18 Must-Visit Attractions in Leipzig, Germany

| Paul Kapischka / Unsplash
Alice Dundon

Leipzig is Saxony’s coolest city – it’s young and vibrant and has been proclaimed the ‘New Berlin’. A playground for nomadic creatives who are looking for cheap rent, roomy studios and a similar energy to the quickly gentrifying German capital, it’s also a city steeped in history, having played an instrumental part in bringing down the Berlin Wall. With modern architectural gems, a wide array of spots for music enthusiasts and plenty of museums and galleries to explore, a trip to Leipzig can quickly fill up with a wealth of sites. Here are the must-visit attractions to see in Leipzig.

1. Nikolaikirche

Church

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© Andreas März / Flickr

Nikolaikirche is famous for playing an instrumental part in the nonviolent movement that led to the downfall of the Berlin Wall. The church hosted ‘peace prayers’ as early as 1982, to show solidarity against the East German government and empowering the city’s citizens to confront injustices brought by the Wall. Held every Monday at 5pm, these prayer sessions are still held to this day. Starting in late 1989, the ‘peace prayers’ were followed by candlelit demonstrations, which reached their peak in October 1989, when some 70,000 citizens took to the streets to participate. Aside from this pivotal role in Germany’s history, the church also has a stunning interior which dates back to 1797 with Romanesque and Gothic roots.

2. Augustusplatz

Market

Augustusplatz, Leipzig
Clemens van Lay / Unsplash
Augustusplatz is home to some of Leipzig’s most impressive architectural sights, with buildings that span the past century. The square was originally built in 1785; however, its original aesthetic was heavily destroyed in World War II. Now, it is flanked by some of the most famous buildings in the city, including Leipzig’s first high-rise building, Kroch-Haus, the Opera House and Gewandhaus, the only new GDR concert house.

3. Old Town Hall

Market, Museum

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© Glen Bowman / Flickr

The Old Town Hall in Leipzig is both a stunning architectural landmark and a museum exploring the town’s history from the Middle Ages to the present day. The building is considered one of the most beautiful Renaissance buildings in Germany, and its position facing the large market square make it a wonderful place to sit and people watch. Inside, the building houses the Museum of City History Leipzig, which invites visitors to enjoy a permanent exhibition that tours through the turbulent history of Leipzig. From old prison cells in the basement to historic rooms on the main floor, it’s a comprehensive look into the city’s past.

4. St Thomas Church

Church

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© vxla / Flickr
St Thomas Church is one of two houses of worship in Leipzig; it also home to the St Thomas choir, or Thomanerchor, which was established in 1212 and was once let by Bach. The impressive church can be explored and remains a site for musical creativity. The church tower can be climbed for a small fee, though the main reason to come here is to soak in Bach’s legacy, which can still be felt in the building today.

5. Museum in der 'Runden Ecke'

Museum

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© gheeke / Flickr

Museum in der ‘Runden Ecke’, also known as the Stasi Museum in Leipzig, delves into GDR history. Housed in the former East German police headquarters, also known as the Stasi, this chilling and archival exhibition explores what life was like behind the Iron Curtain. English guides are available, and necessary, to fully understand and appreciate the extensive collection of Stasi propaganda, cunning surveillance equipment and other machinations that explore the GDR‘s controlling and oppressive rule.

6. Panorama Tower

Restaurant, Fusion

Panorama Tower in Leipzig
James Jeremy Beckers / Unsplash
Panorama Tower, also known as City-Hochhaus, is the place to go for expansive and impressive city views. Visitors can ride the elevator to the 29th floor for a small fee for a look over Leipzig’s skyline, or dine in the modern, high-quality restaurant. Housed in the modernist City-Hochhaus building, guests can enjoy a sophisticated ambience and delicious food as they gaze over the city.

7. Mädler Passage

Shopping Mall

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© Fred Romero / Flickr
Mädler Passage is one of few completely preserved shopping arcades in Germany. Seamlessly combining the grandeur of historical architecture and the modernity needed for a functional shopping mall, Mädler Passage is steeped in history.

8. Monument to the Battle of the Nations

Shrine

Probstheida, Leipzig, Deutschland
Agent J / Unsplash

Leipzig was once site to an epic battle in 1813, that led to the decisive victory of Prussian, Austrian and Russian forces over Napoleon’s army. Centuries later, the Monument to the Battle of the Nations was built in honour of this bloody battle. An impressive 91 meters high, the sombre shrine has a distinctive Gothic look, and atop the colossal site are sweeping city views that are well worth the trek up.

9. Museum of Fine Arts Leipzig

Art Gallery

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© Fred Romero / Flickr
Museum of Fine Arts in Leipzig showcases the best in art with rolling exhibitions and an impressive permanent collection. Centrally located, this modernist glass cubed building houses an impressive collection of world-class painting from the 15th century to today, including works by Caspar David Friedrich, Munch and Monet. The museum also sets aside rooms to showcase local talent, with works from Neo Rauch and Max Klinger on display. Exhibits are juxtaposed to range from sculpture and installation to painting or religious art. The collective is extensive and is best explored at a leisurely pace, so set aside a few hours to experience the museum to its fullest.

10. Distillery

Nightclub, German

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© Bon Adrien / Flickr
Distillery is one of the oldest techno clubs in what was once East Germany. This club’s doors have been open for over 20 years, drawing in an unpretentious, music-centric crowd. With well-priced drinks and occasional DJ stars, including Ellen Allien and Carl Craig, Distillery is one of Germany’s best techno clubs.

11. Leipzig Zoo

Zoo

Lion at Leipzig Zoo, Germany
MediaEcke / Unsplash
The Leipzig Zoo offers an exciting break from the surrounding urban landscape. Spanning across 27 hectares, it is home to over 850 different species. The zoo is renowned for several of its features, including the world’s largest indoor rainforest atrium. Guests can explore its many winding paths for glimpses of animals hailing from across the globe. There is even a volcano tunnel where people can examine some of the world’s oldest creatures and delight in exploring the many wonders of the animal kingdom.

12. Panometer

Art Gallery

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© Christine und Hagen Graf / Flickr
Panometer in Leipzig is a gallery that showcases the marriage of a giant 360° painting and a gasometer, or giant gas tank. The unique concept was thought up by Berlin-based artist Yagergar Asisi, who uses paper, pencil and computers to create awe-inspiring scenes drawn from nature or history. Each of the works on display are about 100 meters long and 30 meters high.

13. Conne Island

Park, Skate Park

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© Conne Island / Flickr
Conne Island is a self-governed cultural centre in Connewitz, Leipzig’s headquarters for alternative lifestyles. It hosts concerts of all kinds, from indie and pop shows to experimental, hardcore, and metal gigs. It also throws some of the most interesting house, techno, and drum N bass events in town. There is also a skate park and picnic area on site.

14. Bach-Museum

Museum

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© domjisch / Flickr

The Bach-Museum presents the life and works of Johann Sebastian Bach. The interactive museum delves into all things Bach, letting visitors listen to Baroque instruments, treat their ears to compositions he wrote and peruse rare original manuscripts.

15. Alte Börse

Museum

Alte Börse, Leipzig, Germany
Dana Ward / Unsplash

The Alte Börse, or the Old Stock Exchange at Naschmarkt, is Leipzig’s oldest Baroque building. It has served as a gathering place for 200 years and was originally built by merchants in 1678. Here, auctions were held, money was exchanged, as the site was a mecca of business. Today, the Alte Börse is used for concerts, readings and theatre performances.

16. Oper Leipzig

Opera House

Opera House in Leipzig, Germany
Tobias Reich / Unsplash

Leipzig has a rich history of musical theatre. The opera house, on the Augustusplatz, is home to opera, musical comedy and the Leipzig ballet company. Try and grab a ticket for a performance by the renowned Gewandhaus Orchestra, you’ll soon see why – they are highly regarded on the world stage. If it’s the impressive 1960s building itself that draws your eye, then the guided tour is well worth your time. Recommended by Evelyn Smallwood.

17. Leipzig Market Square

Market

You’ll undoubtedly pass through Leipzig Market Square. It’s enormous and surrounded by a hodge-podge of traditional German architecture and glistening steel-and-glass buildings. The old city hall is particularly impressive with its mint domed clock tower, dating back to the 16th century. Snap a photo before sidling off to Café Bigoti around the corner for one of the best coffees in town. Recommended by Evelyn Smallwood.

18. Auerbachs Keller

Bar, Wine Bar, German

Auerbachs Keller, Leipzig, Germany
Dana Ward / Unsplash
Bach and Martin Luther weren’t the only German historical figures with important connections to Leipzig. Goethe – often regarded as Germany’s Shakespeare – also spent time in the city, as he studied at Leipzig University. Goethe loved to eat and drink at Auerbach’s Cellar, which also happens to be the second oldest restaurant in the city. The wine bar has existed since 1438, making this is an excellent spot to enjoy a drink whilst steeped in the city’s rich history. Despite the fact that this place airs on the touristy side of things, the atmosphere is cosy, and the food is still quite good. Recommended by Evelyn Smallwood.

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