Top 10 Things To Do In Munich During Oktoberfest
Every autumn, the world erupts for the hoppy concoction that we all know as beer. Dark, light, ice-cold or cask, the wonderful beverage of fermented barley and yeast gets its very own celebration. What began as a wedding celebration in Munich 200 years ago now revolves entirely around the drink itself and sometimes – of course – the food.
On average, more than 6 million people travel to Munich for the festivities each year, so if you happen to be one of them, check out Cheapflights.com's Top 10 things to do in Munich (even if you’re not heading to the party) and raise a glass of ale, lager, stout, blonde or whatever else you can handle.
1. Check out the biggest tents.
If you’re going the festivities at the Wiesn (the main area), be sure to check out the big hitters that are well-known and highly anticipated each year. Löwenbräu can’t be missed – enormous in size and known for its gigantic lion, it takes intensity for beer consumption to a higher level. On the other hand, Winzerer Fähndl is recognized for its whimsical atmosphere and tipsy sing-alongs.
2. Learn a few phrases.
You don’t want to be stuck in the tent and clueless on how to connect with people. Learn a few German phrases to help you stay on track.
Bierdimpfe: Notorious beer drinker, or "tavern potato." (Hint: don’t become this)
Maß: One liter of beer
Ozapfa: To tap a beer barrel
3. Take public transportation.
Parking at the tents is nearly impossible, and all experts on the subject recommend taking public transportation to the main event. Here are a few ways to get there:
S1 - S8 to Hackerbrücke
S7, S20 and S27 to Heimeranplatz, and then U4 or U5 to station Theresienwiese or Schwanthalerhöhe
U3 or U6 to Goetheplatz or Poccistraße
U4 or U5 to Theresienwiese or Schwanthalerhöhe
MetroBus-Line 53 to Schwanthalerhöhe
MetroBus-Line 58 to Georg-Hirth-Platz or Goetheplatz
StadtBus-Line 131 or 132 to Hans-Fischer-Straße
StadtBus-Line 134 to Schwanthalerhöhe
- Streetcar / Straßenbahn:
Line 18 or 19 to Holzapfelstraße or Hermann-Lingg-Straße
4. Check out Mike’s Bike Tours.
Munich is arguably one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world. With more than 15 years of experience as a mainstay tour company in both Munich and Amsterdam, Mike’s Bike Tours provides four-hour tours through the city that are safe (they run on small adjacent roads), not strenuous (plenty of stopping and talking) and fun. Special Octoberfest Tours run in September and October, and after the first two hours, the group stops at a beer garden to try out local fare.
5. Explore Marienplatz.
The city’s center is a twelfth-century wonder, and is known as the heart of Munich. A hub for sight-seeing, shopping and dining, Marienplatz is a perfect starting point for getting a taste of the city. You’ll see Rathous, the city hall with a gigantic iconic façade, and plenty of other 19th century Gothic architecture. Warm up your credit card at the surrounding designer stores, or simply people-watch at a nearby café.
6. Shop around Viktualienmarkt.
After you spend time in Marienplatz, walk over to Viktualienmarkt, a daily farmer’s market where you’ll find a massive variety of fresh and regional food. More than 140 colorful booths fill the area with unique flavor, as well as products from local florists, bakeries, and restaurants. The market is open Monday- Saturday from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., but most stalls unofficially close around 6 p.m.
7. Grab a beer at Hofbräuhaus.
If you want a taste of authentic Munich brew, but don’t feel like braving the storm of the Wiesn, then head to the most famous beer hall in the world – Hofbräuhaus. Built in 1589, it’s filled with old, long wooden tables that have engravings of people from hundreds of years go. It’s close to the center of town, so it’s convenient to do in conjunction with shopping or sightseeing, but don’t eat before you enter: The menu includes hearty fare like sausage, pork roast and goulash, and all beer is served in one-liter steins. Bavarian bands play live all day.
8. Take a hike.
Well, not really. Burn those beer calories by climbing up the 306 steps of Munich’s oldest church, St. Peter’s (called Alter Peter), and bring your camera – the summit holds some of the most memorable views of the city. Once inside, the aesthetics continue with five Gothic paintings by Jan Polack, alters by Ignaz Gunther and a ceiling fresco by Johann Baptist Zimmermann.
9. Get back to nature.
Balance all the towering architecture and rowdy beer halls with the peacefulness and serenity of the English Garden (Englischer Garten). One of the world’s largest urban public parks, the English Garden is more expansive than even New York’s Central Park. An artificial stream that runs through it has its own unique calling: Expert surfers come to ride the small waves at the mouth of the stream, but we don’t suggest trying this after you’ve had a few snifters.
10. Go see a castle.
Tucked away in the woods of Bavaria is a 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace called Neuschwanstein Castle. Commissioned by Ludwig II, the castle is a tribute to “Mad King Ludwig’s” need for a retreat from the public. Built with rooms that have a Versailles-like quality and an unmatched panoramic view of the countryside, the castle is both a visual masterpiece and a historic marvel.
Editor's Note: This information is current as of September 2010.