If you’re heading to Munich to celebrate Oktoberfest 2016 (or you are thinking about doing so), you’re going to want to pay attention to this post. Seeing as I have never gone to Oktoberfest before, I set out on a mission to talk to people that have so that I could bring you all the front line tips and tricks. I’ve used numerous resources like FlyerTalk, Reddit, and Google to get the very best information and made sure I cross-checked it with other sources for accuracy.
The responses were hilarious and I have to say (as a warning, but not to deter you), the recurring theme I’m seeing is that Oktoberfest is a mess, a tourist trap, and Germans pretty much stay away. One native told me about a particular hill that is apparently the place to be if you need to vomit. If this event still sounds like something you want to partake in (or if you bought your flight and can’t turn back), read below for the deets.
Here’s what we’ll talk about:
- How to get there
- Where to stay
- What to do
- What not to do
How to Get There
The true Oktoberfest or Die Wiesn (as known by the locals) is held in Munich. If you’re coming from the U.S. or Canada, you have a few options for direct flights:
- Toronto (Air Canada)
- Philadelphia (American Airlines)
- Atlanta (Delta)
- Detroit (Delta) beginning May 27, 2016
- Boston (Lufthansa)
- Charlotte (Lufthansa)
- Chicago-O’Hare (Lufthansa, United)
- Denver (Lufthansa)
- Houston-Intercontinental (United)
- Los Angeles (Lufthansa)
- Montreal-Trudeau (Lufthansa)
- New York JFK (Lufthansa)
- Newark (Lufthansa, United)
- San Francisco (Lufthansa)
- Washington-Dulles (Lufthansa, United)
- Vancouver (Lufthansa) seasonal
Where To Stay
Another overarching theme I’ve been getting from tipsters is that lodging in and around Munich around Oktoberfest is absurdly scarce and overpriced. Some even mentioned 300% up charging on rooms.
Starwood properties like the Aloft Munich and Le Meridien Munich are charging an absurd rate at roughly €400 per night or starting at 10,000 Starpoints per night.
Every Hilton property in Munich is going upwards of €350 and around 70,000 HHonors points per night for the opening weekend.
Your best bet is to search sites like Hotels.com, Rocketmiles, or if you’re down to stay in a hostel you can check out Hostels.com
What To Do
Arrive early. If you plan on drinking in a tent, make sure you arrive super early to get a spot (handwritten: around 9AM). FYI – the Schottenhamel tent is the one where you will be able to catch the opening ceremonies, beginning September 17th. Dieter Reiter, the Mayor of Munich, will be in attendance to tap the first official beer keg of Oktoberfest 2016.
Prepare. Get used to German beer. It’s a lot different than Coors Light (or Natty Light for your college peeps). It’s heavier and stronger. A German native told me the beer at Oktoberfest is oftentimes a lot stronger than usual so be prepared. I recommend a regimented program of Tripels and my favorite German beer, Fruh, leading up to your trip.
Carry enough cash. You’re going to need cash to purchase food and train tickets, however this doesn’t mean you should bring your Gucci wallet or LV purse. Keep your carrying items minimal and only bring the necessities.
Plan a rendezvous point. My inner video game nerd just came out with the phrase “rendezvous point” (thinking back to my Call of Duty and Splinter Cell days). This is an important one, if you or your group get separated, it’ll be a massive help having a place to go if one more of you are lost.
What Not To Do
Wear Lederhosen. I have it on good authority that one of the easiest ways to spot a tourist is to look for the ones that wear Lederhosen. If you could care less what other people think (or about being taken advantage of), make sure you at least comment here when you get back with your picture!
Drink too much. Yes, I know, sounds ridiculous. Everyone is going to be having a great time and you’re going to feel like everyone is your friend. This may be the case, but the minute you pass out on a random hill or street corner, the pickpockets will descend upon you like vultures.
Alternative to Oktoberfest
Canstatter Volksfest 2016. By definition, a Volksfest is a beer or wine festival that attracts a large number of people. Many have told me that if you’re looking for an alternative to Oktoberfest, Stuttgart’s Canstatter Volksfest is great. This Volksfest is less crowded and actually has lodging availability for relatively cheap ($100-150 per night). Stuttgart is about 2 hours from Munich by train. You can get there using the Inter-City-Express at RailEurope.com and about $30 USD.
Opening day 12.00 noon – 10.30 pm
Weekdays 10.00 am – 10.30 pm
Saturday, Sunday & holiday 09.00 am – 10.30 pm
Daily closing hour 11.30 pm ‘Käfers Wiesnschänke’ and ‘Weinzelt’ open until 1.00 amOpening hours of stalls
Opening day 10.00 noon – midnight
Monday – Thursday 10 am – 11.30 pm
Friday 10.00 am – 12.00 midnight
Saturday 9 am – midnight
Sunday 9 am – 11.30 pm Fairground attractions & sideshows
Opening day 12.00 noon – midnight
Monday – Thursday 10 am – 11.30 pm
Friday, Saturday 10.00 am – midnight
Sunday 10 am – 11.30 pm End of Oktoberfest
Monday, October 3rd, 2016 11.30 pm