While in Germany, my friend and I could not resist popping over to Munich for Oktoberfest. This large festival always looks like so much fun, and we did not want to miss the chance to experience it even for just a couple of nights. Since we were only there for the festival, the description below is really just for Munich at Oktoberfest and not in general:
What to Do:
Oktoberfest. Since we were here specifically for the festival, this is really the only activity that we did. The festival is held in a large park area, where there are multiple large beer tents, smaller food and drink stalls, and several amusement park rides. Entry into the grounds is free. The tents are nicely decorated, and there is plenty of beer and food for purchase. The atmosphere is lively. Everyone squeezes together on long benches or around tables so there is a chance to get to meet other people. Everyone working the festival is dressed up in traditional Bavarian garb, and many of the visitors are dressed up also. The large tents have bands playing, and large groups will often break out in song. Travelers wanting to be more immersed in the experience should join the fun and dress up as well. I recommend getting there a little earlier (early afternoon) to have a chance to visit more than one tent because once it gets really crowded (in the late afternoon) moving around and trying to find a seat may not be as appealing as staying put. It is fun just being there and people watching. But it is really fun drinking from the humongous steins and having a giant pretzel as well as some of the other traditional food. Plan to spend the full day here.
We did not go to Munich to shop and did not spend much time outside of the beer halls and festival ground. But visitors do not have to leave the festival to buy a souvenir. For those who want a reminder of their time at Oktoberfest, purchase a beer stein. Tents sell commemorative ones for their brand and for the festival. And these can definitely be used back home.
What to Eat:
Most of our time was spent at the festival so we ate traditional food there, including a giant soft pretzel, pork chops and cabbage, and lots of beer. But we also visited a popular beer hall, Hofbräuhaus, on our first night there, which was very fun. This large hall is three stories so do not be intimidated by the size and noise when walking in. Just find an open seat and sit down. Servers will come by the table so need to chase one down. The restaurant seating includes long tables so just join another group. There is a live traditional band playing and lots of drinking, singing, and cheers. This place has good beer and a good food selection of typical German food.
Where to Stay:
Prices for accommodations will go up during Oktoberfest because the demand will be higher so try to book early to get the best priced accommodations. We chose to book an Airbnb, which was cheaper than the hotels. We did not know the best area to stay in so we chose one near a subway stop that was supposed to be close to the festival grounds. We stayed near the Wettersteinplatz stop, and it was easy to get to the festival from here although it was not a direct line. The area was safe, and the commute was not long.
We arrived to Munich from Berlin by bus, which takes between 7-9 hours. We chose to travel by bus because it was the cheapest option. The central bus station in Munich is located next to a subway stop so we were able to take the subway to our Airbnb. The public transport is linked to Google maps. However, there are several tracks near the bus stop, and then trams a short distance away so it was a little confusing finding the right way out of the bus station at first (for our route), but after that we had no problems getting around with public transportation. Tickets can be purchased at the subway and tram stops. We did not go many places, but it did take us everywhere we needed to go. There is a subway stop located next to the festival grounds. When we left Munich, we departed by bus again at the same station so it was easy for us to use the same route to get back to the station and to find our bus within the station.
We had a great time at Oktoberfest. We only stayed a couple of days, but that was plenty of time to sample a lot of beer and that allowed us to visit other parts of Germany at a lower cost. Huge beer and festival fans, however, may want to stay longer. Those who want to see more of Munich besides the beer halls may also want to stay longer. We went during the week rather than a weekend and found that timing to be less crowded. We did not have to get to the grounds in the morning to find a table, and we were able to move around to different tents. Oktoberfest is at the beginning of fall so the weather is starting to turn cooler, but it was not too cold when were there and it was sunny. Travelers who enjoy drinking beer will have a fun time at Oktoberfest.