Did you know Oktoberfest is the World’s biggest folk & beer festival? Are you interested in the Oktoberfest outfits? Or do you simply want to drink some of the finest beer in the world?? Join us as we visit Oktoberfest, the World’s biggest folk & beer festival…
How is she carrying so many steins?? We struggle to pick one up, but the server is carrying 8! As the glasses slam down on our table and everyone around us is dancing on theirs, the first gulp of beer is as refreshing as it is exciting! We’re at the World’s biggest folk and beer festival… Oktoberfest in Munich!
Held since 1810, Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture. So what better way to end our German road-trip adventure than dressing in lederhosen and dirndl, and downing some steins in the beer tents!
Here is a short video of our day...
We head to the site after some sight-seeing in the City Centre, taking the subway from Marienplatz to Goetheplatz, the nearest station to Theresienwiese where Oktoberfest is held.
The train is packed but everyone is in good spirits, and Sneha enjoys admiring all of the outfits on show! (read more on the outfits later...)
We follow the crowds from the subway station and we get our first glimpse of Oktoberfest, and not being quite sure what to expect, we’re left amazed! It’s huge!!
Big beer tents holding 1000’s of revellers, fairground rides to rival some of the biggest theme parks, and food stalls and shops selling all sorts of local and traditional delicacies and souvenirs.
It’s also a big mix of people. We’re here on Sunday afternoon and there are lots of families with kids around, mixed with lots of drunk looking people! As we’re standing near the entrance deciding which beer tent to try and get a drink in, we see our first casualty as some paramedics wheel someone past who’s enjoyed themselves a little too much…
The outfits are amazing! It's great that the people are still tied to their heritage and culture and wearing their traditional outfits. There are so many variations, patterns and colours, it's difficult to say which is better than the other.
The men are dressed in various versions of lederhosen. Some in full dungaree style outfits, others in shorts with smart shirts, waistcoats or jackets. The women are dressed in traditional dirndl dresses… long flowing skirts, with shirts under corset style tops.
Everyone looks so good, and we start to wish we'd waited to buy our outfits from Munich rather than bringing them with us...
There are loads of shops around Munich selling the outfits, ranging in prices from €40 into the €100's. So we would suggest waiting until you're here if you want to pick something up!
Beer Tents at Oktoberfest
We try the Paulaner tent first. As we walk in the band are playing, and people are up on their feet singing along, tables full of food and beer.
Most of the tent is filled with seating booths which all seem to be reserved so we can't get a table, with only a small number of tables around the edge available for walk-ins. The atmosphere is great though, and gets us excited for what's to come next...
Next, we go to the Lowenbrau tent, and this is on another level from the Paulaner tent! Everyone is dancing on the tables, beer stains waving in the air, with a real party atmosphere in the busy tent!
After walking around the tent we head back outside and get a table right next to the entrance... a perfect place to be able to enjoy the music while we sit and enjoy our drinks.
We sit down and order 8 beers from the server, and when they come… how is she carrying so many steins at once?? We struggle to pick 1 up, but she’s carrying 8!
Sneha say's it's incomplete to enjoy the beer without a pretzel. So for the true Oktoberfest experience, she goes off and finds a cheese pretzel... absolutely delicious!
We head back inside the beer tent and join in the fun again, and when our steins are finished, we go for a walk and look around the rest of the site.
The sun is starting to set, and it’s been a glorious late summer day, so the sky looks amazing as the neon lights of the fairground start to dazzle in the looming darkness.
We weren't quite sure what to expect from the beer tents before coming, they are much larger than we thought and there are tents to suit all tastes.
The Paulaner tent was more laid-back, with traditional music and more seating so you can enjoy food and drinks with friends. Whereas the Lowenbrau tents were more of a party atmosphere, with people singing and dancing on the tables!
There are areas which are only available for walk-ins, but they are super busy and we got lucky getting a table big enough to fit our group. So if you want the best tables inside then you need to reserve well in advance to not be disappointed!
Food at Oktoberfest
Most of the beer tents also serve food... think pork knuckle, whole chickens, sausages and sauerkraut. But there are lots of food stalls all over the site as well, so rather than go for one big meal, we decide to have a food stall crawl and try lots of different things out!
Fish is probably the most surprising delicacy… we see a fish smokehouse (with whole fish on the smoker), we try a fish burger (a quite nasty pickled fillet of fish, not a fishcake style burger), and fish goujons (quite normal goujons).
We get some pretzels to enjoy with our beers, one cheese and one salted, the cheese being a very nice variation!
And we can’t come to Oktoberfest and not try a bratwurst… and the Munich special is delicious! We’re not 100% sure what the difference is with the Munich special vs. the other bratwurst, but with the fried onions and sauce, it’s really really good!
Oktoberfest Fairground & Shops
After eating and drinking our way around Oktoberfest we decide it’s best not to try any of the rides out, we don’t want to end up on Kotzhügel after all (more on this below!)
There are loads of rides to try, ones to suit everyone. For those with a head-for-heights, there is a ferris wheel which gives great views over the site, the World's tallest vertical drop-tower, and a giant swing ride!
For adrenaline junkies there is a five-loop rollercoaster and a spinning ride which looks very dizzy inducing!
The funniest one we see is the Toboggan though. Essentially a helter-skelter, it's the way people need to get to the top rather than the way they come down which is the best bit! Having to stand on a conveyor belt, you are zipped up 8 metres very quickly, and after a few beers keeping your balance looks very difficult! It's hilarious seeing people going up the belt on their backs, on their heads, or being lifted and pulled up by the staff when they can't stand up!
But there are lots of fairground stalls to test our skills out, with shooting ranges to win toys, and the other usual fairground games you’d expect to find.
And there are lots of souvenir stalls to pick up a memento. And although they’re quite expensive, the prices are very similar to the shops in Munich and surrounding areas.
The Bavaria Statue & Oktoberfest Kotzhügel
At the far end is the Bavaria Statue, a tall bronze statue of a female symbolising Bavaria’s strength and might. So it’s perhaps ironic that below the grand statue is The Oktoberfest Kotzhügel, literally translated as puke hill! This is where the people who have had a little too much to drink congregate, and definitely don’t show their strength and might!
Despite this, taking a walk up to see the Statue and gateway is worth it, and climbing up the steps gives a great view of the entire site!
Oktoberfest in the City
Outside of Theresienwiese and the main site of Oktoberfest, the rest of the city is full of celebrations too.
Our favourite spot of the whole weekend is possibly Augustiner-Keller. It’s a huge beer garden and beer hall only a few minutes’ walk from the Haupbahnhof (main train station) and is our first real experience of Oktoberfest after arriving in Munich and leaving our hotel.
We get one of the few tables left outside big enough to fit our group, and many steins of beer later, we’re signing along to all of the songs being played by the live band!
There is an extensive menu of local and traditional food too. We went for an Oktoberfest special of pork neck with a pretzel dumpling and cabbage, and another dish from the regular menu which we can’t quite remember what it was (too many steins of beer??).
The pork neck and pretzel dumpling were great, the other was only ok (and maybe hence why we can’t remember what it was!)
Carry cash, and plenty of it! Most of the beer tents and food stalls only accept cash, and a stein of beer (1L) can cost around €15! There are cash machines near the entrances if you don't have any, but best to be prepared and bring some to avoid the queues.
The traditional outfits are all amazing... loads of shops in the city sell them for anything from €40 rising into the €100's. So if you want to join in the festivities wearing the dress, we suggest waiting until you get to Munich before getting one.
If you want tables inside the beer tents then it's recommended to reserve a table well in advance, although seating areas outside are available for walk-ins only.
Where is Oktoberfest held?
The main Oktoberfest site with the beer tents and fairground is at Theresienwiese in Munich. But the whole city comes alive with the festival atmosphere, with some of our favourite places not having been at the main site!
How much does it cost to visit Oktoberfest?
It’s free to enter Oktoberfest and the beer tents, with the drinks and food being paid for individually at each. And same with the rides and games at the fun-fair, they are all individually run so each needs to be paid for separately.
Do I need to book a table at Oktoberfest?
Some of the beer tents do allow bookings and these can get sold out months in advance, with reservations opening in May to June. But large parts of the tents and outdoor spaces are left for walk-ins so you don’t need to book in advance.
Where to stay in Munich?
We stayed at Flemings Hotel München-City, pretty much opposite the Haupbahnhof. The location was great being in walking distance to the Oktoberfest site and the city centre, and being next to the main train station it had connections to the subway and direct to the airport too. While the location couldn’t have been much better, the hotel itself was pretty average, and with the hugely inflated prices due to Oktoberfest it certainly didn’t offer value for money!
How to get to Munich from the airport?
Munich Franz Josef Strauss Airport is 45 minutes to 1 hour away from the city. We got a train to the city from the airport which cost €13, and took the Lufthansa Express bus on the way back which cost €11.50.
While both journeys were easy, we would recommend the Lufthansa Express bus. We were flying to and from Terminal 2 and it was a long walk to get to the train station in the airport (which is absolutely huge!), whereas the bus stops at both Terminal 1 and 2 making a lot more convenient. And it was a couple of euros cheaper for the 2 of us!
For more information on Oktoberfest... Official Oktoberfest Website