After I first moved to Leipzig, a fellow expat gave me the best piece of advice. He said, “You’ve got to get out of the city center. Everyone tends to gravitate there because it’s so pretty, but you’ll only discover the true Leipzig when you venture out of downtown Leipzig and into the surrounding neighborhoods.”
After a couple of years of calling Leipzig my home, I can say that he is absolutely right. I know that, as a tourist, you are going to want to hang out around downtown Leipzig, and you should! The St. Thomas Church is historical, the streets are beautiful, and you can stumble upon some excellent restaurants and cafes. Yet, if you want to get that Leipziger feeling, explore the neighborhoods. That’s where it’s at.
Spend an Evening on Karli
If you want to hang out with the locals on Friday and Saturday nights, make your way to the Karl-Liebknecht Street (also known as Karli). It’s just south of downtown, and the perfect area to go for some good food, chill bars, and a great atmosphere.
Relax at Leipzig's Best Lake
The Cospunder See is probably Leipzig’s favorite lake. The locals call it the “Cossi” and love to head there for strolls around the lake, swimming and water sports, and some nice party vibes on the Nordstrand (North Beach) during the summer. Alternately, if you are not up for any outdoor activities, you could grab a bite to eat and relax at Sole Mio, a quality restaurant that has a great view of the lake.
Canoe Through the City
Most visitors never realize that you can actually canoe through the city of Leipzig. There are tons of small waterways that will lead you through old neighborhoods with historic houses, renovated factories, or simply some quiet and peaceful nature. One of my favorite places to rent canoes is at Freizeit Abenteuer in Plagwitz. The canals there are pretty, and there’s a cute restaurant by the water where you can grab a bite to eat afterward.
Drink a Gose at the Bayerischer Bahnhof
Gose is Leipzig’s beer. It’s been around since the 13th century, and became some popular in the 19th century that there were a number of Gose taverns around Leipzig. After almost becoming extinct in the 20th century due to the World Wars and communism, Gose is back on the rise and has claimed its seat again at the head of Leipzig’s beer table. The best place to try this somewhat unique beer is at the Bayerische Bahnhof. The atmosphere is nice and Gose is brewed right there in their brewery.
Attend the World's Largest Gothic Festival
For one weekend every year, the Wave and Gothic Festival takes over the city of Leipzig. Even for those who aren’t attracted to the gothic scene, the Wave and Gothic festival is an event you wouldn’t want to miss if you’re in the area. It’s one of the biggest Gothic Festivals in the world, and people come from all over to celebrate and dress up in some… very interesting costumes. I can guarantee that your head will be turning left and right. It’s a fascinating event.
Get Lost in Plagwitz
If you are searching for that Leipzig vibe, look no further than Plagwitz. It’s a more alternative district with a lot to explore. A stroll down Karl-Heine Street and throughout the district will introduce you to some of Leipzig’s best restaurants, up-and-coming artists, trendy bars, cute coffee shops, beautiful canals, and alternative movie theaters.
Go to an Alternative Movie Theater
People in Leipzig don’t like doing things the usual way. Take the movies for example. Instead of just having a bunch of the same kind of movie theaters that play all of those typical Hollywood blockbusters, Leipzig has a number of alternative movie theaters that showcase international and indie films. The movie theaters themselves have unique designs unlike the more commercial movie theaters we are used to. A couple alternative movie theaters that I liked are Schauburg and Passage Kino.
Stumble Upon Leipzig's Best Beer Garden
You’d probably never find it, unless you already knew about it beforehand. Substanz is unique, off-the-beaten path, and happens to be Leipzig’s favorite beer garden. It’s a great place to relax and have a drink during the warmer months of the year. It’s also what you’d imagine a Leipziger beer garden to feel like, cool and with a bit of a twist.
Discover Leipzig's Best Art at the Spinnerei
When you think of art in Leipzig, you think of the Spinnerei. There are artists from all over the world showcasing their work in this huge complex of industrial buildings that formerly boasted one of Europe’s largest cotton factories. It’s so big that you could easily spend hours and hours roaming through it all.
Hang Out on the Sachsenbrücke
The Sachsenbrücke (Saxon Bridge) is one of the most popular places for people to hang out during the summer months. You’ll usually find the younger generation sitting around, talking, and having some drinks. Families will also make a pit stop at the bridge to buy some ice cream for their little ones. I’ve also even seen older people there, chilling out on the benches while drinking a bottle of wine.
Watch One of Germany's Best Soccer Teams
Leipzig’s soccer team has soared to the top of the Bundesliga over the last few years, and more and more locals are getting excited about RB Leipzig’s newfound status. On game days, traffic gets crazy, and you’ll see tons of RB Leipzig fans roaming toward the stadium. If you want to celebrate like these locals, go to the store and grab a beer on the way to the game. It’s a typical thing to do.
Make Your Tummy Happy on Gottschedstraße
As tourists, it’s easy to get stuck only eating in the city center. And, while Leipzig does have some good places to eat downtown, a few of my favorite restaurants are located on a street nearby called Gottschedstraße. Restaurants like Cafe Luise have excellent crepes, Crepes while you can also have quality Vietnamese for a good price at An Nam.
Watch the Sunset from Europe's Tallest Monument
Most tourists end up going to the Völkerschlachtdenkmal (Monument to the Battle of the Nations) during the day. Yet, I believe that Europe’s tallest monument is most impressive in the evening. You can climb up the stairs, and have a great view of Leipzig as the sun goes down. By the time you make your way back down the stairs, you arrive just in time to see the monument light up under the dark sky. It’s impressive.
Picnic in Clara-Zetkin Park
Clara-Zetkin is a hotspot for locals during the summer months. You’ll see Leipzigers hanging out, playing games, and grilling their favorite German steaks and sausages. If you want to fit in, just grab some food, create your own small picnic, and enjoy that beautiful summer weather in the park.
Try Leipzig's Traditional Food
If you’ve made it this far in the article, I’m sure you are the kind of person who wants to try the local foods and drinks when you visit a new place. Well, lucky for you, Leipzig’s got a few of its own specialities. The Leipziger Allerlei, which is a vegetable mix with crayfish, is probably the dish Leipzig is best known for. The Leipzig Lerche has been around since the 1700’s and is still a popular pastry sold in bakery’s around Leipzig. Of course, as I mentioned above, the sour beer Gose is a must-try for beer fans. Then, you can’t forget the Christmas market, which also has regional foods, sweets, and specialities that you won’t be able to find around other Christmas markets around Germany.
Hike Up Fockeberg for a View of Leipzig
Leipzig is pretty flat, which means that there aren’t many places where you can get a quality view of the city. Fockeberg, which is basically a pile of rubble from the second World War, is a more hidden spot that offers an excellent view of the city. You can walk or bike up the hill (and actually see some of the rubble on the way up). It’s a great mini-workout that provides you with a nice reward at the top.
Get in the Christmas Spirit at Leipzig's Christmas Market
Christmas markets in Germany are something special, and the Leipzig Christmas Market is no different. From the end of November until Christmas, downtown Leipzig is covered with stands selling hand made crafts, yummy foods, and lots of sugar-filled treats. Leipzig even also has its own specialties at the Christmas market like the Leipziger Waffle, Kräppelchen, Mutzbraten, and more!
Dive into Leipzig's Creative Scene at Werk 2
Leipzig is probably one of Germany’s most artistic cities, and the Werk 2 is the perfect place to experience it. This former factory building has been transformed into one of Leipzig’s main sociocultural centers where you can not only go to concerts, but you can also take pottery classes, attend glass blowing classes, and graphics printing workshops. If you do want to join in on one of the workshops, just make sure you book it in advance. They fill up.
Grab a Burger Before Your Night Out
I am from the United States, home of the best hamburgers in the world. So, it’s not often that you will see me recommending a burger joint on the website, but Big Burgester is iconic in Leipzig, and if you are after the local hot spots, you should definitely make a pit stop there. The best time to grab a burger (and sweet potato fries!) is before you go out to one of those many bars on the Karl-Liebknecht (Karli) street in Südvorstadt.
Climb Up the Wackelturm
If you are looking for a prime spot to check out the sunrise or sunset, head to the Leipziger Auwald and climb up the Wackelturm. You’ll get a chance to take a stroll through the park beforehand (a very Leipzig thing to do), and will later be rewarded with a surprisingly great view of the city once you make it to the top of the tower. Oh, and by the way, if you feel the tower shaking a bit, don’t worry! It’s called the “Wackelturm” (wobbly tower) for a reason.
Go Stand Up Paddling at the Schladitzer Bay
If tourists go to one of Leipzig’s lakes, it’s typically the Cospudener See. It’s a great place to walk, have a bite to eat, or even party during the summer months. However, if you are looking for a quieter, more sporty lake, then I would recommend the Schladitzer See. It’s north of the city, and you can easily rent paddle boards, play beach volleyball, and go wind-surfing. Of course, they also have a few good cafes where you can grab a drink and a bite to eat as you are soaking in that beautiful scenery.
Play Leipzig's Dirtiest Game of Bingo
If you are a fan of those classic “that’s what she said” jokes, then Bingo night at Stoned is something you are probably going to like. The host is from England, and somehow seems to make the innocent game of Bingo a little more adult. It usually takes place once a month during the winter, and if you are lucky enough to experience it, it’ll probably be the most interesting (and dirtiest) game of Bingo you’ll have ever played.
Explore Leipzig's Most Alternative Neighborhood
If you are looking to explore Leipzig’s most alternative neighborhood that most tourists have never even heard of, head south to Connewitz. You can get the neighborhood’s vibe as you walk through the graffiti covered streets, pass by eclectic shops, and people-watch in the street. Connewitz is also home to Werk 2 (mentioned above) and an animal park.
Play Foosball All Night at Kicker's In
Who doesn’t love a good, competitive game of foosball? Well, you’ll probably meet your match at Kickers In. They’ve got the best foosball players in Leipzig, who are always ready for the next challenge. It’s a great way to not only have a more dynamic night in the city, but to meet some of the locals as well.
Meet Locals at the Japanese House
If you are looking for a great place to meet the locals (as well as have a nice bite to eat!), head over to the Japanese House on Eisenbahn Street. Every Saturday, they have an event called Kuche fur Alle, which means food for everyone. You can either help them to cook starting at 5:00, or help yourself to the delicious food starting at 8:00. It’s a great place to mingle with all sorts of people, and they’ll even throw in some music or a movie on certain Saturday nights. Check out this youtube video for an even better idea of what it’s like.
Natalie is the creator of this website, Tourist 2 Local, and has a huge passion for traveling and learning about other cultures. She enjoys diving deeper into the places she visits and is curious about the various foods people eat, languages they speak, and the different traditions and customs people partake in around the world. Apart from traveling, Natalie is a fierce board game player, an English teacher, and someone who is interested in just about every sport and activity.