Oktoberfest is an amazing experience for those of us that like beer and enjoy meeting new people. It brings in travelers from all over the world to one central location who all have one common goal: beer. After many dreams of attending this beautiful festival, I made the plunge to fly to Munich for the 2017 Oktoberfest. My Oktoberfest experience was full of delicious beverages, hilarious people, and unexpected turbulence.
Oktoberfest in Munich is located in the southern part of Germany, right in between Zurich and Prague. I booked my ticket through my favorite third party booking site, Skyscanner. I found round trip tickets from Seattle to Munich at a pretty reasonable price with a layover in Brussels, Belgium on the way there, and a layover in Chicago on the way back, but there will be more on this later on.
Where to Stay
During my time in Munich, I rarely ever used public transportation. The only time I needed it is when I was going to and from the airport and when I was leaving the city. The city itself is very walk-able, I hiked around everywhere, including the Oktoberfest venue. Oktoberfest is in the southwestern part of the city, so you may want to stay there if you want a short walk home after a night of drinking.
I stayed at the Creatif Hotel Elephant and absolutely loved this decision. It’s northwest of the city center, and a quick 15 minute walk to Oktoberfest. I actually had an Airbnb booked originally, but my host cancelled on me last minute. You can read more about this fiasco on a different blog post HERE. For a last minute booking, I was still able to find a decent price with the best complimentary breakfast I could ask for. There’s also some great hostels in the area if that’s more your style.
Day 1 of Oktoberfest
My first day of Oktoberfest was a struggle. I can never sleep on planes so I was really suffering from jet lag. I decided to roam the city and do my best to fight the urge to sleep. With coffee in hand, I walked the city center area and ran into the Oktoberfest parade. It was the first day of the festival, so everyone had smiling faces and cute outfits. It was such a happy time. A couple hours of that created an appetite for me, so I grabbed some dinner before heading to my hotel for a “quick nap.”
My “quick nap” turned into me sleeping from about 7:00pm to about 6:00am the next day. Ugh. Please let me know if you’ve ever taken a “quick nap” in the comments below so I know I’m not the only one to have slept through their first night abroad.
Day 2 of Oktoberfest
On day two, I woke up super early. I was well rested and determined to make the most of the day. The parade took up my day yesterday, so I decided to explore Munich before heading to Oktoberfest. Munich is such a fun city to walk around and people watch. The area is beautiful and there’s so much to do. After a morning of watching river surfers, drinking beer, and hiking up to the vest view of the city, I was ready for some beer filled shenanigans.
My first reaction to Oktoberfest was amazement. The venue was so huge, I felt like I was at an amusement park. There were tall roller coaster rides, ticket booths, food vendors, and a bunch of beer tents. After wandering around for a bit I met up with some friends and explored a few of the tents. These tents are not small by any means, they’re gigantic and packed with live music players, lots of table, and a bunch of thirsty patrons.
I sat down at a table my friends had snagged, and ordered my first beer. The only sizes available are large and large, so I was ready to get my drink on. I do remember us sitting down, and the waitress asked for our drink choices. I ordered “ein beir bitte” (one beer please), and my brother ordered a porter. Not realizing that Oktoberfest has VERY limited beer options. Because they have so many customers to serve, there’s really only three options, wine, beer, or a raddler (half beer, half lemonade for the light weights out there). When the waitress returned, she had a beer in hand for everyone, and a water in hand for my brother. Between the noise and american accent, she heard him say water, not porter. Needless to say, he was pretty bummed to be sipping on his water cup while all of us had beers.
After spending a few hours visiting and drinking, my friends and I decided to wander the venue. We went outside, and finally grabbed a beer for my brother since he was way behind us in alcohol intake. We wandered the isles going between rides and stumbling party goers. The whole place has such a fun energy to it, everyone is dressed up and drinking and friendly. We took part in a couple of roller coaster rides and then decided to check out a new tent.
Dance Dance Dance!
We arrived at our new tent later in the evening. So the venue was packed with people, which made it a lot harder to find a seat. We ended up finding a reserved table that had a little over an hour until the reservation began, so we sweet talked the server and convinced him to let us sit there until then. There was a live band playing fantastic music, so with beers in hand, we were standing on the seats dancing to every song. It was such a magical night. To my surprise, they played some really fun american oldies, like Journey, Neil Diamond, and John Denver. Is it really a dance party if you didn’t stand on the tables and shake your booty? Didn’t think so.
Ending on a High Note
Once our hour was up, we couldn’t find any other tables available, so we decided to go back outside. Oktoberfest was getting ready to close its doors for the night, so we thought we’d get one more drink and end the night on a “high” note. After chugging a beer, we jumped over to the swings. If you only do one ride at Oktoberfest, make it the swings! Feeling high on life and beer, getting even higher was just what we needed. The swings take you high in the air with a fantastic view of all of Oktoberfest. You can see all the lights from the other rides, all the tents, and the ant-sized people down below. From there, we headed home to get ready to do it again the next day.
Day 3 of Oktoberfest
This was my last day at Oktoberfest, and my last day in Europe before heading home. My flight was the next morning at about 7:00am, so I decided to do the ultimate all-nighter and party until my flight the next morning to save money on accommodation. I checked out of my room and stored my bags at the lockers in Munich’s Central Train Station. The previous night was a week night, and this night was on a weekend, so we could definitely see a difference in the amount of people in attendance. The place was absolutely packed with more people than before – I didn’t think that was possible.
I ran through a couple of tents with my brother, but the seating options were pretty limited. We ended up wandering back outside and stopping at a champagne tent located in the walkway. Since we had so much beer the night before, the bubbles were a nice change. The community of people that visit Oktoberfest is so diverse, we met people from all over the world. We met a group of guys from Italy, a girl visiting from the United Kingdom, and a long distance couple from the States and Australia (talk about long distance, good for them for making it last).
A Long Night Ahead
After meandering for quite some time, Oktoberfest closed it’s doors for the night. We left, however we still had no where to go since we checked out of our room earlier that day. Stumbling around the area, we found a bar nearby that had a fun looking crowd, so we decided to pull in for a stop. We ended up at a gay friendly bar called Kraftwerk. We ended up hanging out with two men from London (everyone is from London apparently), and it was a great time. There was music, some dancing drunks, and a lot of people dressed up in Oktoberfest apparel. It seemed like a great place to hang out for the night.
Let the Bodies Hit the Floor
I had to be at the airport by 5:00am for my flight around 7:00am, so when 4:00 in the morning came around, my brother and I decided to head out. We said good bye to our English friends, and made our way to Central Station in Munich. We’ve been to this train station quite a few times at this point, so we were very familiar with it. However, walking into this place at 4:00am was a completely different experience. There was no more hustling of people to catch their train. Instead, there was a lot of drunk and homeless bodies scattered around the floor looking for a place to sleep.
It was hard to tell if they were sleeping off the beer from Oktoberfest or if they intentionally slept there. It was such a different place. There was a Burger King that we stopped by for some food to soak up the beer champagne we had earlier, and the tables were all full of people passed out. We took our food to go and grabbed the first train we could. I do want to state that I never felt unsafe here, I just wanted to point out how different the place looked in the middle of the night.
Trouble in Paradise
With sleep starting to fall upon us, we made it back to the airport to take off. We were flying through Lufthansa Airlines, which didn’t open until an hour after we arrived, so we decided to take a nap until it opened. Once it did, we ran to our gate to sleep some more before we started boarding. This was the best nap I’ve ever had, I slept so good on the airport chairs, it was obvious my body needed it. My alarm went off, and it was time to board my flight to Cologne, Germany, where I had my layover before heading back home to Seattle. I jumped in line to scan my boarding pass, only to find a red light emerge. The flight attendant told my my flight from Cologne to Seattle was cancelled. WHAT?!
They put me on the next flight that had a connection in Chicago, but this flight was five hours later. I debated going back to town to eat, but I decided to stay and wait. This was definitely an unexpected change of events, and my body was craving a good night’s sleep.
I ended up making it home about six hours later than anticipated, but that six hours really made a difference. My body was so tired and sore, and I was wishing I never pulled that all-nighter. So word of advise for you cheap travelers out there like myself, sometimes it’s not worth it saving the couple bucks.
Overall, my trip to Oktoberfest was amazing. I had delicious beer, flew high as a kite, and met some super interesting people from all over the world. Oktoberfest is a trip of a lifetime that everyone should get the chance to experience if they wish. Make sure to check out my story of how I was stranded in Munich my first day arriving and my tips for your first Oktoberfest! Let me know in the comments below what your favorite part of Oktoberfest is or if you plan on going one of these upcoming years.