North Germany’s underrated gem
TEXT: NANE STEINHOFF
On around 204 square kilometres, Wolfsburg presents itself as a young, modern city. Unlike any other city of its size, Wolfsburg offers numerous great leisure activities for city travellers who want to spend a couple of days here.
Nestled between the Harz Mountains in the south and the Lüneburg Heath in the north-west, Wolfsburg has a great deal to offer. Whether you want to spend a relaxing day in nature, visit historic alleys, go on a shopping spree, see state-of-the-art museums or indulge in great culinary treats, Lower Saxony’s fifth-largest city has it all – and most attractions can be reached by foot from the city centre’s main station. Known internationally for its Volkswagen factory that became the world’s largest industrial enterprise and automotive plant under one roof, Wolfsburg’s visitors can also look forward to an exciting insight into the world of automobile production.
Of course, with the rise of the Volkswagen production plant, Wolfsburg’s population also grew. While 22,000 people called Wolfsburg their home in 1948, 50,000 people were counted in 1958 and over 85,000 inhabitants lived here in 1963. Today, around 125,400 people live in Wolfsburg. With the increase of inhabitants, the number of tourists has also steadily grown. Thus, we find out what the city, that only got the name ‘Wolfsburg’ in 1945, has to offer. At just over 70 years old, it impresses with numerous attractions that are unique in Germany.
Cars and currywurst
First of all, when we talk about Wolfsburg, we have to talk about Europe’s largest automotive group, Volkswagen. Here, in one of the world’s largest plants, more than 70,000 people are employed. Furthermore, with around 10,000 employees, the company’s research and development department is Europe’s largest extramural innovation centre. No wonder that more than two million guests flock annually to Wolfsburg’s Autostadt to experience the multifaceted world of mobility first-hand. Here, you can find a theme park for car lovers that was designed by Gunter Henn. It impresses with an enchanting collection of famous cars, modern architecture and many great experiences.
One great experience for the entire family is a visit to Volkswagen’s production facilities during the week. Or why not head to the architecturally impressive, 28-hectare-large park and laguna landscape where Volkswagen’s brands architecturally and artistically stage their respective brand philosophy in several pavilions? Furthermore, with the automobile museum ‘ZeitHaus’, many seasonal shows, interesting theme-based exhibitions and numerous adventure attractions, the Autostadt offers many highlights throughout the year. For example, from 12 July to 20 August 2017, the CIRQUE NOUVEAU, the Autostadt’s summer festival, will attract many car enthusiasts. After an eventful day at this exciting theme park, one should not miss one of Volkswagen’s most popular originals: the currywurst. Together with the company’s own curry ketchup, it is a favourite meal in the plant and the city centre alike. In 2015, Volkswagen produced 7.2 million sausages in its in-house abattoir – thus selling even more sausages than cars.
Summer in the Autostadt 2015, La Riviera, Cool Summer Island. Photo: © Waldemar Salesski
Enchanting history meets innovation
Futuristic high-tech architecture and light-flooded building structures or old churches and historic buildings: you can find all of this in Wolfsburg. While the modern city centre offers an abundance of great shopping opportunities and impressive, contemporary architecture, history enthusiasts will also find their fair share of treats as small towns that are over 1,000 years old are as part of Wolfsburg as modern, architectural masterpieces. The moated castle in Neuhaus, the artisan street in Vorsfelde or Fallersleben’s old town will take visitors back to long-gone periods. Fallersleben, for example, is the birth place of Hoffmann von Fallersleben, the writer of the German national anthem. The town itself impresses with a beautiful old town with numerous half-timbered houses and a castle from the 16th century in which a museum can be found. After an interesting day trip, one can relax in the ‘Altes Brauhaus’ (old brewery) where beer is still brewed to this day.
Another great way to spend a day in Wolfsburg is to explore the many interesting museums. Art enthusiasts should definitely not miss Wolfsburg’s art museum. The large exhibition hall gets an architectural overhaul from project to project and serves as the perfect shell for showcasing international contemporary art, thematic exhibitions or elaborate artist projects. Visitors can expect four changing exhibitions per year that also integrate works of the museum’s own extensive collection. Until 3 September 2017, Hans op de Beeck’s Out of the Ordinary exhibition can be admired here. In the phaeno, on the other hand, children and adults can learn about the world of natural sciences. At over 350 experimentation stations, in visitor laboratories, the idea forum or the science theatre, one can vividly experience astounding facts from the world of science and technology. A current exhibition, called Manometer! Die unglaubliche Ausstellung über deinen Körper will run until 11 February 2018 and explores the human body. The phaeno was designed by the Pritzker award-winning architect Zaha Hadid and, according to experts, counts toward the world’s 12 most important, modern buildings.
Buildings that are just as impressive: the ‘Kulturhaus’, the Stephanus Church’s community centre and the Heilig-Geist Church. They were all designed by the world-famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto and they describe Aalto’s most important projects outside of his home country of Finland. Another architectural sight that should not be missed is famous architect Hans Scharoun’s theatre – the only theatre that this important representative of modern architecture ever built.
Delicacies and designer fashion
Of course, visitors can also look forward to an abundance of great restaurants, cute cafés, relaxing bars or convivial beer gardens in Wolfsburg. Those that want to try a first-class menu should head to Aqua restaurant where Sven Elverfeld (three Michelin stars) cooks on the highest level. After strengthening oneself with great food and tasty drinks, one should visit the designer outlets Wolfsburg – Germany’s first inner-city outlet centre. Here, visitors can find over 70 international brands at significantly reduced prices. On 4 August, visitors can look forward to late-night shopping until 10pm and on 15 and 18 August, live music will enlighten one’s shopping trip from 7pm onwards. If this shopping experience is not yet enough, one can conveniently walk towards the Porsche Street in the heart of Wolfsburg from here, where boutiques, numerous shops and the ‘City-Galerie’ mall with over 100 shops can be found.
Sport enthusiasts, on the other hand, should visit the Volkswagen Arena – VfL Wolfsburg’s home ground. The team has been in the Bundesliga for 20 years and its women’s team is also very successful. With the Grizzlys, who are at home at the Eis Arena, Wolfsburg also has an ice hockey team in Germany’s highest ice hockey division (DEL). Another fun-packed activity for the entire family can be found in the heart of Wolfsburg: the high rope course ‘monkeyman’. Here, one can push one’s boundaries on an obstacle course that comprises numerous exciting stations that must be overcome in heights between four and 13 metres.
Wolfsburg Castle and the Wake Park for water skiing. Photo: © WMG Wolfsburg
Let’s talk business
With Volkswagen’s headquarters based in Wolfsburg, it seems no wonder that the city counts towards Germany’s five most promising business locations according to the Handelsblatt and Prognos AG’s Zukunftsatlas 2016. But the city will not rest on its laurels. Together with Volkswagen, the city of Wolfsburg seeks to develop into a model city for digitalisation to further foster the attractiveness of Wolfsburg as a business and living standard location. The city also offers excellent conditions for companies that seek to hold or attend a conference or congress. Around 5,000 hotel beds (primarily in the four-star category) and exciting locations offer the perfect setting for events in Wolfsburg. The great transport links and the convenient location are great conditions for events with participants from all over Germany. A train from Berlin to Wolfsburg only takes 60 minutes and the nearest international airport is Hannover (HAJ), only 90 kilometres away. From here, a shuttle brings visitors to Wolfsburg in 60 minutes. Of course, the various leisure activities offer unusual possibilities for the framework programme.
– Two nights with breakfast in a comfort hotel of one’s choice on the weekend.
– Day ticket for ‘Autostadt’.
– Food and beverages in the ‘Autostadt’ for ten euros per person.
– Day ticket for ‘phaeno’.
– ‘Brauhausteller’ dish in the ‘Altes Brauhaus zu Fallersleben’.
Price per person in double room: 164,00 euros (including 19 per cent VAT)