By C.H. Kwak—
Just over an hour away from Berlin by train, Leipzig makes for a great day trip. Whether you’re a classical music fan or a history buff, there’s plenty to keep you busy for a day (or, preferably, more). Here are some tips to help you have a good time on a budget in Leipzig:
1. Train ride from Berlin for €14
Interconnex, a private train line that links the Baltic Sea to Saxony, offers tickets as low as €14 from Berlin to Leipzig. From Potsdamerplatz, the direct ride takes just over an hour.
Deutsche Bahn tends to be pricier, but the Schönes Wochenende Ticket on weekends allows up to five people to travel anywhere on regional trains for €37 for a day—a total bargain, though at a sluggish pace (two and a half hours, one way).
2. Classical music for €2
Not to drop names, but perhaps you’ve heard of Johann Sebastian Bach or Felix Mendelssohn? Their careers are inseparable from Leipzig, where they led the world-famous St. Thomas’s Boys Choir (Thomaskirchhof 18). Don’t let the prepubescent singers’ fame intimidate you. The weekly service featuring the choir is open to public and will only set you back €2.
The Gewandhaus Orchestra (Augustusplatz 8), the world’s oldest symphony, is also worth a visit.
3. Historic places
In its ten-century history, Leipzig has seen its share of historic moments. Völkerschlachtdenkmal (Straße des 18 Oktober 100, Admission €6, €4 reduced), or the “Monument to the Battle of the Nations,” is a hefty stone temple that commemorates Napoleon’s defeat in Leipzig. Climb the over 500 steps up its intricate façades for a view of the surroundings.
St. Nikolas Church (Nikolaikirchhof 3) was the epicenter of the democratic protests that eventually brought down the East German government. Toward the last of the church’s Monday night vigils, word of mouth was bringing in up to 70,000 anti-government protesters. Today, it remains a Lutheran church, but its role in bringing down the Iron Curtain merits a visit.
4. Tasting Goethe (and more)
Restaurant Auerbachskeller (Grimmaische Straße 2-4) dates back to at least the 15th century, and young Goethe frequented it as a student in the 1700s. In his play Faust, Goethe uses the basement wine bar as the setting for Mephistopheles’s black magic. Today, it’s just an innocuous restaurant frequented by the well-heeled and tourists alike.
For a more budget option, head down to the district of Südvorstadt, populated by students and young artsy types. Along Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse, budget eateries and bars abound. L’arte della cucina italiana (Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 56a), for instance, sends out delicious €4 pizzas and equally affordable daily specials from its open kitchen. From Südvorstadt, follow the crowd farther south to Connewitz for more underground nightlife fun.