Image credit: Karsten Planz
A trade capital, musical midpoint and officially the ‘most liveable city in Germany’, Leipzig quite literally has it all. But take the time to look outside and you’ll see it’s in the middle of much, much more.
As is the case with a lot of East Germany, things that once had an industrious, manufacturing purpose are now employed simply for the pure enjoyment of the people. Cospudener See or Lake Cospuden was once an open coal mine, a scene of dusty, hard labour, but is now a spot to come and enjoy a day at the beach, try your hand at the local water sports or even the sauna propped perfectly at the edge of the lake (complete with 7 foot viewing windows).
It’s only a twenty minute drive from central Leipzig, making it the ideal trip for those looking to escape the city and have a day at the beach, which considering your over 200 miles away from the sea is quite the luxury.
Sitting on a hill overlooking the Zwickau Mulde River, Colditz is a castle with a name few need reminding of. The World War Two Allied prisoner camp made famous from its high record of successful escape attempts and the films and TV series that documented them is now open to the public with its outer courtyard and former German Kommandantur now acting as a youth hostel for those looking to get a real insight into what a night in a castle actually feels like.
The perfect stop-off for those looking to get some real perspective, learn about past generations and soak up a real slice of German history, make sure you take the tour – three hours of the famous escape tunnels and secret passages, some of which went unnoticed for decades.
A school that needs little introduction, Bauhaus was founded here in Weimar in 1919 when Walter Gropius merged the then University of Arts with the Staatliches Bauhaus to create a new breed of art school. The focus was on modern, forward-thinking design and process and its influence is still felt in modern thinking right up to the present day.
Here you can visit a museum which displays the works of its original founder alongside its pioneers Lyonel Feininger, Gerhard Marcks, Johannes Itten and Paul Klee. If you’re an art enthusiast, lover of sharp shapes or simply looking to be inspired, the museum offers that quiet chance to collect your thoughts as you spiral in and out of design history.
1 hour 40 minutes
92 miles south-west of Leipzig is the charming, medieval city of Erfurt. Not one to be mentioned in many tourist guides, it’s a typical ‘red roof and cobbled streets’ German city complete with a flourishing university at which famous theologian Martin Luther originally studied in the early 1500s.
The city is also home to what is thought to be Europe’s oldest standing synagogue, fittingly titled Alte Synagogue. Built around AD 1100, its delicate architecture is a unique glimpse into medieval Germany and the centuries that followed. Dedicated to documenting the many treasures excavated in the city’s Jewish quarter, the museum displays include countless coins, treasures and jewellery, with a stunningly detailed 14th century Jewish marriage ring a beautiful highlight. If you’re looking for authentic Germany, this is it.
1 hour 40 minutes
Saxon Switzerland National Park
Sometimes all you need is a bit of fresh air. You’ve seen the local cities, eaten the local delicacies, drank the local favourites – all that’s left to do is stretch those legs and walk off all that excess energy. Enter Saxon Switzerland National Park. With over 250 miles of hiking paths and 31 miles of biking trails, you’ve a wealth of options available to you. And if walking or biking aren’t your true passions there are over twelve thousand different climbing routes. That’s right; twelve thousand.
If you’ve only got a day to kill don’t be alarmed. You can see the park’s two main sights in a day’s walk, stopping at the Schrammsteine, a beautiful naturally formed rock formation and The Bastei, the famous bridge on rock that affords you a most amazing view of the river Elbe. Proof that city breaks don’t have to be all about the cities.
1 hour 50 minutes