Let’s start off with a lesson: what does “BMW” stand for? In German, it is Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works). The company was founded in 1916, in Munich, and still has its headquarters there.
(BMW headquarters in Munich. It is right next to the BMW World and Museum.)
BMW is very proudly Bavarian. In fact, even their logo has the blue and white colors of the Bavarian flag on it:
Before we get into what you can see and do at BMW, a disclaimer: Visiting the BMW sites may not be interesting to people that aren’t into cars. The Museum especially is designed especially for gearheads/motorheads/whatever you call someone that loves cars. But there are some cool things at BMW, especially BMW World and the Factory Tour. So now that you’ve been warned, read on!
There are THREE separate areas to explore at BMW:
- BMW World (BMW-Welt)
- BMW Museum
- BMW Factory tour
BMW World is located in a new, modern building that many people visit just to look at the inside and the outside of the building! It is very interesting from an architectural standpoint. Other than that, BMW World is basically a huge showroom for all of BMW’s newest models: BMW cars, BMW motorcycles, Mini-Cooper, and Rolls-Royce (yes, those last two ARE owned by BMW!) You can even sit in the vehicles. (If you’ve ever wanted to sit in a Rolls-Royce, this might be your best shot.) Want to buy a BMW and have it shipped to your home? You can do that here!
There’s a nice gift shop (BMW-themed articles, of course!) here, and some good restaurants as well. One restaurant is only open at night, and is very popular with locals.
Entrance to BMW World is free.
(BMW all in one picture! BMW World is the large building on the left, and the Museum is that roundish building lower right. BMW HQ is in the background right.)
The BMW Museum charges €10 for admission. They offer guided tours (in several languages, including English) or you can just wander around on your own. The museum is mostly the history of BMW, with lots of displays of old cars engines, and such. There are, however, a few models that might be of interest even to people that don’t much care about cars. For example, you can see the 1957 BMW 507 that Elvis Presley drove while he was stationed with the U.S. Army in Germany.
Or maybe you’re a James Bond fan? Bond drove a lot of BMWs, including this one that you can see at the museum. (This is just a publicity photo with Pierce Brosnan: he’s not at the museum!)
The guided tour of the museum costs €13, which INCLUDES your admission.
The BMW Factory Tour is really interesting, even if you don’t care about cars in general. You can only visit the factory on a guided tour. Tours are offered in English and German.
(Photo taken by BMW: you’re not allowed to take pictures on the tour!)
If all of this sounds good to you, I’d recommend that you book a “Premium Tour.” It costs €22, and takes you to all three areas and INCLUDES your admission to all areas.
Generally speaking, you MUST book guided tours of the museum and the factory IN ADVANCE. It’s extremely rare that you can just show up and get a spot, especially for the factory. To book you need to either call (they’ll speak English!), fax or email.
Contact info: Tel. 089 / 1250 16001 (from North America, dial 011-89-1250-16001)
Fax: 089 / 1250 160 09 (from North America, dial 011-89-1250-16009)
How to get there: BMW is located right across the street from the Olympiapark U-Bahn station. If you arrive in Munich by plane, from the airport, take the S1 or S8 (S-Bahn). At Marienplatz you have to change and take the U3 (U-Bahn) to Olympiazentrum.
Coming from the main train station (Hauptbahnhof), likewise take the S-Bahn and change at Marienplatz to the U3 , direction Olympia-Einkaufszentrum to Olympiazentrum. (On Saturdays you can also take the U8 directly to Olympiazentrum.) From there it’s only a few more steps to the BMW World.