Prost! Oktoberfest in Munich
Oktoberfest was a pipe dream of ours for this year, but when we found out friends from the US and London were going, we made it happen. We are so glad that we did! Beer, pretzels, cookie necklaces and fancy dress– what more could you ask for?
Day by Day
Wednesday 30 September
It was late at night when we landed at Munich airport and took a 40 minute train ride to the central rail station. Immediately upon disembarking the train, we were greeted with revellers stumbling around in their dirndls and lederhosen.
The hotel was conveniently located across the street from the central train station and about a 20-minute walk from the Oktoberfest fair grounds. The hotel staffs’ festive dress made up for the impossibly slow check-in. Thanks again to points, we stayed on the cheap and enjoyed a delicious breakfast spread each day (except for Saturday when we accidentally slept in and missed it…). Chicken tenders make an especially delicious breakfast after a day of beer drinking.
Thursday 1 October
Daily at 10:45am and 2pm (lasts three hours)*
The start location for this tour is at Marienplatz in front of the large column.
We figured we should fit in some history before devoting the rest of the weekend to the culture of beer drinking. The tour started with Munich’s famous glockenspiel and gave us a good overview of the city. Our guide specifically said that he didn’t want to focus too much on WWII, since the company has another entire tour dedicated to that era. Being that it was Oktoberfest, he kept things light and also shared some history of the festival with us.
No trip would be complete without lunch at a food market. This one also had a cute outdoor sitting area and beer garden, which was a great place for us to refuel and enjoy our first sip of German beer.
Landsberger Str. 35
While the actual festival takes place within the fairgrounds, the entire city has a festive air and people everywhere were sporting traditional Bavarian garb. At this point in the day, we were ready to join the other revellers in their fun and we headed to the Augustiner brewery, the oldest one in Munich. It was pretty quiet and easy to find a table, and this is where had our first German pretzels with sweet mustard (little did we know this would become our sustenance for the following two days). We tried to go back to Augustiner on Saturday, and the place was totally mobbed.
Our next stop was the Hofbrauhaus, arguably Munich’s most famous beer hall. The place is massive, but we still had to circle several times to find a table. Finally, we found a spot we could squeeze into, right in front of the band. We stayed for hours, drinking beer, eating pretzels, and learning German drinking songs. This fun and festive atmosphere was a great alternative to the fairgrounds.
Friday 2 October
Today was our big day to visit the Oktoberfest. We felt a little silly donning our lederhosen and dirndl for the first time, but were so glad to fit in with the masses. We didn’t know what to expect and were a little nervous about how crowded it might be. The fairgrounds were massive – much larger than any of us expected—and there’s an entire festival with games and rides in addition to the beer tents.
We arrived around 11am and were able to bounce around from tent to tent and enjoy some of the fair until about 4 when we settled at Hofbrauhaus for the night. Hofbrauhaus was definitely more rowdy and lively than some of the other tents, as the live music transitioned from traditional Bavarian tunes to 80’s pop. I never knew we could subsist on only pretzels and beer, but that’s pretty much all we ate all day (that and my gingerbread cookie necklace).
Saturday 3 October
We were feeling a little rough after such a long day, but once again we suited up and headed over to the fairgrounds. We arrived around 11 again and already every tent was at capacity. The fairgrounds themselves were also noticeably more crowded. We walked up to the Bavaria statue, which had a great lookout over the Oktoberfest and then decided to go to one of the beer gardens nearby instead. There was still a lively and fun atmosphere, but it wasn’t nearly as crowded (or expensive!) and we were able to enjoy the sunshine as well. From there we headed back into town and somehow found ourselves back at the Hofbrauhaus before making a mad dash for the airport.
On every trip we share our rose (highlight), thorn (lowlight), and bud (what we're looking forward to).
Rose- just being at the fest on Friday (both)
Thorn- missing breakfast on Friday (Becca), waiting in line trying to get into a beer tent on Saturday (Josh)
Bud- Rachel and Jeff’s wedding! (Becca), America! (Josh)
If you go…
How long should you stay? That really depends on how much you like to party. In our old age, our tolerance has gone way down, and one big day at the fest was plenty for us. If we had another full day, we would have taken a day off in the middle to recover, and then gone back to the fest on the third day.
When to go? Oktoberfest spans three weekends, and we’ve heard the first and the last weekends are the most crowded. We were there on the last weekend, and Saturday really was a zoo. If you can only go on a weekend, we recommend trying to make a reservation somewhere or arriving before 10am to ensure entry. Weekdays are definitely less crowded (but still super fun!).
How do I make a reservation? We’re still trying to figure that out and hopefully will have updated answers after Oktoberfest 2016!
Do I really need to dress up? Yes! Well you don’t have to, but literally everyone there is in traditional outfits. Ladies, you can buy one on the cheap in Munich (this would make a really fun outing on the first day and save you the hassle of figuring out your dirndl size). Gentlemen, you’re probably better off ordering your lederhosen online in advance from Amazon.
What else is there to do? Munich has a lot to offer, and some of our friends took a day trip to the Neuschwanstein castle (just google it, it looks amazing), which they said was a long day but fantastic. On a more serious note, you can also do a day trip to Dachau, a very important but difficult place to visit.
* Opening times and meeting points are subject to change - please double check before you go!