Europe. Our favourite viewpoint is standing at the fountain and looking north. The palace is perched on top of a small hill and has vineyard terraces going down the hillside. Such a beautiful view.
The palace was used by Frederick the Great (who ruled the Kingdom of Prussia from 1740 to 1786 to which most of modern day Germany comes under the former Kingdom), and he used this as his summer residence and in difficult times, a sanctuary. Whilst he was here, he wanted to grow and produce plums, figs and wine (hence the vineyard terrace). Frederick the Great’s tomb can also be found near the palace.
Quite some time later the park’s garden had been redesigned and expanded by Frederick William IV of Prussia. He didn’t like the baroque style garden and wanted to bring a bit of Italy to his country. Not only the park was redesigned but also other buildings such as the Orangery, Roman Baths and Charlottenhof Palace were built within the grounds.
To the east of the palace is the Sanssouci Picture Gallery (Bildergalerie von Sanssouci), where this building houses a lot of artwork from across Europe. We do like art but don’t get us wrong, when we visit art galleries around the world, we don’t stand at each picture for about five minutes, gathering thoughts. However we were doing this here, gathering thoughts, looking at all the fine details in the pictures. This place should not be skipped.
After the picture gallery and checking out the rest of the garden in front of the Sanssouci Palace, we took the long walk westwards back along the Hauptallee to the New Palace (Neues Palais). The palace took six years to build and was in use from 1769. The New palace is the largest building in Sanssouci Park and probably the most impressive one on my visit. We love the detail in the brickwork from the outside and the black dome on top which has a lot of ‘M’s embedded into the design.
The palace was used by guests a lot and held celebrations and other parties (as we called it) in the Grotto Hall, Marble Hall and the palace theater. The other rooms are mostly apartments for guests. However the King of Prussia never used the New Palace as his living quarters, however the last German emperor did use the palace as his residence, William II.
Other places of interest in the UNESCO World Heritage Listed park are the Charlottenhof Palace, Roman Baths, Chinese House and the Norman Tower. As we said at the start of this post, we would recommend a whole day doing the park and the palaces. The park is a great place for walking, chilling out and for me personally, enjoying the silence. Even though there were quite a few visitors walking around the park, it did feel like there was nobody there which we totally loved. Not too crowded. We were pretty shattered at the end of the day and were really happy to get a good meaty meal with a beer when we returned to Berlin. My best bit of advice is to make sure you have good and comfortable walking shoes. Also make sure there is plenty of charge in the camera batteries, this place has a lot of picture-happy-snappy moments.
How to get to Potsdam & tickets - Potsdam is fairly easy to get to by road and rail from Berlin. We reached the town by rail and took a train from Alexanderplatz (but other central stations in Berlin which serve Potsdam are: Ostbahnhof, Friedrichstraße, Hauptbahnhof, Tiergarten and Zoologischer Garten. From the train station, Sanssouci Park is a short bus journey away (bus stops are found outside the train station) and takes visitors to the main entrance where the ticket offices are located (known as the Mill due to the nearby windmill). The entry tickets for the palaces are €12 for adults and €8 for children but the parks and gardens are free to enter (to which they are open at 0800 and closes at dusk). However during busiest times of the year, it maybe quicker and easier to buy the tickets for the palaces online at HERE. Also one thing to remember is that the palaces are closed on Mondays (the garden’s are still open).
Accommodation: There are a lot of accommodation options and a lot of websites which can do some great deals. My first point of call is always Booking.com and can offer a range of hostels, hotels, campsites, apartments, guesthouses, bed and breakfasts and they can also be booked up on my website (just go to the right hand side of the screen). After that I always have a look through AirBnb for great deals on apartments and other lodgings especially when traveling as a family.
Currency: Germany uses the Euro currency and there are plenty of ATM machines in Potsdam centre as well as currency exchanges nearby or in Berlin itself. Everywhere accepts credit and debit cards as well. Just check on what rates your bank will offer or for hidden fees.
Language: It’s Germany, so its German (Deutsch). However a lot of the younger people do speak English for international business.
Flying into this area? Then I would recommend using Skyscanner to find flights as that is my first point of call. Then if necessary use the airlines directly to find a good deal. I sometimes use Momondo as well to compare prices before booking.
Travel insurance: Need insurance? Safety Wing offers coverage for a lot of adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and so forth. I never travel without travel insurance. I highly recommend them for those who need travel insurance.
Need a visa for Germany? Always check if you need a visa when coming to Germany, especially for those who come from outside Europe. If your a citizen of a European Union country or EEC, you do not need a visa as Germany is part of the Schengen zone.
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