Discover Germany’s Best Kept Secret: Leipzig
By Kimberly Wilson
Affectionately known as the “new Berlin,” Leipzig has grown as Germany’s charming new cultural hot spot. Known for its outstanding architecture, art, and lively city center that hosts hundreds of shops, restaurants, cafes and clubs, Leipzig is a must-visit destination in Europe. Though smaller, less populated and lesser known, Leipzig is thriving. The city, which boasts shopping, nightlife, culture and an art district that rivals most of the larger German cities such as Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin, is finally “on the map” so to speak. In 2015, Leipzig celebrated its 1,000th birthday, and the celebration will continue throughout the remainder of 2016. So if you’re taking a trip to Germany, why not venture out of the larger cities, and spend a day or two, in quite possibly Germany’s coolest city? Here’s your quick guide to the wonderment that Leipzig has to offer.
Where To Stay:
The Park Hotel Seaside is something special. Located in the heart of city center and directly across the street from the rail station, you can’t get any better than this. Just a short walk from most of the city’s major attractions and restaurants, the art-deco hotel has been rated as one of the top hotels for tourists and locals alike. Not only does the hotel have a world-class restaurant and a great ambiance, it also provides the perfect atmosphere for whatever type of evening you’re seeking – whether to relax over a drink with friends or for those looking for an evening of peace and leisure.
Looking for modern luxury in Leipzig? Sometimes it’s great to turn to a brand name that you trust. In this case, it is the first-class Radisson Blu Hotel. Located directly opposite the Gewandhaus concert hall and the opera, the Radisson Blu is perfect for those looking to upgrade their visit in this small, social city. Perfect for both business, and leisure, the hotel offers a great starting point, world-class accommodations, top-notch food, and excellent customer service, catering to whatever your heart may desire.
What To Do:
Guided Public Tour (offered in English and German)
One of the best things to do in Leipzig is simply to just walk around. You’ll discover the city’s architectural delights, and important sites of the city such as St. Nicholas’ Church, “Specks Hof“ Passage, Naschmarkt with the Old Stock Exchange, Mädlerpassage with “Auerbachs Keller“ (the most popular restaurant), Old Town Hall on the market square and St. Thomas’ Church.
Once led on the tour, not only will you have an hour to roam around the city, but you’ll also continue your journey by bus, to visit the further sites and attractions. Once on the air-conditioned bus, you’ll visit Leipzig highlights such as Round Corner Memorial Museum, Zoo with the new “Gondwanaland” tropical dome, Gohlis Palace, Schiller House, “Rosental“ pleasure ground, beautiful architecture of the years of rapid industrial expansion in Germany at the end of the 19th century and “Red Bull Arena.“ Not only will you be personally led to each of the destinations, but your tour guide will fully equip you will the history and background for each of the historic sites. It’s the perfect place to take photos, ask questions and take notes while being guided through Leipzig.
Individual Kayak Tour on Leipzig’s waterways
Not interested in seeing Leipzig by foot or bus? You can rent a kayak at the boathouse on Klingerweg and set off for individual canoeing across the Elster flood-basin. On your tour, you’ll be able to discover the industrial architecture of the Bohemian district of Plagwitz from the waterside. This is a perfect afternoon activity that attracts hundreds of tourists each year. If kayaking is not your forte, you can also rent a rowboat or authentic Venetian gondola to see Leipzig from this unique angle. And what makes it even more perfect, are the dozens of restaurants and cafes lined across the waterway, allowing you to stop in and out to enjoy culinary bites.
Visit Leipzig´s other Pub Districts Drallewatsch (the Barfußgäßchen area) or the Theatre District (the Gottschedstraße area)
After you’ve seen Leipzig by day, it’s time to experience the city at night. Drallewatsch and the Theatre District are the best places to go for a wonderful time, great cuisine, and lively entertainment right in the heart of the city. Grab a German beer, and wander in and out of the pubs, to be greeted to creative professionals, and friendly faces that are enjoying a night on the town. What adds to Leipzig’s charm is its people, and this city has some of the friendliest faces you’ll find in Europe.
Visit the Spinnerei galleries– From cotton to culture
Many are unaware, but Leipzig’s art scene has an excellent reputation worldwide. So if you’re an art enthusiast, it’s only right to visit the legendary Spinnerei, which is formerly the largest cotton mill of continental Europe. Now home to galleries, exhibition halls and artist studios, this has become a hub to some of the top artists in Germany. Taking residency at Spinnerei, artists have developed the cotton mill into a hub of art and culture. On Fridays and Saturdays, you’re able to take a guided tour of the galleries, and if you like what you see, you can actually stay overnight in some of the studios (which actually ends up being a bit cheaper than some of the local hotels).
Where To Eat:
A visit to Chinabrenner is a delight for the palate! Though Chinese in Germany may seem like an interesting option, it offers some of the most delectable cuisine that you may ever taste. And the history of the restaurant is quite an interesting one as well. Opened by Wrobel, the wood artist and world traveller learned to cook in the Chinese province of Sichuan. Later he decided to bring these talents to Leipzig when he began with a small, mobile version of Chinabrenner. Now a full-scale brick and mortar restaurant, you can satisfy your culinary cravings right in the heart of Leipzig.
If you are looking for a place with nice atmosphere in the old city center of Leipzig, this restaurant does it. In the heart of the Altstadt on the Markt, Weinstock offers traditional German dishes, fresh seasonal cuisine (including seafood) and more. The team of restaurant “Weinstock” indulges their guests with delicious arrangements and quality beers/wines making it one of the top visited restaurants in Leipzig.
Kimberly is a NYC-based editor, writer and social media strategist. She also moonlights as the editor of Travel Noire.