Famous as a city of peace, Brandenburg's capital is a beautiful place. Made the center of Frederick the Great's Prussian empire, Potsdam features gorgeous palaces, parks, and fine museums within its UNESCO-protected core.
The crown jewel of Frederick the Great's military state, the 18th-century palace of Sanssouci is a masterpiece, with gorgeous interiors and breathtaking gardens.
1945's Potsdam conference saw the post-war order taking shape, as Stalin, Truman, and Churchill ended the war against Germany. See where the discussions took place at the Cecilienhof Palace.
Visit the splendid Bildergalerie, which was lovingly assembled by Frederick the Great and houses works by masters like Caravaggio, Rubens, and van Dyck.
In the 1920s, Potsdam was one of the centers of cinema. Find out why at the Filmmuseum, which commemorates the famous UFA studio, where masters like Fritz Lang learned their trade.
Potsdam has plenty to see and do, but the world-class nightlife, shopping, and attractions of Berlin are a short drive or train ride away as well.
The greatest creation of 18th-century Prussian ruler Frederick the Great, Sanssouci is one of the most beautiful palaces in the world. "Sanssouci" itself means "without cares", reflecting Frederick's desire for a retreat where he could think, write, and compose music. For modern visitors, the Rococo exterior, ornate chambers, stunning gardens, and sense of playfulness that Frederick ordered have the same effect: transporting you to another world - a world of leisure, luxury and contentment. Packed with paintings and curiosities (including rooms where the philosopher Voltaire once slept), Sanssouci is a seductive, unmissable sight.
Back in the city center, Nauener Tor was one of 18th-century Potsdam's main entrances. Built at about the same time as Sanssouci in the 1750s, the gateway has a completely different look, taking its cue from English Gothic, not Rococo decoration. You can climb the towers and admire the architecture, but the surrounding area is just as attractive. Once the city's Dutch Quarter, the neighborhood is full of enticing restaurants, hosts a twice-weekly produce market, and has a totally unique architectural feel thanks to the rows of Dutch houses built to attract craftsmen from the Low Countries.
Just northeast of Potsdam by the Glienicker Lake, you'll come across Babelsberg - the summer home of Kaiser Wilhelm I (who ruled Germany after independence in 1871). The palace is a beautiful English Gothic creation, with crenellated towers and Tudor-style windows, but it's the gardens that stand out. Full of gorgeous mosaics, landscaped lakes and flower beds, the grounds are crowned by the Flatowturm - a tower that soars 46 meters above the park, providing unrivaled views of the palace and the lake beyond.
Potsdam hasn't just been the home of emperors and kings. It was also the home of scientists - most notably Albert Einstein, who - among many other things - discovered relativity. Einstein actually made his summer home in Caputh, a few miles south of the city, and you can visit his modest log cabin-style home to find out how the great man lived between 1929 and 1932. When you do, you'll find the rooms kept in pristine condition, with informative exhibits about his work, and the circumstances that caused him to leave as the Nazis came to power.
Only around 800 meters west of Sanssouci, the Neues Palais is also a must-see attraction when you're in western Potsdam. Built in the 1750s, this UNESCO World Heritage site is far grander and larger than its cousin on the other side of the park. Constructed to celebrate Prussian military prowess, it was Frederick's attempt to wow visiting dignitaries with his taste and wealth (although he preferred to live at Sanssouci). Prepare for a feast of golden decorations, fine art, and magnificent furnishings - and don't miss the theater, which still hosts regular performances.
In general, summer is the best time to visit Potsdam (June through August), but the historical attractions are just as magical out of season.
Visitors can fly into Berlin Tegel (TXL). From there, take the X9 bus to Zoologischer Garten, and catch a train to Potsdam. In total, the journey takes around 90 minutes. Alternatively, taxis will cost around EUR60.
S-Bahn trains run directly from Berlin's Hackescher Markt to Potsdam's Hauptbahnhof (44 minutes, around EUR7.70).
If you are driving from central Berlin, just take the A1 straight to Potsdam.
Potsdam has some exceptional accommodation options, including the Hotel Brandenburger Tor, the Steigenberger Hotel, and the Wyndham Garden.
Innenstadt - home to treasures like Nikolaikirche and the Old Market, Innenstadt is a UNESCO-protected medieval gem.
Babelsberg - Babelsberg runs alongside the stunning Tiefer See and is home to the Babelsberg Studio - a seminal site in cinema history.
Brandenburger Vorstadt - just west of the old city, this area is most famous for Sanssouci and the iconic Brandenburger Tor (gate).
Buses and trains in Potsdam are operated by VBB. Fare prices vary, but an adult single will usually be around EUR1.80.
Expect Potsdam's taxis to charge around EUR3.50 for the meter drop, followed by EUR2.50 per mile.
Car rental options in Potsdam include Europcar, Enterprise, and Avis, and you can find deals for as little as EUR15 per day.
The Holländisches Viertel just north of Innenstadt is a good place to hunt for boutique apparel and antiques, while department stores and drug stores can be found on main streets like Lindenstraße.
Supermarkets in Potsdam include REWE and Prima, where 12 eggs will cost about EUR1.80.
Great food is easy to come by in Potsdam. If you want an excellent German feast, try Drachenhaus in Sanssouci Park, but there are fine French options like Maison Charlotte as well. Meals should cost around EUR20-30 per head.