Tips for Trips: Leipzig

At only just over 250km away from Prague, this Eastern German city provides the perfect getaway for Prague locals

Tucked away in the East side of Germany is an often-overlooked city that is the breeding ground for the creative arts. The likes of Bach, Wagner and Mendelssohn have an intrinsic connection to Saxony’s largest city while artists such as Tilo Baumgärtel and Neo Rauch have graced this trendy playground. No wonder it is being dubbed, “The New Berlin”. Another name the city has adopted is the “Stadt Der Helden” due to its role in 1989 peaceful revolution. This refers to when the residents of the city marched through the streets to protest the communist regime, a successful operation that helped end the Cold War just a few years later. Already given the city's nicknames you can begin to see it is no ordinary place.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Leipzig was feared to be heading towards a completely different direction to where it is now. The worry of a city requiring vast degrees of rebuilding and financial support are long gone and from its foundations sprouted a city so desirable locals are concerned over attracting too many private investors. “Hypezig” has been on the up ever since and all it takes is one walk around the Western districts to witness a peaceful backwater vibe. Rows of abandoned factories are being transformed into galleries, studios and various other exhibition stations, often decorated in vibrant graffiti art and lush shrubbery. If you make your way into the centre of the city then you’ll be welcomed by a historic area with an abundance of culture. The centre is a collision of the styles and ages of the residents of the city. It buzzes with a youthful exuberance but is kept at bay from feeling like a university city with the elderly locals who will remember the falling of the wall more vividly than their younger counterparts.

There is much to see and do throughout Leipzig. In the centre you can visit the grave of Johann Sebastian Bach, who is buried in the beautiful St. Thomas church, where he was a choirmaster. The war didn’t hit Leipzig as hard as other Eastern German cities and it still retains some of its detailed, idyllic past in regards to the architecture. This merged with the modern trams paint a fine picture of the counteracting modern and historical attributes the city possesses. If you’re looking for an eatery then Leipzig boasts 1,400 restaurants, pubs and bars, a large number for a city of 550,000. The Auerbachs Keller dates back to 1525 and offers a plethora of local delicacies and an art nouveau style. However, as is tradition in Germany, various bratwurst stands line the streets for those in need of an authentic snack.

If you would like to see the city from another perspective then look no further than the rooftop of the Panorama Tower. From here you can bask in a fabulous 360 view of the entirety of Leipzig and even further beyond. This birds nest setting allows you to map out your next move and revel in the beauty of the area. From here you can see the impressive Red Bull Arena, home of the local football team RB Leipzig. The club were only formed back in 2009, having been formerly SSV Markranstädt, but Red Bull bought the playing rights for the fifth division side and have since overseen a rapid rise. They achieved four promotions in seven seasons and now sit comfortably in second place in Germany’s top division, the Bundesliga. Their position in the Bundesliga would seem fitting due to the Bundesliga actually being formed in the city back in January 1900. The current sporting director of the club Ralf Rangnick recently had an interview with Prague.TV, which can be read here.

Attending one of the matches at their 40,000 capacity stadium is a feature that any visitor to Leipzig should consider. Even those who are not football supporters can’t help but be welcomed by the family atmosphere, something that is evident throughout the city, as well as the great food and drink stalls. There are few better football supporters worldwide than the Germans, so expect singing and chanting from the first minute to the last. The popularity and success of the club means tickets can sometimes be tough to obtain, check the clubs ticket page if you want to pick up some tickets for one of the matches.

At only just over 250km away from Prague, this Eastern German city provides the perfect getaway for Prague locals if they want to experience a more eclectic look at European cities. With so much variation in art, architecture, food, culture and people, Leipzig can cater to those of all ages and backgrounds who would like to see an overlooked side of Germany. One key thing to note is the friendliness of all the residents there who, unlike some other cities, are happy to embrace tourists and would be more than willing to point you in the direction of a good bar or restaurant. At a mere two and a half hours drive away it would be a missed opportunity to not at least visit for a day.

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