Our six-step-guide will help you plan the most perfect trip to the Oktoberfest in Munich.
When foreign tourists think of Germany, they most likely think of Bavaria, sadly often without even recognizing. The reason for Bavaria becoming a symbol for Germany may be the fact, that this region of southern Germany has kept a good deal of its local culture alive over the past centuries. No matter if you’re thinking of language, music, traditional clothing, food or simply the way of celebrating life, Oktoberfest is offering an overwhelming package of all of that and even more:
Get your Bavarian beer tent experience in no less than 36 beer tents
16 large beer tents with between 3000 and 10000 seats and 20 smaller tents are built up every starting 10 weeks before the beginning of the fest.
See Goaßlschnoizer, traditional dancers and old-fashioned rides at the Oide Wiesn
The south west part of Theresienwiese accommodates a separate area with two additional beer tents and many other exhibits of past Oktoberfest eras.
Ride dozens of family rides or the largest and most spectacular fun fair rides of the world
Not only the largest roller coasters and highest drop towers, also 100 year old unique attractions lead to a very special experience.
In order to help you plan the pefect visit to Oktoberfest, we wrote this six-step guide:
1. Choose the best days
Oktoberfest is not always overcrowded but with almost seven million visitors every year in only 16 to 18 days, there are peak times, which are most likely to be less fun than less crowded times. On Friday evenings and Saturdays, beer tents are mostly at maximum capacity and therefore closed most of the time. Hence, it’s always a good idea to avoid these days. However, if you are not planning to visit one of the beer tents, you don’t need to strictly avoid the weekends. See our beer tent crowd forecast for more.
Keep in mind that October 3 is the national holiday. Although this is in general not celebrated, it still is an official holiday and affects the crowds accordingly. Additionally, Oktoberfest is extended to this day if it would actually end before this date. When October 3rd is a Monday, Oktoberfest lasts 17 days instead of 16, when October 3 is a Tuesday, there are even 18 days Oktoberfest.
The following Oktoberfest events may also influence your trip planning:
The opening Saturday and the ensuing Sunday feature large parades. On the 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.
On the middle Sunday, all the beer tents’ orchestras with about 300 musicians meet at the 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 brick layers’ 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.
2. Travel conveniently
Munich is home to the second largest airport in Germany and one of the best in the world, a main bus (ZOB) and a 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 100km west from Munich and can reached by bus within 75 minutes from the Main Station.
Franz-Josef-Strauß Airport (MUC)
Munich’s airport is situated north of the city and connected to the S-Bahn via lines S1, entering the city from west (46 minutes to the Main Station) and S8, entering the city from 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 travelling 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.
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 in 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.
Remote bus lines are still new to the German transport industry, but Munich has already benefited greatly from the installation of several different bus lines. All major national bus lines are present at the central bus station, the ZOB, located at the Hackerbrücke, in walking distance to Oktoberfest. Long-distance buses being very reasonably priced, are often a serious alternative to a train ride. However, a main difference between the two is the fact that luggage exceeding cabin baggage may be charged additionally. In return, the general price level is often 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 advising 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. Parking there is only between 0,50 and 1,50 Euros a day.
3. Find an accomodation
Munich offers its guests not less than 75000 beds and even more within the S-Bahn area. But still, during Oktoberfest, this is not sufficient. Therefore it is advisable to organize an accommodation early. In addition to the common hotel offers, during Oktoberfest some temporary accommodations are being established, which are especially interesting when being on a low budget. This page is meant to not only give you an overview over Munich’s hotels but to also introduce you to the temporary Oktoberfest accommodations, which are often not found via the major booking portals.
Besides the historic city center, which is home to the most famous hotels as well as to some cheaper ones, there are specifically two reasons for a hotel location to be practical: It could either be located near Oktoberfest or near nightlife areas. Finding a hotel near Theresienwiese is simple, as most hotels in Munich are situated south of the Main Station in walking distance to Oktoberfest. Although this quarter, Schwanthalerhöhe, is not the prettiest, its situation is convenient and it offers a wide range of all categories of hotels. Since 2017 you can even stay in a hotel with its own brewery.
Schwanthalerhöhe is also a good location considering nightlife. On its east end the Sonnenstraße together with Maximiliansplatz on the north end, is called 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.
A part these expensive locations, you could find a slightly cheaper room for example at the Hotel Wetterstein, conveniently located near the U-Bahn station Wettersteinplatz.
As most Oktoberfest tents serve the last beer at 10:30pm and Munich’s S-Bahn take you home at least until 1:30am on weekdays and 2:30am on weekends, don’t hesitate to search for convenient locations near S-Bahn stations, which are a couple minutes away from the city center but may offer you more affordable rates.
Some examples: In Feldkirchen, 24 S-Bahn-minutes away from Hackerbrücke, Notivel and McDreams offer rates below 100€ during Oktoberfest time. If you prefer a countryside hotel, have a look at Hotel Garni Kefer in Pöcking, near the Starnberger See and S-Bahn station Possenhofen, 40 minutes from Hackerbrücke.
Classic Luxury Hotels
Every city has a few hotels with famous names in the midst of a sea of soulless international hotel chains. The three most important hotels in Munich, which are also known to locals, e.g. due to their excellent cuisine or famous events, which are hosted there.
Since 1841 the Hotel Bayerischer Hof has been dominating Promenadenplatz in the historic city center. Once the largest hotel in Europe, it is not only a popular accommodation among tourists with a budget of at least 350 Euros per night, but also among gourmets, as one of its Restaurants, the Atelier is rated with two stars by the Guide Michelin. Additionally, the hotel offers a small luxury cinema, a theater, multiple restaurants, bars and halls. A special view is offered by the Panoramasuite at 3700 Euros per night. From there you can also enjoy the Trachten- und Schützenzug on the first Sunday. Check availability.
The Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten is situated on Maximiliansstraße, a boulevard devised by King Maximilian II. The street is located between the Residenz and the Maximilianeum, offering the most expensive shops in Munich. Since 1858 the Vier Jahreszeiten has been accommodating international noblesse and prominence. An extraordinarily glamorous place to spend a night is the König Ludwig suite of 190m², probably named after the fairytale king Ludwig II., as the price for this suite is a magical 15000 Euros per night. In return, you get a magnificent view of the Trachten- und Schützenzug. Check availybility.
From the outside, you may not expect this 1955 building to be home to one of the best hotels in Munich, which dates back to 1866. Not only the hotel itself is of excellence, also its restaurant is. The latter is rated with one Michelin star and offers an extraordinarily luxurious ambience. The hotel is located directly at Stachus, hence in walking distance to Oktoberfest. Both parades of the opening weekend pass there. Rooms during Oktoberfest are not under 400 Euros. Check availability.
Temporary accomodations and Camping
Especially smaller budgets profit from several temporary accommodations, which are only available during Oktoberfest and regular camping sites in Munich.
The regular camping site in Obermenzing is being transformed to "Oktoberfest All Inclusive Camping Obermenzing" during Oktoberfest providing pre-erected tents, sleeping bags and mattresses. Unfortunately, you have to go to the S-Bahn station Untermenzing by Bus and then change to the S-Bahn. The complete ride to Hackerbrücke is 24 minutes. Check availabilities.
If you’re young and simply want the smallest price, sleeping in the bunk beds in the tents of the temporary youth hostel “The tent” may be right for you. It’s located near the tramway station Botanischer Garten, not far from the Nymphenburg Schloss. The tram takes you in 22 minutes directly to Hackerbrücke. Check availabilities.
Space for up to 1500 caravans and tents including sanitation and catering is provided by the Oktoberfest Camping near the Messe München. Camping space is 35 Euros per night including two persons. Additional persons are charged 15 Euros each. The U-Bahn station Messestadt Ost is located within striking distance. The U-Bahn ride to Theresienwiese takes 20 minutes including a transfer at the Innsbrucker Ring station.
Wiesn-Camp and Wiesnloft at Riemer Reitstadion
In contrast to Oktoberfest-Camping at the Messe, the Wiesn-Camp at the Reitstadion is not a conventional camping site, but offers tents and caravans as well as bungalows (Wiesnloft) for rent. Bungalow prices start at 109 Euros, tents at 44, caravans or containers at 120 Euros. Up to four persons are included. Bungalows are designed for accommodating only to persons. The walk to the S-Bahn station Riem takes ten minutes. Another 24 minutes including a transfer at Stachus have to be taken into account for the S-Bahn and U-Bahn ride to Theresienwiese.
4. Get to the Oktoberfest by public transport
Munich’s public transportation is organized within the MVV, including buses, tramways, U-Bahnen, S-Bahnen and a few regional train lines. The S-Bahn-Stammstrecke, Munich’s transport aorta, provides fast traversal of the city from east to west. All S-Bahn lines serve the Stammstrecke between Laim and Ostbahnhof (only the S7 leaves the Stammstrecke already at Donnersbergerbrücke). Going by S-Bahn, you can alight at Hauptbahnhof or Hackerbrücke to access Theresienwiese. The most important transport hubs are Hauptbahnhof, Stachus, Odeonsplatz and Sendlinger Tor.
Tickets and fares
The MVV network is divided into an inner and outer district. Tickets can additionally be purchased for München XXL, which combines the inner district and a part of the outer district as well as for the entire network. If you are exclusively travelling within city borders, you can stick to the inner district tickets. The subdivision of the network into 16 rings is only relevant for weekly and monthly tickets.
If you are only planning to go from your hotel to Oktoberfest and return at night, single tickets is the way to go. Stripe tickets combine ten single tickets. Two stripes are to be stamped for each zone you are going to travel in. That means, staying at a hotel located within the inner district you need two stripes for your ride to Oktoberfest and two stripes for returning to the hotel. As soon as you plan more than two trips a day, you should prefer day tickets. These are also available as partner tickets, designed for groups of between two and five persons.
Multi-day tickets are only available for three days. If you are planning to visit some sights in Munich, the CityTourCard may be a convenient choice for you. It offers a large number of discounts e.g. for the Beer and Oktoberfest Museum and many other cultural, entertainment and culinary establishments.
In order to plan your itinerary, see the MVV's website.
5. Find free seats in the beer tents
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. However, we're usually able to pass such valuable reservations to our readers shortly before the beginning of the Oktoberfest. While reservations are in large areas of the tents prohibited, so that there are still thousands of non-reserved tables, reservations are still very valuable for mainly two reasons: You will not find seats for groups of more than a few persons at one table and even more importantly, reservations grant access to tents, which are temporarily closed for overcrowding.
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.
6. Enjoy Munich
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 over 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 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.