In this destination guide, we will visit the city of Memmingen in Bavaria, Germany.
When many travellers both in and outside of Germany hear the name Memmingen, they often think of the low-cost airport located within the city limits.
Often called “Memmingen/Munich West Airport”, it is an important hub for both Ryanair and Wizz Air, which connect the Bavarian city to almost 40 destinations across Europe, North Africa, the Caucasus and the Middle East.
Many Germans drive to Memmingen Airport for the abundance of cheaply priced flights, while many foreign tourists fly to the airport only to leave immediately for better known destinations in Germany, most notably the Bavarian capital of Munich.
The name “Munich West Airport” can only be seen as a classical low-cost airline marketing trick as the airport is still a whopping 70 miles (112 kilometres) away from Munich.
As I’ve been already been to Munich as well as a handful of other Bavarian cities a couple of times, I therefore thought to actually stick around for a couple of hours in Memmingen to see what the city has to offer! After all, surely this historical Bavarian city is much more than just a secondary airport for those wanting to visit Munich?
Getting to the city centre
After a comfortable Wizz Air flight from Podgorica to Memmingen I found myself in the small airport terminal with just over 30 minutes to kill until the next bus departure into the city.
The city centre of Memmingen and its central bus and train station are just under 5 kilometres away from the airport, but with only one bus departing every hour more or less, chances are that you have to wait for a while. A taxi from the airport into Memmingen would cost between 10 and 15 euro approximately.
A single ticket for the bus costs 3.50 euro, although if you buy a German Railways train ticket online with starting point Memmingen Allgäu Airport, the bus to the train station will be automatically included in your ticket price. The bus was also included in my Bavaria Ticket which I bought online a day before travel.
Into the old town
From the central train and bus station, the old town of Memmingen can be literally found around the corner and can be reached on foot within minutes.
It is a transport and cultural hub of the entire Allgäu region, a region known for its lakes, hills and mountains and sights such as Neuschwanstein Castle. If you have a couple of days time the Allgäu certainly ranks among Germany’s prettiest and most interesting regions to explore.
Together with Füssen, Memmingen is arguably the most beautiful city to visit in this southern German region. The city dates back all the way to Roman times, although most of the buildings in the old town are Medieval.
Many of these grand houses were built centuries ago by patrician families and wealthy traders and have colourful facades. The newer houses are somehow built in an unobtrusive style with the same pastel colours, giving a charming feel to the entire town.
One unique aspect of Memmingen is its Stadtbach (city river) which streams right through the old town. Although ‘river’ is actually a big word for it as the Stadtbach feels more like a small creek at some places.
It does however make for a picturesque city feature and in summer it surely is a nice location to sit down and have a beer at an open-air terrace. Unfortunately, it being a cloudy and cold day in March meant that I would have to come back another time for that!
Right at the Stadtbach you can find the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche), said to be the oldest in Memmingen. The church was first mentioned in 13th century documents, although historians think that already before the year 500AD a Church building stood on this site.
The Frauenkirche is famous for its 15th century frescoes and for the fact that it was simultaneously used by both the Catholic as well as the Protestant townsfolk after the Reformation.
Other interesting churches are the Lutheran St. Martin’s Church and the whitewashed Catholic Saint Peter and Paul Church, which is part of a former monastery of the religious order of the Hospitallers of the Holy Spirit. The towers of both churches can be seen from afar and are easy-to-recognise landmarks.
Before I continued my tour of Memmingen, it was time to grab some much-needed lunch. There are a couple of good restaurants of a variety of world cuisines in the city, although given that I only had a couple of hours to explore around the logical choice was to settle for some authentic Bavarian food.
And what better place to eat some food and drink a beer than in an actual brewery?
The beer, food and service at Barfüßer Hausbrauerei definitely hit the spot. I ordered a weizen (wheat beer) and weisswurst (white sausage) – a quintessential Bavarian food combination.
Weisswurst itself is made from made from minced veal and bacon and is flavoured with lemon, parsley and cardamom, which gives it quite some flavour. It is traditionally considered a breakfast food as it the sausage is never fried or grilled, but rather heated in water. It thus was quite perishable and had to be eaten sooner rather than later during the day given that back in those years the fridge hasn’t been invented yet!
The weisswurst was beautifully served together with the usual sides of some mustard and a brezel (pretzel).
Gates and walls
After the great meal, it was time to explore more of Memmingen. Not only the Medieval buildings and churches of the old town are perfectly preserved, but also around 2 kilometres of the original city walls and even 10 of the city gates.
Some of these old city gates, such as the Ulmer Tor (Ulm Gate), doubled as huge watchtowers from where the city guards could spot approaching armies from miles away.
Perhaps the most beautiful part of Memmingen is the Marktplatz (Market Square) – the central square of the old town. Some of the finest buildings of the city can be found here, such as the white Renaissance town hall.
My favourite is however the Steuerhaus (literally: Tax House) from the late 15th-century next to the town hall. This building has a richly decorated yellow façade and lovely arches on street level.
Historically, this building was the main administrative building of the then still Free Imperial City of Memmingen and housed the local council and the financial administration. Nowadays, you can find a café here as well as the city’s social welfare office.
To the train station
After wandering a bit more around the city centre streets of Memmingen (which were eerily quiet for a Friday afternoon!) it was time to say goodbye to the city and to head back towards the train station to continue my trip.
Even during my walk towards the station I still passed by some beautiful streets and buildings. Even though I easily managed to see the town during one afternoon, I thought that I wouldn’t have minded it at all to explore around a little bit longer.
Many tourists visiting Bavaria – even those who actually fly in or out of Memmingen Airport – never set foot in the town itself. Which really is a big shame.
Although it may not be the biggest highlight of Bavaria, a state which has so many beautiful cities and historic towns to admire, Memmingen is certainly quite a stunner too.
The old town is full of gorgeous pastel-coloured buildings and makes for a charming place to wander around. With its city river, and much of the town walls and gates still intact, Memmingen even has a few unique sights and features which you will not see in other Bavarian towns.
With such a rich history, it really is a must to have a look in Memmingen’s old town if you fly in or out of Memmingen Allgäu Airport. If you have an early flight out, or late evening arrival, why not even stay for the night?
The entire Allgäu region to which Memmingen belongs might even deserve a trip on its own as it is one of Bavaria’s and Germany’s most interesting regions, having towering mountains, quaint lakes, historic old towns and famous castles to admire.
Although it is understandable that many people still see the town and its airport as a gateway to Munich, Memmingen really deserves to be more than that.
Trip report index
This article is part of the ‘An Adriatic Adventure: Off-Season Travel to Dubrovnik, Montenegro and a Bit of Bavaria‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:
1. Review: MasterCard Business Lounge Bucharest Otopeni Airport
2. Review: Aegean Airlines Economy Class Bucharest to Athens (Airbus A320)
3. Review: Aegean Business Lounge Athens Airport Hall A (Non-Schengen)
4. Review: Olympic Air Economy Class Athens to Dubrovnik (Bombardier Dash 8-400)
5. Review: Apartments Festa, Old Town of Dubrovnik
6. A Dubrovnik Winter Trip: Off-Season Travel Away from the Tourist Crowds
7. Review: Dubrovnik (Croatia) to Kotor (Montenegro) by Bus
8. Review: Palazzo Drusko Deluxe Rooms, Kotor, Montenegro
9. Kotor, Montenegro: Old Town Charm in Europe’s Most Spectacular Scenery
10. Cetinje – The Old Royal Capital of Montenegro
11. Review: Ramada by Wyndham Podgorica, Montenegro
12. Podgorica: Is the Capital of Montenegro Worth a Visit?
13. Review: Wizz Air (Airbus A320) Podgorica to Memmingen
14. Memmingen: More Than Just a Low-Cost Airport Close to Munich (current chapter)
15. The Bavaria Ticket: Unlimited Train Travel Across the German State of Bayern
16. Review: Michel Hotel Landshut, Bavaria, Germany
17. Landshut: Bavaria Off The Beaten Track
18. Review: Air France/KLM Lounge Munich Airport
** rest of the chapters to follow soon **