Although much of Potsdam's historic town centre fell victim to WWII bombing and socialist town planning, it's been nicely restored and is worth exploring on foot. A landmark is the baroque Brandenburger Tor, a triumphal arch built to commemorate Frederick the Great's 1763 victory in the Seven Years' War. It's the gateway to pedestrianised Brandenburger Strasse, the main commercial drag, which links with the scenic Holländisches Viertel (Dutch Quarter).
Alexandrowka & Pfingstberg
Neuer Garten & Around
North of the Potsdam old town, the winding lakeside Neuer Garten (New Garden) is laid out in natural English style on the western shore of the Heiliger See. It gets a lot less busy than Park Sanssouci and is a fine place in which to relax. A couple of palaces provide cultural diversions.
Potsdam's Celluloid Legacy
Film buffs will know that Potsdam is famous not merely for its palaces but also for being the birthplace of European film production. For it was here, in the suburb of Babelsberg, about 4km west of the city centre, that the venerable UFA Studio was founded in 1912. A few years later, it was already producing such seminal flicks as Metropolis and Blue Angel. Continuing as DEFA (Deutsche Filmakademie) in GDR times, the dream factory was resurrected as Studio Babelsberg after reunification and has since produced or coproduced such international blockbusters as Inglourious Basterds, The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Hunger Games.
There are two ways to plug into the Potsdam film experience. In town, handsome baroque royal stables now house the Filmmuseum Potsdam, which presents an engaging romp through German movie history with an emphasis on the DEFA period. In Babelsberg, next to the actual film studios, Filmpark Babelsberg is a movie-themed amusement park with plenty of shows and behind-the-scenes tours.