Words by Vittoria Caradonna
We take a trip Leipzig, the East German industrial town revitalised by artists and now known as one of Europe’s ‘alt-cities’.
Want to visit a city that’s a little bit off the beaten track? If so, this is for you, the ultimate insider’s guide to East Germany’s finest city (no offence Dresden). Leipzig is a city where you can walk alone, go to concerts alone, go clubbing alone… The following list is not by any means exhaustive of all the little treasures Leipzig has to offer but it goes a long way to prove that this city can be just as interesting as Berlin.
Do – G2 Kunsthalle
This contemporary art museum opened in the centre of the city back in 2015 and has a focus the ‘New Leipzig School’ of artists in both the permanent Hilldebrand collection and frequent rotating exhibitions. Book a guided tour with curator Anka Ziefer to get the scoop.
Do – Kolonnadenstraße
Just around the corner from G2 you can find Kollonadenstraße, a little gem of a street. In a 10 minute walk you can do both and visit mzin (mzin.de), a bookstore specialising in art and design publications. Take your pick or hit up the owners for a recommendation… they’re incredibly helpful.
Do – Baumwollwspinnerei
The sheer size of Spinny hits you when you cross its doors: sprawling over 10 hectares this former cotton factory turned network of art galleries is well worth a visit. Three weekends a year, during the Rundgangs, all the galleries and studios are open to the public with a rich programme of events and exhibitions. Or you can just go there at sunset on any given day and simply enjoy this incredible piece of urban heritage. If your thirst for unusual art venues is still not quenched you can also walk to Tapetenwerk, a former wallpaper factory that hosts open days and a wide range of events.
Do – Der Rundling
Take a walk across Connewitz, a neighbourhood formerly known for its abundance of punks and squats in the area. Although today most of the squats have been evicted, you can still find some remnants of the old spirit of the place. From here you can walk all the way to Lößnig to admire “Der Rundling” a modernist housing estate built in 1930 that’s named after its round shape and represents the new building of the Weimar Republic.
Eat – Japanisches Haus
Hit up Japanisches Haus, a gallery-come-community organisation, for the bi-weekly Vӧku (german for soup kitchen). For little money you can get delicious, homemade food and meet people from all over the world.
Eat – Makanan
The first and only Indonesian restaurant opened in Leipzig not so long ago. If you still haven’t tried the delicacies of this side of the world Makanan should be your first experience. They even have vegan options, so you really have no excuse.
Drink & Dance – Vary
Since you’re in the area you should also visit Vary, a record label/shop/cafè. If you’re lucky they’ll be throwing a party that night so you can stay and learn about the local music scene. If it’s too early, in the meantime you can explore Eisenbahnstr. and its bars and galleries.
Stay – Eden Hostel & Garten
With idiosyncratic spaces designed by different art collectives, the Eden Hostel & Garten harks back to hostels of yore before the five hour happy hour became ubiquitous. With a spacious, leafy garden at the back and décor inspired by the likes of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, bucolic Russian postcards to Japanese sleeping pod/spaceship hybrids. If you’re artistically inclined this laid back suburban area is the perfect place to relax.
Dance – Institut für Zukunft
With consistently good bookings and a roster of local talent, in little over two years IFZ has confirmed itself to be one of the most interesting clubs on the scene. Yes, there is a door policy but it’s mostly used to guarantee the happiness and safety of the people for whom places like this are designed: art hoes, Gosha Rubchinskiy’s aspiring models etc. You’ll find the usual fauna and flora of any good techno club of the world, but what IFZ has managed to create is a safe space for Leipzig’s weirdos and misfits who sometimes just need to dance their anxieties away.
Chill – Cospudener and Kulkwitzer Lakes
Leipzig has incredible access to nature for those who seek a dose of the quieter, greener lifestyle during their trip. There are many options: the parks, the very romantic canals, or, if the weather is nice enough, the lakes: Cospudener and Kulkwitzer. The latter is our favourite. Yes, it’s further away (ie. one rather sweaty bike ride), but as the local tradition prescribes these are clothes-free zones and at Kulkwittzer you’ll be surrounded by German Omas und Opas rather than by 20 something year-olds doing contact yoga and massage chains. The choice is yours!