A symbol of a unified Germany, Potsdamer Platz in central Berlin was once a busy square with a major railway station. Second World War bombings completely destroyed it and then the Berlin Wall divided it, before being redeveloped into a thriving social and cultural hub.
Potsdamer Platz was a trading post before developing into a thriving area with numerous restaurants and beer halls. WWII allied air raids reduced the square and much of the surrounding area to rubble, and in 1961, the Berlin Wall was built right across it.
In 1989, the wall came down, and the area was redeveloped into an entertainment complex and stands as a symbol of a new Berlin. Now, it’s home to restaurants, cinemas, theaters, and fashionable shops. Highlights include the Sony Center with its futuristic tent-like roof, the Kollhoff Tower with panoramic views of Berlin, and the Legoland Discovery Centre, always a hit with kids. Many city tours—on foot, by bike, and via vehicle—stop at Potsdamer Platz, one of Berlin’s most famous locations.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A metal strip set into the paving stones traces the former path of the Berlin Wall.
- The Berlinale film festival is held at Potsdamer Platz every February.
- Scan the QR code on the giant “digital cobblestone” in front of the Deutsche Bahn Tower to access an interactive tour of the square.
- In winter, the square holds a “winter wonderland” with ice rink, curling, toboggan run, and apres-ski cabin.
- Weinhaus Huth is the only prewar building left in the square.
How to Get There
Potsdamer Platz is in the center of Berlin, near the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate. You can get here via car (there is underground car parking at the square), as part of a private tour, as part of a group bike tour, or even in your own mini hot rod car that can be hired for the day. The closest metro station is Berlin Potsdamer Platz Bahnhof on the S Bahn.
When to Get There
Potsdamer Platz is a public square and is open 24 hours a day. Shops, bars, restaurants, and attractions found in the square have different opening hours, so check times before visiting any site.
Checkpoint Charlie Museum
Checkpoint Charlie Museum containing several devices, including a hot air balloon used by East Berliners to escape the Communist regime, offers a fascinating look at Cold War–era Berlin. The museum was established shortly after the Berlin Wall was built and stood next to its namesake military checkpoint gate to peacefully resist the city’s divisions.