The city of Ingolstadt straddles the Danube River, roughly 80 kilometres north of Munich in the heart of Bavaria. This centuries-old city which is the fourth largest in the region was, until midway through the twentieth century, best-known as a setting in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. However, in 1949 the German car-maker, Audi made its headquarters in Ingolstadt. Today the site known as Audi Forum Ingolstadt is the second-largest car production site in Europe, churning out more than half a million cars in 2015. Since 2000, the sprawling complex has included the museum mobile – a love affair with all things cars, and a visual, hands-on record of the history of Audi.
But it’s not only car enthusiasts who will be drawn to this automobile mecca – here are our top reasons to include a visit to the Audi museum mobile in your European itinerary.
Housed within a 22-metre high circular building of glass and steel, the museum received numerous prestigious architectural awards when it first opened. Said to mimic the annual rings of a tree trunk and also evoke the four interlinked rings of the Audi badge, the glass-fronted building is immediately enticing to visitors.
This unique and increasingly rare piece of engineering allows for fourteen of Audi’s most significant prototype car models to be arranged on an elevator system that moves them in a continuous loop between the three levels of the museum, offering a unique overview of the evolution of the car during the twentieth century and into the next.
Tours commence on the third floor with examples of the earliest car models dating from 1899 through to 1945. The next level down features cars from 1945 until 2000, where more than 80 cars and motorbikes combine to form an intriguing overview of the progression of the car.
Proud new owners of Audi cars come from all over the world to collect their prized new rides. It’s an opportunity for them to witness first-hand the manufacturing process that produced their latest wheel estate: from the body shop to the paint shop, the design process and how that feeds into the motor sport industry: Audi will happily tailor a tour to suit. Even the kids are catered for with ‘children’s week’ being the first full week of each month.
All those lovely, burnished car bodies are enough to work up an appetite: there are two restaurants on site offering a variety of dining options. If that doesn’t appeal, it’s a short journey into the centre of Ingolstadt, where you can sample the best of Bavarian cuisine: look for various wursts (sausages), potato salad, or apfelstrudel (apple strudel), washed down with a local beer
When to go: The museum mobile ‘Compact Overview Tour’ takes one hour. The english tours are popular so you need to book in advance.
How to get there: The Audi Forum Ingolstadt is conveniently located an easy 45-minute drive from Munich airport. Alternatively catch the the train from Munich to Ingolstadt Hauptbahnhof, then catch bus line 11.
Personal Travel Manager’s Tip: If your travelling companion is not at all interested in cars then the Ingolstadt Village Designer Outlet shopping centre may prove more appealing. People travel from as far away as Poland and Bulgaria to buy knock-down seconds from Hugo Boss, Gucci, Esprit and other desirable European brands.
Your local personal travel manager can help you include a visit to Ingolstadt in your itinerary but don’t be surprised if you come away feeling inspired to park a fine piece of German manufacturing in your driveway back home!