In September 2017, Meagan and I made our pilgrimage to Munich for Oktoberfest. While “pilgrimage” certainly may be an exaggeration to some, I assure you it was not for me. Ever since my first trip to Europe, my first international travel, my first viewing of Beerfest (sorry!), a trip to Munich for the start of Oktoberfest was at the very top of my travel/event list.
Our trip delivered in so many ways and I hope to share some tips that will make your trip to Oktoberfest one of your best travel memories, as it is one of ours.
Lodging – Airbnb
For our trip, we booked early, and I highly recommend doing the same (if you can!) Given that we were attending on the busiest days of festival (the opening weekend), we really had no other choice. I booked our Airbnb in the Winter of 2016 for September 15-19, 2017.
Here is where we stayed: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4345820
What we liked:
- Incredibly close to Oktoberfest festival (only a ~10 minute walk)
- Close to local stores and restaurants
- Full kitchen + fridge
What could have been better:
- Apartment was a little small for 4 adults, but do-able
- We were about 15-20 minutes from Marienplatz, the center of the downtown
Food – Good, Not Great
- Donisl Munich: An authentic German restaurant tucked around the corner from Marienplatz. A hidden gem offering live music and great German food at local prices.
- Viva Maria: Pizza in Germany doesn’t sound like a recipe for success, but trust us, Viva Maria does it right!
- Alanya Kebab: Once you’ve had a few liters, nothing quite tastes as good as a Kebab. Here’s one place that we stopped at after a long day at Oktoberfest, but honestly, they’re all very similar.
The (Surprisingly) Bad:
- The Oktoberfest Pretzels: Don’t waste your money on an Oktoberfest pretzel! They are surprisingly stale tasting, cold, and even after a few liters, not fulfilling.
- The Oktoberfest “Cookies”: These cookies should come with a warning label: “for decoration only”. Although they are edible, they are barely so. Don’t waste your time with these either!
The Tents – Where the Action Happens!
It’s all about the Oktoberfest Tents. In our short 3 days at the Festival, we managed to visit no fewer than 10! Here’s a breakdown of the ones we visited and what we liked about them.
The Fairgrounds of Oktoberfest
Our Favorite Tents
- Schützen-Festzelt: On the first day of Oktoberfest, we arrived early to the Schottenhamel tent, eager to see the Mayor of Munich tap the first keg. We found ourselves waiting for close to an hour in a line that didn’t move. Fortunately, we made the decision to abandon that line and head for the Schützen-Festzelt tent, which was our favorite of the festival. This tent plays modern music, has an upbeat, younger vibe, while not going into the full party mode of the Hofbrau tent!
2. Schottenhamel: The oldest tent at Oktoberfest. In addition to hosting the Mayor for the tapping of the first keg of the festival, this tent also hosts one of the most interesting traditions of the festival. Bavarian Goaßlschnalzen or “whipcracking” is performed during the festival by a group of men and women (some perched high on ladders). Their enthusiasm and energy is impressive and it was one of the most interesting things we saw while at Oktoberfest.
3. Hofbräu Festzelt: The largest tent at Oktoberfest certainly lives up to its lively reputation. When you’re looking for a place to end (or begin) your night with close to 10,000 of your (soon-to-be) friends, there is no tent better. Grab a liter of Hofbrau, get up on your bench and sing along to classic American and German songs.
At this tent, even security grabs a stein!
The Beers – All Munich, All Great
It’s almost impossible to find a bad beer at Oktoberfest. Every beer served at the festival comes in a 1 liter glass (literally this is the only size you can order) for a fixed price and must be brewed in Munich.
Here are my Oktoberfest Beer Power Rankings:
- Radler (50% Beer; 50% Lemon Spritzer/Sprite) –> Designed only to sober you up
- Alcohol Frei Bier (Oktoberfest is not for you)
The People – Jovial and Buzzed
It’s hard to find more friendly folks than Germans at Oktoberfest. The one exception might be closing time where things get, shall we say, a little sloppy (as expected).
One German term you should learn (and try to avoid being): die Bierleichen aka “Beer Corpses”
A New Every-Few-Years Tradition
We’re already starting to think our next trip to Munich for Oktoberfest, it’s time you planned yours: what are you waiting for?
If you’re traveling, why wouldn’t you travel with Airbnb? We absolutely love it and haven’t stayed in a hotel in over 3 years!
Get $55 on us by using this link to book your next trip.