Zwickau is a city in Saxony. Its rich history includes the facts that it is the birthplace of the 19th-century Robert Schumann and a number of automotive makes, most famously Horch and its junior companion brand Audi, which survives until today being based in Ingolstadt, and the post-war East German small car Trabant. Although neither of those brands survived until today in Zwickau, Volkswagen, now the owner of Audi, has built a factory in town.


Zwickau back in 1650

Zwickau's history dates back almost 900 years, being based on a settlement by the local Slavic tribes, called Šwikawa in Sorbian (a name referring to the pagan god Svarozič). It is located on, and gives its name to, the river Zwickauer Mulde, a tributary of the larger Mulde which in turn flows into the Elbe. The centre and most districts of Zwickau are on the left (western) bank of the river.

For many centuries, its economy has largely been based on coal and silver mining, predating the industrial revolution by centuries, which is why the city retained a very medieval type old town. Zwickau has always been a rather affluent and important town, even if remaining on the small side compared to other Saxon metropoles.

While a centre of a region that numbers around 500 000 inhabitants, Zwickau has only around 90 000 citizens, providing for a small town feel. That said, despite the rather unfortunate development during the DDR times, Zwickau retained a wealth of architectural heritage and a particular charm not found in the modernist Chemnitz, baroque Dresden or busy Leipzig.

Get in

Zwickau Hauptbahnhof

By train

The city's main railway station is, unsurprisingly, called the Zwickau Hauptbahnhof. The Franken-Sachsen-Express stops at the station, on its way between Dresden, Chemnitz and Glauchau in Saxony to Hof, Bayreuth and Nuremberg in Bavaria. The service is generally hourly on most days, served alternatively by trains numbered [IRE 1] and [RE 3].

Two separate regional trains go from Zwickau to Thuringen (in. al. Gera, Jena, Erfurt and Weimar), as well as Lower Saxony (Göttingen) [RE 1] every two hours. To Leipzig there are S-Bahn-connections every hour with the S5X, which use the Leipzig city tunnel and therefore offer direct connection to the Leipzig city centre as well as the main station and airport.

A number of local trains link Zwickau to smaller towns across the Saxon Ore Mountains. The private railway company Vogtlandbahn operates local diesel trains through Plauen and Vogtland that go as far as Mariánské Lázně and Sokolov in the Czech Republic.

By plane

The closest airports geographically are Leipzig-Halle, Dresden and Erfurt. Those airports see service to limited destinations, for intercontinental flights you may use the slightly farther removed Berlin airports or Prague Ruzyne in the Czech Republic.

Easiest to reach is Leipzig Airport (LEJ) with a direct train connection every hours between 5 am and approx. midnight taking the S5X.

From Berlin Schoenefeld (or from Berlin Tegel, if you change at Berlin Zoo) you can use the Vogtland Express bus service to Zwickau bus station. The bus runs only once a day, in the evening from Berlin and in the morning back, every day of the week. The journey from Schoenefeld to Zwickau takes 2h 30 min and costs €29 one way.

Other airports have no direct connection to Zwickau, so you need to either change means of transportation on your way or provide yourself with a car. Be prepared for a 2-hour drive or a journey of 3 hours or more by train if you want to get from the airport straight to Zwickau. That said, given that all of the airports are near interesting tourist destinations on their own, it is good to combine your Zwickau into a tour of East Germany (and possibly the Czech Republic) if you plan on arriving by air.

Get around

Tramway network of Zwickau

By public transit

The Städtische Verkehrsbetriebe Zwickau operates a network of tramways and bus lines in the city. There are only four tram lines in operation, confusingly numbered 3, 4, 5 and 7. 5 and 7 connect the Bahnhof (train station) with the old town, while 4 and 7 go from the city centre to Pölbitz, passing through the impressive 19th-century quarters and stopping reasonably close to the August Horch Museum.

By car

Zwickau has a very compact old town, which you will be able to navigate on foot easily. Exploring it that way is also preferable as many of the streets are pedestrianized, and even those accessible to cars have many restrictions and are not advisable to drive through unless you particularly need to.

There is a network of parkings strategically located around the old town. The prices are generally harmonized at €1.00 per hour. Of particular interest is the multi-level garage at the Zwickau Arcaden, where you can pay in the automated kiosks not only with euro coins and banknotes, but also with most credit and debit cards.



Rathaus and Gewandhaus

Other districts

The Horch 830 BL on display at the August-Horch-Museum


The Zwickau Arcaden




German / local



Cafes and ice-cream parlors

Clubs and discos


Go next

Zwickau is in the west of Saxony, the more urbanized part of the state:

Being in the southwest of Saxony, Zwickau is also reasonably close to many cities in Thuringia and Bavaria:

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, August 23, 2014. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.