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Insider tips: Where to go in Leipzig?

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Insider tips: Where to go in Leipzig?
Photo: DPA
08:42 CEST+02:00
Imagine yourself in the very centre of Leipzig on the viewing platform of the city’s tallest building, the MDR Tower. Over four kilometres to the southeast, the giant monument to the 1813 Battle of the Nations sticks out like an Aztec temple.

The general lack of skyscrapers allows a handful of smaller spires to be seen - the minarets of the New Town Hall (constructed over a hundred years ago), the Dalek-like steeple of St Alexei’s Russian Memorial Church and the white tower of the Thomaskirche where Bach was cantor and Wagner was baptized.

Ten minutes away from Europe’s largest train station and costing €3 to access, this view should be the starting point of every visit to Leipzig.

Much of the city is also worth a closer inspection. In the Baumwollspinnerei, a former cotton mill, visitors scour the eerie and dilapidated redbrick buildings in search of thought-provoking art exhibits.

The city’s zoo contains a giant indoor rainforest through which tour boats meander looking for monkeys and tapirs.

And in terms of museums, the enormous Zeitgeschichtliches Forum, which chronicles Germany’s turbulent history from the 1940s onwards, can feel overwhelming compared to the much more compact and spine-chilling Stasi Museum - both are free.

Those with a little more time and should devote a day to the Grassi Museum as well as the Bach, Mendelssohn and Schumann museums.

The best food spots are just west of the central Market Square in the Barfußgäßchen, where the best deal to be had is the all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch (complete with smoked salmon, sausages and fresh fruit) at the 100-Wasser café for just under €9.

The Auerbachs Keller, located in the glass-roofed Mädlerpassage shopping arcade, requires booking thanks to the quality of its typically German dishes and its appearance in Goethe's Faust.

Cheap and plentiful food can be found all along the less touristy Karl-Liebknecht-Straße. For those missing scones and conversation with fellow expats, The English Room coffee bar provides homemade food, a fireplace and leather armchairs.

For a brief escape from the city centre, enjoy an almost entirely flat, ten-kilometre cycle ride through boar-filled forests to stretches of sandy beach at the Cospudener Lake.

At night, Leipzig has an incredible amount on offer, from smaller bars such as Substanz with its grand piano-cum-table in the Reudnitz district to the vibrant student nightclub at the Moritzbastei and the beach-themed La Playa complete with its own swimming pool.

There are also plenty of hotels to stagger back to. The Radisson Blu and cheaper Novotel both offer comfortable and centrally located accommodation, but the cafés and bakeries around the nearby Market Place provide better value breakfasts.

The visitor to Leipzig needs at least four days to cover the attractions, but it would be a shame to leave Saxony without spending some time in nearby Dresden or seeing the breathtaking Bastei Bridge in hilly ‘Saxon Switzerland’.

You will also probably never be closer to Colditz Castle, a Second World War POW camp which hosted some ingenious escape attempts from its troublesome Allied officer inmates. An extended tour by the highly-entertaining Steffi Schubert should make the one hour and twenty minute bus ride well worth it.

Paul Batty

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