The Most Instagrammable Places in Potsdam

The Most Instagrammable Places in Potsdam
This post on the most Instagrammable places in Potsdam may contain affiliate links. These are products or services I personally would have created if they didn’t already exist! At no extra cost to you, they help me earn a bit of coffee money.

Where are the most Instagrammable places in Potsdam?

Since I covered the most instagrammable places in Berlin in a recent post, I thought it was only fair to share my take on Potsdam’s insta-worthy spots, too. You may have to look a bit further, past the grit, to find Berlin’s beauty in a typical sense. But this neighbouring city more than makes up for Berlin’s urban chaos. In fact, Potsdam is often referred to as the city of palaces and gardens, as it was a favourite summer spot for Prussian royalty. If you’re looking for the most instagrammable places in Potsdam for your next visit, read on!

  1. Ruinenberg

Head to Ruinenberg for something off the beaten path. This lesser-known Potsdam attraction is set on a small hill, not far from Sanssouci Palace. Here, you will find imitations of Roman ruins commissioned by an 18th century Prussian king. As was fashion back then, the king decided to recreate his own small segment of ancient Rome on his expansive lands. Today’s visitors, therefore, can enjoy a stroll back both in time and space. Ruinenberg is easily accessible on foot, bike, or by public transport. Potsdam Hauptbahnhof is about 4 km away.

2. Marquardt

After exploring Ruinenberg, you can hop on the bus and venture over to the next hidden gem in Potsdam: Marquardt. Marquardt is one of those small Brandenburg villages that only locals know about, and therefore, has retained a certain traditional charm.

Marquardt first appearing in local records as a 9th century fishermen’s village on the banks of the Schlanitzsee. The village itself is very walkable, with a kilometre-long trail along the Sacrow-Paretzer Canal, an expansive park dotted with lily pad ponds, and an ivy-clad castle.

The regional train RB21 will take you right back to Potsdam Hauptbahnhof once an hour, with rush-hour services going as far as Friedrichstraße in Berlin.

3. Schloss Babelsberg

From Roman ruins to British-inspired castles, Potsdam has it all. One of the most instagrammable places in Potsdam is, without a doubt, Schloss Babelsberg. The Palace was built in 1835 by King William I of Prussia. Today, it is a museum, but the general public can amble around the grounds at no cost. The palace is surrounded by a large park of the same name and borders the Havel River. After taking one look at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, I was already imagining knights in shining armour.

one of the most instagrammable places in Potsdam

4. Belvedere on the Pfingstberg

Different kings had different tastes – and the funds to build the palaces of their dreams. So the Belvedere on the Pfingstberg, commissioned in 1847, took on a mix of Greek, Roman and Italian Renaissance flair. This palace is also about 4 km from Potsdam’s main train station, and not far from the famous Bridge of Spies, where East and West armies infamously exchanged hostages during the Cold War era.

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5. Schloss Sanssouci

No guide to the most instagrammable places in Potsdam would be complete without mentioning Sanssouci, the iconic Rococo-style palace and grounds famous well beyond the city limits. Sanssouci literally means no worries in French, which was the trendy international language back in 1745. The palace was Frederick the Great’s summer residence, and the German answer to Versailles. The grounds extend far, far beyond the main palace, and walking trails lead to many other smaller pavilions, lakes and vineyards.

6. Orangerie

One such pavilion is the Orangerie, slightly removed from the main stage that is Sanssouci. On a warm, sunny day, you will definitely feel miles away from Central Europe. Rather, a visit to the Orangerie is like a hop over to the Mediterranean coast. With palm trees and summer vibes, there is no better spot in Potsdam to sooth that feeling of fernweh. So if you’re already at Schloss Sanssouci, don’t miss the Orangerie.

one of the most instagrammable places in Potsdam

7. Marmorpalais

If you aren’t tired of palaces yet, you can snap some more shots at the Marmorpalais, an elegant home once belonging to Hohenzollern royalty. This smaller palace is at the edge of Heiliger See, around which many German and international celebrities have taken up residence. A short walk away stands Cecilienhof, where the allies decided much of Europe’s fate after World War II.

One of the most instagrammable places in Potsdam

8. Potsdam Innenstadt & Brandenburger Straße

This post focuses a lot on palaces, but Potsdam’s core is equally charming. Endless colourful streets are brimming with shops, bakeries and cafes. Potsdam is far from a tourist centre. As you wander around, you will see many locals going about their business. If you don’t have hours for aimless browsing, make sure you do walk up the pedestrian Brandenburger Straße, which leads to Potsdam’s own Brandenburger Gate.

Get a more in-depth look at Potsdam

It can be nice to explore Potsdam on a guided tour. Here are a few hand-picked options, covering the history of the castles mentioned in this post.

Of the most Instagrammable places in Potsdam, is there a winner?

In my opinion, it is very difficult to crown a single sight as the most Instagrammable place in Potsdam. Although there are several very strong contenders! But when you live next to a picture-perfect city, all you can do is visit, over and over again, and keep discovering new spots every time.

Will you check out the most Instagrammable places in Potsdam? Let me know in the comments.

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Warnemünde Day Trip: 15 Km of White Sandy Beaches

Warnemünde Day Trip: 15 Km of White Sandy Beaches

This Warnemünde day trip post contains affiliate links to products or offers I know you’ll love. These help me earn some coffee money and keep the blog going, at no charge to you.

A Warnemünde day trip may be the unexpected highlight of your summer.

I spent 3 years in Germany without knowing that, just 2.5 hours from Berlin, I can get a proper beach experience. Having lived in Australia and grown up partially in the South of France, I’m a little bit of a beach snob. So when I heard Germans praising the Baltic Sea, I kind of shrugged it off. Until I went on a Warnemünde day trip, almost by accident. I was planning to go to Rostock, and figured I would check out the coastal town, some 20 minutes away by train. Turns out I spent much more time in Warnemünde than Rostock. Here’s why!

Warnemünde Day Trip

Warnemünde history & overview

Warnemünde’s story goes back to the 13th century, but the quiet fishing village only became a sought-after resort town in the 1800s. Aristocrats from across Germany began flocking to the coast for their summer holidays, paving the way for local tourism that even the communist era could not dampen. Today, Warnemünde is still primarily a hotspot for German tourists, although international cruise liners have added this port to their itinerary.

Some people may think cruise stop, and right away, assume the worst. Crowded streets, dirty, touristy, overpriced. But I discovered a stylish, chic village that seems to be a mix of cobblestone lanes, cute beach houses, and cross-streets where locals live, with lots of parks and green spaces.

Maybe because of Corona, or because early June is not yet peak season, the village was relatively quiet. And spotless! I was surprised at just how clean every street was. As always, however, during peak season, I would recommend getting to town as early as possible in the day to avoid said cruise traffic.

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Alexandrinenstrasse, Warnemünde, early in the morning.

What can you do in Warnemünde?

Go to the beach! Bring your beach gear and head for the waterfront. If you arrive by train as I did, do not walk towards the water that you see when you get out of the station. This is an industrial port, and the strip of land does not have any bridges, so you’ll have to walk all the way back. Thinking I could wing it without Google Maps, I made this mistake and lost a good half hour! Instead, make sure you cross Bahnhofsbrücke. This is the only bridge connecting the train station to the town and beach. To access the beach, walk through the village towards the lighthouse (this is well-indicated).

Rent an iconic StrandkorbHoliday in true German style and hire a Strandkorb, (which literally translates to beach basket). On top of being so cute, these covered boxes protect from the sun without taking away from the view, and provide a seat for the day for about 11€. The Strandkorb was invented in Warnemünde back in the mid-1800s and stuck, now a true part of any Ostsee holiday. These seats can be rented from one of the many stands lining the shore.

Introducing the Strandkorb, a Warnemünde invention.

Explore the sand dunes. Yes, real sand dunes make up the easternmost side of the beach, closest to the lighthouse. Dig your toes into the fine white sand and spend as long as you’d like listening to the sound of the waves. The sand dunes are a bit removed from the immediate action-packed waterfront, affording the impression of total privacy.

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Warnemünde sand dunes.

Go for a walk or bike ride. Warnemünde is at the edge of a 15 km stretch of white sand, the longest uninterrupted strip in Germany. If you have time, wander as far as your feet can carry you, leaving most holidaymakers and Strandkorb behind. It is also possible to rent a bike in town, although many people choose to bring their own. (Cyclists are welcome on the Deutsche Bahn in certain carriages).

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Try a water sport or fly a kite. Warnemünde is a great spot for water sports of all kinds. Rent a kayak, stand up paddle board, or canoe, and explore the waters close to shore. The wind conditions are also (often) optimal for flying kites and kite surfing.

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Your Warnemünde day trip may include flying a kite!

Insider Tip: If you plan to visit Warnemünde often, you can get a Beach Card (seasonal pass) and receive up to 20% off the price of water sports gear. For more info, take a look at the Paddelcenter’s website (in German).

Go to the spa. Maybe being active isn’t your goal on holiday. In that case, why not treat yourself to a massage or facial? There are several spas in town, including one in the beachfront Neptun hotel. I did not have enough time to book a spa treatment, but it will be on my list for next time!

Eat a Fischbrötchen. Warnemünde’s Alter Strom, a man-made strait leading to the open water, is lined by cafes on one side, and boats selling fresh seafood and fish on the other. Soak up the lively port-side atmosphere as you refuel. I love Fischbrötchen in general, but there is something special about eating one so close to the sea.

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Fishing boats docked in Warnemünde’s Alte Strom.

Tour a cruise ship. While cruise ship guests disembark to wander around Warnemünde, we have the option to hop aboard and see what cruise life is all about. The major cruise liner AIDA runs half-day tours + lunch on deck. Get a taste for life at sea, and take some pictures of Warnemünde from new angles.

 

Snap away! Along the beachfront and in town, Warnemünde boasts its fair share of scenic spots. As you know, I’m an avid Instagrammer, so the next section of this post focuses on picture-taking!

Where to get the best pictures in Warnemünde?

For all of my Instagrammers out there, don’t worry: Warnemünde has many scenic spots. In fact, almost the entire town is Instagram-worthy.

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Who else is a fan of these houses on Alexandrinenstraße?

I got my favourite shots along Alexandrinenstraße. This is one of the oldest streets in Warnemünde, where houses are a little more than a meter apart, giving way to lanes so narrow you might even miss them. The original half-timbered houses, once homes to fishermen, have now been refurbished and are usually up for holiday rental. All the same, they retain the character of yesteryear.

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Pretty as a picture (Alexandrinenstraße).

If you like colourful buildings and sidewalk dining, Kirchenplatz is lined by shops and cafes and also worth a wander around.

Getting to Warnemünde from Berlin

It is surprisingly easy to get to Warnemünde from Berlin. There is a direct train every couple of hours from Berlin’s central station. What’s more, I stumbled upon a little trick. In Rostock, I switched trains and took the local S-Bahn the last 20 minutes of the way to Warnemünde, saving around 10€ on the total fare. The S-Bahn takes no more time than the ICE for the last leg of the journey.

Is a Warnemünde day trip worth it?

A Warnemünde day trip is worth it, yes! But honestly, it may not be sufficient. In a day, you can pack in 2 or 3 of the above activities, but if you’d like to venture further down the shore, tour a cruise ship or do some water sports, it might be best to book a couple of nights in town. Of course, if you’d just like to bask in the sun and escape the city, a Warnemünde day trip will do the trick – until the seaside calls you back!



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Hiking in Saxon Switzerland: Pfaffenstein Day Trip

Hiking in Saxon Switzerland: Pfaffenstein Day Trip

Berlin Day Trip Inspiration: Hiking the Pfaffenstein in Saxon Switzerland

Last year, I had the opportunity to spend 6 months in Switzerland, and although I missed Berlin and ultimately decided to come back to Germany, this small country’s majestic beauty struck me. Now I know that, if I long for the Alps, a Pfaffenstein day trip is just the right medicine.

Last weekend, with lockdown regulations loosening up, we discovered Switzerland’s lookalike in Germany. Actually, we were planning to visit another mountain range in the area. But our plans changed at the last minute, and, serendipitously, we ended up in the Sächsische Schweiz, trekking up the sand stone mountain Pfaffenstein.

On top of the world! We successfully climbed the Pfaffenstein.

Saxon Switzerland in Brief

Saxon Switzerland is a mountain range in the state of Saxony, only 2.5 hours from Berlin and 30 minutes from Dresden. Human activity in these mountains dates back 3000 years. As of the Middle Ages, several trading routes crossed through the range, which explains the presence of fortresses. Several of these fortifications remain intact and can be visited today.

Why Go On a Saxon Switzerland Day Trip? 

Call me good old-fashioned smitten, but since getting back to Berlin, I can’t stop thinking about my day trip, and I’m already plotting to go back. In no particular order, here are the main reasons why you, too, should visit Saxon Switzerland and Pfaffenstein:

  1. The views are simply spectacular
  2. It actually looks like Switzerland
  3. You can skip your workout the next day
  4. Hiking meets adventure
  5. Nature meets history
  6. You’ll have plenty of trail choices
  7. When you’re done hiking, explore traditional villages
  8. Easily get to Saxon Switzerland from Berlin
  9. Go solo or take a tour – experience Saxon Switzerland your way!

1. The Views

As you’ll know from my last post on the most Instagrammable spots in Berlin, I’m always looking for new scenery to shoot. And Pfaffenstein provided new material in spades. From narrow pathways between boulders to sweeping cliff-top views over rapeseed fields, there was natural beauty at every turn of our 3-hour hike. I could write more on this topic, but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll leave the rest up to these shots.

2.  A Swiss Lookalike

If you’ve been to Switzerland, you’ll remember the rolling hills and lush pastures, the rugged Alps and wooden chalets. While the peaks aren’t as high, the Saxon landscape is shockingly similar. As an added bonus, if you’re coming from Berlin, you can skip the long drive.

Saxon Switzerland

3. Skip Your Next Workout

Hiking up the Pfaffenstein is not easy, but the views and experience make it worthwhile. To reach the top you don’t actually have so many steps to count, but the way up is steep. As someone who works out 3 to 4 times a week, I was surprised at just how tough it was. (Although, in all fairness, I was recuperating from a mild knee injury). But with a good workout comes the post-workout high, and this trek definitely got my adrenaline pumping. Objectively, I’d say climbing Pfaffenstein is quite manageable for people with a moderate fitness level.

4. Hiking Meets Adventure

As you make your way towards the summit, don’t just expect a pebbly path. Instead, the hike up Pfaffenstein consists of narrow, 1-person width passageways between boulders. Sometimes, the way up is so steep that ladders replace stairs. Of course, there is an even more adventurous way to reach the top: Pfaffenstein is a top rock climbing destination in Saxony.

5. Nature Meets History

As you reach the Pfaffenstein plateau, you’ll have unknowingly witnessed over 3000 years of human culture. Over time, archeologists unearthed many ancient artefacts and tools, from ceramic pots to axes. Although I only found this out researching the blog post – and am now frustrated I missed it – you can still see a 200 meter-long Bronze Age rampart not far from the Bequemer Aufstieg trail. Something for next time!

The oldest man-made construction I stumbled upon on Pfaffenstein.

6. Trails for All Fitness Levels

If you’ve gotten somewhat intimated by my description of the trek up Pfaffenstein, don’t be! Your Pfaffenstein day trip can be as relaxed or as intense as you like. As we only found out on the way down, there are actually two ways to reach the summit. The easy trail is conveniently labeled Bequemer Aufstieg, or Comfortable Climb. For your own orientation, here is a map of Pfaffenstein.

The more comfortable way up, passing by rapeseed fields.

7. Cute, Rustic Villages Abound

After you finish your hike, unwind in the village of Königstein at the base of the mountain. Set on the banks of the majestic Elbe, the colourful town is filled with quaint shops, cobblestone streets, ice cream parlours and cafes. A small, tributary river cuts through the village to meet the Elbe, its many bridges adorned with hanging flower pots, also very much in Swiss alpine style.

8. Easily Access Pfaffenstein from Berlin

Drive directly to the Pfaffenstein base from Berlin in just over 2.5 hours. Alternately, if you fancy an extra bit of exercise, you can park your car in Königstein and walk up to the Pfaffenstein base, which adds 45 minutes to your hike. If you’d rather take public transport, a mix of ICE and S-bahn service takes you to Königstein in roughly 3 hours. If you catch the 7.16 am ECE train, departing Berlin Central Station, you can even make it to Königstein in 2.5 hours.

9. Self-Guided and Group Tours Take You Further

Update: some of this blog’s followers have asked me recently if there were any Saxon Switzerland guided tours. I did a bit of digging, and yes, there are! You can either make your way to Pirna or Bad Schandau yourself, or join a guided tour departing Dresden. Here a few standout options:

 

Will You Go on a Pfaffenstein Day Trip?

As you can see, there is really no excuse not to go on a Pfaffenstein day trip! Has this blog post convinced you? Let me know in the comments, and happy hiking!

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