Oktoberfest in Munich has always been on our bucket list – but what an expensive trip! Now that we have done it once, we have some tips in keeping costs down.
1. Fly somewhere other than Munich
We knew we were going to meet up with some friends in Munich since March, but flights were around £250 each, which is insane for London to continental Europe. Instead, we looked around for another nearby city we could fly into and travel on land to Munich. Flying in through Salzburg was significantly cheaper, and we got to enjoy another city (or two) beforehand.
2. Consider traveling by bus
Although we booked flights early, we waiting until last minute to book our train into Munich. We were traveling from Innsbruck, Austria, and train tickets were around €40-60 a few days before. We decided to check bus prices, and they were coming in at only €8 per person, and was close to the same duration. It was probably only 30% full and it still dropped us right in the city center, which is great in saving time and money, since the Munich airport it about 40 minutes away.
3. Buy used clothing
If you have looked into dirndl or lederhosen prices, you know they are not cheap. When expected to spend €100-1000 on an outfit found on the streets of Bavaria, you may decide to forgo one entirely. I scoured eBay early and found a great dirndl from a vintage clothes store for only £18, including the blouse and apron! Although not as ornate as many others I saw over the weekend, it really was festive and made our experience much more enjoyable.
If you are planning for next year, I bet mid- to late-October (after the festival has closed down for 2016) would be a great time to look into purchasing used.
4. Travel in groups
Munich’s public transit allows for a group ticket to cover up to five people for the price of about two, so don’t bother buying single day tickets for everyone. For central Munich, an all day pass was about €12 for up to 5 travelers.
5. Bring your own water bottle
Festival prices for everything are high. Expect to spend €11 per stein of beer. I was so thirsty for water midway through the day that I ordered a stein of water and grudgingly paid €8 for it when it arrived. Although bringing your own food and drinks into the tents is prohibited, I would definitely bring my own water bottle to drink while walking around the fairgrounds. Staying hydrated is key to having a good time.
6. Visit on a weekday
Although prices are the same for everything in the festival, you will have better luck finding accommodation, space at a table, a lack of queues, and an overall better experience.
7. Wander the tents
Walk around the festival, pop into various tents, and decide to stay in one for a drink before getting up and wandering around to another one. Each tent has its own feel, music, and crowd. Some are quiet and local with elaborate dinners, and others have people standing on benches singing German (or English) sing-a-longs. If you have a small group, it shouldn’t be too hard to find open seats, especially if you are visiting on a weekday.
8. Don’t buy the gingerbread hearts
Seriously, they tastes awful.
Lastly, if the official Munich festival isn’t in your financial forecast, don’t forget to
9. Check out your local Octoberfest
In our travels leading up to Munich, we came across a few other really amazing beer gardens, beer halls, and local Octoberfests in the streets of Bavaria. They were full of laughter, locals, live music, and steins of beer that cost half the price of those in Munich. Each had their own vibes, but all of them were full of great beer, roasted chickens, giant pretzels, apfelschorle, friendly folks, and positivity.
This trip we learned that sometimes you just have to suck it up and realize you are experiencing a great Bavarian tradition that has grown in popularity all over the world. Set a budget, bring cash, and don’t hit up the ATM once you are out and full of beer. Enjoy the ride while you wander, make some new friends, and take in the great vibes.