Berliners don’t like to be tourists in their own city. But, conveniently, there are Babelsberg and Potsdam. These towns are Disneyland for all Berliners who want to see a nice castle up close. There are as many castles as there are lakes. And neither seems wrong for a Sunday outing in the first place. A few weeks ago, we decided to check out a few of the highlights for you and write up a little tour for you.
We took the S-Bahn to Wannsee and then took the bus 316 which took us to Glienicker Lake. From there we walked over the park bridge Klein-Glienicke to the castle. You can also reach the castle on foot from the Potsdam Babelsberg S-Bahn station.
1. Highlight: Babelsberg Palace Park
To avoid any disappointments: Babelsberg Palace itself has been under renovation since 2013 and is far from open to the public. However, the facade and the park are already so heavily spruced up that one wonders whether they have simply rebuilt the entire castle again, as they did with the Berlin City Palace. From close up, the building honestly looks a bit fake. But the playful style mix of English Gothic, medieval nostalgia and pompous decor make the castle an eye-catcher. It doesn’t bother so much that the building is rather the size of a large country house (at least for the prince who wanted the castle from his daddy back then). You can imagine how the architect had his troubles with the bitchy clients and somehow the building still has a slightly bitchy touch and stylistic indecision.
A walk or bike ride through the lovingly landscaped park, which unfolds in many small winding paths, is definitely fun. The view from the palace park to the Glienicke Bridge and over the whole of Potsdam is also great.
2. Highlight: Glienicke Palace Park and Casino
Back to the starting point of the tour, you can also directly see the Glienicke Palace Park. When we walked through the park and stood in front of the main building our first feeling was: here it is like in Florence. And indeed, the architecture of Glienicke Palace is modeled after an Italian villa. Here, too, the motto is: stroll through the palace park and marvel at the facades: no problem. Entering the palace: unfortunately not possible until further notice. The palace’s greenhouses, which now also house a court gardening museum, are impressive. The terrace of the casino with its beautiful pergolas is also really magnificent.
3. Highlight: Blockhouse Nikolskoe and St. Peter & Paul Church
Either you leave the park again through the entrance gate to continue walking along the banks of the Havel River, or you continue walking through Glienicke Park until you pass a large gate and come across the Havel River again. There you can continue walking and either take a break at the inn Moorlake or walk up to the beautiful log house Nikolskoe and eat or drink something with a view of the Wannsee. The house was built in 1819 in the style of a Russian farmhouse and really has a unique charm. In the same Russian style is St. Peter and Paul Church right next to it. From this one also has a beautiful view of the Wannsee and it is a little romantic there too. Not that I want to get married religiously, but there I wouldn’t say no almost.
4. Highlight: Peacock Island
The big final highlight of our tour was a visit to Peacock Island. For this, you just have to walk along the Havel river until you get to the ferry. Here the motto really is: Disney-land kitsch meets Prussian extravagance. But also the name of the island is to be understood literally. Testosterone-driven male peacocks draw there their courses and attract attention with their tail feathers. Personally, I find the water buffaloes, which graze the island like a natural lawnmower, somewhat cuter. The island can be reached by ferry, which leaves about every 15 minutes. In summer the island is open until 18.00. In winter only until 16.00. The scenery of the island also inspires a decadent picnic. There you can play princess for a moment and pretend you were born in another time.
Conclusion of the tour:
From here on, there are several options to get back to civilization. Either you decide to continue walking along the banks of the Havel River until you arrive back at Wannsee S-Bahn station. This is a rather sporty tour from start to finish. If you want to shorten it a bit, you can walk up Nikolskoer Weg until you get back to Königstraße and take bus 316 back.
Generally, we experienced this tour on foot. But you can also do the tour by bike, then it is less strenuous and it goes faster.
The route is especially beautiful on not so overly hot days. Then you would probably prefer to go to the lakes. You can get inspiration for this in our lake guide.