The Mole Diaries: Ingolstadt
Sometimes referred to locally as ‘Audistadt’ due to being the location of the Audi headquarters, Ingolstadt is a small city, right in the heart of Bavaria. One of the settings in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the Bavarian Illuminati movement was supposedly founded here in 1776. Although Ingolstadt is technically a city, its population of just 128,000 means it has more of the feel of a bustling town than a crowded city.
Fly to Munich airport.
Shuttle bus to/from the airport
To get to Ingolstadt, take a shuttle bus, which takes just 50 minutes. It costs €18 one way. The shuttle arrives at the main bus stop in Ingolstadt. Here's the timetable.
Buses to/from the airport
Buses are fairly regular and are available the whole year round! You can either buy a ticket when you get on the bus, which is €20 euros, or, if you are in Ingolstadt already and need to get to the airport, you can buy a ticket at the travel centre in town.
Find a place to stay using WG-Gesucht and expect rooms in a flat/house to range from €300-500 per month. It is the perfect website as you can rent a room for pretty much any amount of time! It is a really popular platform for finding temporary accommodation in Germany.
The format is: either browse available flats (selecting a price range/room size/seeing how many boys/girls are in a flat) or create a profile that states your requirements. You then arrange a flat viewing with the current tenants and meet your potential flatmates. After the viewing, you email the tenant if you want the flat and, if they want you to move in too, everything’s sorted!
The reason why WG-Gesucht is a particularly popular idea in Germany is that many German students study abroad for a semester or two, so are looking to rent their room out for a few months before moving back in.
Advice about accommodation
1. It is wise to ask for a contract and also to ask about Nebenkosten (utilities) to see if they are included in the rent.
2. Find out if you need to pay a deposit (eine Kaution), too.
3. Accommodation in the city centre costs slightly more than in other areas, as is to be expected. Don’t be put off by living in areas slightly further out: Knoglersfreude, for example, is a very residential area right in the countryside, located just 20 minutes away from the town centre by bus.
For getting around town, it is absolutely essential that you buy a bike or a bus pass (or both). Bikes are a really popular mode of transport in Germany, so cities tend to have multiple bike paths. Buses are frequent and even if you live right at the end of the line, it doesn’t take long to get to the centre. A bus pass costs €90 for 6 months.
If you fancy exploring further afield, Munich is only 50 minutes away and Nuremberg 40 minutes away by train. Even Vienna is €67 return (with a BahnCard 25) and only 5 hours away by train. This website will prove vital for organising weekends away.
Here for the year
If you are staying for the entire year, buy a BahnCard 25. This costs just €61 (second class) and gives you 25% off every train fare for the year.
Alternatively, if you are staying for a shorter period of time, you can buy a Probe BahnCard, which costs €25, giving you 25% off train fares and is valid for 4 months. Make sure you write an email to cancel this card at the end of your stay, though! Otherwise, the German railway service (Deutsche Bahn) will automatically update your card to a year-long card (and charge you for it).
Unlimited train travel
Bayern Ticket: this ticket costs €22 per person, allowing unlimited travel on regional trains that day. For just €4 extra per person, you can add another person to the ticket, with up to 5 people on the ticket in total. A Bayern Ticket for 3 people would cost just €30, working out at only €10 each.
However, it should be noted that these tickets are only valid on regional trains and not on ICE trains. ICE trains are high-speed trains that connect major cities. I even travelled from Ingolstadt to Cologne once in just under 4 hours. These trains tend to be very expensive, though!
Mitfahrgelegenheit.de - Car-sharing has really taken off in Germany in recent years. It can be a fantastic way to travel, often proving to be much cheaper than trains. Beware of last-minute cancellations by some drivers though and try to have a back-up travel plan in mind.
[Photo of Neues Schloss by Robert Lesti]
Places to go in Ingolstadt
1. The Golden
Best burger in town.
Amazing ice-cream and a great place to hang out with friends.
3. The Shamrock
Just like most German cities, Ingolstadt has its own Irish pub.
A very typically Bavarian pub!
An enormous shopping centre.
Things to do
1. Join your local Stammtisch group
A languages ‘Stammtisch’ is just a group of people meeting informally to have a chat, basically! If you can’t find a German-speaking-only Stammtisch, why not try an English speaking Stammtisch? You can meet lots of locals who you could then speak in German to on a later occasion.
Many people are looking for native English tutors, either for themselves or for children. It’s a great way to earn some extra cash.
3. Go on a Frankenstein tour
Go on a tour with a difference. The Frankenstein Tour.
4. Visit the Audi Museum
A famous, popular museum, tickets cost just 2 euros for adults and 1 euro for students. You can even go on a factory tour.
5. Join in with some local customs
There are lots of local events to get involved with, including Christmas markets, festivals and putting up the May Pole.
6. Go to the library
A wild suggestion, I know…However, it’s well worth buying a 6-month membership for €8, as you have access to many useful resources.
[Photo by miez!]
To be honest, German bureaucracy can be a bit of a headache. However, as long as you’re patient and remember that things will get sorted eventually, you’ll be alright! The word "Anmelden", meaning 'to register', will definitely be your key word at the start of your stay in Germany!
Go for Sparkasse. A student account is free and you get internet banking. It also only costs €1 to transfer money back to your English account. However, don’t just expect to walk into a bank and open an account right then and there: you have to first of all book a meeting with a staff member who you will then open an account with at a later date.
Final top tips
Germany is home to so many diverse, beautiful places, it’d be a shame not to visit as many cities and Bundesländer as possible!
2. Take advantage of ‘Feiertage’ (bank holidays)
Bavaria had a total of 4 bank holidays in May alone, so book extended weekends away and enjoy.
3. Enjoy local cuisine
Be brave and try new things, you’ll perhaps be surprised when you find out that you actually like sauerkraut!
4. Get involved
There’s so much to see and do, don’t be afraid of trying something new and pushing yourself out there.
5. Improve your German!
As Ingolstadt is typically Bavarian, you don’t hear very much English being spoken, so it’s a great chance to improve your fluency with the locals.
Ingolstadt recently made headlines for all the wrong reasons when a hostage situation unfolded there. Thankfully, due to the quick response of emergency services, nobody was harmed in this event. This was clearly a horrendous situation for those involved and it shocked the local community that such an event could take place in Ingolstadt. Out of all of the states in Germany, Bavaria has the lowest crime rate and I have always felt very safe there, even when wandering around late at night. It is important to remember that such incidents could take place anywhere in the world. Panic button.