In the Bavarian capital of Munich, Theresienwiese- home to the world famous original Oktoberfest! This trip came from a “we should do it sometime” discussion to being booked in a pub in London with my friend- and what an incredible time we had! I’m going to take you through how we managed to do it on a fairly small budget without losing any of the quality, and give an honest opinion on it all. Let’s begin…
Yup, it’s mad. 2022 was the first event they’d held since 2019 due to covid and it was insane. We were lucky to be able to go on a Monday/Tuesday (more on why that’s good later) and the atmosphere was like nothing else. A good 90% of people put on the traditional attire, everyone drinks beer (which is the only option really…) and everyone just wants to have an amazing time.
If you’ve ever been to Winter Wonderland in London, or any style of Oktoberfest/German beer hall these tents have nothing in comparison. These are purpose built, multi level, 8000 people beer tents. But don’t worry, you won’t wait long for your beer and the music is always playing.
If you’re looking for a more traditional section of the event, the Oide Wiesn is in the back corner of the festival, a self contained historical Oktoberfest. You pay 3 euros to get in, and it’s full of old traditional rides for 1 euro a go, a bunch of historical displays from previous events, and a beer tent with traditional Bavarian entertainment.
The other famous side to Oktoberfest is the funfair, and again, this has little to no comparison. Some rides do travel around Europe (like Olympia Looping which resides in London over Christmas time), the sheer quantity they have here is incomparable. Ghost trains, spinning contraptions, water rides, drop towers, coasters, they’ve got it all!
And then there’s the wonderful city of Munich, which during Oktoberfest is alive with markets, busy Bier Haus’s, and stunning architecture. Whatever you do, make sure you allow yourself time to explore here (if anything I wish I’d been able to do a bit more). It’s easy to walk to from the Theresienwiese (about 15 minutes) and the train from the airport will take you straight to the main square if you get off at Marienplatz.
This is where we went unconventional, actually flying into Munich International from Madrid as we did 4 days there prior. But, generally speaking most people fly into Munich. Lots of direct flights available, but, from the UK this is quite pricey during Oktoberfest. There is a way around this, Nuremberg- a very nice little Bavarian city. I’d visited here earlier in the year and it’s serviced by Ryanair from Stansted, a very cheap route generally. It’s about an hour by train, or 2 hours by bus (which is regularly available via Flixbus). The bus cost us £10 for two, which includes bags. A bit longer, but if you’ve got time to play with and you really are on a budget, an amazing choice.
From Munich airport to the main city it’s about 20 minutes by train, which takes you to the main line through Munich so you have many options to get off like the Marienplatz or central station. Once there, you can do it all by foot. The city is large enough, but not too spread out. And Oktoberfest is a nice walk from the city (which is good as the public transport to it is insanely busy).
When Should I Go?
This year the event is running from Saturday 16th September to Tuesday 3rd October. The link below from the official Oktoberfest website shows how busy each day was last year. We went on the 26th and 27th. Both stated as quiet to well attended. At no point did we have to queue for a tent, but don’t see quiet and assume empty. In the early afternoon it was much more chill, you could sit with a beer and talk, the rides were quiet, you didn’t have long queues for the food stalls. But by the evening on both days, we were starting to struggle to find seats in a tent (and we were just a 2 so could squeeze on the end but a larger group would find that hard/have to split up). I’ve heard stories of people not being able to get into a tent in the evening and that’s it, nights over. Quiet was still very good, so don’t let that put you off thinking you won’t get the full experience, if anything you’ll have a better time as there will be no stress or rush.
What to Wear?
Try and go traditional as much as you can. This doesn’t mean expensive, but don’t go cheap with fancy dress costumes like “German bar girl” or stag do style. It’s actually just offensive to the people of Bavaria who host the event.
The lederhosen that I got was £22.99 on eBay by Bavarian Trachten UK. Looks the part, felt the part, and survived 2 days of drinking, rides, rain, sun, spillages etc and I will happily use it again when I go back one year. The socks are also from eBay- £6.99 which also included the shin warmers which I opted not to use. These were from biking.zone. Shirts were just cheap chequered shirts from Primark- didn’t need to be anything special. The shoes were £20 from Deichman, here I just went for trainers that matched the colour scheme more than anything. Footwear is a big one, be comfy. Simple trainers with a lederhosen or drindl were common, you’re in a tent with thousands of drunk people. Smashed steins do exist, fancy open shoes won’t help you then. Nor do you want to do 12 hours of drinking, dancing on the benches to then be in pain. Comfy shoes that aren’t too intrusive.
Where to Stay?
In Munich. You’re not going to want to be faffing around with trains, trams, busses, taxis when you’re stumbling around and everyone is doing the same. Stay local. We lucked out and got a really nice room in-between the Theresienwiese and central Munich for 243 euros. Deals do exist, you’ve just got to hunt around and utilise free cancellation deals if something better comes up. Consider what amenities you want, we had private twin room, but if you wanted cheaper shared bathroom is always an option. As always, gauge by real peoples reviews if it’s a bargain, or just cheap.
How Expensive is it?
Fairly, but not extortionate. Before the event each year, each of the 6 breweries announce the price for a stein of their precious beer. So you can budget around that. We always bought in rounds, was easier, and just rounded up each time to include a tip. So 2 steins cost between 27 and 28.5 euros, we always just gave 30 and left it at that. Tipping is a big thing, doesn’t need to be much, this rounding up method worked well for us and meant we could work around an easy number. So in comparison, a stein is near enough 2 pints, so you’re paying 7.5 euros for a pint, at a beer festival, in Munich, where the beer is brewed down the road and tapped from wooden barrels. Oh, and at least 6% strength, perfect.
Rides are more expensive than elsewhere, but not awful compared to fairs in other major cities. Plus, on Tuesdays it’s family day where most rides run discounted rates so we took advantage of that!
Food isn’t too expensive either, and high quality authentic German dishes like pork knuckle, apple strudel or just a whole chicken.
Before we went we did our research, and some off the sites out that actually make you a bit nervous about the whole thing. We have no idea where these ideas come from, nor could we work out why they’d become an issue when it’s really busy- so let’s do some “myth busting”
Toilets- they’re free (tipping again encouraged though), plenty of them and easy to find. What we’d read was they’re hard to find in the tents, and if you leave your tent that’s it, you queue to get back in. Over the 8 tents we went in, not once did we struggle to find the toilets, always very easily signposted and large enough to deal with demand.
Security and bags- this is no different to anywhere these days, they want to check your bag. You’re only allowed small bags anyway, if you have pockets use them, if you need a bag follow the rules and just have it ready to be searched upon entering the event (and some tents sometimes?) then there won’t be any delay.
Tents- they’re all free, you don’t need to book/ to book you have to purchase quite a large package so only really suited for big groups anyway. You might have to queue to get in, but generally if they let you in, there is space somewhere (just split into smaller groups or optimise space). No bar service, only table service so just find a seat and relax, they’ll sort you a beer.
Attire- no, you don’t have to dress up at all, just put some effort into what you wear and don’t be offensive, they won’t let you in. But there were plenty of people walking around in jumpers and jeans- just be comfy.
If you’ve made it this far, we’ll now talk about the best bit- the beers!
Spaten- meaning spade in english (which we were told the locals joke is what you feel like you’ve been hit with the morning after) had it’s brewery founded in 1397! The beer it produces for Oktoberfest comes in at 5.9%
Lowenbrau- famous to visitors for its large lion statue above its tent roaring Lowenbrau was first noted as brewing in Munich in 1746 (but with ties back to the 14th century). With a party tent popular with tourists, their Oktoberfest beer clocks in at 6%!
Hofbrau- founded in 1589 is famed for its local Hofbrauhaus in the city of Munich (well worth a visit) and a party tent at the event with a giant cupid- serving a 6.2% beer, second strongest at the event.
Augustiner- the oldest brewery in Munich (1328) is rich in tradition, even better when drinking it in the Oide Wiesn. With a strength of 6.3%, this is the strongest beer you’ll find at Oktoberfest!
Paulaner- the youngest brewery in Munich from 1634, can be found in many tents, but for a change you can have it as a wheat beer until 9pm in the Weinzelt- both styles of their beer are of 6% strength.
Hacker-Pschorr- first noted in 1417, only recently becoming a well known brand again since 1972, was my personal favourite of the 6 beers, a crisp easy to drink 6% beer.
Get booking! Any questions feel free to contact us, take a look at our other posts on how to find cheap hotels and for other tips. Most importantly, have the best time at Oktoberfest!