This university town retains its joie de vivre and, despite problems arising from reunification, it radiates positivity. Unsurprisingly, it is the only host city in the former communist East Germany for next year’s World Cup. With its rich musical and literary history – Goethe, Bach, Wagner and Mendelssohn all lived here – Leipzig could happily rest on its laurels, but the overriding vibe suggests it’s keen to embrace the future.

City of the revolution
Although the felling of the Berlin Wall got the lion’s share of media attention in 1989, it was actually Leipzigers who kickstarted the long fight for freedom. In the months preceding the communist bloc’s dissolution, Leipzigers challenged the authority of the ruling party by holding peace services in St Nicholas church. Fittingly, the ceiling of this beautiful church is richly decorated with palm leaves, symbols of peace and freedom.

Pub miles and miles
Snaking from Leipzig’s city centre is not one but three pub miles (four if you include the smaller area developing around the street of Muenzgasse). There’s the theatre district of Schauspielviertel and the Suedmeild (or Southern mile), but the real drinking hub is Drallewatsch. The triangular area near the fountain on this thoroughfare is known as the ‘Bermuda triangle’ of the pub mile because, if you lose your friends here, you have no hope of finding them. Most of these streets have alfresco dining/drinking, with revellers spilling out, making Leipzig one of the most convivial cities around. Even better, the pubs are open until the last guest is gone”, according to one local.

Architecturally speaking
In the 15 years since reunification, Leipzig has shed its communist pallor and has been transformed into a modern city. Particularly exciting is the old industrial area of Plagwitz which showcases modern archictecture at its most innovative. Here, old utilitarian buildings like the old gas works and slaughterhouse have been converted into trendy loft apartments or artist space. Don’t miss the MDR building belonging to the local TV station which has been built in the shape of a TV screen.

Worth a look

Leipzig Zoo
On entering this wonderful zoo of the future, you’re likely to be greeted by a flock of pink flamingos going about their business. Such is the forward thinking of the zoo planners, the animals are kept in cage-less environments which replicate their natural habitats as closely as possible. They are also integrated with other species when practical (ie giraffes and zebras, but not lions and gazelles for obvious reasons). For the human visitors, there’s the African lodge overlooking the zebra enclosure which serves fantastically fresh food.

Colditz Escape Museum
An hour out of town is this fascinating relic from World War II. Run by the regular German army rather than the dreaded SS, Colditz prison was considered to be a soft touch (at least until the authorities cracked down in 1943), and was the scene of many escape attempts by the Allied soldiers interned there. Methods of escape included fashioning keys, digging tunnels, making German army uniforms or riding out in carts covered in rubble. Perhaps the most ingenious plan involved the construction of a glider by some of the men in the workshop. Although somewhat derelict, Colditz still manages to be rivetting, and value for money at only €5 for a guided tour.

Museum of Fine Art
This ultra-modern glass cube on Sachsenplatz houses some 2500 works by Durer, Rubens, Rembrandt, Rodin and van Eyck, to name a few.

Bonus points for: The feelgood vibe
Loses marks for: Being too upbeat