Visit the BMW Car Museum and Welt in Munich (München) in Germany

The BMW Museum in Munich is one of the best car museums in Germany and with BMW Welt at Olympiapark among the most popular top sights to visit in München.

Elvis' BMW 507 Roadster seen on a visit to the BMW Museum in Munich (München), Germany

The BMW Museum in Munich (München) is one of the top tourist attractions to visit in the Bavarian capital. The adjacent, free BMW Welt where the latest BMW cars are on display is also very popular with visitors of all ages. The whole area, which includes the Olympiapark in the Olympiagelände where the Olympic Games were staged in 1972, is very family-friendly and easily reached on Munich’s efficient public transportation system.

BMW Museum, Welt, and Head Office in Munich

BMW HQ & Museum in Munich
BMW HQ & Museum © Courtesy of J Swart

The German luxury automobile manufacturer BMW has a strong presence in Munich (München) including its famous 1970s four-cylinder head office building and major factories. The iconic BMW Hochhaus (Tower), or Vierzilinder (four cylinders), was completed in the early 1970s and declared a national monument in 1999.

The BMW Museum is partly housed in the still futuristic-looking silver circular building – sometimes referred to as the salad bowl, which is right next to the company head office and was constructed in the same period. The BMW Welt is in the modern building completed in 2008 between the BMW Head Office and the Olympiapark.

BMW was established at the end of the First World War as an aircraft engine supplier. After the war, BMW built mostly motorcycles with car production only starting in 1929. BMW is the acronym for Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works). The company’s blue and white emblem was derived from the colors of the Bavarian flag but is often described more poetically as the movement of an aircraft propeller (and BMW is quite happy for people to think that).

Visit the BMW Car Museum in Munich, Germany

Treasures seen on a visit to the BMW Museum in Munich (München), Germany

The BMW Museum is typical BMW – very modern, a clean design, and well-presented. Exhibits are mostly presented in around 25 themes that include the company history, motorcycles, design, technology, motorsport, and different model lines.

BMW 3-Series Fronts seen on a visit to the BMW Museum in Munich (München), Germany

Around 120 BMW cars are on display in the BMW Museum, including iconic models from BMW’s rich history such as an M1, the small Isetta, M5 models, and beautiful design studies. The actual cars, motorcycles, and engines on display change occasionally but there is always a good selection of top and desirable models.

BMW Art Car and 1930s Cabrios seen on a visit to the BMW Museum in Munich (München), Germany

At least one of BMW’s around 20 Art Cars is usually on display — famous artists including Alexander Calder, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, and Jeff Koons gave BMW cars a special paint job. The M1 Andy Warhol painted in 28 minutes subsequently finished the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1979 a creditable sixth. It might be among the most valuable cars in the world.

A few interactive displays keep children busy while true petrolheads enjoy listening on headphones to the symphonic sounds of revving famous M Power engines. Aircraft engines, motorsport racing cars, car engines, and motorcycles are also on display.

Temporary exhibitions are housed in the circular building with impressive spiral walkways that remind one of the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

BMW Welt Car Show Room and Delivery Center in Munich, Germany

BMW Welt, Museum and HQ

The BMW Welt (BMW World) is the newest building in the BMW complex in the northern suburbs of Munich. It is an ultramodern building that blends in well with the futuristic 1970s architecture of the BMW Head Office and the Munich Olympic Grounds.

Inside of BMW Welt in Munich

The BMW Welt is basically like an enormous BMW dealership with restaurants, a BMW brand, and accessories shop, and several other facilities. It is also possible to take delivery of a new BMW here. In contrast to the nearby BMW Museum, visitors may touch the cars here and it is possible to enter most cars here to fiddle with the buttons (and take photos in the driver’s seat).

BMW Welt is often the venue for concerts and similar performances.

Visit the BMW Museum and BMW Welt in Munich

BMW M1s seen on a visit to the BMW Museum in Munich (München), Germany

The BMW Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. The museum is open most public holidays but not all. It also sometimes closed for special events or when displays are changed.

BMW Aircraft-Engine Demo seen on a visit to the BMW Museum in Munich (München), Germany

Admission ticket prices for the BMW Museum in Munich are €10 for adults and €7 for children under 18, students, and retirees over 65. A family ticket is €24 for two adults and up to three children. Keep tickets after entry as a second scan is sometimes needed when moving between the temporary and permanent exhibition spaces.

Several savings tickets are available and mostly give a €4 reduction on the adult admission fee, e.g. to holders of the Munich City Tour Card and some combination tickets with the nearby Olympiapark.

The BMW Welt is open daily from 7:30 am (9 am Sundays) to 6 pm. (Parts of the building and parking are open until midnight.) Admission to the BMW Welt is free.

Tours of the BMW factory in Munich (also in Berlin, Leipzig, and Oxford) are possible on weekdays and last around two and a half hours. Reservations for BMW factory tours are essential and usually should be made well in advance. The minimum age is usually 14 years.

Transportation to the BMW Museum and BMW Welt

Olympiagelände, Olympiaturm (TV Tower) and BMW HQ in Munich (München), Germany

Getting to the BMW Museum and BMW Welt is very easy on Munich’s efficient public transportation network. The simplest option is by U-Bahn train U3, station Olympiazentrum. Olympiazentrum is in fare-zone 2. (U-Bahn line U3 passes through amongst others Odeonsplatz and Marienplatz in the heart of old town Munich.)

BMW Welt is directly in front of the U-Bahn Olympiazentrum exit. Signs will direct visitors to the BMW Museum via the BMW Welt but it is also possible to walk straight to the museum by heading directly in the direction of the BMW Head Office building.

By car, follow the BMW Welt and Olympiapark signs from the Mittlere Ring in the north of Munich. Parking is available in BMW Welt.

*Disclosure: the author is a minority shareholder in BMW AG.

Best Car and Automobile Museums in Germany

1950s Mercedes-Benz Cars seen on a visit to the Mercedes-Benz Museum at the factory in Stuttgart, Germany

Germany has many car museums with some of the best collections on display at the factory museums of major manufacturers. Two are in Stuttgart: the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen and the large Mercedes Benz Museum in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim. The BMW Museum in Munich is adjacent to the Olympiagelände where the ill-fated 1972 Games were staged. The Autostadt in Wolfsburg is a very popular destination but far fewer visitors look in at the nearby Volkswagen Museum covering only the VW brand.

Hitler's Armor-Plated Parade Cabriolet

Major museums in Germany with significant car collections include the Verkehrsmuseum section of the German Museum in Munich (including the first Benz Patentwagen car produced), the German technology museum in Berlin, and the technology museum in Sinsheim. The latter also has many military vehicles as do the Museum of Military History in Dresden and the German Tank Museum in Munster near Hamburg.

Henk Bekker in armor

About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years of experience writing online. He is particularly interested in history, art, and culture. He has lived most of his adult life in Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark. In addition to, he also owns a travel website on the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland and maintains statistical websites on car sales and classic car auction prices. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Development Finance from the University of London.

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