Why Oktoberfest Should Be On Your Bucket List

Guten tag! Wie gehts?

This past autumn, I finally had a chance to go to Oktoberfest for the first time. No, not the one where your neighborhood bar decides to serve Becks for a week. The real one in Munich. While I’d been to Munich before, this was my first time going to Oktoberfest. Was it spitze or schlecht? Well, judging by the title, you can probably guess…

What’s so great about Oktoberfest?

Munich is already one of my favorite cities in Europe. It’s not the flashiest city, but it’s just all around solid. From the food and beer to the culture and charming buildings, there’s just something about Munich that keeps me coming back. I’ve always said that if I had to live anywhere else in Europe, Munich would probably be at the top of my list. It’s the city that I love as a tourist, but also comes across as incredibly liveable.

Add in the fact that there’s a giant festival with beer and pretzels and you’ve got me sold.

Oktoberfest is also great for people of all ages. The crowd ranged from toddlers in lederhosen to grandmothers in dirndls. If you want to go for a night out with your friends, you can do that. If you’d rather spend time with your family, you can do that too. It’s more than just a giant party. It’s a cultural experience shared by all.

Where should I stay?

Munich Bahn Map (courtesy of MVV)

The grounds for Oktoberfest are located at Theresienwiese (Theresa’s Meadow). Unfortunately, anywhere within walking distance of the grounds is going to be pricey. There are a few Marriott and Hilton Properties within walking distance. However, points availability is difficult to come by unless you book early.

Thankfully, Munich is an incredibly well connected city so anywhere in Zone 1 should work. The closest U-Bahn (subway) stops are Theresienweise (along the U4 and U5) and Goetheplatz (along the U3 and U6). From there, it’s less than a five minute walk. We stayed at the Marriott Munich in the English Garden. The hotel was located directly along the U6 line and is a great option for any visit to Munich.

The airport is also easy to access via the S1 and S8 lines and costs €11 per person. However, if you have between 2-5 people, you can get a group ticket for €20. The train is comfortable and takes about 45 minutes to get into the city center. Uber is also widely available, but will take about the same amount of time as the train.

How long should I go for?

To get the full Oktoberfest experience, three days should be perfect. Plan on spending two of those at Oktoberfest and leave another day for exploring/recovery. Feel free to split up those days however you’d like. Just don’t plan on taking the first flight out the next morning 😉

Depending on how long you’re in town, you could also venture outside the city to see Neuschwanstein Castle or Salzburg. Both are within three hours of Munich and worth the trek if you have time.

What are the best tents?

With 17 large tents, there’s something for everyone to choose from. While these were some of my favorites, it’s hard to find a tent where you won’t have fun at Oktoberfest…except the wine tent. No, just no.

Best Tent for a Party – Hofbrau

To be honest, I’m still not entirely sure how we ended up getting in the Hofbrau tent on a Saturday night. It was some kind of divine act (or someone sneaking us in through the kitchen). With room for over 10,000 people, the Hofbrau tent was ROCKING. Even though we ran out of cash there, this was some of the most fun we had the entire weekend.

Best Tent for Great Beer – Augustiner

While it’s hard to find bad beer in Munich, Augustiner was our personal favorite. We liked it so much, we had a second…and a third…and…ehh I lost count. The tent has both inside and outside seating. While the party rages on inside, outside can be a great option on a nice day.

Any tips?

I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer it at Oktoberfest

There are a few ways to get a table at Oktoberfest: reserving it almost a year in advance, getting to the tent super early, or going on a weekday. Getting a table is important though because you won’t be able to get a beer unless you’re seated!

If you want to reserve a tent, you’ll generally need to reserve it for 10 people. A table generally will run around €200-250 depending on the tent. Table reservations usually come with a couple drinks and some food. It’s definitely worth it if you’re able and have a decently sized group.

Would you go again?

At the end of our trip, we went around our group and asked everyone if they’d want to go to Oktoberfest again. Every single person said yes.

With some events, once you’ve experienced and enjoyed it, you don’t feel the need to do it again. Oktoberfest was not one of those events.

Final Thoughts

While I’ve been to Munich several times before, this was my first experience at Oktoberfest. Going in, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Having been though, it truly exceeded my expectations.

Beer is certainly a part of it, but Oktoberfest is so much more than that. It’s the camaraderie, the singing, the food, and general all-around happiness. There’s just some sort of magic in the air that makes it all work. It’s hard to truly describe it in words without experiencing it and I can’t recommend it enough.

Author: Stephen Hoechst

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2 Comments

  1. I grew up visitng my father’s family in southern Bavaria and while Oktoberfest is fun, the real local experience is at Herbstfest in Rosenheim. A short 45 minute train ride from Munich, Rosenheim is a small beautiful town that holds the annual Herbstfest (Autumn Festival in English). It’s a big celebration just a few weeks before Oktoberfest with local Rosenheim brewery tents. I took a group of my American friends here last year and they said it was much better than Oktoberfest, more picturesque, cheaper, less crowded, and more of a local feel. Next time give it a try! You won’t regret it.

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    • Thanks for the tip, Tom! I’d never heard of Herbstfest until now, but it sounds like it needs to be on my list. Is it something you’d want to spend multiple days at or just a day and then visit other parts of Bavaria after?

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