11 essential experiences in Leipzig

Posted by on 12 Oct, 2015 in Germany, Slider, Blog | 6 comments

Leipzig is one of Germany’s most exciting cities.

 

The former East-German metropolis of Leipzig is filled with interesting and off-beat things to do and see. Currently going through something of a renaissance, the city has gained a reputation for being cool, young and vibrant, earning it the moniker of The Next Berlin. (However cynical residents have also taken to calling the city Hypezig in a nod to its recent zealous praise.)

I spent a summer living and working in Leipzig back in 2011 and went back for the first time last month. Based on both visits, here’s my guide to 11 things you have to do in Leipzig.

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1. Go for Sunday Brunch


Brunch on a Sunday is a big deal in Leipzig – almost all cafes and bars will put on a huge buffet every Sunday, with the usual menu suspended. It can cost up to €25, but you’ll be treated to freshly baked breads, cold meats, cheeses, fresh juice, all kinds of eggs and there’ll normally be some lunch-time things as well, like sausages (obviously), chicken or turkey breast and vegetables.

My personal favourites are Luise on Gottschedstraße and Café Puschkin on Karl-Liebknecht-Straße.


2. Marvel at the Gründerzeit architecture


Architecture in Leipzig

Though it didn’t make it out of the war completely unscathed, Leipzig experienced far less structural damage than cities like Cologne or Dresden, meaning that a lot of its original architecture is still standing. The city is particularly well known for its Gründerzeit buildings, built in the decades following the founding of the German Empire. This style is characterised by ornate exterior motifs.

The buildings found in the area around Waldstraße (known as Waldstraßeviertel) is particularly easy on the eye.


3. Be alternative in Plagwitz


Guide to Leipzig: PlagwitzFelsenkeller

Once a run-down area, Plagwitz has experienced a boom in popularity in recent years, becoming a hipster hub. The area is popular among students and young people, with bohemian bars, vegan cafes and vivid street art almost everywhere you look. I would particularly recommend Felsenkeller as a great place for a beer on a sunny afternoon.

Karl-Heine-Straße and the tongue-twisting Zschochesche Straße are the main thoroughfares.


4. Learn about the history of the GDR (East Germany)


 GDR History, LeipzigThe Runde Ecke

As the biggest city in the former East Germany, Leipzig is a great destination for history buffs. Top places include: the Runde Ecke, the HQ from where East Germany’s secret police spied on its citizens; the fantastic (and free!) Zeitgeschichtliches Forum, a modern museum chronicling the formation, history and dissolution of the GDR; as well as the Nikolaikirche, one of Leipzig’s most beautiful churches, from which the peaceful Monday demonstrations began that ultimately brought down the Berlin Wall.


5. Stop at Leipzig Hauptbahnhof


Though it seems odd to be writing about a train station as a must-see, the central station in Leipzig is simply something else. This enormous grandiose building was formerly the largest terminus station in Europe (a tunnel beneath the city was finished in 2014) and boasts two cavernous atriums, beautiful industrial architecture and three floors of shops.


6. Check out Leipzig’s bars


 Sights in Leipzig: Barfußgäßchen
Barfußgäßchen 

As you’d expect from a lively student city, Leipzig has plenty of bars to keep you entertained. My favourite two areas in the city for a drink are Karl-Liebknecht-Straße (known as ‘Karli’) and Gottschedstraße. The best course of action is generally to rock up and hop from bar to bar in either location, but highlights include Vodkaria, Luise and Elsterartig on Gottsched and Café Waldi on Karli.

Another famous drinking destination is the tiny Barfußgäßchen (pronounced “Bar-fuss-gess-shen”) found in the city’s old town. This narrow alleyway is packed with bars. A landmark in itself, drinking here is a bit of a novelty – and a pricey one at that.


7. Try a Leipziger Lerche


Similar to a Bakewell Tart, these small cakes are known as ‘Leipzig larks,’ as they were created as an alternative to lark-meat pies after hunting the birds was outlawed.


8. Take to the water


 Things to do in Leipzig: rowing

Rowing, kayaking and canoeing are very popular past-times in Leipzig. Though it might be somewhat unusual for a land-locked city, Leipzig’s network of rivers and canals means you can actually get quite far with a paddle. A large number of houses or buildings backing on to the river even have their own make-shift docks.

Head to the Stadthafen to rent one for yourself.


9. Head to the beach


Cossi See

One of my favourite things to do in Leipzig is to head down to Cospudener See, known as ‘Cossi’. Found just 10km south of the city centre, the lake has a large and popular beach that is perfect when the sun is shining. There’s a small bar on the shore, too.


10. Rent a bike


 Things to do in Leipzig: cycling

One of the best ways to get around Leipzig is by bike. The city has a green belt running North to South made up of parks and forests and so you can easily reach Cossi or the lakes at Markkleeberg by biking through the greenery.

One of the easiest ways to rent a bike is with NextBike, which was founded in Leipzig and can now be found all over Europe.


11. Wonder at the Völkerschlachtdenkmal


 Völkerschlachtdenkmal

One of the best-known landmarks of Leipzig is the Völkerschlachtdenkmal (‘Monument to the Battle of Nations’ in English). Reportedly the largest monument in Europe, this monolith is undeniably striking and – let’s face it – pretty ugly. The structure underwent years of renovation in time for its centennial in 2013 and is now looking its best. Climb to the top for great views over the city.

For more things to do in Saxony, click here.

So there you have it: my 11 essential Leipzig experiences. But of course it doesn’t stop there: there’s also the Zoo, Auerbach’s Keller, Thomaskirche among other gems in the city.

What’s your favourite thing to do in Leipzig?
Comment below!

6 Comments

  1. Wow!!!

    • Haha, I’ll take that as positive feedback…?

  2. What do you mean ‘ it seems odd to be writing about a train station as a must-see’? They’re often top of my must-see list 😉 Now I definitely want to see Leipzig station!

    Loving all your insider tips, I’d love to explore more of Germany, heck, I’ve not even been to Berlin yet!

    That architecture looks incredible!

    • I think you’d definitely be a fan of Leipzig’s main station. ‘Imposing’ just doesn’t cover it.

      To be honest though, I just really like that there’s a KFC.

  3. I totally agree with you: brunch on a Sunday is a must in Germany. Luise and Barfuss are in my top Leipzig’s bars too.

    • Glad you agree Margarita! I’m currently living in Dusseldorf and I must say brunch is done far better in Leipzig than here.

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