Leipzig is the most populous city in Saxony, Germany and is considered hip, young and up-and-coming. Thanks to the large number of sights in Leipzig and many hidden spots, the city is perfect for a weekend trip.
In this article I will tell you what you absolutely must not miss in Leipzig and I will share with you some great hotel, bar and restaurant tips for your visit
As always, at the end of this post you will find a map with all the best places to visit in Leipzig mentioned in the article as well as my Leipzig insider tips.
The best places to visit in Leipzig – including insider tips
The historic center
The old town of Leipzig, located in the center of the city, is one of my favorite areas. During a walk you will come across some of the most beautiful places to visit in Leipzig!
The central square is the Markt Leipzig. On weekends the large square regularly hosts markets, but even when it’s empty it’s still worth a visit as the market is lined with many restaurants, shops and shopping arcades. The highlight, however, is without a doubt, the impressive facade of the old town hall (Altes Rathaus) from the Renaissance period. It was completed in 1556, making it the oldest surviving building on the market square. Today you will find in the building, among other things, the history museum of Leipzig.
Insider tip: If you walk through the corridor of the old town hall, you will reach the Naschmarkt with the beautiful baroque old stock exchange. The inside is less spectacular – it now serves as a concert and festival hall – but from the outside, this lesser-known attraction in Leipzig is a must-see photo opportunity!
Old Town Hall
Old Stock Exchange
At the end of the Naschmarkt is the Mädler-Passage, under which Auerbach’s cellar (Auerbachs Keller) can be found. The cellar vault, from the 16th century, became world famous because it is the scene of the work “Faust” – probably Goethe’s best-known work. The poet, by the way, was himself a student in Leipzig! Today you can still enjoy Saxon specialties as well as wine and beer from Saxony in the historic atmosphere of Auerbachs Keller – ideal for a snack at lunch.
Well-known Leipzig sights in the historic center are also the two main churches: The Nikolai church (Nikolaikirche) – the oldest church in the city – and the historic St. Thomas Church (Thomaskirche), in which Martin Luther already preached. It is also known for the St. Thomas boys choir (Thomanerchor), which has its origins here and was founded in 1212. Johann Sebastian Bach worked as music director in the Thomaskirche and is buried in the nave, which is why the church attracts many visitors.
As you can see, Leipzig has a living history – if you want to delve into it in more detail, I definitely recommend a visit to the City History Museum in the Old Town Hall. This is also a great activity for a rainy day.
The Monument to the Battle of the Nations – The most famous place to visit in Leipzig
Probably the most famous sight in Leipzig is the Monument to the Battle of the Nations (Völkerschlachtdenkmal), which commemorates the battle in October 1813 in which Germans stood on both sides. This battle in Leipzig was a crucial turning point in the wars of liberation against Napoleon, as his troops had to retreat after the defeat.
The monument in Wilhelminian style was inaugurated in 1913 on the centenary of this historic day, precisely at the location in Leipzig where the decisive battle was fought.
From 10 a.m. onwards the interior of the 91 meter high monument can be visited for 8 euros per person. Inside the hall of victory you’ll find huge statues of the so called “death watcher” – it is an impressive atmosphere. In addition, a staircase leads up to the viewing platform, which offers a great view of Leipzig.
the monument seen from above
photo by Benjamin Diedering
Leipzig insider tip: The best view over the city
You can get the best panoramic view of the entire city from the viewing platform of the 142.5 meter high Panorama Tower. When the weather is good you can see not only all of Leipzig’s well-known sights, but also the surrounding area.
Drinks can be ordered at a stand and since you can look in all directions from the viewing platform, the Panorama Tower is probably the best spot to admire the sunset. Admission costs 5,- Euros per person.
Insider tip: The panorama restaurant is only one floor below the viewing platform and offers delicious food. The entire restaurant is glazed all around, so you can enjoy the view in a cozy atmosphere even in bad weather.
A canal ride through the city
My favorite way to explore Leipzig is on the water, because the city is criss-crossed by a 300-kilometer network of canals and rivers and is often referred to as “Little Venice”.
Whether by canoe or on a guided boat trip, the best place to start your canal trip is from the city harbor in Plagwitz. This is where the trips start (and end) or you can rent kayaks. The journey takes you through the former industrial area, which has now been converted into a chic residential area, but also through green city forests and parks. In these moments you completely forget that you are in the middle of a big city.
→ You can use this link to book various boat and canoe tours online in advance. They are usually booked up quickly, especially on weekends and when the weather is good.
Your trip to Leipzig is not complete without a tour on the water, because it shows a completely different and beautiful side of the city.
Artist district in Leipzig
After your cruise ends at the city port, be sure to leave some time to explore the neighborhood – especially if you’re passionate about art. Plagwitz and Lindau are considered hip districts in which “slightly different” sights of Leipzig can be found.
As the name suggests, the cotton spinning mill (Baumwollspinnerei) used to be a site with a huge industrial spinning mill. Today, the large halls primarily serve as studios and galleries for artists. Hall 14 with constantly changing exhibitions is particularly well-known.
The area is very alternative and there is something to discover around every corner – architecture and lifestyle photographers will find many special motifs here.
To experience art up close and interactively, a visit to the Kunstkraftwerk is worthwhile. In the halls, well-known works of art as well as new interpretations are projected onto walls, ceilings and floors while moving to music. As a visitor, you literally immerse yourself in the art. The themes and artists of the shows change at regular intervals, which is why I can recommend to visit more than ones at different times. Entry costs €13 per person.
photos by Benjamin Diedering
The Cospuden Lake
If the weather is good, a trip to the outskirts of Leipzig to the numerous lakes in the Leipzig Neuseenland is a great activity for the day. Especially popular with the people of Leipzig: “Cossi”, the Cospudener See. Due to its size of 400 hectares, as well as the beaches and boat docks, it almost exudes a “sea feeling” in sunny weather. The lake can be navigated with both sailing boats and pedal boats, but is also great for swimming.
A visit is worthwhile all year round: there is always something going on in the restaurants and bars, some of which are even located partial over the water. Offers include summer lounges, mulled wine stands or a great Italian meal.
Incidentally, the sunsets on Lake Cospuden are particularly beautiful – a romantic spectacle that can be admired either from one of the restaurants or from your own picnic blanket. The “Cossi” is not without reason the favorite Place of the people of Leipzig.
photos by Benjamin Diedering
Leipzig restaurant tips & bar recommendations
- Kar-Li – The trendy bar district on Karl-Liebknecht-Straße (hence the name), is very popular with students and young people in the evening.
- The DankBar – A great wine bar with small dishes in a great ambience. The bar is very popular with the people of Leipzig and is almost always full in the evenings, which is why I recommend to make a reservation.
- Bull & Bonito – Hawaiian meets Mediterranean! Sounds interesting, but it’s totally delicious. In addition, the location directly at the Thomaskirche is unbeatable.
- Endless – A great and playful cafe, which is great for breakfast.
- Auerbachs Keller – Although I have already mentioned the historic vaulted cellar earlier in this article, it should not be missing from this list. A must for “first time visitors” in Leipzig!
- Bar Cabana – The rooftop bar on the Innside by Melia Hotel is not at a dizzying height, but it is right in the historic center of Leipzig with a view of the town hall and the Thomaskirche. The atmosphere is particularly beautiful at sunset and in winter when heated bubbles are set up on the roof. A great location for drinks in the evening.
Hotel recommendations in Leipzig
The best hotel location for a short trip to Leipzig is in the center. That’s why we love the → Townhouse Leipzig very much! It is located in a historic building right next to St. Thomas Church, but it was only newly opened. The rooms are individually designed and modern, the team is friendly and the breakfast leaves nothing to be desired.
Another great hotel in the center is the → INNSIDE by Meliá with the aforementioned Rooftop Bar Cabana.
INNSIDE by Meliá
Although I had never seen Leipzig as an excursion or travel destination before, after my first visit I immediately realized why the city is so popular with tourists, students and its residents: It offers the right area with different activities for everyone. Due to the large number of sights in Leipzig and the eventful history, it has a very special charm. We always enjoy coming to Leipzig and I hope that you too will fall in love with the city.
By the way, Leipzig is not only worth a visit in the warm months. Also in autumn and – especially – in the Christmas season, it exudes a great atmosphere, which is worth a visit!