Here is a quick overview of our experience at the 2014 Munich Oktoberfest. While there were many different parts of this festival that were more entertaining, these six points are a few we found most interesting.
- It’s an actual carnival. We were most surprised that Oktoberfest is not just beer tents, but is set up like a giant beer pouring state fair. Bright flashing lights, whirling, twirling rides, games and food stands. While this is neither good nor bad, it does provide the festival with more energy and the constant bustle. There is also the omnipresent chance that you’ll get to watch some of the more over served Herrs and Fraus partake
in some these exciting activities.
- Bring your ATM card instead of a wad of cash. I’ve always tried to avoid switching money over at the airport, as the rates tend to be a little worse than in town. For that matter, I actually only saw one currency exchange booth at the airport, which was closed. That being said, we had a hard time finding anywhere to exchange money. Banks are closed in Munich on the weekends as were several currency stations throughout popular tourist areas. We finally found an exchange center at the central train station, but the rates were pretty terrible. None of the beer tents seemed to accept credit cards, but there were plenty of ATM machines nearby.
- Go early if you expect to get a table in the heart of one of the tents. We heard this advice over and over but decided for us it wasn’t worth it to get there super early in the morning to start drinking, since we had a limited time in Munich and plenty of other sights we wanted to see. If there are only two or three, maybe even four people in your party, it’ll be easier to find seats together. Each brewery has it’s own tent, and there’s at least fifteen different tents. Unless you have your heart set on a particular one, wander around until you find one without lines out the door. The servers will only serve beer to people who are sitting down, so it may be necessary to walk a few laps around the tent before finding any seats at the same table. The tables are long so be willing to squeeze in next to someone, or ready to jump in as soon as anyone gets up.Know what you want to order when you sit down. Once we found somewhere to sit, on a patio instead of in the chaos of the center of the beer hall, the waiter came right up and asked us how many beers we wanted. No menu, no description of the options, we just said six and a few minutes later we each had our own giant stein of beer. Our experience was Sunday, the final day, was much less crowded than Saturday. We had stopped by to check on the situation the day before and that Saturday late afternoon there were pretty long lines. As you will see on many other sites, the week days are said to be much quieter in regards to crowds.
- Beers are between 8 and 10 Euro for a liter of beer, served in giant steins. Food in the tents is pretty pricey, but was less expensive at the food stalls. There was a huge variety of German food available for sale, including the infamous pretzels, bratwursts, rotisserie chickens, fish and chips, and many other bavarian dishes that either start or end with “wurst.”
- Take public transportation to Oktoberfest. The subway system sells an individual day pass to ride the subway pass for 24 hours for 11.20 Euro, but the best deal is to get a ‘partner’ pass, which allows 2-5 people to travel on the same ticket for 13.20 Euro for 24 hours.
- Don’t skip out on the rest of the sights of Munich. A few subway stops away is Marienplatz Square, the heart of Munich. To eat in this area on a Saturday night, with a group of six at least, you’ll need a reservation. The world famous Hofbrauhaus is only a few blocks away, but it was filled to the max. We elbowed our way in just to get a look, but it would have been nearly impossible for us to find a table anywhere, specifically as this was all seat yourself.