On the Mittelland Canal in Lower Saxony, Wolfsburg is a very young city, at no more than 80 years old. One could say that Wolfsburg has its existence and origins to one car, the VW Beetle, which first came off the production line from the company in 1938. In the next few decades, a whole city was planned and built for the Volkswagen plant’s workers, and famous architects of the world like Alvar Aalto were hired for the job of getting the city built.
As you will right now see, Volkswagen and cars, in general, are the forefront of Wolfsburg’s tourist appeal. The Autostadt is a heaven on earth for car fans, a futuristic park where brand new VWs have transported automatically from the factory and stacked by robots in two silos.
The “Automobile City” as it is known in English, Autostadt that is next to Wolfsburg’s Volkswagen factory, is many things rolled into one cutting-edge attraction of modernism.
There’s a museum on the history of automobiles, which we’ll come to next, as well as a delivery centre where customers are presented with their newly-minted Volkswagen to drive home.
You can also test drive cars at the Autostadt, including the 4×4 Volkswagen Touareg on an off-road course.
And hundreds of new VWs are stacked in two 60-metre silos and are automatically conveyed here from the factory along a 700-metre glass tunnel.
We’ll talk about the sleek Porsche Pavilion later, but you have to see the Premium Clubhouse, which has top-of-the-line sports cars like a Bugatti Veyron.
In a sensational glass building in the Autostadt is a multi-brand car museum chronicling the 130-year history of the automobile.
The museum has picked out a host of epochal vehicles that represent a leap in the evolution of the car, based on criteria like production methods, design concept, appearance or the vehicle’s technology.
The exhibits are a replica of the Benz Patent-Motorwagen from 1888 and the first VW Beetle, personally driven by Ferdinand Porsche.
Among the many other classics are the Volkswagen Type 2 van from 1949, a Jaguar E-Type and a Porsche 356.
Volkswagen Factory Tour
You can also contact the Autostadt to arrange a two-hour guided tour of the Volkswagen factory next door.
Covering five square kilometres, Wolfsburg’s VW factory is one of the largest and most advanced car production facilities on the planet.
Some of the marvels that will greet you are a press shop that processes 1,500 tons of sheet metal a day, and then the automated body shop, paint shop and assembly line where the cars are completed before your eyes.
After this intensive, multilingual tour you’ll know pretty much everything worth knowing about how VWs are made.
For the world’s most revered sports car brands, the Porsche Pavilion at the Autostadt is a thing of beauty and awe.
This smooth building, clad with brushed metal, mimics the classic curves of a Porsche car and was built by Henn architects in 2012. A curved ramp carries you down to a showroom where the latest models like a Panamera, Boxter and 911 are on show, together with historic models that go back to the brand’s origins after the Second World War.
Besides the vehicles, there’s a couch with tablet computers recounting Porsche’s story.
Auto Museum Volkswagen
Found separately from the Autostadt, the AutoMuseum Volkswagen is a testimony to the brand of Volkswagen and can be found on the south side of the Mittelland Canal opposite the Allerpark.
The original Beetle car is obviously the darling, and you can track up to 75 years of its production, up to the final model that rolled off the production line in Mexico in 2003. Some other cool models to check when you are visiting are an Iltis that competed in the Paris-Dakar rally in 1980, a rare Pininfarina-designed type 4 prototype from 1966, a Pirelli Golf I from 1983 and a graceful Karmann-Ghia Type 14 coupé from 1972.
The Wolfsburg Castle started it’s life as a lowland fort at the turn of the 14th century.
As the nature of conflict and land ownership changed down the years, the owners, the knights of von Bartensleben turned the property into a luxurious Weser Renaissance palace in the 1500s.
The grounds that had previously been the outer defences, became sumptuous gardens enhanced by the old moat, and are now the serene public Schloßpark.
The buildings house some of Wolfsburg’s municipal and cultural institutions and put on events and exhibitions all year round.
You can visit the small museum to get to know the long history of the castle and the short history of Wolfsburg as a city.
Phaeno Science Center
Very near to the Wolfsburg’s Hauptbahnhof, Phaeno is an interactive science museum in a marvellous building designed by Zaha Hadid.
It houses more than 350 hands-on stations that kids and grown-ups can witness to get in grips with scientific concepts.
The stations are designed according to six different themes which are: Life, Vision, Energy, Dynamics, Mind and Mathematics.
Every station is built by the principle that fun and playfulness can help kids to learn.
They’ll be able to operate maglev trains, see a six-metre fire tornado, play and experience with static electricity, interact with robots and much more.
The city’s major art museum was founded on the south side of Wolfsburg’s pedestrian zone in 1994. All of the art is contemporary and modern.
The collection has around 400 different pieces for movements like Arte Povera, concept art and Minimalism.
This is normally displayed for thematic exhibitions when you can expect to see works by stalwarts such as Olafur Eliasson, Christian Boltanski, Bruce Nauman and Jeff Wall.
But it’s the visiting, short-term exhibitions that draw the most visitors and acclaim.
For the past two decades since the museum opened there have been shows of a lot of famous artists such as Giacometti, Man Ray and the photographer Pieter Hugo and also the installation artist Jeppe Hein.
It is one of Germany’s largest public leisure areas and is called the Allerpark which spans 130 hectares in size and has a wealth of attractions and facilities in its vicinity.
The park is little more than 15 years old, but in that short timeframe, a host of projects have furnished it with major venues like the Volkswagen Arena, AOK Stadium (Home to VfL Wolfsburg’s women’s team), but also smaller attractions like a water sports centre, artificial beach, hockey rink, swimming complex, bowling alley, high ropes course and disc golf course.
Surrounding around arenas and attractions there’s lush greenery, centring on the massive Allersee lake.
Most of the sports fans and sports enthusiasts may know Wolfsburg because of their professional football team that was founded by Volkswagen factory workers when the city was just seven years old in 1945. Until 1992 VfL Wolfsburg were playing amateur football and won their first promotion to the Bundesliga in 1997.
Like nearly all Bundesliga stadiums the 30,000-capacity Volkswagen Arena is a supreme place to watch football, with up-to-date facilities, cheap tickets (€15.00 for standing) and a boisterous but well-behaved crowd.
If you come outside the season or can’t get tickets there are 90-minute stadium tours from Tuesday to Friday (14:00) and on the weekends (11:00 and 13:00).
Wolfsburg has something for everyone and should be on your list as a must-visit place when visiting Germany. So what are you waiting for? Let us here at Pickyourtrail plan your next trip to Germany with our exclusive customizable itineraries and packages so that you can travel hassle-free!