Driving a Piece of East German History

Trabi CabrioEver wonder what life was like on the east side of the Berlin Wall? Well, you can still experience a remnant of that bygone era behind the wheel of an East German icon: the Trabant. The Trabant’s determined 25HP engine and non-existent electrical system make the car resemble a riding mower more than a modern automobile, but that’s what makes driving one so exciting.

Tour company Trabi Safari maintains fleets of Trabants in Berlin and Dresden. Their tours marry sightseeing with a unique “do it yourself” experience as tourists drive themselves in authentic Trabants on the streets of Germany. Drivers receive a very short operations tutorial before the trip. (Instructions include: “This is the gas. Very important!” and “Don’t touch this button.”) After everyone is briefed, the Trabant convoy follows the tour guide whose voice is piped in over the car’s (aftermarket) radio. The hour and a half journey is really about piloting East Germany’s Ultimate Driving Machine, so the audio tour is fairly light on historical narration.

Tour prices range from 25 to 35 Euros per person and reservations are required. If German isn’t your thing, you will need to request an English language tour guide.