Leipzig: Germany’s hipster city at a glance & what to expect
Old industrial districts, brick buildings, street art, hip cafés and lots of greenery to boot – Welcome to Leipzig! Leipzig is hip, creative and young. Yes, there is the traditional side of Leipzig with its imposing historical buildings and impressive architecture, but it’s not what we think defines the city at its core. But what makes Leipzig so special? We find The young trendy neighbourhoods. Studios and workshops have settled in old industrial buildings. In Leipzig’s hip cafés, you can comfortably enjoy your cappuccino with oat milk. The most colourful street artworks can be admired on many a house wall. And along the KarLi (the heart of the alternative quarter of Südvorstadt) you can enjoy the hustle and bustle with a beer or a cocktail. Leipzig is not a classic beauty, but it is an incredibly versatile city. Because in addition to the young side of Leipzig, you can very well find numerous historic buildings in the centre. You may not expect an architectural synthesis of the arts, but we personally liked the centre of Leipzig with the Old and New Town Halls, the market square and the churches very much. One more thing must be mentioned: Leipzig is surprisingly green! There are countless parks and – even cooler – a lot of water. For example, several canals run through the city, which you can explore by paddling. And just outside the city, former lignite mines have been flooded. Today, an extensive lake landscape awaits you here. Industrial culture – we say yes!
Travel tips for Leipzig: How to get there & local transport
Getting there: What is the best way to get to Leipzig?
Leipzig is located in the east of Germany, more precisely in the state of Saxony. The main train station is located almost directly in the centre. For this or ecological reasons, travelling by train is highly recommended. Many hotels are only a stone’s throw away from the train station. If you are travelling from further away (e.g. from Vienna), then a journey by plane is more time-saving. From Leipzig Airport, you can easily reach the city centre by S-Bahn. The journey time to the main station is less than a quarter of an hour.
Transportation: How do I get from A to B in Leipzig?
The centre of Leipzig (the old town, so to speak) is quite compact. There you can reach the most important sights super on foot. Leipzig is also a bike-friendly city. There are many bike paths and since the distances are limited, you can also explore Leipzig with a rented bike. Destinations that are a bit outside (e.g. Völkerschlachtdenkmal, Westwerk etc.) you can easily reach by public transport. The best way to reach most of them is by streetcar. There is also a suburban train and a city bus network. The public transportation network is really very well developed and the waiting time is usually kept within limits. Our tip: There is a Moove app from the Leipzig public transport company, but we simply use the map app on our iPhone to navigate us from A to B. This works surprisingly well. It really works surprisingly well!
Most important sights & districts in Leipzig
Downtown Leipzig (Center)
The best way to start your city break, is with a walk through the centre of Leipzig. Here you will find some of the city’s most important buildings, all within walking distance of each other. You should allow about half a day for your stroll through the city centre. An important note at the beginning: Don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed by the abundance of sights. We felt the same way! But once you’re in Leipzig, you’ll find that the centre is really manageable and most of the sights are quickly explored.
CONTINUE READING: Top Attractions & Things to Do in Leipzig
Our tour of the highlights in Leipzig’s city centre
A good starting point for your exploration is the heart of the centre, the market square with the
Old Town Hall Leipzig
A little tip: The weekly market takes place every Tuesday and Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on the market square – great for a leisurely stroll through the market. You should not miss a visit to the magnificent Mädlerpassage. It is probably the most famous of all passages in the centre of Leipzig and is located on the south side of the market square.
Only a stone’s throw away from the market square you can reach (once to the west and once to the east) the two most important churches of Leipzig: St. Thomas Church and St. Nicholas Church. The Thomaskirche is world-famous because it was the place of work of none other than Johann Sebastian Bach. A little tip: Next to the Thomaskirche is the confectionery, Kandler. There you can try Leipzig’s sweet speciality, the so-called Leipziger Lerche. Spoiler: You have to like marzipan, then the Leipziger Lerche tastes really good! If you walk south from St. Thomas Church, you’ll come to what we think is one of the most beautiful buildings in Leipzig, the New City Hall. By the way, you can climb the tower of the city hall as part of a guided tour. Last but not least: In the east of the city centre there is an ensemble of buildings that you should definitely visit: Here, the striking Paulinum towers high – a location of the University of Leipzig. In the immediate vicinity is the opera house and the Gewandhaus. From where you can enjoy the most beautiful panoramic view of these buildings, we will tell you later in this article.
Monument to the Battle of the Nations
The monumental Monument to the Battle of the Nations (affectionately known as Völki) is probably the most famous of all Leipzig’s landmarks. It is located outside the city centre in the southeast of Leipzig. The monument commemorates the martial Battle of the Nations of 1813, which ended in Napoleon’s defeat. The Monument to the Battle of the Nations with the small lake in front of it is already impressive to look at from the outside – but the view from the top is at least as fantastic. There are two platforms: A lower exterior walkway and a panoramic platform at the top of the monument. You can climb both during opening hours. Then it is also possible to visit the crypt as well as the Hall of Fame. The outdoor area of the Monument to the Battle of the Nations is accessible around the clock. Therefore, the park is also a popular meeting place in the evening hours. When it gets dark, the monument is beautifully illuminated. Here’s a not so unimportant info for all photographers: During our visit in summer, the lighting was switched on at about 10 pm.
Leipzig West and Karl-Heine-Strasse
While we’re on the subject of trendy neighbourhoods, there’s one area that shouldn’t be missing: The West. More precisely, we are talking about the two neighbouring districts of Plagwitz and Lindenau. You can start your exploration at the Felsenkeller station, for example. From there, stroll along Karl-Heine-Strasse in a westerly direction. Karl-Heine-Straße is the heart of the West, so to speak. Here are countless restaurants, bars and stores. Speaking of stores, we highly recommend a stop at the Hafen concept store. For a coffee break, it’s worth visiting the Brühbar (located in a side alley). Looking for more café and restaurant tips? You’ll find them further down in this blog article. Quite striking is the Westwerk – a former iron foundry that now houses studios. Quite curious: a consumer supermarket has been integrated into the old production hall. There is also a lot of street art to admire around the building. Once you’ve reached the waterfront, it’s best to take the stairs down to the canal. You can take a leisurely stroll along the water or ride your bike. A small oasis of peace awaits you in the middle of the city – very nice! You will definitely notice some kayaks. You can also explore the west of Leipzig by paddle, we will come to that in a moment. If you now walk north, you’ll come to the Kunstkraftwerk. This former coal-fired power plant now houses an interactive digital exhibition.
Cotton Mill Leipzig I Foto_ Spinnerei Leipzig
Last but not least, you should definitely plan a visit to the cotton mill. As the name already suggests, a huge old industrial area of a former cotton mill awaits you here. Today, the halls house studios, galleries, workshops and offices. The flair is very special – you simply have to see it! The heart of the cotton mill is Hall 14, where changing exhibitions take place.
Lake Cospuden Leipzig
There is even more water right outside the city gates. At the southern city limits, former lignite mines were flooded. This is how an artificially created lake landscape, the Leipziger Neuseenland, came into being (or is still being created). Probably the best known of the 23 lakes is Lake Cospuden, affectionately called Cossi. Once you reach it, you might not think it possible that you are actually very close to a big city. The maritime flair (in combination with the wind on the day of our visit) reminded us more of the North Sea than Leipzig. In the summer, Lake Cospuden is a popular swimming lake. The north beach of the lake is the longest sandy beach in Saxony. A good place to start exploring the lake is the so-called Pier 1 (= Zöbigker Hafen) around the east beach. There are a few pubs there, which are very popular at sunset. From Pier 1 you can walk along the shore path quite comfortably. If you want to walk around the entire lake, you need to bring a little time: You should plan about 2.5 hours for the approximately 11-kilometre-long circular route. A little tip: In the south, you will pass the Bistumshöhe observation tower, which you should climb. From the top you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Leipzig Neuseenland.
Leipzig Central Station and Wilhelm-Leuschner-Platz S-Bahn Station
Are you an architecture enthusiast? Then we have two tips for really cool photo spots in Leipzig. First, there’s Leipzig Central Station – more specifically, the station’s East Hall. It’s really nice to look at and has a great photo motif. Another tip: We’re not usually Starbucks fans, but the one near the east hall of the Leipzig train station is really worth a visit from an architectural point of view. Also worth seeing is the Wilhelm-Leuschner-Platz S-Bahn station, which is located near New City Hall. The station hall with its elements of concrete and glass is quite an eye-catcher. And for the sake of completeness, the Bayerischer Bahnhof S-Bahn station also joins the list of the most popular photo spots in Leipzig. Unfortunately, we didn’t visit this one due to time constraints.
Great viewpoints in Leipzig
You know us: We love vantage points – especially at sunset. That’s why we’ve been on the lookout for beautiful vistas in Leipzig. We don’t want to withhold our favourites from you.
Panorama Tower Leipzig
Our favourite place for a successful sunset! The Panorama Tower (also called City-Hochhaus Leipzig) is 142.5 meters the highest building in Leipzig. The skyscraper rises right in the centre of Leipzig – accordingly, you can also admire many sights from a bird’s eye view up here. The open-air observation deck is located on the 31st floor (almost at the top). You tend to look west here, but it is also possible to look in other (not all) directions. Therefore, we recommend a visit to the Panorama Tower at sunset in any case.
The entrance fee is four euros and is paid directly at the turnstile with coins. (There is a change machine.) An elevator takes you to the 29th floor – the last two floors must then be covered on foot.
Not far from the KarLi you get to the Fockeberg. At first glance, you wouldn’t believe that the hill was artificially created – and actually made of rubble! To be more precise, rubble from the houses destroyed in the Second World War was stored here before the hill was then greened in the 80s. Pretty cool thing, right? Today, the Fockeberg is a popular recreational destination. Several forest paths (as well as a wider, asphalt path) lead up to a large meadow used by locals for picnicking, playing soccer or Frisbee. Although the trees obscure a real panoramic view – the view in various directions was uncovered. Personally, we find the view towards the centre particularly beautiful. Our conclusion: Not one of the really big highlights in Leipzig, but a really nice excursion into the countryside. In our opinion, the best time to visit is at sunset, because the sun sets behind the centre. By the way, an alternative to this bar is the hotel bar of the INNSiDE by Meliá Leipzig. Unfortunately, we have a visit to this bar temporally no longer managed, but it should also be very great.
Our favourite cafés and restaurants in Leipzig
Kaiserbad: The Kaiserbad is an institution in the west of Leipzig. It is located in Westwerk, an old iron foundry. Accordingly, the architecture is also extraordinary. Brühbar: This tiny coffee bar is around the corner from the vibrant Karl-Heine-Strasse in west Leipzig. The espresso macchiato (with oat milk upon request) was the best we had in all of Leipzig. Maître: The French-inspired Maître (located right on the legendary KarLi) is one of the most popular breakfast spots in Leipzig, but it’s also worth a visit for coffee and cake. The café is busy at any time of day – even during the week. Akko Hummus Bar: We can’t guarantee whether this place really does serve the best hummus in Leipzig, but one thing is certain: In the Akko Hummus Bar it tastes really excellent. The ambience is quite alternative and simple – typical Plagwitz. Dolden Mädel: The Dolden Mädel is a very popular, quite modern-inspired beer garden with good food. The menu is very traditional and meat-heavy, but there are vegetarian options as well. The only minus point is that you have to order at the counter – as is unfortunately so often the case in Germany.
Westwerk Kaiserbad Leipzig