Our five-step-guide will help you plan the most perfect trip to the Oktoberfest in Munich.
Now that you decided to spend a couple of days in paradise, it's time to start planning to assure that you have the best Oktoberfest experience possible. The Oktoberfest is a very well-organized festival, but being among six million yearly visitors, there are some things you should consider beforehand. Travel packages are in general not needed, though.
This guide is aimed at helping you plan your perfect Oktoberfest trip in five steps.
TL;DR: Organize accommodation early, avoid Saturdays, and subscribe to our reservation alarm.
Choose the best days
The most important step to make sure you get the most out of your visit of the Oktoberfest is the first one: make sure to choose the best days for your stay. If you’re only there when the beer tents and maybe even the beer gardens are closed to avoid overcrowding, your experience will be well below par.
Reading reviews or blog posts by unexperienced Oktoberfest goers, you can easily get the impression that the Oktoberfest is always overcrowded. Luckily, this is not the case at all. You should, however, try to avoid Saturday in your itinerary, as the crowd levels on those days can even make it impossible to just buy a beer. The same is true for October 3rd if it’s a Friday.
Wer sich noch überlegt, wie er sich für morgen früh gewanden soll: Laufschuhe nicht vergessen! Seit letztem Jahr findet auf der Wiesn jeden Samstag der Stadtlauf statt mit der weltweit besten kulinarischen Versorgung der Teilnehmer. Die Aufnahme stammt vom letzten Samstag.Gepostet von Wiesnkini am Freitag, 28. September 2018
Therefore, it’s a bad idea to arrive on Friday afternoon and leave on Sunday. In that case, you’ll only witness an overcrowded Friday night, an overcrowded Saturday and miss the excellent Sunday. If you really need to go on a Saturday, the first one still is the least crowded.
To be able to estimate crowd levels yourself and avoid closed beer tents, please take a look at our beer tent forecast.
Apart from the crowd levels, there are a couple of additional aspects that may influence your choice of days:
The opening Saturday and the ensuing Sunday feature large parades. On opening day, patrons and breweries are moving from the city to Theresienwiese with magnificently decorated carriages and horses, music, and of course the Münchner Kindl. The parade arrives at Oktoberfest before noon, as Munich’s mayor, who also participates in the parade, has to tap the first keg on time.
The larger and more spectacular of the two parades, Trachten- und Schützenzug, is held on the first Sunday. More than 9000 people are displaying traditional costumes representing their home towns. It starts at 10 a.m. at Maximiliansbrücke in the city center. Due to the special atmosphere of this day, the first Sunday is our favorite day of the festival.
On the middle Sunday, all the beer tents’ orchestras with about 300 musicians meet at the statue of Bavaria to play a concert. Oktoberfest patrons use this event to honor those, who rendered outstanding services to Oktoberfest.
The first Oktoberfest Sunday is the day of the Trachtler, those who participated at Trachten- und Schützenzug in the morning. But it is also the day of – what a combination – Munich’s largest gay party, which is, unofficially, of course, held in Bräurosl. Therefore Bräurosl is the only tent with huge queues in front of the entrances, which is rather unusual for a Sunday. Also the next day, you will still meet a lot of gays there.
As Bräurosl became more and more overcrowded that day, Munich’s gay community established a second gathering on the second Monday, once the bricklayers’ day, in Fischer-Vroni. As Fischer-Vroni also tends to be overcrowded that day, even a third unofficial party got quite renowned over the last year: on the last day, the gay community meets at Schottenhamel in front of the kitchen.
Find a well-located hotel
Munich offers its guests not less than 80000 beds and thousands more within the S-Bahn area. But still, during the Oktoberfest, this is not sufficient. Therefore, it is advisable to organize accommodation early, ideally right after the previous Oktoberfest, especially if you want to stay over the weekend or if you'd like to be able to choose between a larger number of hotels. This section is meant to give you an overview of Munich’s hotels.
The following hotel links lead you to Booking.com, just as the map. While we're not affiliated with any of the hotels, Booking.com grants a commission if you book your stay there (for any hotel.)
In Walking Distance
Fortunately, the largest collection of hotels in Munich is located on the way between Theresienwiese and the Central Station (Hauptbahnhof), which is a good ten minutes' walk away. Hence, the choice of hotels within walking distance is large. We collected all 58 hotels in walking distance on a dedicated map.
The hotels in the immediate vicinity of the Oktoberfest are Bavaria Boutique Hotel, Hotel Seibel, Four Points by Sheraton, Munich Deluxe Hotel, Hotel Munich City, Hotel Senator, Hotel Uhland (nice old villa).
Further towards the main station, the density of hotels increases, but the surroundings are unfortunately not the most charming, the city would have to offer. Better value for money than many other hotels offer Hotel Jedermann, and Fleming's Hotel. We also like to recommend the MK Hotel with its own brewery. Senefelder street has three adjacent and recommendable hostels to offer: Wombats, Jaegers und Euro Youth Hostel (good and cheap bar). If you like to treat yourself with five-star luxury, have a look at Bayerpost and Méridien directly south of the central station.
Staying near the main station is also a good idea considering nightlife. On the east end of the area, the Sonnenstraße together with Maximiliansplatz on the north end forms the party banana, which is home to many bars and clubs. Harry Klein and Rote Sonne are one of the city’s most prominent techno clubs. After spending many hours at the Oktoberfest each day, you may not even find this that important, though.
Historic City Center
The well-known traditional houses are naturally located in the middle of the old town. Vier Jahreszeiten and Bayerische Hof are typically considered to be the best historic hotels in town. Better price per value is offered by the Hotel Torbräu directly at the Isartor.
In general, you can assume that you will be able to get back to your hotel by public transport even at a late hour. However, it is recommended to check the connection before booking, not that you could have a much better connection for the same money.
As most Oktoberfest tents serve the last beer at 10:30 pm and Munich’s S-Bahn take you home at least until 1:30 am on weekdays and 2:30 am on weekends, don’t hesitate to search for convenient locations near S-Bahn stations, which are a couple of minutes away from the city center but may offer you more affordable rates.
Some examples: east of Munich, you'll find Maseven and McDreams next to S-Bahn station at a good price. The Snooze Apartments in Holzkirchen, 30 minutes south of the Central Station are also a good and cheap solution.
Munich is home to the second-largest airport in Germany and one of the best in the world, the main bus (ZOB) and the main train station (Hauptbahnhof), both within walking distance to Oktoberfest. Parking is not provided near Theresienwiese, however, Park and Ride parking space is a comfortable option when driving to Munich by car. They allow you to directly transfer from the Autobahn to the U-Bahn.
Two airports are marketed as Munich’s airports. Franz-Josef-Strauß airport (MUC) is one of the largest and best airports in Europe and is only serviced by larger carriers from about 70 countries. The airport of Memmingen (FFM), also known as Munich West, on the other hand, is serviced by low-cost airlines. It is situated about 100 km west of Munich and can be reached by bus within 75 minutes from the main station.
Franz-Josef-Strauß Airport (MUC)
Munich’s airport is the fifth-best connected in the world and partially owned by Lufthansa. Click here to check Lufthansa's connections. The airport situated north of the city and connected to the S-Bahn via lines S1, entering the city from the west (46 minutes to the Main Station) and S8, entering the city from the east (42 minutes). The S1 is connected to the U2 in Moosach and to the U3 in Feldmoching already before entering the Stammstrecke, the aorta of the Munich S-Bahn. For the S-Bahn ride from the airport to the city, you need either a single trip ticket or a day ticket for the entire S-Bahn network. You can easily check your flight connections to Munich with the adjacent form.
Memmingen Airport (FMM)
As Munich’s airport is only served by larger airlines, the Memmingen airport may be an option for you, when traveling from an airport that also offers low-cost flights. FMM is serviced by Austrian, Fly Niki, Corendon, Pobeda, Ryan Air, Sun Express, and Wizz Air. The transfer to Munich is only 30 minutes longer compared to the transfer from Franz-Josef-Strauß Airport. The 75-minute bus ride the Main Station is 15 Euros with the Allgäu-Airport if you buy your ticket online.
The main train lines arrive in Munich at the Main Station (Hauptbahnhof), Munich East (Ostbahnhof), and Pasinger Bahnhof. Most long-distance trains arrive and depart from Main Station, which is within walking distance to Theresienwiese. As the large beer tents close as early as 10:30 p.m. and the fairground itself at 11:30 p.m. on weekdays and on midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, departure in most directions may still possible at the end of your Oktoberfest day. You can comfortably check connections and prices on bahn.com.
Remote bus lines are still new to the German transport industry, but Munich has already benefited greatly from the installation of several bus lines. All major national bus lines are present at the central bus station, the ZOB, located at the Hackerbrücke, within walking distance to Oktoberfest.
Long-distance buses, being very reasonably priced, are often a serious alternative to a train ride. However, the main difference between the two is the fact that luggage exceeding cabin baggage may be charged additionally. In return, the general price level is typically significantly below the price level of the national train carrier Deutsche Bahn, especially when booked spontaneously.
Going to Oktoberfest by car is in general not a good idea, as there is little parking space near the Theresienwiese. Hence, if you still need to go by car, it is advisable to leave your car outside the city and transfer to public transport. This can easily be done by using the P+R-parkings located at several S-Bahn and U-Bahn stations right at the end of the Autobahn. Besides their convenient locations, they're also very affordable.
Reserve seats (or rather not) and stay away from ticket sellers
The most important thing you should know is that there are no Oktoberfest tickets as both admission to the festival itself and the tents are free. Additionally, almost all large tents are obliged to offer large free-seating areas and additionally have large completely unreserved beer gardens.
Nonetheless, around Oktoberfest time, no currency is harder in Munich than table reservations. Some tents, e.g. Augustiner-Festhalle and Hacker-Festzelt, are even fully booked at noon. Reservations for weekends and evenings are usually not advertised, as they are offered to regular customers only.
The first-timers’ dilemma is that only evening or weekend reservations are actually valuable but the only thing publicly available is weekday lunchtime reservations, which are even contra-productive for most visitors. Hence, we advise in general not to bother with reservations but strictly avoid Saturdays.
Despite the scarce availability, we’re usually able to pass actually valuable reservations to the subscribers of our free reservation alarm. This is the only service on the internet that informs its subscribers about Oktoberfest reservation availabilities. Therefore, we highly advise you to subscribe to it below.
The unreserved areas are well signposted (“Freie Plätze”, “Nicht reserviert”). From Sunday through Thursday, you should always be able to find seats for two persons, at least when the weather is beer garden friendly. Still, most of the time, starting with late afternoon, it is really hard to find seats. Therefore, we would like to help you with the following tips:
- Ten persons are to be seated at each table. So simply ask for free seats, when a table does not look complete, no matter if the table is reserved or not.
- Later in the evening, there are often free spots in the middle of the central aisles although it looks crowded with everyone standing when just looking from the hallways. Make sure you go right into the aisles.
- After having unsuccessfully asked for seats at a number of tables, do not hesitate to ask a waitress for assistance. Good waitresses seem to perform magic when it comes to finding seats for thirsty and hungry guests.
- Avoid looking for seats during the change of reservations, when those who had noon reservations need to make room for the evening reservations and are therefore looking for new seats themselves.
If you have never been to Munich, you may want to see for yourself, why over the years, Munich has been rated the city with the highest quality of living by a number of studies. The following list comprises the main sights of the city.
Since 1525 the two onion domes of this gothic cathedral have been the most famous building in Munich’s skyline. Its towers can be climbed up.
The heart of Munich is home to both the old as well as the new town hall. It is the perfect starting point for a walk through the historic center.
This magnificent baroque palace with its large garden was built starting in 1664. Later on, parts of it were remodeled in Rococo and Classical styles.
The German Museum is the largest science and engineering museum of the world. Its 30000 exhibits, some of them gigantic, attract 1.5 million visitors every year.
Hofbräuhaus am Platzl
Referring to itself as the most famous restaurant in the world, Hofbräuhaus am Platzl is not only the largest but also one of the most traditional venues to enjoy a Maß beer the Munich way.
For many, since 1792 there is no place better than the English garden to become aware of the tremendous quality of living, Munich has to offer. No matter if lying near one of its small streams, surfing on the Eisbach or enjoying a Maß below the Chinese tower, here you can absorb Munich with all senses.
After 1571, the royal Bavarian family built an impressive Rococo residence in midst of Munich. With the Cuvillés Theater, the Hofgarten, the Herkulessaal and the treasure chamber, it offers a number of sights and event locations.
Located in the museum neighborhood, the three Pinakotheken house several famous art exhibitions, ranging from medieval to modern art.
The gothic basilica dates back to 1278 and is, therefore, the oldest church in Munich. It is also home to the relics of the holy Munditia. Its tower offers a great view of the city.
Since 1972 the Olympic Park has been enchanting millions of visitors with its surprisingly timeless modern architecture. After cresting the Olympic hill, you can reward yourself with a beer at the Olympiaalm. Nearby is the BMW-Welt.
Tierpark Hellabrunn (Zoo)
Opened in 1911 as the world’s first geographic zoo, Hellabrunn not only offers an interesting selection of more than 700 different animal species but also historic buildings and picturesque scenery. It is rated as one of the best zoos in Europe.
Who doubts Munich’s reputation as the northernmost city of Italy, is advised to visit the Odeonsplatz. Surrounded by the Hofgarten, Theatinerkirche, and Feldherrenhalle, a cup of cappuccino in Munich’s oldest café, the Tambosi, tastes surprisingly Florentine.
Moved from Marienplatz to its current location in 1807, today this market comprises partly permanent, partly ordinary market stands, a beer garden, and a whole lot of atmosphere.