The vast plant known as Autostadt, spread beside a canal behind the train station, is a rev-head’s paradise. VW’s intended car collection centre has morphed into a futuristic theme park of museums and rides. The five-storey ZeitHaus celebrates milestones in gleaming automotive history (Karl Benz’s 1886 tricycle, a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost and Auto Union “Silver Arrow” racing cars or the VW W12 which set a record 24-hour run of 7750km, an average speed of 323km/h) and also its icons (an Art Nouveau Bugatti designed by Jean Bugatti himself, gorgeous Cadillacs and Chevys and the millionth Mini from 1965).

In futuristic pavilions behind, Volkswagen indulges in entertaining self-promotion for its brands: Bugatti’s bling; Lamborghini’s power; reliable Skoda; dynamic Seat; futuristic Audi; and the quality and safety of Volkswagen. If you have toddlers in tow, there’s a good motor-themed crêche, and, for older kids, a computerized driving course to complete in mini VW Beetles. However, Autostadt’s star attraction is the 1930s brick factory itself, which at 8.4 square kilometres is four times larger than Monaco; only from a footbridge before Autostadt do you sense its scale. The most popular tours are made by mini-train around a few sections. Others ascend the company’s landmark cylindrical glass tower in which shiny cars await collection; you can even drive up. Other hands-on attractions such as tackling a 4WD terrain course (GeländeParcours) in a VW Touareg or Tiguan are provided as “training” activities.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Germany features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Going underground in Hamburg: 6 ways to see the city's alternative side

Going underground in Hamburg: 6 ways to see the city's alternative side

Hamburg is perpetually on the brink of falling out with itself. On the one hand, it’s a city of convention and millionaires – Hamburg has the highest concen…

18 Jul 2017 • Neil McQuillian insert_drive_file Article
An expert’s guide: the best area to stay in Berlin

An expert’s guide: the best area to stay in Berlin

Of all Europe’s capitals, Berlin carries the biggest buzz. In the two decades or so since it was reunified, the city has developed into a heady meld of grit a…

04 Apr 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
The best places to go in spring

The best places to go in spring

Springtime is beautiful, with its big blue skies and flowers in bloom, so there may be no better time to travel. If you're thinking about getting away, here are…

14 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month