FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.
Fly Chicago

Leipzig for Music, Art and Coffee Lovers

by Barbara Rogers

May 8, 2020

Photo: Stillman Rogers

Destinations / Europe

Couples who share a love of music will quickly feel at home in the east German city of Leipzig, hometown of composers Bach and Mendelssohn. The city’s annual Bach Festival fills the city’s churches and concert venues with music. The church where Bach played and taught is home of the world-famous St. Thomas Boys’ Choir, and Leipzig’s Gewandhaus Orchestra is one of Europe’s most celebrated.


Leipzig’s vibrant contemporary art scene, its compact Old Town’s beautiful covered galleries and charming Art Nouveau coffee houses (not to mention the pastries they’re famous for), make Leipzig a perfect choice for a romantic getaway. No wonder it is one of the most popular destinations in eastern Germany.


The central point is the huge square, known as the Markt, which extends in front of the impressive Old City Hall, one of Germany’s most beautiful Renaissance buildings. The farmers market is held here, along with concerts, and it becomes a great outdoor concert hall during the Bach festival.

Leipzig Old City Hall and Market. Photo: Stillman Rogers

The nearby St. Thomas Church (Thomaskirche), where Martin Luther preached in 1539, became a center of Protestant sacred music, and Bach served as music and choir director for more than 25 years. It is still a year-round music center, with the famous boys’ choir and frequent concerts drawing music lovers. Bach was also music director of St. Nicholas Church, where several of his works were first performed — go here to hear the organ, one of Europe’s finest.


A block behind St. Nicholas on Augustusplatz is Neues Gewandhaus, home of one of Europe’s most renowned symphony orchestras. The main concert hall houses one of the city’s two Schuke organs (the other is at St. Thomas Church).


Leipzig is not just about Bach. You can visit the authentically restored and furnished 1844 home of Felix Mendelssohn to see the composer’s study and music salon. A highlight of the museum is a chance to conduct a virtual orchestra, using the innovative conductor’s podium, called an Effektorium.


Leipzig’s Museum of Fine Arts contains more than 3,500 paintings from the Middle Ages to the present, but the city is perhaps better known for its current lively arts culture, inspired and nourished by the transformation of a complex of 20 former cotton mills into the Leipzig Spinnery (Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei). The 50-acre former industrial site now includes art galleries, craftsmen’s workshops and studios and galleries representing about 100 artists, as well as vast exhibition spaces. Exploring this complex, you’ll find fashion designers, printers, potters, photographers, conceptual artists, sculptors, videographers, a goldsmith, a café and restaurants. If all this inspires you, an enormous art supply store can set you up with everything you need to get started.

Raspberry Torte Riquet, Leipzig. Photo: Stillman Rogers

Between all these highlights, you should take time for another of Leipzig’s great contributions to European culture: the coffee house. Germany’s first coffee house is thought to have been in Leipzig, and you can learn all about them at one of the oldest coffee shops in Europe, Coffe Baum, also home to a quirky but surprisingly large — and free —Coffee Museum. Displayed through 15 rooms are more than 500 artifacts tracing the history of coffee and the local coffee house culture.


Stop downstairs for the signature Baumkuchen, and, as you tour the city, look for these coffee houses near other attractions. Opposite St Thomas Church you’ll see cane chairs and tables in front of the Art Nouveau-style Café Kandler. Foil-wrapped Bachtaler (Bach coins) are good souvenirs — bonbons of hazelnuts, mocha nougat and fine chocolate wrapped around a whole coffee bean.


Another branch of Café Kandler hides in the beautiful Specks Hof, part of the Mädlerpassage and its adjoining passageways and atriums that tunnel through buildings at the end of the Old City Hall. Built to shelter tradespeople from the weather, they connected shops with merchants’ houses, morphing with time into elegant shopping arcades.


Our favorite coffee stop is the ornate Art Nouveau confection of Cafe Riquet, beautifully restored and redolent of the era’s stylish haute-monde atmosphere. It’s easy to spot, with its exotic pagoda roof, colorful mosaics and pair of copper elephant heads flanking the door.


Apart from the Cotton Mill complex, all these attractions are a short walk from the value-priced INNSIDE Leipzig Hotel, across from St. Thomas Church. In a distinguished old building, the new hotel offers contemporary rooms, a bright lively vibe, lots of public space and a rooftop bar and pool with views over the city.


Insta Feed
Travel Tips
Nov 22, 2023

New Hilton Report Shows What All Ages Want from Travel

Trying to plan a multigen trip? You may anticipate trouble finding a travel destination, activities and more to appeal to every member of your crew. However, a new report from Hilton found there are certain experiences all travelers want right now, regardless of generation.

Interior Upgrades Begin Rolling Out Across United Fleet

United Airlines is in the midst of a major initiative to modernize its fleet over the next several years. After first announcing the plan in 2021, planes fitted with United’s signature interior are finally beginning to appear across the airline’s narrowbody fleet of Boeing and Airbus planes. United flyers are sure to notice these enhancements from the moment they step on board: Each new or updated plane sports remodeled seats, seatback entertainment screens for everyone, Bluetooth connectivity and more, all adding up to a better experience on every journey.

Nov 21, 2023

10 Resorts & Hotels Around the World with Festive Celebrations 2023, Part 2

With the holiday season upon us, resorts all over the world pull out all the stops to bring the joy of the holidays to family travelers of all ages. Here are five more resorts to check out this holiday season:

Nov 17, 2023

Perfect Holiday Gifts for Travelers on Etsy

When searching for unique gifts for family travelers, Etsy is a good place to begin. A marketplace of online shops owned by craftspeople and collectors, Etsy is filled with handcrafted works in all mediums, often one-of-a-kind or custom-made. It’s like an open studio, a place to share the latest creations directly to people who appreciate handcrafted things.

Unearth Seoul’s Hidden Gems

Filled with hidden treasures waiting to be discovered, Seoul invites travelers to unearth its many gems, and Seoul Tourism Organization is here to help travelers do just that. Through thoughtfully created initiatives like the Theme Tourism County Competition, Seoul Tourism Organization works closely with local districts to identify and showcase what makes each district unique and charming in all seasons.

Nov 16, 2023

Norwegian Cruise Line Returns to Asia with New Itineraries

Norwegian Cruise Line is known for offering an impressive assortment of itineraries letting family travelers visit practically every corner of the globe, but one part of the world has been missing for the past few years: Asia. Luckily, that is finally changing as the line returns to the region for the first time in three years.