Autostadt at the VW automobile factory in Wolfsburg is a visitor experience attraction celebrating the car brands and history of the Volkswagen Group. Ultramodern architecture is used for the glass-and-steel buildings that house brand pavilions in a large park landscape. It is all glitzy PR but a fun trip with the ZeitHaus alone offering one of the most important automobile museums in the world. Autostadt is hugely popular with families with many activities and hand-on experiences.
Autostadt in Wolfsburg
Volkswagen’s Autostadt, literally Car City, in Wolfsburg is a large 28-hectare parkland campus with ultramodern glass-and-steel buildings of astonishing architecture. These are set in a green park with ample use of water features and gentle landscaping.
Autostadt is an enormous exercise in public relations and branding. It is used by the various brands in the Volkswagen Group to display its cars, values, histories, design philosophies, etc. However, it is a fun visit and most visitors will enjoy at least some aspects of this experience, whether the classic cars in the museum, the modern ones in the brand pavilion or the architecture, art and park.
Several play areas will keep children occupied while many of the water features are driven or influenced by jumping on platforms or spinning around poles.
Zeithaus Car Museum at Autostadt
The most-impressive cars in Autostadt are on display in the magnificent ZeitHaus car museum – it claims to be the most frequently visited car museum in the world. Here, around hundred cars are exhibited from a collection that includes over 60 brands.
The cars in the ZeitHaus museum are not all from the Volkswagen group brands but rather cars that have set significant milestones in the development of the modern automobile. Cars from Volkswagen’s competitors are also shown but the more recent the vehicle, the more likely it is from the Volkswagen group.
A visit to the museum starts at the top floor and cars are mostly chronologically arranged allowing visitors to see the progress in car development while strolling back down. Special themes are also highlighted in separate exhibition areas. Cars from the museum are frequently on tour so there is no guarantee that for example the last VW Beetle ever produced will be in its place on a given day.
Most cars are simply displayed with only short descriptions and technical details provided in both English and German. The “milestone qualities” of the cars are also explained, e.g. the first front-wheel drive passenger car (1928 Alvis) or the most-built plastic bodied car (the East German Trabant 601S in duroplast).
The magnificent collection of classical pre-Second World War grand tourers and sport cars are probably the most impressive part of the museum. It helps that the Volkswagen group through its history included brands such as Bugatti, Bentley, and Horch but beautiful BMWs, Rolls Royces, and Mercedes Benz cars are also on display.
For Volkswagen brand cars only, it is worth visiting the AutoMuseum Volkswagen, which is also in Wolfsburg. It is only a few kilometers from Autostadt but receive far less publicity (and far fewer visitors). It is absolutely worth visiting too – here VW cars really are the stars.
See more photos of cars in the Zeithaus on Flickr.
Volkswagen Group Brand Pavilions in Autostadt
Many of the various brands in the Volkswagen group have their own pavilions in Autostadt to show off the best of the brand. Exhibitions here change from time to time but most allow visitors to get into the latest models.
The Volkswagen Group’s premium brands – Bugatti and Bentley – unfortunately share an exhibition space. In the Premium Clubhouse, only a few cars are usually on display and for most visitors it is see only and don’t touch, or caress (streicheln), the automobiles.
Lamborghini is the Volkswagen group’s loudest and brashest brand and the pavilion in Autostadt currently plays on that image. In a very loud sounds-and-lights show, a Lamborghini spins and turns around with smoke effects a few times per hour.
Audi, Porsche, Seat, Skoda, and Volkswagen all have their own brand pavilions in Autostadt. Here various aspects of car design, or the history of the brand, are highlighted. However, these pavilions are also used to display the newest products of these brands and visitors are usually allowed to sit, if not exactly drive, the cars on display.
Autotürme / Car Towers in Autostadt
From a distance, Autostadt is easiest recognized by the two 60 m tall, glass-wall cylindrical towers where Volkswagen cars are kept prior to being shipped to new owners. A 700-m tunnel connects the towers to the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg.
Cars are automatically parked in the silos by lifts moving at a speedy 2 m per second. To park a car at the top floor takes only one minute and 44 seconds once the car has arrived at the tower. Each tower has space for 400 vehicles.
Visitors may ride an enclosed elevator at slower speed in the left tower. The Car Towers Ascent (Türmfahrt) takes visitors to an observation deck on the 20th floor (48 m) for panoramic views of Wolfsburg and a close-up look inside the silos. The 15-minute tour cost €8 for adults, €4 for children and should be booked at the Welcome Desk at the Autostadt entrance.
Customer Center in Autostadt
The Customer Center in Autostadt has a large shop selling car accessories and related paraphernalia. However, its main purpose is for German customers to pick up their new cars directly at the factory with a true 0 km reading on the odometer.
Around 500 cars are delivered on average per day in Autostadt. Only Volkswagen brand and some Seat models may be picked up here by German (and some other European) customers.
Autostadt Visitors Information
Autostadt Opening Hours
Restaurants in the main Piazza are mostly open until 22:00. Food in the self-service and family restaurants is a bit bland while the gastronomical restaurants are slightly pricy and not open at all times. For superb food, book a table at the Michelin three-star restaurant Aqua in the adjacent Wolfsburg Ritz Carlton hotel.
Autostadt Visitor’s Tickets
A variety of savings tickets are available too, e.g.:
- €7 – Autostadt Evening Ticket is for entry after 16:00 and includes a €7 discount at any restaurant.
- €30 – Family Sunday is valid for two adults and own children on Sundays.
- €4 – School Holiday Ticket on German school holidays
- €12 – Early Bird Ticket – available online only – for entry before 10:30 on some weekdays.
Several combination tickets are also available. It is worth searching online to see if special deals may make a visit on a different day a better option.
Some of these experiences include:
- All-Terrain Driving Track (Geländeparcours) – a 30 to 45 minutes drive in a VW Touareg or Tiguan on the challenging Autostadt course with an instructor – €25 – €35.
- Driving Training Course – a variety of safety and economy training driving courses ranging in price from around €20 to over €100.
- Factory tours – free 50-minute tours of the Volkswagen factory but subject to seat availability as customers picking up new cars get priority. The tours are only on production weekdays with the English tour usually shortly after noon. The tours are best booked in advance, or enquire at the Welcome Desk.
Transportation to Autostadt in Wolfsburg
Transportation to Autostadt is very easy, as can be expected for an attraction located directly next to Europe’s largest car factory.
Driving to Autostadt Wolfsburg is easy with the Wolfsburg West exit on the A39 the closest Autobahn junction. However, directions to Autostadt are well signposted from all parts of town. Parking in lots P1-P3 is maximum €3 per day.
Getting to Autostadt by train is even simpler. The Deutsche Bahn ICE train station is directly across the Mittellandkanal (canal) from Volkswagen with a footbridge leading to the entrance of Autostadt. Traveling time from for example Berlin is just over an hour or half an hour from Hannover. See Deutsche Bahn for online timetables and railway tickets.
A visit to the Autostadt combines well with a visit to the AutoMuseum Volkswagen – the Volkswagen brand’s museum where the car is at the center without any glitzy PR. The Wolfsburg Outlet Mall is also nearby for big savings on many fashion brands.
See more photos of Autostadt on Flickr.