BMW Welt

BMW WELT: Motorhead or not, you won’t fail to be impressed by BMW’s fresh brontosaurus print on the Munich landscape.

And why shouldn’t a glorified car dealership become one of city’s major tourist drawcards? BMW does stand for Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works), don’t you know!

BMW-weltGRAND DESIGN: BMW Welt with its double cone and the company's "four-cylinder" headquarters in the background. 

Although I can hardly tell the difference between a steering wheel and a sump gasket my visit had me dreaming of tearing down the Autobahn in one of their finely made machines. 

MORE: BMW Welt - 7 things to know before you go

The company’s Munich "campus" has four main parts: the swish new BMW Welt, a museum, a production plant and world headquarters office building. 

BMW World (BMW Welt)

bmw-roadstersHOT WHEELS:  These rides need
no pimping. Above is the M1
Homage roadster.

Cars aside, the sheer architecture of this building is enough to get my heart racing.
I’ve heard it was the world’s first pile that couldn’t have possibly been designed without the help of Computer Aided Design. 

You’ll understand why after the first glimpse: A glass and steel "double cone" swirls towards the flat-as-a-pancake roof, itself decked with enough solar panels to power a small suburb. 
Designed by Austrian company Coop Himmelb(l)au and opened in 2007, BMW World is essentially a delivery centre where the rich-enough can pick up their new rides. 

There’s a huge show-off factor. Inside the double-cone are some of BWM’s latest jalopies along with interactive 
displays – you can touch, spin and twist while learning about the automaker’s technology. 
Displays are interspersed with rather bizarre examples of "auto art" – an arrangement of peacock feathers splayed over an inverted car bonnet, for example. The main building has an obnoxiously large cafe, motorcycles (that you can sit on) and, you guessed it, more cars. Enjoy the ride. 

BMW Museum

bmw-exhibitCRANKIN' IT: BMW Welt has some nice interactive
displays, including this one where you can see how
the brake energy system works. 
One of the weird bonnet sculptures is in the background. 

The big, silver "salad-bowl" across the way houses the museum, re-done and re-opened in 2008. 90 years of BMW history are accessed through a downward spiralling staircase.
Exhibitions are categorised into seven "thematic blocks" looking at design, the company, motorcycles, technology, motor sport and the brand. 
My favourites were the dainty 1950’s Isetta "bubble car" and the downright sexy red M1 Homage roadster in the lobby. 

isetta-car-bmw-weltPURE GROOVINESS: A 1955 Isetta "bubble" car. Pic: CC by Biso

BMW Munich Plant

The real works gets done in the half-a-square kilometre factory space behind the museum. The plant employs over 10,000 people and a few robots.
Each year the plant churns out about 200,000 BMW 3 Series saloon and touring cars as well as an extra 300,000 engines. 
You can take a 2.5 hour tour of the plant which involves walking over 2kms. 

BMW Headquarters "Vierzylinder" (four-cylinder) 

bmw-museumSLICK: The salad bowl-shaped BMW Museum. 

This is one very funky office block. A Munich landmark since the 1972 Olympics, 
BMW’s global headquarters consists of four "floating" columns suspended above the ground to a central support tower.It tops out at just over 100m and was declared a historic building in 1999.

The details

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Location: Am Olympiapark 1, Munich. It's about 5kms north-west of the city centre.
Phone:BMW Welt info line - 018 02 11 88 22
Website: BMW Campus Munich
BMW Welt is open daily from 9am to 6pm. The BMW Museum is open 9am to 6pm Tuesday to Friday and 10am to 8pm on weekends, closed Mondays.
BMW Welt is itself free to visit. BMW Museum costs: Adults: €10, children up to 18: €7, group of five or more, per person: €9, family ticket for up to two adults and three children: €24.
Digital audio guides in English, Italian, Chinese and other languages are available from the counter for an extra

Details of organsied tours run by BMW:
BMW Welt "Compact" tours
 run daily on the hour from 9am to 4pm (from 10am on weekends).
BMW Welt "Architecture" tours run once a day, at 3pm on weekdays and 12pm on weekends. Both these tours take about 80min and cost €7. They're in both English and German. You need to book in advance through the info line above.
BMW Museum tours run regularly throughout the day, cost €12 and take 2.5 hours. No need to book for this one, but you might want to call ahead to get the times for tours in English.
BMW Plant tours take 2.5 hours and cost €6. Done in English and German and you have to book ahead through the info line.
Directions: Take the U3 to Olympiazentrum and you're there.

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BMW Welt is an attraction Further Afield. Nearby attractions include...

Olympic Park and tower - Higher, faster, stronger, better.
Nymphenburg Palace - Summer residence for the big cheese of Bavaria.

Or you could just...

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