Zwickau: Saxony's Auto Heritage

Zwickau, a pleasant but otherwise unremarkable town in southwest Saxony, is famous for its contribution to German automobile history, being both the birthplace of the Audi brand (in 1910) and the rather less celebrated yet still highly iconic GDR-era Trabant (from 1957). The car industry was shaped here by one man in particular: August Horch (1868–1951). The first Horch cars rolled onto the road in 1904 and quickly became the queen among luxury vehicles, besting even Mercedes-Benz. Horch later founded Audi, which remains one of the world's leading luxury car manufacturers.

In the excellent August Horch Museum, within the original early-20th-century Audi factory, the gleaming and imaginatively presented exhibits range from old-timer gems, such as the 1911 Horch Phaeton, to the latest Audi R8. And, of course, there are plenty of Trabants (three million were produced in town here until 1990) and other eastern European cars. You can walk around an early petrol station, inspect August Horch’s original wood-panelled office, stroll down a 1930s streetscape and even learn how Trabants were made.

The museum is about 2km north of the Altstadt; take tram 4 to Kurt-Eisner-Strasse. Zwickau can easily be visited on a day trip, and there's no reason to stay overnight. There are direct train links to Leipzig (€16, 1½ hours), Chemnitz (€6.20, 30 minutes) and Dresden (€22, 1½ hours).