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Potsdam, on the Havel River just 25km southwest of central Berlin, is the capital and crown jewel of the federal state of Brandenburg. Easily reached by S-Bahn, the former Prussian royal seat is the most popular day trip from Berlin, luring visitors with its splendid gardens and palaces, which garnered Unesco World Heritage status in 1990.

Headlining the roll-call of royal pads is Schloss Sanssouci, the private retreat of King Friedrich II (Frederick the Great), who was also the mastermind behind many of Potsdam's other fabulous parks and palaces. Miraculously, most survived WWII with nary a shrapnel wound. When the shooting stopped, the Allies chose Schloss Cecilienhof to host the Potsdam Conference of 1945 to lay the groundwork for Germany’s post-war fate.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Potsdam.