Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival, held every year in Munich, Germany since 1810. This folk festival is 16 – 18 days long running from mid September to the first weekend in October, with more than 6 million people from around the world attending every year. I’d heard many stories about how fun Oktoberfest is so I was very excited when my husband surprised me with a 24-hour whirlwind trip to Munich for Oktoberfest 2017.
My daughter just turned 4 months old and this was my first night away from her since she was born, so we could only pop over from London to Germany for one night. But if you do it right, one night at the festival is all you’ll need. If you only have one day to attend Oktoberfest here are my suggestions for how to have an awesome 24 hours in Munich.
3PM: CHECK INTO YOUR HOTEL
There are tons of good hotel options in Munich but we chose the Hotel Excelsior. This hotel is across from the train station, making it easy to take a train from the airport into Munich (or you can easily grab a cab), but the main reason we chose Hotel Excelsior is because it is walking distance to Oktoberfest. The closer you get to the festival the more traffic there is, so it’s a good idea to book a hotel that is walking distance. It took us 20 minutes to walk to Oktoberfest which was the perfect way to get a little exercise before drinking way too much beer!
I recommend finding Oktoberfest on Google Maps and then searching for hotels within a mile radius. Just keep in mind rooms are very expensive during Oktoberfest. Ours was $450/night but we did book the night before so that also contributed to the price. I am sure you can get a better deal if book in advance.
HOW TO BOOK A TABLE AT OKTOBERFEST
I highly recommend booking a table in advance for Oktoberfest. You can check out the beer hall (tent) options and book one online here, or you can book a table through your hotel. Since we literally planned our trip the day before we flew to Munich all the tables were sold out online. But at check in the front desk agent at Hotel Excelsior said they still had a couple of tables they had not sold, so she was able to get us a table on the second level in the Marstall tent which turned out to be a very cool tent!
Our table reservation tickets were about €75 per person and included €55 per person for food. Drinks are not included in the ticket price and need to be paid for separately. Table reservation prices vary depending on where you get your tickets and tip is not included in the price. Having a table is well worth the extra money as it gives you a base from which to enjoy hours of beer drinking, food and music. You’ll for sure be up dancing before the night is over but it’s nice to have a place to sit down and eat towards the beginning of the evening.
3:30PM DIRNDL & LEDERHOSEN SHOPPING
If you’re going to attend Oktoberfest you need to dress up! Almost everyone dresses up and it’s a huge part of the fun. I borrowed a dirndl from my friend and my husband bought lederhosen at a costume shop, but I highly recommend waiting till you get to Munich and buying your outfits at one of the many stores there. On our walk from our hotel to Oktoberfest I saw at least 10 shops with dirndls hanging in the windows (they are literally on every street corner), and they all looked much better than anything I saw at the party stores in London.
Ladies do NOT buy a dirndl with a short, skimpy skirt. Traditional skirts are at least knee-length or longer, and the blouse is traditionally low-cut so you will still be showing off plenty! Flat, comfortable boots are the perfect shoes to wear with your dirndl, and be sure to tie your apron bow on the right if your “taken” and on the left if you’re single.
5PM: ARRIVE AT OKTOBERFEST
Be sure to take a quick walk around to the festival before you head to your tent. There is a lot to do at Oktoberfest besides drink beer. There are amusement rides, games, shopping, and lots of food stalls!
5:30PM: HEAD TO YOUR OKTOBERFEST TENT
We arrived at Oktoberfest around 6pm and made our way to the Marstall tent which turned out to be one of the first tents when you enter the festival. Evening parties get going from 5pm-6pm and end around 11pm so try to arrive close the start time to have some food before things get rowdy. Some tables on the ground floor are first come first serve, so if you had no luck booking a table in advance, and you arrive before 5pm you might get lucky and find an open table that you can commandeer. At 11pm when things are winding down, if you’re not ready to go home, there are a few tents that stay open till 1am, but getting into them can be difficult.
During the festival, an excessive amount of Oktoberfest Beer is consumed along with a variety of traditional foods (hello huge, yummy pretzels!). I loved the beer and the food, but my favorite part was the music and dancing. A few hours into the night everyone was up from their seats singing and dancing along with the band. It was so fun!
10AM: LATE MORNING WALK AROUND MUNICH
If this is your first time to Munich (and you’re not too hung over) I highly recommend waking up by late morning, grabbing a coffee and exploring the city on foot. Munich is Bavaria’s capital, and is home to picturesque, old buildings, lots of museums, and pretty squares strewn generously about the city with statues, waterfalls and green foliage everywhere. What struck me most about Munich is how beautiful it is! The city is famous for its annual Oktoberfest celebration but it’s also known for its beer halls, including Hofbräuhaus, which was founded in 1589, and Altstadt (Old Town), home to most of the capital’s art and cultural venues.
1:30PM: OKTOBERFEST HANGOVER LUNCH
Let’s face it, if you drink an excessive amount of beer for 5 hours straight you’re bound to be a little hung over. I was terribly hung over when I woke up (and this was my first chance to sleep in since my daughter was born!), so I have to admit I slept till almost 12pm before dragging myself out of bed with the incentive of large German pretzels running through my mind. There are tons of great restaurants in Munich but I suggest packing your bags and going somewhere that is walking distance from your hotel so you can head to the airport straight from lunch.
My husband was set on having weisswurst (German sausage) so the front desk agent at our hotel suggested Zum Augustiner. This restaurant has an awesome atmosphere and excellent food! If you’re not a big meat-eater or you’re a vegetarian I suggest trying schwammerl (mushrooms in cream sauce with a bread ball). It was delicious and the perfect hangover cure, along with warm pretzels and one last radler (beer + lemonade).
3PM: HEAD TO THE AIRPORT
It takes 30-40 minutes to get from the city center back to the airport by taxi, and the passport control lines can be long and slow during the festival, so be sure to leave yourself some extra time. It’s sadly now time to head to the airport, feeling fat and happy after an awesome 24 hours in Munich for Oktoberfest.
Have you been to Oktoberfest? Please share your experience and questions in the comments below!