Some say Leipzig is the new Berlin. It’s fair to say that the historic city in Saxony has a bit of an edge to it. Landmarks are scattered across the city centre, monuments honour Germany’s greatest poets and composers, and in the trendy quarters of Connewitz and Plagwitz contemporary art galleries, bars and concept stores are abundant. We’ve created a guide on how to spend 24 hours in Leipzig and see the highlights.
Start the day with a quick breakfast in one of Leipzig’s central cafés. There are heaps to choose from, but the dainty interior and varied breakfast menu make the cosy Café Zuckerhut stand out.
There are lots of ways to explore Leipzig. The city centre is very walkable, public transport cheap and the roads bike-friendly. If you’re visiting between Friday to Sunday, a guided free walking tour (tips are expected) is a good place to start to get an overview of the major sights. Tours in English start at 11 am in front of the opera house at Augustusplatz.
In two and a half hours, your guide shares facts and anecdotes about the landmarks en-route. The University of Leipzig is the second-oldest in Germany. It was founded back in 1409 and has served the great minds of Leibniz, Goethe and Nietzsche – and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. One of Leipzig’s most important historical sights is just across the road from here. In 1989, tens of thousands of people gathered in the cobblestone square in front the Nicholas Church for peaceful demonstrations that played a crucial role in bringing about the reunification of Germany.
Next up is the Old City Hall and the restored marketplace. The grand Renaissance building is the home of the city museum today, and the permanent exhibitions tell of Leipzig’s history through the ages. The city centre is riddled with beautifully reconstructed opulent arcades. Stroll through the Maedler passage towards the southern end of Leipzig’s city centre. If you were impressed by the old town hall, wait until you see the current seat of Leipzig’s municipal administration. The tower of the 115-metre-high tower of the New City Hall can be seen from afar, but a closer look reveals the grand historicist facade of the building.
Cross the ring-road that surrounds the city centre and head to the Federal Administrative Court. The palatial complex was built between 1888 and 1895 and combines historicist, renaissance and baroque elements. The tour heads to the Bach monument outside St Thomas church for a final stop. To this day, the late Johann Sebastian Bach is considered one of the Germany’s most important composers. Every evening at 7pm, an orchestra gives a free live performance of Bach’s music.
Time for a break. The Coffe Baum is just around the corner and a real gem of Leipzig’s café landscape. Looking back on a near 300-year-long history, Zum Arabischen Coffe House is one of the oldest in Europe and a remnant of the time when Leipzig first discovered its taste for the Arabian brew.
Hop on the S-Bahn and head to Leipzig’s trendy southeast quarter Plagwitz. The Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei, a cotton mill turned industrial arts complex gives room to exhibitions, events and galleries and showcases the works of local and international artists and designers. You can easily spend hours if not days exploring the vast area.
Leipzig has some excellent restaurants, and some of them are real historical gems. The most famous eatery is probably the Auerbachs Keller, a historic restaurant that’s even depicted in Goethe’s Faust. On the menu are mostly Saxonian specialities and if you want to go, make sure to book a table beforehand. The Ratskeller is another beautiful restaurant and, as with the Auerbachs Keller, guests can dine in the vaulted halls of the previous wine cellar. The Ratskeller serves both local and international food, reservations are recommended.
Leipzig is replete with edgy pubs, elegant cocktail bars and hip nightclubs and you be spoiled for choice when trying to create an itinerary for the evening. In central Leipzig, the area around Kolonnadenstraße is a safe bet if you have energy left to venture out, head down south to Karl-Liebknecht-Straße for a night out.