Gay Leipzig offers the perfect weekend getaway for LGBT travellers looking to book a holiday in Germany.
Germany’s fastest growing city offers gay-friendly hotels, a handful of LGBT bars & clubs, trendy restaurants and world-class museums.
Every July, Gay Leipzig also hosts an annual Pride Parade, known to locals as the CSD celebrations or Christopher Street Day.
Leipzig is the German city attributed to the start of the Peaceful Revolution in 1989. The protests led to the fall of communism in East Germany, indicating that Leipzig has a history of social activism and being a tolerant, gay-friendly city.
Leipzig has been an important trade hub since the time of the Roman Empire. It was known as a major centre of learning and culture in East Germany thanks to its history as host of the world’s most famous trade fare.
Leipzig was also Germany’s most important publishing centre until the Nazi era. Early gay writers Karl Heinrich Ulrich and Magnus Hirschfeld published several works, including Hirschfeld’s landmark 1901 book, “What People Must Know About the Third Sex.”
Today, the historic German city offers a bustling urban centre that plays home to over 600,000 residents. LGBT travellers planning a gay Leipzig getaway can visit a word-class zoo, acclaimed opera house and a slew of fine art galleries and trendy design museums.
Gay Leipzig Bars & Clubs
Leipzig is home to Europe’s largest gay sauna and Saxony’s biggest gay cruise club. The LGBT scene leans to a younger crowd as the historic centre plays home to a big university.
- Stargayte Sauna: One of the largest gay saunas in Germany, offers private cabins, a maze, lockers, a dry sauna and jacuzzi. Weekly themed nights include Fetish Day on Mondays and Daddy Day on Tuesdays. Open 24 hours on the weekend.
- Cocks Bar: Located beside Startgayte, this gay cruise and fetish club features cabins, dark rooms, slings and a maze. Regularly hosts themed underwear parties.
- APART: This lounge and bar is a gay-favourite in Leipzig serving local beer, wine and cocktails. In the summer its outdoor patio offers a great perch to people watch.
- Havana Club: The oldest gay bar in Leipzig offers a cozy space popular with businessmen for after work drinks. They offer two happy hours throughout the day.
- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: A popular LGBT party in Leipzig usually held on the second Friday of the month at Club Twenty One. The city’s best gay club night features electronic and pop music, cheap cocktails and drag shows.
Gay Leipzig Pride
Looking to visit gay Leipzig during its Pride Festival? Cities in Germany refer to their annual LGBT festivals as CSD Celebrations, short for Christopher Street Day.
CSD Leipzig first started in 1992 and is organized by an association of non-profits such as self-help groups, student councils and artists. Hosted every July, CSD Leipzig is the best time of year to experience the city’s gay scene. Leipzig’s CSD celebrations have a history of being more political than Cologne’s party-centric Pride.
The most important day at CSD Leipzig is Saturday. The local LGBT community starts a demonstration at 2pm at Marktplatz followed by a celebratory street market with live music and food. The biggest draw at CSD Leipzig is the Prideball. It’s known for being the big closing party at Pride week, which usually draws over 1,000 gay dance fans.
The best hotels in Gay Leipzig are located in the heart of the city centre. Since Leipzig’s top tourist attractions are largely within walking distance, it makes sense to situate yourself downtown. All of Leipzig’s hotels are gay-friendly and many of the luxury properties offer chic interiors.
- Hotel Furstenhof: Historic luxury hotel featuring a full-service spa, indoor pool and award-winning restaurant.
- Steigenberger Grandhotel Handelshof: Historic luxury hotel featuring a full-service spa, two restaurants and cocktail bar.
- Leipzig Marriott Hotel: This business hotel features spacious rooms, indoor pool, restaurant, cafe and bar.
- Radisson Blu Hotel: This business hotel features contemporary rooms, restaurant and lounge.
- The Westin Leipzig: This conference centre hotel features modern rooms, full-service spa, indoor pool, 4 restaurants, 2 bars and large event facilities.
Bruhl 14, 449-341-26890650
Serving local sweet fans for over 65 years, Cafe Kleinert is the best cafe and bakery in Leipzig. The small bakery specializes in making traditional German breads and rolls, Saxon cakes and pies and its signature Leipzig Larks.
The Leipzig Lark is the city’s hallmark food product. The local speciality traditionally features a butter shortcrust pastry and marzipan. The bakers at Cafe Kleinert also make creative interpretations of the Leipzig Lark featuring pistachio, coffee and candied fruits.
Katharinenstraße 10, 49-341-216990
History and art lovers on a gay Leipzig holiday will love strolling through the Museum of Fine Arts. The historic East German art gallery began in 1837, when local collectors and promoters sought to create a museum.
In 2004, the museum’s current building, designed by architects Karl Hufnagel, Peter Putz and Michael Rafaelian, opened to the public. Leipzig Museum of Fine Arts’s current collection includes over 3,500 paintings, 1,000 sculptures and 60,000 graphic sheets.
The collection features Old German and Early Netherlandish art of the 15th-16th century, Italian art from the 15th-18th century, Dutch art of the 16th century, French art of the 19th century and German art from the 18th-20th century.
Highlights of the collection include works by Frans Hals, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Caspar David Friedrich, Andreas Ashenbach and Max Klinger.
Leipzig Trade Fair
In 1497 Leipzig was granted imperial trade fair privileges by Emperor Maximilian. The Leipzig Fair was regarded as the “mother of all trade fairs,” and for decades was the world’s largest gathering of international merchants.
Today, in the historic city centre, visitors can stroll through arcades and passageways reminiscent of the Leipzig’s former fair activities.
Take a walk along Nikolaistraße and you’ll find the majority of the buildings hark back to this period. The unique architecture was added at the beginning of the 20th century with the establishment of Germany’s best fur factories.
Be sure to study each of the unique facades closely. You’ll find each merchant used an animal to differentiate its business, from a set of toddler topped rams, to slithering snakes, lumbering elephants and roaring tiger.
Nikolaikirchhof 3, 49-341-1245380
St. Nicholas is the most famous church in Leipzig. Construction started in 1165 in the Romanesque style, but later in the 16th-century it turned into a Gothic hall. Baroque details like the tower were added later in the 18th-century.
Famous composer Johann Sebastian Bach was the music director of “Nikolaikirche” from 1723-50. Several of Bach’s original works played here, including the premiere of St John Passion and Christmas Oratorio.
Every Monday at 5pm, the church hosts “prayers for peace.” The weekly ritual acknowledges that St. Nicholas Church was the starting point of the Peaceful Revolution in 1989. Still to this day it is an iconic symbol of German reunification.
Grimmaische Str. 2-4, 49-341-216340
If you’re a fashionista planning a gay Leipzig getaway make sure to make time to window shop inside the historic Madler Passage.
The impressive five-story shopping arcade was built between 1912 and 1914 by architect Theodor Kosser. The Madler Passage was designed with over 8,000 square metres of exhibition space spread across four upper floors. When it first opened to the public it was known for being the best place in Leipzig to buy porcelain, ceramics and earthenware.
Today, the posh 140-metre-long shopping promenade is a must-see for tourist, featuring exclusive fashion boutiques and cafes.
Grimmaische Str. 2-4, 49-341-216100
The most famous attraction within The Madler Passage is the underground Auerbachs Keller. It’s the best known and second oldest restaurant in Leipzig.
While it was already the city’s best wine bar in the 16th-century, it can thank its world-renowned reputation to Goethe’s play Faust. As German drama fans will know, Auerbachs Keller was the first place Mephistopheles took Faust on their travels.
The current restaurant features five historical dining rooms: Barrel Cellar, Luther Room, Goethe Room, Old Leipzig and Large Cellar. Auerbachs Keller is the perfect restaurant in Leipzig to taste traditional dishes from Saxony while sipping local wine or beer.
The beating heart of Leipzig’s historic centre can be found at Marktplatz. The city’s main square plays home to its Old Town Hall, which has been an architectural icon ever since it was built in 1556.
Since 1909, the striking building overlooking Marktplatz has served as the city’s history museum. Inside, the famous ballroom measures 43 metres long and was formerly used by Saxon princes for weddings, artisan festivals and grand balls.
Foodies on a gay Leipzig holiday should make a point of visiting Marktplatz on a Tuesday or Thursday. From 9am to 4pm you can enjoy browsing through a weekly outdoor market featuring farm fresh produce and gourmet food stalls.
Marktplatz Leipzig also hosts Germany’s second oldest Christmas market in December and a popular Easter market each Spring.
Thomaskirchhof 18, 49-341-222240
The city’s most famous Lutheran church is also closely associated with well-known composers Richard Wagner, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Johann Sebastian Bach.
You’ll find a statue of Bach by Carl Seffner standing directly in front of St. Thomas Church. Dedicated in 1908, it offers an homage to the German composer who acted as the music director from 1723 until his death in 1750.
Music lovers are perhaps most familiar with St. Thomas Church for its Thomanerchor, the resident boys choir, which was originally founded in 1212. Today, Germany’s oldest boys choir consists of 90 boys from 9 to 18 years of age. Check the choir schedule in advance and arrive early for the concert as the line can grow very long.
Augustusplatz 8, 49-341-1270280
The city’s passion for classical music continues if you walk to Augustusplatz. The bustling square is home to Leipzig’s orchestra and opera. Spin around for a 360 view and you’ll find two landmark buildings, which face each other across the square.
Gewandhaus plays home to the city’s symphony orchestra. Its origins can be traced to 1743, when the society of Grosses Concert performed in private homes across the city.
Since 1981, Leipzig’s orchestra has performed in the Gewandhaus concert hall, noted around the world for its fine acoustics. Check the Gewandhaus website to see what concerts and music festivals might be taking place during your visit to Leipzig.
Augustusplatz 12, 49-341-1261261
On the other side of Augustusplatz you’ll find the Leipzig Opera, which stands perched over a tranquil reflection pond.
The Leipzig Opera first launched in 1693, making it the third oldest opera in Europe after La Fenice in Venice and the Hamburg State Opera.
Perhaps it’s not surprising based on its location, that the Leipzig Opera does not have its own orchestra. The city’s orchestra, which regularly plays across the square at Gewandhaus, performs as the opera’s official symphony. This unique relationship first began in 1766 with performances by Johann Adam Hiller.
The construction of the city’s present day opera house began in 1956 and was inaugurated in 1960 with a performance of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg. Visiting opera fans can book tours of the Leipzig Opera throughout the year.
Schuhmachergäßchen 1, 49-341-9610000
Cafe Riquet is our favourite building in Leipzig, originally erected in 1909 by architect Paul Lange. Two bronze elephants guard the entrance of this Viennese-style cafe. Located in a striking art nouveau building, Cafe Riquet’s roof is uniquely topped with an Asian-inspired turret.
Riquet & Co Ltd was originally a manufacturing and retail business dating back to 1745. Riquet was known across Germany for selling imported cocoa, chocolate, sweets, tea, chinaware and oriental goods.
Today, the friendly staff at Cafe Riquet focus on keeping the “old coffee house” tradition alive. Of the more than 30 coffee houses that were once in Leipzig, Cafe Riquet is the last one standing.
Spinnereistraße 7, 49-341-4980222
Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei, also known as Leipzig’s Cotton Mill, was founded in 1884 and developed into the largest cotten mill in continental Europe. Over the next quarter century, an entire industrial town with over 20 factories, workers’ housing, schools and recreation boomed on the west end of Leipzig.
The cotton mills in Leipzig reached its peak of production in 1907, when 240,000 spindles processed cotton across a work area of 25 acres. At the time, over 4,000 people worked here, until production halted in 1993 following the reunification of Germany.
Today, Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei has been transformed into one of Germany’s trendiest art enclaves. Stroll along the cobblestone streets and you’ll find a clutch of contemporary art galleries, gift shops and cafes. The reimagined space reminded me of Toronto’s own Distillery District.
Visiting Leipzig’s old cotton mill is a dream for history and art buffs. There are now a total of ten permanent galleries, a communal art centre, fashion designers, architects, printers, goldsmith, arts supply store, porcelain manufacturer and over 100 artist studios.
Saalfelder Str. 8, 49-341-52950895
Located a short stroll from Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei, Kunstkraftwerk is a must-see video installation museum.
Located on the former site of the Grosse Leipziger Strassenbahn, Kunstkraftwerk was founded in 2014 by interior designer Ulrich Maldinger and medical statistician Markus Loffler. The duo named the exhibition space in homage to its use as a Kunsthalle (art museum) and its original use as a power plant.
Kunstkraftwerk regularly hosts international exhibitions, symposia, readings, concerts and parties in its 2,000 square metres of exhibition space. The focus at Kunstkraftwerk is to celebrate immersive art, where visitors can dive into works of art thanks to larger-than-life multimedia shows and installations.
Kunstkraftwerk’s most famous exhibition to date, entitled Renaissance Experience, features a three part cycle that transports viewers into the most important Italian Renaissance masterpieces. Sit back and relax on bean bag chairs on the floor and watch the Uffizi Gallery in Florence come to life!
Johannispl. 5-11, 49-341-2229100
Regularly ranked as the best museum in Leipzig, Grassi Museum of Applied Arts is the second oldest museum of decorative arts in Germany.
Housed in a sprawling building on the Johannisplatz, Grassi Museum of Applied Arts includes over 90,000 items of decorative art from all eras since antiquity. Visitors can explore endless hallways featuring ceramics, textiles, glassware, metalwork, sculpture, furniture and coinage.
The museum’s strongest and most notable collection is comes from the 1920’s and 30s. Its textile collection is particularly rich and boasts a spectrum ranging from early Coptic textiles to Bauhaus.
One of the highlights for most visitors to the Grassi Museum of Applied Arts is the Roman Hall, featuring panels salvaged from a palace in Eythra, which was demolished to make way for a coal mine.
Museum of Musical Instruments
The Museum of Musical Instruments is also located in the Grassi complex and belongs to the University of Leipzig.
Classical music lovers on a vacation to gay Leipzig should make a point of visiting as its the largest musical instrument museum in Europe. The collection features over 10,000 objects, from valuable European instruments to music-related items that can be traced back to the Renaissance, Baroque and Bach’s Leipzig period.
The oldest artifacts date back to the 16th-century, though the entire exhibition is organized chronologically into 13 distinct sections. Highlights include vintage piano rolls, the Friedrich von Amerling collection and a 1931 theatre organ.
Karl-Tauchnitz-Straße 9-11, 49-179-3291174
Looking to purchase trendy design-centric gifts to take home after your gay Leipzig getaway? Miriam Paulsen’s Tschau Tschussi is a colourful shop selling everything from ironic t-shirts, chic backpacks, postcards, accessories, jewellery, prints and stationary.
The popular hipster art and design shop is located in the GfZK, Gallery of Contemporary Art in the Karl-Tauchnitz-Straße.
Enjoy browsing and you’ll find a choir of eye-catching items. Highlights include prints from Riso Club Leipzig, silkscreens by Philip Janta, ceramics by Annika Schuler, soaps by The Printed Peanut, candles by Mon Man Tai and funny birds by Martin Gerstenberger.
Markt 7, 49-341-14060606
Restaurant Weinstock sits perched over Marktplatz and offers one of the best patios in Leipzig. In the summer, the 120 seat terrace is the best place in the city to people watch while sipping a glass (or two) of German wine.
The restaurant specializes in serving seasonal dishes from Saxony, but stands out most for its variety of exceptional wines.
We suggest hopping up at the bar to enjoy a German wine tasting. The restaurant’s friendly sommelier immediately recommends his favourite local bottles. Sip through white wine varietals such as Muller-Thurgau and Riesling, harvested from winery’s in Saale-Unstrut and Saxony.
Bayrischer Pl. 1, 49-341-1245760
Originally built in 1842, the Bayerischer Bahnhof is the oldest preserved railway terminal in the world. Today, it’s been transformed into Leipzig’s best craft brewery, beer garden and restaurant.
Master brewer Matthias Richter has been making the Bayerischer Bahnhof’s beers since 2003. The craft brewery in Leipzig is best known by locals as a Gosebrauerei, pouring the local specialty, Gose beer.
The original Leipzig beer was brought to Saxony-Anhalt in 1738. Originally Gose came from Goslar, a small town in Lower Saxony. The beer is known for being refreshing, with a slightly sour taste. The unique German beer is brewed with additional ingredients such as lactic acid, cilantro and salt.
Are you a beer lover visiting gay Leipzig and looking to quench your thirst? We suggest spending a sunny afternoon on Bayerischer Bahnhof’s patio sipping a glass of their signature Gose. Afterwards feel free to sample the breweries other craft beers such as Kuppler Weissbier, Heizer Schwarzbier, Schaffner, Prellbock and Berliner Weisse.
If you start to feel peckish, order the restaurant’s signature dish, a massive plate featuring crispy pork knuckle, pickles, sauerkraut, mustard and potato dumplings.
Pfaffendorfer Str. 29, 49-341-5933385
Zoo Leipzig is famous for being one of the oldest zoo’s in the world. Located in the heart of the city, Ernst Pinkert first opened Zoo Leipzig in 1878. On opening day the zoo attracted 4,500 visitors, excited to see exotic kangaroos, parrots, antelopes, a Bengali tiger and pair of lions.
Today, Zoo Leipzig covers over 23 hectares and features over 800 species from around the world. Leipzig’s zoo has a long tradition of keeping and breeding large carnivores. It has bred more than 2,000 lions and 250 rare Siberian tigers!
Zoo Leipzig’s biggest attractions are Pongoland (housing gorilla, chimpanzee and orangutan) and Gondwanaland, the world’s second largest indoor rainforest. Be sure to hop on the zoo’s boat cruise as it features a thrilling video installation that begins at the time of the dinosaurs. Afterwards you’ll putter along a lazy river flanked by fresh jungle foliage.
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