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Leipzig New Lakeland – water galore on the outskirts of the big city

Paradise is on your doorstep

If you are interested in beaches and relaxing, but also action and culture, Leipzig’s New Lakeland area (Leipziger Neuseenland) is the perfect place for you. Just outside the large Saxon city of Leipzig, more than 20 lakes with a combined surface area of 70 km² have something to suit every holidaymaker’s taste. Every single lake in Leipzig New Lakeland has its own distinct character and offers unique experiences for visitors. Whether you are an active water sports enthusiast or rather fancy a leisurely trip to the beach with friends and family, you are sure to find your “favourite lake”. However, all of the bathing lakes in the Leipzig New Lakeland area do have one thing in common: the water quality is excellent, meaning that swimming in them is always an absolute pleasure.

From opencast lignite mining landscape to recreational region

What are now popular swimming and active sports destinations were once opencast mines where lignite was quarried. Sometimes referred to as Grubengold or ‘pit gold’, lignite has been mined and used industrially in several areas across Central Germany ever since the 19th century.

Since the end of the GDR, the region around Leipzig has undergone enormous change. While lignite still plays an important role in the energy mix today, for sociopolitical and ecological reasons most of the opencast mines near Leipzig have been decommissioned and painstakingly revegetated, with most of the residual open pits now flooded. While in GDR times Lake Kulkwitz, which was opened in 1973, became the best-known local bathing spot, from the early 1990s a succession of former opencast mines were gradually converted into lakes. Today more than 20 flooded pits, connected by a network of cycle paths and hiking trails, make Leipzig’s New Lakeland area a tourist attraction for the whole family.

A lake for every taste

The development of the 414-hectare Lake Cospuden, from opencast lignite mine to recreational oasis, is a prime example of how the region has changed. In the year 2000, Lake Cospuden was inaugurated as a bathing lake as part of a project for EXPO 2000 in Hanover. The harbour in Zöbigker has water sports facilities, restaurants, passenger ships, a sauna, and pedalcars and boats for hire, making it a popular meeting place for young and old. Over on the northern shore, the longest sandy beach in Saxony is ideal for bathing and playing beach volleyball. Those travelling on the water itself can paddle along Route 1, which leads from the new city marina in central Leipzig all the way to Lake Cospuden. Or why not climb the Bistumshöhe tower? You’ll be rewarded with spectacular views across the Neue Harth forest area and the amusement park BELANTIS.

Covering almost 600 hectares, Lake Hain is one of the largest bodies of water in Leipzig’s New Lakeland region. Like its neighbours, Lake Haubitz and Lake Kahnsdorf, it was once part of an opencast lignite mine known as Witznitz II. Efforts to transform Lake Hain into a tourist attraction began in 2008. Located about a 20-minute drive from the edge of Leipzig, it is not just a great place to relax, but also boasts a variety of water sports such as water skiing, banana boating and stand-up paddleboarding. Water sports enthusiasts can also explore the lake by private motorboat. Kahnsdorf Lagoon, embedded in the historic village of Kahnsdorf, is located on the southern shore of Lake Hain. There you can stroll along a two-kilometre promenade dotted with boathouses and holiday homes as well as a boat rental service. Kahnsdorf’s small sandy beach is also great for beach volleyball. The northern shore of Lake Hain has a camping and caravan site. The Gut Kahnsdorf, a charming period house beside Lake Hain, is perfect for weddings and family celebrations.

Nestled between Leipzig and the town of Markranstädt is the popular Lake Kulkwitz recreational area (170 hectares). Not only does it offer excellent water quality and a variety of sports and leisure facilities, but also the lush fauna and flora make this lake a highlight for nature lovers. Lake Kulkwitz has been popular with swimmers since the 1970s and is also considered a gem by scuba divers in particular. With an underwater park and visibility of over 10 metres, Lake Kulkwitz is one of the most popular diving sites in Central Germany. Surfing, sailing and angling lovers will also be in their element here. With various beaches and places to eat and drink around the lake, it has all you need when it comes to relaxation, sports and having a good time. From wakeboarding, water skiing and hiring a boat, to stand-up paddleboarding, relaxing in the sauna, hiking and cycling; you’ll never get bored at Lake Kulkwitz.

One popular excursion destination at Lake Markkleeberg (252 hectares), a body of water inaugurated in 2006, is Markkleeberg Canoe Park. It has one of the most cutting-edge white-water rafting facilities in the world, with white-water courses technically on a par with the Olympic facilities in London, Sydney and Rio de Janeiro. Paved trails make it easy to either walk around this lake or continue your tour to the next one. Sailing, diving, surfing and climbing are all very popular in the summer months. Those who like to keep the pace a little more leisurely can explore the lake aboard one of the two passenger ships or enjoy a few laps on the ridable railway in the miniature park not far from the family-friendly holiday resort Seepark Auenhain. A lock means that those travelling on the water can easily reach the neighbouring Lake Störmthal.

Lake Markkleeberg is connected at its southern end to its big brother Lake Störmthal (721 hectares). The latter was opened to bathers in 2014. The Mining and Technology Park is an eye-catching tourist attraction visible from far and wide. The VINETA is a floating venue accessible by vintage amphibious vehicle or by taking the ferry. 3D archery, motorboat tours, sailing trips, windsurfing and spectacular flights with the VINETA-Fly JetLev are all possible at Lake Störmthal. Every year in August, Lake Störmthal is home to Highfield, a three-day rock festival attracting up to 35,000 music fans. The LAGOVIDA waterside holiday resort is an ideal destination for days of pure relaxation.

Opened in 2003, Lake Schladitz (220 hectares) has a wonderful sandy beach, deep-blue water and a distinctly Mediterranean feel, making it a popular spot for bathing, swimming, and simply unwinding. Beginners and the more experienced can learn or hone the art of sailing, surfing or freediving at the lake’s very own water sports school, CAMP DAVID SPORT RESORT by ALL-on-SEA. Visitors can spend the night at Schladitz Bay – in tents, camper vans and small bungalows. Cyclists and inline skaters enjoy numerous paved and signposted trails stretching for around 11 km in total. The Water Lily Stage at Hayna Beach beside Lake Schladitz regularly hosts concerts, musicals and other cultural events against the historical backdrop of the Biedermeier-style beach – and the wonderful view of the lake is always included.

At 970 hectares and located approximately 12 kilometres south of Leipzig, Lake Zwenkau is the largest lake in the southern part of Leipzig New Lakeland. Originally the Zwenkau opencast mine, it was opened for tourism in 2015. Lake Zwenkau can best be discovered from the water – by motorboat, by paddling or sailing, or during a round trip with the passenger ship MS Santa Barbara. Zwenkau’s harbour boasts restaurants, boat hire, a tourist information service and holiday apartments; just above it is the exhibition pavilion with the model of the AFB 18 overburden conveyor bridge and an exhibition on mining history. The Eichholz and Neue Harth forest areas are perfect for leisurely strolls and long hikes.

For decades, the three lakes between Naunhof and Brandis have been popular destinations for bathers, hikers and cyclists. Surrounded by idyllic forests, visitors are sure to find peace and relaxation here. Opened in the 1970s, Lake Albrechtshain (24 hectares) has a campsite, boat hire and climbing forest and is located within sight of the striking Beucha fortified church. Lake Moritz and Lake Grillen (53 and 57 hectares) are popular places to relax, but also ideal for diving and fishing. These lakes are also known for their traditional nudist beaches.

West of Leipzig, near Hohenmölsen, lies the 36-hectare Moon Lake. It was established in the early 1990s as part of revegetation measures. Particularly popular with children is its 84-metre giant slide. In addition to a supervised beach section, there are also a nudist beach and a beach for dogs. The shallow waters along the shores of the Moon Lake are perfect for families with young children.

Active & Fit

Anyone who loves being active on the water should consider a canoe trip. Why not start out from Leipzig’s city marina and pass through the floodplain forest to reach Lake Cospuden? Alternatively, paddle from Pegau along the Weiße Elster river – there are five very different water routes to choose from in the Leipzig New Lakeland region. But not only canoeists will be in their element here. Leipzig New Lakeland is criss-crossed by an extensive network of cycle paths and hiking trails, promising the right tour for every taste and offering an insight into every stage of the local landscape’s transformation.

Every year during the first weekend in May, more than 6000 people take part in the “7 Lakes Hike” event. What’s more, dragon boat festivals, sailing regattas and international canoeing competitions have long since become firm favourites with visitors.

Fun & Relaxation

The new lakes around Leipzig offer excellent water quality, beautiful beaches and a well-developed network of circular trails, making them an excellent choice for families in particular looking to unwind in natural surroundings. The theme park BELANTIS makes for a fun and action-packed day out: it takes guests back in time, promises an adrenaline rush for those brave enough to ride the HURACAN rollercoaster, and fascinating shows and rides for children will have little ones’ eyes lighting up. Whatever your age, this region is packed with things to do, from romantic carriage rides and fascinating journeys on the coal railway, to trips by amphibious vehicle and tours of the lake by boat over a cup of coffee. The combination with the cultural highlights in the city of Leipzig, such as the Gewandhaus, Leipzig Opera and numerous cabaret acts, means any stay in the Leipzig New Lakeland region is sure to be unique.

Cultural highlights in Leipzig’s New Lakeland region

Castles, palaces, manor houses and churches bear witness to unique architectural and cultural tastes of bygone centuries. Visitors to the Mining and Technology Park at Lake Störmthal can experience first-hand the region’s mining history. With a fascinating series of exhibits, this open-air museum demonstrates the complete extraction cycle of an opencast lignite mine.

The most significant historical event in Leipzig’s New Lakeland area was the Battle of the Nations near Leipzig in 1813, which marked the beginning of Napoleon’s downfall. Every year in October, original locations in and around Leipzig attract visitors from all over the world.

Visiting the ruins of the 12th-century Romanesque Wiprechtsburg castle in Groitzsch is like stepping back in time to the Middle Ages. The oldest surviving stone structures in northwestern Saxony, the ruins bear witness to the former splendour of Margrave Wiprecht of Groitzsch. His final resting place is in Pegau town church, where his tomb from the 13th century can still be seen today. An interest in organ music and the corresponding instruments attracts not only organists and organ builders, but also plenty of music lovers to Leipzig’s New Lakeland region. While in Leipzig you can experience numerous new organs, the city’s surroundings are rich in antique instruments. Extensive organ restoration and reconstruction projects have attracted the attention of enthusiasts far beyond Germany. In addition to the two Silbermann organs in Rötha, the Hildebrandt organ in Störmthal and the Ladegast organ in Naunhof, a number of other examples built in the 18th and 19th centuries also generate considerable interest.

Important information at a glance

Leipzig New Lakeland is one of the most popular destinations in the Leipzig region, with guest numbers growing rapidly. If you want to combine a city break with a relaxing holiday in natural surroundings, take advantage of the local public transport services and head for the BELANTIS theme park and the lakes in the southern part of Leipzig New Lakeland. Buses depart from Markkleeberg, Böhlen and Borna. Guests from Leipzig, Halle, Zwickau or Altenburg can travel by S-Bahn to one of the departure points and take a bus to the lakes. The bus lines 101 (Borna–Zwenkau), 105 (S-Bahnhof Markkleeberg–Belantis–Zwenkau) and 106 (Größstädteln–Markkleeberg–Probstheida/Auenhain–Störmthaler See–Böhlen) run several times daily between 24 March and 31 October.

More information: www.leipzigerneuseenland.de

Research and text: Luise Karwofsky