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Potsdam borders Berlin and was once the residence of the Prussian kings. But the Brandenburg state capital is still not Berlin's little sister. It has its own beat, is framed by bathing lakes and the Havel River. Its cultural treasures are world-famous. And its lifestyle is international, green, water-loving and relaxed. Nine tips to get to know Potsdam better.


Walk through the Dutch Quarter

Narrow brick houses with white mullioned windows and curved gables. Bicycles are parked everywhere, there are small cafés, ice cream stores, green backyards, special stores and galleries. The Dutch Quarter is located in the middle of the city and was built in the 18th century. It was planned by Frederick William I, who knew and loved Dutch culture. The small quarter at Bassinplatz is nice for strolling and looking around. And the central shopping district with Brandenburgische Strasse and Gutenbergstrasse is also within walking distance.


Canoe trip to the city

Potsdam has many lakes suitable for swimming (Tiefer See, Heiliger See, Templiner See) - and most of them are even connected. You discover them depending on the weather and mood with the White fleet, rents a Raft or borrows Canoes or SUP boards out. If you are traveling with a self-driven vehicle, you can anchor in small bays, go swimming and let the skyline of St. Nikolai and Hans Otto Theater pass you by. Feels like a little summer vacation ... and you will also meet many Potsdamers on the way. Because they also like to be on the water in their free time.


Bike tour through the palace parks

New Garden, Marble Palace, Peace Church, Cecilienhof, Park Babelsberg - Potsdam's famous Castles, monuments and parks are all part of the UNESCO world cultural heritage. The best way to conquer them is by bike. Walks are also appealing, but for a first impression and overview, the bicycle is simply the best option because your radius is larger. A varied tour leads, for example, from the Griebnitzsee train station, where you can Rent wheels through the villa colony Neubabelsberg to Klein Glienicke, then over the Glienicke Bridge in the direction of Cecilienhof Palace and the Marble Palace. On the way back, you can cycle through Babelsberg Park. It is better to explore Sanssouci Park on foot, preferably on weekdays. Then it is quite quiet there even in nice weather. By the way, the parks do not charge an entrance fee. 


Art enjoyment at the Museum Barberini

Potsdam's new art museum is located in the city center, directly at the Alter Markt. The reconstruction of the palace and the museum were donated by SAP founder and patron Hasso Plattner. Since its opening in 2017, the house has been showing major international exhibitions. Many works from Plattner's collection, which focuses on GDR art, post-1989 art and impressionist works, are also on display.


On set at Filmpark Babelsberg

Stunt shows, animal training demonstrations, 4D cinema and original film sets from movies shot in Potsdam - the Babelsberg Film Park directly at the Babelsberg film studio is an amusement park that offers families lots of entertainment and exciting glimpses behind the scenes of the film business. The Berlin Wall from the film Baader Meinhof Complex or the construction trailer from Dandelion? You can take a look there. A highlight is the visit to the GZSZ outdoor set. Tip: The Film Museum in the Marstall of the Potsdam Palace in the city center is dedicated to film history with a focus on Babelsberg and regularly shows special films.


Visit to the Russian Colony Alexandrovka

A trip around the world in the middle of Potsdam: North of the city center, you can take a short trip to rural Russia: There, you'll find 13 wooden houses built in 1826 in the Russian style at the request of Frederick William III - and they're still quite normally inhabited. The complex once served as a home for the Russian singers of the first Prussian Guard Regiment. One of the houses is now a museum about the Russian colony Alexandrovka. And in the House Alexandrovka 1 is a small café with Russian specialties. There you can taste delicious borscht, drink Russian beer or test whether you will become fans of solyanka or pelmeni. Pelmeni, by the way, are a kind of dumplings traditionally served with a meat or a mushroom-potato filling. And yes - the tone there is sometimes rough, but always warm as well.


Collect goals

Take a look at all three city gates in Potsdam right now. At Luisenplatz, the city has its own little Brandenburg Gate. There is also the Jägertor. Extra tip: On Wednesdays and Saturdays, stalls with all kinds of goodies and handicrafts are set up around the Nauener Tor - a Potsdam landmark. Handmade dumplings, vegetables from the region or fine sausage specialties? Everything is available. Things are a bit more cozy and rustic at Babelsberg's weekly market on Weberplatz, which is held every Saturday.


Hike to the Belvedere viewpoint

One of the most beautiful views of Potsdam can be enjoyed from the Belvedere on the 76-meter-high Pfingstberg. The Belvedere is a rather unique complex with two towers - ultimately a 19th-century palace that was never finished and was built on the models of the Italian Renaissance. And a place with a special aura. Belvedere is located on a hill with trees and was not accessible in GDR times. Because from the top you could look over the border fortifications all the way to West Berlin. Tip: Experience a reading or a concert at Belvedere. Then the atmosphere there is doubly magical. 


Remembering history at the Glienicke Bridge

If you want to experience an important historical scene, stand on the Glienicke Bridge, which connects Potsdam and the Berlin district of Wannsee. During the Cold War, it was closed most of the time and was opened only for the exchange of spies from East and West. The Hollywood flick Bridge of Spies, starring Tom Hanks in one of the main roles, was partly filmed there - the Babelsberg film studio was co-producer of Steven Spielberg's movie. From the bridge you have a beautiful view of Babelsberg Park with its castle and of Lake Jungfernsee. Extra tip: Just a few meters from the bridge is the Villa SchöningenIn addition to an exhibition on the eventful history of the building, interesting exhibitions of contemporary art are shown here on a regular basis.
By the way, you can find tips on how to travel comfortably and inexpensively on long-distance and local trains with Deutsche Bahn here.

Cover picture: Marble Palace in the New Garden © Shutterstock/Mario Hagen

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