Best things to do in Leipzig
Find out more about those top places in Leipzig
In recent years Leipzig has begun to usurp Berlin as Germany’s coolest city as a result of its cheap rent, proximity to the capital and empty warehouse space, much of which has been transformed into DIY art galleries and nightclubs. Unusually, most of Leipzig’s draws are located beyond the city center, which was heavily bombed during World War Two and was rebuilt without the care given to nearby Dresden. The city’s thriving nightlife and art scene is centered around the painfully cool Karl Heine Straße in the formerly industrial western neighborhood of Plagwitz while the politically anarchistic southern district of Connewitz is home to Karl Liebknecht Straße, known affectionately as ‘the Karli’ – a near 4 kilometer long stretch of pop-up restaurants, bars and other hidden gems. While Leipzig is thrillingly modern, it is still a German city at heart, as its connections to Bach, Mendelsohn and Wagner illustrate.
Built in 1797 but rising to international prominence for its ‘peace prayers’ that were one of the pivotal movements leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Nikolaikirche is Leipzig’s star attraction. With a graceful interior, including pillars designed like palm trees, it is a real architectural gem with a vibrant history to match. Tours of the Nikolaikirche are highly recommended, as they reveal the story behind the collapse of the East German government.
Built on Leipzig outskirts, this colossal monument, which is also the apogee of Wilhelmine architecture, commemorates the 1813 Battle of Nations where Prussian, Russian and Austrian armies defeated Napoleon. While the monument has spectacular views of the surrounding Saxon countryside, its architecture is the biggest draw with gigantic granite soldiers lining the walls and exterior.
In recent years down at heel Leipzig has become known as ‘Hypezig’, owing to the influx of creative Berliners priced out of the gentrifying capital. In the former industrial area of Plagwitz warehouses, like the famed Baumwollspinnerei, have been repurposed as artists studios, contemporary art galleries and hip bars. Make sure to take a street art tour to immerse yourself in the area’s creativity.
While Leipzig is today famed for its modern art, the city has long been a creative hot spot. At the Bach Museum tours let you learn fascinating insights into the famed composers life in the city and listen to some of his most famous works.
Much like the Bach Museum, the Mendelssohn House immortalizes one of Leipzig’s other creative geniuses: Felix Mendelssohn. In the museum interactive exhibits let you immerse yourself in the life of the famed composer.
When in the former East Germany a tour in one of the former communist country’s famed exports, the Trabant car, is a must. With the help of an expert guide you can cruise the Stalinist boulevards of Leipzig in one of these retro cars and take in the city’s main sites.
For a glimpse inside the life of ordinary East German citizens head to the Stasi Museum where you can learn how the secret police monitored the population through disguises, surveillance devices and other, sometimes bizarre, means.