- Top German Cities To Visit
- Things to do in Leipzig
By: Eran Fulson / Writer, Adventurer, New Dad, Wood & Metal Designer
A journey into Eastern Germany and the heart of Saxony will undoubtedly take you through Leipzig. It’s roughly 93 miles southwest of Berlin and situated in the low-lying and fertile Leipzig Basin. Even without so many things to do in Leipzig, the quality of life and cost of living makes it one of the most liveable cities in Germany.
Leipzig skyline at dusk
Leipzig has a long history stretching all the way back to 1015 when it was known as Urbs Libzi. Thanks to its proximity to the main trade routes of Central Europe in the Middle Ages, it was later granted municipal status in 1170 as the city continued to expand.
Leipzig was no stranger to conflict, as several battles during the Thirty Years’ War were waged on its boundaries. Closer to home, the Battle of Leipzig (aka Battle of the Nations) in 1813 ended the last of French power in Germany and Poland.
Napoleon saw his 185,000 French troops fall to approximately 320,000 Austrian, Swedish, Russian, and Prussian forces. By the end of the battle it was one of the deadliest in the conflict with nearly 95,000 total losses.
Despite the years of conflict and eventual Communist rule, the people of Leipzig continued to establish themselves as a city of music and culture. That early and determined perseverance laid the foundations of a city that has had to endure and overcome.
Check out the Leipzig Card before arrival. The card entitles an unlimited number of journeys on public transport within Leipzig and further discounts on tours, museums, and restaurants.
While not quite up there regarding ease of access compared to the like of Cologne or Frankfurt, Leipzig does have an airport which mainly serves Europe if that’s where you find yourself at the time.
Prepare for a bit of a transfer if coming in from further afield, as Berlin is the best place of entry. And it’s only a roughly two-hour drive/bus/train into Leipzig, which is safe to say, most of us have done longer.
While planning your Leipzig trip, it’s worth diving into the public transport options before heading over. If at least to save those moments of quickly doing a Google search laden with luggage and looking very much like a tourist - though I daresay it’ll be obvious anyway. Germans are a perceptive bunch.
What Leipzig Airport lacks in international arrivals, the Leipzig Hauptbahnhof (Leipzig Central Train Station) makes up for in sheer size. By square footage, the Leipzig Central Station is the largest in Europe, and all train lines for the Central German S-Bahn pass through its tunnel under the station.
But it’s not only for coming and going, over 140 shops and restaurants spread out over three levels are all looking to delay your departure a little longer.
Shop till you drop, just don't miss your train.
The St. Nicholas Church is Leipzig’s oldest, with over 850 years gone and still ticking. I’ll try for a quick summary of a near-millennia worth of history in a few sentences. This Romanesque church stood for nearly four hundred years until an influx of wealth into Leipzig saw a Gothic revamp undertaken in the 16th century.
Two hundred years later, Johann Sebastian Bach became cantor of and performed some of his major compositions at the church - among his greatest hits, St. John Passion premiered in 1724 and the Christmas Oratorio in 1734.
It wasn’t until 1989 that the St. Nicholas Church became national news where it was the starting point for the Peaceful Revolution. The church became a symbol for the reunification of Germany and was ground zero for the beginning of the end of Communist rule.
In a debatably 1A vs 1B for religious notability in Leipzig, the St. Thomas Church holds a few accolades of its own. The church was originally built for the Canons’ Monastery in 1212 and later saw Martin Luther present the introduction of the Reformation in 1539.
It took two hundred years before its next celebrity filled the halls with historical renditions. Enter, Johann Bach, again. He played favorites about as well as he played the piano, while maintaining a degree of multitasking prowess.
His canton duties extended to St. Thomas as well as St. Nicholas, and so much so that his grave resides in the St. Thomas chancel. While the church didn’t reach the same heights of domestic political acclaim as its saintly compatriot, it does feature a 223-foot tall tower with a viewing platform offering some pretty spectacular views over Leipzig.
Center of Attention
If you find the Marktplatz (Market Place) you’ll find the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) lingering around like a bull in a china shop. The hall fully embraces its Renaissance architecture in no small measures and is still used today for concerts and cultural events.
The first stone was laid in 1556 and features a 174-foot-long ballroom that has been used for royal festivals, weddings, and court proceedings. In further proof that stuff can do two things, The Old Town Hall is also, unsurprisingly, home to the Museum of City History. Inside you’ll find a 269 square foot true-scale model of the city of Leipzig as it was in the 19th century.
Out with the Old
And in with the new. Well, it’s new if you’re comparing the 118-year-old Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) to the 800-year-old neighboring churches. The New Town Hall stands on the site where the 13th century Pleissenburg Castle used to be.
This is notable as the castle was where the Leipzig Debate took place in 1519 between Martin Luther and Johann Eck, a defender of Catholic doctrine. The result of this debate led to Martin Luther being threatened with excommunication from the Catholic Church by the Pope.
The New Town Hall was built in 1905 and went heavy on opulence in the historicist style, and at 376 feet, its tower is also the tallest Town Hall tower in Germany. And of course, what good is a tower if you can’t go up for a view. Just keep in mind it’s 250 steps from the fifth floor to the top. But on a good day, it’s well worth getting your step count up.
New building - old style.
One of the newest iterations of Leipzig’s cultural scene houses one of the oldest musical collaborations in Germany, next to Hamburg. The Oper Leipzig (Opera Leipzig) was founded in 1693 and is the third-oldest bourgeois music theater stage in Europe. The original building that Leipzig Opera called home was destroyed in an Allied air raid in 1943.
Proof that good things take time - the reconstruction lasted four years and was completed in 1960 with an inauguration performance of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. If you’re looking for things to do in Leipzig, this is as culturally pomp as you’re going to get.
I’ll be Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach is a bit of a big deal in Leipzig historical circles. While he was born in Eisenach over ninety miles away in 1685, Bach’s career was beginning to rise as he made the move to Leipzig in 1717. Encompassing the life of Bach is the suitably named Bach Museum.
Situated in a house owned by Georg Bose, a family friend of the Bach’s, it features the life and work of Bach in a permanent exhibition. Bose himself was an affluent merchant and collector of paintings and other various fine art.
His own collection was supplemented by his son-in-law Johann Richter’s collection. This was followed by the Museum of Music History by Paul de Wit which was later added in 1893. The museum featured Paul de Wit's personal collection of rare musical instruments and manuscripts.
The Grassi is Always Greener
On the other side of Leipzig’s architectural style, the Grassi Museum features some of Germany’s peak Bauhaus and Art Deco designs. Grassi is one of the largest museum complexes in Germany and home to the Museum of Ethnography, the Museum of Applied Arts, and the Museum of Musical Instruments.
Ethno - The Museum of Ethnology is the among the largest in Germany, holding a collection of around 200,000 pieces. This collection is a global one with objects from all over Asia and Oceania, African, American, and Europe.
Applied Arts - 3,000 years of art and cultural history call the Museum of Applied Arts home. The collection features around 230,000 objects from Europe and international artists across arts and crafts, architecture, and photography.
Musical - The Museum of Musical Instruments is a branch of Leipzig University, and its collection is as much research-based as it is a display of 19th and 20th century instruments.
Home to one of Germany’s largest art collections, the Museum der bildenden Künste (Museum of Fine Arts or MdbK for short) is also one of the country’s oldest. Across more than 75,000 square feet of exhibition space, it’s collection of 4,600 paintings spans the Middle Ages to the present.
Along with the paintings are 1,800 sculptures, 5,000 photographs, and over 70,000 works on paper. When you’re dealing in the thousands of anything, there’s a bit to keep one going for a while.
We Revolt in Peace
Prior to the 40th anniversary of Communist rule in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) there were already protests underway in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. But it was a seemingly innocuous gathering in Leipzig which led to the eventual fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Despite a softening by a young Mikhail Gorbachev of the hard-line Communist stance, Soviet policies had already left an indelible mark on the lives of countless Germans living in the East. Though grassroots organizations were strictly prohibited, beginning in 1982, a Monday prayer service was held in the Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church) to pray for both personal and political concerns.
The practice of a Monday prayer service spread to other churches, and while becoming more political, a peaceful revolution was born. These services at St. Nicholas soon evolved and filled the square outside the church. As the numbers of these assemblies grew, so did the police presence.
Chants of ‘No violence!’ rose up when altercations developed between protesters and police. By the beginning of October 1989, police brutality was reaching a breaking point with crowds of around 120,000 people filling the square. As a result, the Monday demonstrations had begun to spread to other cities inciting national reform.
On October 30th, the number of protesters grew to 300,000 despite the entire government resigning to appease the population. Two days later, and as a result of miscommunication, the Berlin Wall was finally broken and German reunification began.
Kangaroos and Pints
One of the first zoos in Europe actually began in a pub. In 1878, the animal-enamoured landlord Ernst Pinkert converted the Pfaffendorfer Hof into a zoological garden. 4,500 visitors put aside their plans for things to do in Leipzig that day and gathered for the grand opening which featured kangaroos, parrots, a Bengal tiger, and a pair of lions.
Over the next 140 years, the Leipzig Zoo has gone through many ups and downs via two world wars, political unrest, and economic instability to become ‘The Zoo of the Future’. These days, the zoo occupies 54 acres and maintains approximately 600 species with 5,000 inhabitants. The Leipzig Zoo has continually defended its highest rank among German zoos and is behind only Vienna in all of Europe.
No School Like Old School
With more than six hundred years of teaching under its belt, Leipzig University could teach you a thing or two. Literally and metaphysically. Founded in 1409 by Frederick I and his brother William II, the university is one of the oldest in the world and second-oldest in Germany (first being Heidelberg).
Among the famous alumni over the years: Johann Goethe, Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Angela Merkel, plus nine Nobel laureates. Heady company indeed.
Though it was granted a papal bull on its inception, Leipzig University separated itself from the Catholic Church when it accepted the Reformation in 1539. Standing on its own, it evolved into one of the preeminent literary and cultural centers in Europe. A notability it still carries today, with internationally acclaimed expertise in medical studies and research.
Reaching New Heights
Lunch with a view? You’ll find quite the view up the 467-foot tall Panorama Tower, with its restaurant on the 29th floor. It’s the highest restaurant in Germany along with a viewing platform even higher up at nearly 400 feet, offering the best way to see the city.
While still the tallest building in Leipzig, it was the tallest in Germany for several years in the late 60s. The building itself was intended to look like an open book, but has since taken on the nickname ‘Wisdom Tooth’. Personally, I only see a book-like shape instead of a tooth. Unless it’s like a wisdom tooth in that it’d be a pain to remove? I don’t know, each to their own.
The arrangement of a Christmas Market in Leipzig beginning in1458 predates all others, except for Dresden 1434. Given the age, it’s only fitting to be situated in the medieval city center. Growing in size every year as more vendors are added, so too do the crowds, with nearly two million visitors taking in one of the most popular Christmas markets in Germany.
The Market is laid out across various areas in the historic old town center, with around 300 stalls of unique cultural and culinary offerings. Keeping the wintry chill away is the traditional Glühwein (mulled wine) offered all throughout the market. And what better way to enjoy a bit of liquid warmth than having it in a Leipzig Christmas Market Mug – also available to keep as a souvenir (after deposit).
Some market highlights in and around Leipzig include: The main market is held in the Marktplatz (Market Place) by the Old Town Hall, with a 60+ foot tall Christmas tree taking up its usual spot among the stalls.
A short walk over to the Augustus Square offers a little break from the hustle of the crowds focussing on food and a birds eye view of the city center up on the Ferris wheel. At the center of the Augustus Square is the Fairy Tale Forest, life-sized recreations of the Brother's Grimm fairy tales.
And that’s only about half of the attractions – the best way to experience it is to obviously immerse yourself in one of the best markets Germany has to offer.
Personally, after writing more than 2,500 words, it doesn’t really feel like I’ve scratched the surface. There are so many things to do in Leipzig with its rich cultural offerings of artwork and music, notable landmarks, and events all through the year.
Leipzig is very much a city on the rise after forty years of communist rule – one would argue it’s like a smaller version of a young Berlin. The city is eager not just to leave behind a scar on its history, but to rewrite itself into one that is known for what is now.
There is no denying it is all-welcoming, vibrant, and a cultural blend of old and new. One that is well worth the ticket.
When was Leipzig established?
What is the land area of Leipzig?
114.9 square miles
What is the population of Leipzig?
What is the GPS location of Leipzig?
What are the closest major cities to Leipzig?
20 miles to Halle
62 miles to Dresden
93 miles to Berlin
142 miles to Nuremberg
Top of Things to do in Leipzig
12 of the best things to do in Leipzig: A historic city of music.? ›
Hardly any other European city can boast such a rich musical heritage as Leipzig. As the birthplace of Richard Wagner and the place where Bach, Mendelssohn Bartholdy, the Schumanns and Mahler worked, Leipzig is a must for music lovers. Leipzig is also famous for the Peaceful Revolution of 1989.Why is Leipzig the city of music? ›
Hardly any other European city can boast such a rich musical heritage as Leipzig. As the birthplace of Richard Wagner and the place where Bach, Mendelssohn Bartholdy, the Schumanns and Mahler worked, Leipzig is a must for music lovers. Leipzig is also famous for the Peaceful Revolution of 1989.What is Leipzig famous for? ›
Leipzig has many museums, and its academies of dramatic art, musical history, graphic arts, and bookmaking are internationally known. Among the city's libraries are the German National Library and the Comenius Library, which is Europe's largest library specializing in education.How do I spend a day in Leipzig? ›
- Start your exploration at Leipzig's Main Station.
- MDR Tower Viewing Platform.
- Market and Old Town Hall.
- Lunch Break: Barfußgässchen or Auerbachs Keller.
- Thomaskirche and Bach-Memorial.
- New Town Hall.
You can't do everything on the list in one day, but you can certainly get a good view of the city and see a lot of Leipzig in a day. If you only have a day in Leipzig, a sightseeing tour like this one could be the perfect way to see a lot of sights in a short amount of time.Why is Germany known for music? ›
Germans have played a leading role in the development of classical music. Many of the best classical musicians such as Bach, Händel, Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Wagner, Mahler, or Schoenberg (a lineage labeled the "German Stem" by Igor Stravinsky) were German.What city is known for music? ›
Nashville is the home of country and western music in the US and is nicknamed "Music City USA". The most famous music legacy in Nashville is the Grand Ole Opry, a country music and variety show that is still recorded live and is the famed show that discovered Dolly Parton.Is Leipzig English friendly? ›
Leipzig has been a hotspot for English speaking people for quite a time now. Especially in Plagwitz and Schleußig, close to the Leipzig International School, English mother-tongue speakers are to be heard regularly.What language is spoken in Leipzig? ›
North Upper Saxon dialect with stronger Low German features, spoken in Northern Saxony in and around the city of Leipzig, from Torgau and Eilenburg down to Borna, and in the adjacent territory of Saxony-Anhalt up to the Saale River at Weißenfels in the west.Is English spoken in Leipzig? ›
Although English is not commonly spoken, it is widely understood in Leipzig, especially among the younger generation.
How many hours from Leipzig to USA? ›
Distance from Leipzig-halle to New York is approximately 6360 kilometers.Should I go to Leipzig? ›
And so the answer here is simple — if you have a chance, Leipzig is definitely worth visiting. Leipzig is a modern, lively, and vibrant city that has much going for it already.Is Leipzig cheap to live? ›
Family of four estimated monthly costs are 3,166.3$ (2,876.4€) without rent. A single person estimated monthly costs are 926.4$ (841.6€) without rent. Leipzig is 36.2% less expensive than New York (without rent). Rent in Leipzig is, on average, 80.1% lower than in New York.What does Leipzig mean in German? ›
The name Leipzig is ultimately derived from the Slavic designation for basswood (AE) or lime trees (BE) (German: Linden).What are quiet hours in Leipzig? ›
When do you need to be quiet? The commonly agreed upon quiet hours in Germany (Ruhezeit time period) are from 10pm and 6 or 7am on weekdays and the entire day on Sundays, although there can be some exceptions in different cities or if your landlord imposes other rules as well.What is the nickname of Leipzig Germany? ›
Once dubbed “Little Paris,” Leipzig more recently earned the nicknames “The Boomtown of the East” and “The new Berlin.”What is German music called? ›
Schlager music (German: [ˈʃlaːɡɐ], "hit(s)") is a style of European popular music that is generally a catchy instrumental accompaniment to vocal pieces of pop music with simple, happy-go-lucky, and often sentimental lyrics. Schlager. Stylistic origins. Original. Pop.What kind of music do Germans like? ›
Most popular music genres in Germany 2022
Pop is the most listened to music genre in Germany. Followed by hip-hop music and rock music, these make up the top three of the most popular types of music.
Austin, Texas, is America's No. 1 live music city, with an average of five concert venues per capita — plus nine music festivals planned for 2022, which is almost 2x more than the average U.S. city!What is the music capital of the world? ›
Austin's official motto is the "Live Music Capital of the World" due to the high volume of live music venues in the city. Austin is known internationally for the South by Southwest (SXSW) and the Austin City Limits (ACL) Music Festivals which feature eclectic international line-ups.
Why is it called Music City? ›
In 1925, the establishment of radio station WSM and its launch of the broadcast that would be called the Grand Ole Opry further secured Nashville's reputation as a musical center and sparked its durable nickname of Music City.Is Leipzig Catholic or protestant? ›
At the present time Leipzig has three Catholic parish churches and two chapels; a Stammschule comprising a public school and a high school; three branch schools; three institutions belonging to the Grey Sisters of St. Elizabeth, who have charge of St.What is the most English friendly city in Germany? ›
If you're an international looking to move to Germany, you'll want to find a city where English is spoken a lot. Which cities are these in Germany? A study shows: The German cities with best English are Karlsruhe, Munich, Dresden, Bremen and Düsseldorf.How do you say hello in Leipzig? ›
Tagchen. Meaning “little day,” Tagchen is used to say “hello” in Saxony and Leipzig.Is Leipzig nice to live? ›
Safety and Security
The city is considered to be a very safe place for foreigners living in Leipzig, just as most of Germany is in the 21st century. Crime levels are generally low in Leipzig, but there is some drug-related activity in the city, much of which is centered around the very active clubbing scene in Leipzig.
High German (Hochdeutsch)
Modern standard High German is descended from the Middle High German dialects and is spoken in the central and southern highlands of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
As a result of industrialization, the number of people living in Leipzig grew during the 19th century. Before World War II, there were about 750,000 people in Leipzig. After the war, Leipzig belonged to the part of Germany occupied by the Soviet Union, and later to East Germany.Where is low German mostly spoken? ›
Low German or Low Saxon (Low German: Plattdüütsch, Neddersassisch and other names) is a West Germanic language variety spoken mainly in Northern Germany and the northeastern part of the Netherlands.Where is German most spoken? ›
- Germany – more than 80 million speakers.
- Austria – 8 million speakers.
- Switzerland – 4.6 million speakers.
- Belgium – 75.000 speakers.
- Luxembourg – 390.000 speakers.
- Liechtenstein – 35,000 speakers.
How long is the flight from United States to Germany? The average flight time between United States and Berlin (Germany's capital), is 8 hours and 35 minutes.
How long is US to Germany by flight? ›
The total flight duration from United States to Germany is 10 hours, 12 minutes. This assumes an average flight speed for a commercial airliner of 500 mph, which is equivalent to 805 km/h or 434 knots. It also adds an extra 30 minutes for take-off and landing. Your exact time may vary depending on wind speeds.How far is Leipzig from airport? ›
It takes an average of 13m to travel from Leipzig Halle Airport to Leipzig Hbf by train, over a distance of around 9 miles (14 km). There are normally 50 trains per day travelling from Leipzig Halle Airport to Leipzig Hbf and tickets for this journey start from €6.20 when you book in advance.Does Leipzig have nightlife? ›
If you're looking for a different nightlife experience, Leipzig is also home to many theatres, live entertainment venues, and cultural centres. No matter how you prefer to spend your evenings, Leipzig has various venues, districts, and bars for everyone to enjoy.Is Leipzig good for night out? ›
Every town has it: a typical Irish pub, and Leipzig is no exception. Here, you can enjoy a relaxing evening with great draft beer, good food and watch some sports. If you like whisky, be prepared, they offer 76 various whiskeys.What is the average price of a house in Germany? ›
The average sales price of single-family and duplex homes in the biggest cities in Germany varied between approximately 5,000 euros and 11,000 euros per square meter in the third quarter of 2022.What is a good salary in Germany? ›
Is 60.000 Euros A Good Salary In Germany? 60.000 euros a year in Germany is considered a good gross salary as it is well above the average salary of 47.700 euros a year for the whole country. Most Germans who earn 60.000 euros or more are very happy with their salary.Are clothes expensive in Germany? ›
In Germany the quality of clothing is high, but so is the price. A pair of jeans will cost you around 50 and 100 euros, while a pair of shoes (Nike Running shoes for example) will cost you between 60 and 120 euros. For a pair of Business shoes, you will have to pay a higher price ranging between 70 and 150 euros.What was considered the most musical city of Germany? ›
Since 2014 the city has had another name: UNESCO City of Music – once again it is worth taking a look back in time to learn more. In the eighteenth century, Mannheim was already famous for its composers, violinists and orchestral musicians; it was home to the so-called “Mannheim School” (only in German).What is the music capital of Germany? ›
From the pounding kick drums to one of the world's greatest symphony orchestras, Berlin has long been an iconic music city in the world.
In December, Bach was released from detention and unfavourably dismissed, allowing him to start work in Köthen. That same month, he travelled to Leipzig, his future home, in order to inspect the organ at St Paul's Church.
What was the music capital of the world? ›
Depending on who you ask, Austin has been known as the Live Music Capital of the World for about four decades, with the city officially adopting the nickname in 1991.What music do most Germans listen to? ›
Pop is the most listened to music genre in Germany. Followed by hip-hop music and rock music, these make up the top three of the most popular types of music. The ranking is also echoed among those who purchase music CDs, though a rising share of consumers don't buy CDs at all.Which city has the biggest music scene? ›
Austin, Texas, is America's No. 1 live music city, with an average of five concert venues per capita — plus nine music festivals planned for 2022, which is almost 2x more than the average U.S. city!What is the best city in Germany for classical music? ›
While the main attraction of Hamburg's classical music scene is the Elbphilharmonie, the city has more to offer those who appreciate live music of the more orchestral or classical variety.What is German culture? ›
Germany is known for its long and rich history, one that has put it at the forefront of European thought, politics, and art for over 1,000 years. This history has shaped a culture that combines predominantly Christian values with literature, art, philosophy, logic, reason, and, of course, a love of beer and sausages.What is music called in German? ›
If you want to say “music” in German, you would simply say “musik.” Because German and English are so closely related, much of the vocabulary is almost identical.Who is the father of music? ›
|Johann Sebastian Bach|
|Portrait of Bach by E. G. Haussmann, 1748|
|Born||21 March 1685 (O.S.) 31 March 1685 (N.S.) Eisenach|
|Died||28 July 1750 (aged 65) Leipzig|
|Works||List of compositions|
Apparently, Paul McCartney and George Harrison were huge fans of Bach, and when Paul McCartney was writing Blackbird he was inspired by a piece titled Bourrée in E minor by Johann Sebastian Bach.Where is the oldest music in the world? ›
The Hurrian Hymn was discovered in the 1950s on a clay tablet inscribed with Cuneiform text. It's the oldest surviving melody and is over 3,400 years old. The hymn was discovered on a clay tablet in Ugarit, now part of modern-day Syria, and is dedicated the Hurrians' goddess of the orchards Nikkal.Who named Music City? ›
So what about that nickname? Well “the Music City” name comes from a highly unlikely source: Queen Victoria, herself.