What to See in Leipzig in One Day

Leipzig in one day. Universität Leipzig
Why visit Leipzig for a day? The train from Dresden to Leipzig in Eastern Germany takes about an hour and Leipzig is the quintessential German university town. We were also lucky to have the benefit of a local 'tour guide' to show us around because our sister-in-law's sister is a Ph.D. student here. Read on to learn more about things to do in Leipzig and how to spend a day in Leipzig on a day trip from Dresden.

Summary List of What to Do in Leipzig in One Day

  1. Take the tram to Völkerschlachtdenkmal (Leipzig's Napoleon monument).
  2. Walk Leipzig City Centre
  3. Experience Universität Leipzig
  4. Climb City-Hochhaus for sweeping views
  5. Spy Leipzig street sculpture
  6. Shop and photograph the pedestrianized core of Leipzig
  7. Visit Leipzig Old Town churches
  8. Eat afternoon cake and coffee in Leipzig Old Town
  9. Visit Leipzig’s Student Quarter

Leipzig’s Völkerschlachtdenkmal

If we'd been on our own, we may not have taken the time on our short visit to travel by tram (Lines 2 and 15, 2.60 EUR, 25 minutes) to Völkerschlachtdenkmal (Leipzig's Napoleon monument). However, we're so glad we did go because Völkerschlachtdenkmal was a highlight of our visit to Leipzig. The Napoleon Monument in Leipzig features strong and sturdy lines and sits in a vast park. Rich in world history, Völkerschlachtdenkmal commemorates Napoleon's defeat in Leipzig. Proposals to build a monument on the site date back to 1814 but construction didn't begin until 1898 and wasn't completed until 1913 which explains how some of the seemingly Art Deco features were included. We paid our entrance fee (8.00 EUR for adults) and went inside.
Points of interest in Leipzig in one day: Völkerschlachtdenkmal, the Napoleon Monument
After a short climb, we arrived in a round chamber surrounded by statues of soldiers. The interior felt a little like a museum so we were totally not expecting it when a large acapella group entered the chamber and started to sing!

We continued our climb up a dizzying set of spiral stairs. We emerged onto another platform and looked down at the choir serenading us below. Looking up we saw impressive rings of mounted riders on the dome. We stepped outside to admire the views of Leipzig.
Things to do in Leipzig in one day: Listen to the choir inside Völkerschlachtdenkmal, the Napoleon Monument
An impressive array of menacing statues guarded the structure. We continued around, admiring the views as we went. We climbed back down and emerged on a lower level platform. Back inside, the choir was still going strong! We listened to the final few minutes of the concert while looking at the larger than life statues in the 'Hall of Fame'. They are said to represent the four legendary historic qualities ascribed to the German people: bravery, faith, sacrifice, and fertility. With that we headed back to the tram and onward into town.
What to see in Leipzig in one day: statues inside Völkerschlachtdenkmal, the Napoleon Monument

Walk Leipzig City Centre

Leipzig has great atmosphere and it’s fun to just walk around and get a bit lost while seeking out amazing photo spots. We started by admiring the facade of Leipzig Opera and a sturdy clocktower situated nearby. Across the street, we saw Universität Leipzig (Leipzig University).
What to see in one day in Leipzig: Leipzig Opera House with rubber duck

Experience Universität Leipzig

Leipzig is a university town and the campus is integrated into the city. We spotted an old church that had been taken over, renovated, and converted into part of the university. It was an impressive edifice.
Leipzig from Dresden for a day: Universität Leipzig

Climb City-Hochhaus in Leipzig

City-Hochhaus is the tallest building in Leipzig and we made our way there since the sun was shining and beautiful views were expected. The views from the top of City-Hochhaus were indeed stunning and we stopped for a beer on the roof. We could see for miles in all directions. We could see man made lakes in the distance re-purposed out of disused communist era coal mines. We even caught a glimpse of the Napoleon Monument way in the distance.
Things to do in Leipzig in one day: Climb City-Hochhaus for stunning views

Leipzig Street Sculpture

Keep an eye out for sculpture on the streets of Leipzig including one creation representing the five senses. We saw another famous statue which our local guide told us represented the path from the Nazis to Communism to freedom.
Things to see in Leipzig in one day: Five senses sculpture

Shop and Photograph the Pedestrianized Core of Leipzig

Shops and fountains lined the pedestrianized Leipzig city centre. We ducked into one of many shopping passages that criss-cross Leipzig and were lucky enough to find that this particular passage was lined with art. A device sat near the center of one chamber where visitors could have a go and make 'music' by running their hands along the lid. We emerged onto the street again to admire the architecture of the city. We entered another passage with interesting accents. Goethe's favorite pub was inside and is a popular tourist attraction. We wound our way through the passage and out the other side.
Things to do in Leipzig in one day: walk through shopping arcades

Visit Leipzig’s Churches

We caught a glimpse of Nikolaikirche from the narrow city streets and peeked inside. The interior is a pastel array with sturdy columns and dense stucco decorations on the ceiling.
Points of interest in Leipzig Germany: Nikolaikirche

Thomaskirche (Thomas Church) is another important point of interest in Leipzig and we did a loop around the church. Thomaskirche is most famous because Johann Sebatian Bach once worked here. The interior contrasted sharply with Nikolaikirche. Red piping lined the ceiling. Thick stained glass windows let in dimly colored light. Various side chapels led off of the main chamber.
Points of interest in Leipzig in one day: Thomas Church (Thomaskirche)

Afternoon Cake and Coffee in Leipzig

Coffee and cake is an afternoon food ritual in Germany that I wish would take off across Europe. We stopped for a coffee in the shadow of Thomaskirche. A slice of cake rich with marzipan was a welcome treat. Old and new collided around us.
Things to do in Leipzig in one day: eat marzipan cake

Visit Leipzig’s Student Quarter

We finished our tour of Leipzig in the student quarter, affectionately known by the locals as 'Karli'. The neighborhood was definitely colorful and was lined with some of the best street art I've ever seen.
What to see in Leipzig in one day: street art in the student quarter (aka Karli)
Leipzig’s street art was intermixed with more 'old school' signage like a neon sign of a family eating.
What to see in Leipzig Germany: neon signs in the student quarter (aka Karli)
We wandered into a courtyard which is sometimes used as an open air movie theatre. Once again, street art abounded. We finished our tour of Leipzig with some typical student eats, a kebab at Olive Tree.
What to see in Leipzig Germany: open air movie theatre in the student quarter (aka Karli)

Is Leipzig Worth Visiting for a Day

Spending one day in Leipzig is totally worth it if you happen to be nearby in Dresden or Berlin. We had a great time in Leipzig which was enhanced further by the fact that we knew someone who could take us around and give us more context on the things we were seeing. It's always great to have a local guide! We covered a lot of ground during day trip to Leipzig.

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: What to See in Leipzig in One Day
What to See in Leipzig in One Day
Find out what to see in Leipzig Germany in one day. Explore Leipzig points of interest on a day trip from Dresden. Learn about things to do in Leipzig in a day. Read about a Dresden to Leipzig day trip. Figure out how to spend a day in Leipzig.
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