As a trade capital and music destination, Leipzig has been dubbed the "most liveable city in Germany." But take time to look outside the city limits, and you’ll see it’s in the middle of much more.
11 kmEast Germany once had a thriving manufacturing sector, but some of those industrial locations are now used for entertainment.
Cospudener See, or Lake Cospuden, was once an open coal mine — a scene of dusty, hard labour.
But now it's a spot to enjoy a day at the beach, try water sports or even sit in the sauna propped perfectly at the edge of the lake. The sauna has 7-foot viewing windows.
The lake is a 20-minute drive from Leipzig, making it the ideal way to escape the city.
48 kmColditz castle is on a hill overlooking the Zwickau Mulde River. The World War II Allied prisoner camp — famous for its high number of successful escape attempts and the films and TV series that document them — is now open to the public. The former German command centre now acts as a youth hostel for visitors wanting to experience a night in the castle.
Visitors will gain perspective, learn about past generations and experience a part of German history. Take the 3-hour tour that covers the famous escape tunnels and secret passages, some of which went unnoticed for decades.
142 kmBauhaus was founded in Weimar in 1919 when Walter Gropius merged the 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.
The museum displays works of its founder with other pioneers: Lyonel Feininger, Gerhard Marcks, Johannes Itten and Paul Klee. If you’re an art enthusiast or simply looking to be inspired, the museum is worth a visit.
148 kmErfurt is a charming medieval typical of many German towns, with red roofs and cobblestoned streets. The town has a flourishing university where famous theologian Martin Luther 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 1,100, its delicate architecture offers a glimpse into medieval Germany and the centuries that followed.
Dedicated to documenting the many treasures excavated in the city’s Jewish quarter, the museum has coins, treasures and jewellery, including a stunningly detailed 14th-century Jewish marriage ring.
Saxon Switzerland National Park
156 kmSometimes all you need is a bit of fresh air. After you’ve seen the local cities, eaten the local delicacies and drank the local favourites, all that’s left to do is stretch your legs and walk off the excess energy. Saxon Switzerland National Park has over 400 km of hiking paths and 50 km of biking trails, along with more than 12,000 different climbing routes.
Don't be alarmed if you’ve only got a day to spend. You can still see the two main sights. Stop at the Schrammsteine, a beautiful naturally formed rock formation, and the Bastei, a famous bridge among rocks that provides an amazing view of the Elbe river.