Munich’s famous festival tradition, Oktoberfest, always begins the second-to-last weekend in September and ends the first weekend of October. This year’s dates run from September 16 to October 3, 2017.
We prefer going in September before the masses start arriving from all over Europe and the world. But no matter what day you go, prepare for an unforgettable time — if you can remember anything at all after so many gallons of beer.
Once you get to Munich, there are plenty of ways to shrink your wallet while expanding your beer belly. If you don’t follow a few simple tips, it’s easy for first-timers to waste a lot of cash and time. Here are some ways to save when hitting the happiest place in Bavaria.
1. Arrive “beer-ed” up and ready to go
The cost for a one-liter stein of beer has passed the €10 mark, so make a plan to pre-party elsewhere first. Smaller beer tents sell beer for a euro or two less, but outside the festival, there are dozens of beer gardens to hang out at for €6.50+ a pop.
2. Hotel regulars: try hostels
Munich is a place with a huge selection of decent hostels around the city, many of them with private rooms. Hostelling Youth International is present, along with Germany’s well-received Meininger Hotel or try CVJM/YMCA Hostel for a really cheap sleep. Some hostels rival cleanliness and amenities with large city two-star hotels. Don’t let the experience of age get in the way of a good offer at a Munich hostel.
Search all of our budget Munich hotels on EuroCheapo.
3. Hostel regulars: try camping
Campsites specific for Oktoberfesters include The Tent and Wies’n Camp that cost €8 to €25 per night depending on how much equipment you have. Camping gear is also available for rent, even ready-made tents, so you don’t have to bring much. For lower costs, remember that the larger your group, the cheaper the price. Other Munich camping sites include Campsite Nord-West and Campsite Obermenzing.
4. Stay local and cheap during Oktoberfest
The festival is not located in the old city center or anywhere near the Hofbrauhaus, so staying downtown is probably not ideal if you are only town to experience Oktoberfest. The festival is located at S-Bahn station Hackerbrucke, which is a few stops away from downtown. Look to book closer to the festival in neighborhoods like Laim or Hirschgarten (an area with amazing greenery, cute deer, and large beer gardens).
Related: Editor’s picks for cheap hotels in Munich
5. Metro trains are the best way
Forget taxis, the best part about traveling around Munich are the quick and efficient S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains. Since the festival ends every night at 11 pm, the metros are still running for an extra hour or more. It’s easy to get around, and a three-day travel ticket is only €16, while a one-way trip is €2.70. There’s even an online guide to using public transport during the festival too.
6. Scoring deals on lederhosen and dirndls
It’s a great souvenir and beer-drinking outfit that lasts a lifetime but make sure to shop around for the best deals. If you’re not looking for uber-authentic, try larger department stores around Marienplatz than the real McCoy. A full dirndl outfit set can be as low as €60 if you shop smart.
7. Eat a big meal before you enter
The roasted chicken and warm potato salads are to die for, but the prices might just kill your wallet. It’s not an insane amount, but a pretzel, a beer, an apple strudel…it all adds up very quickly. Grab a big meal before heading into the festival to guarantee you’ll be eating just enough to get your beer belly through the night.
8. Pass on the lebkuchen
Lebkuchen are those heart-shaped cookie cakes with adorable phrases written in icing look so delicious and sweet! But don’t be fooled. They’re not as fresh and moist as you think, and the shrink wrap around it doesn’t add a very nice flavor either. These cakes are not to eat, they’re to wear as a necklace. A cute gift, but don’t go for the XXL size.
9. Don’t buy a pointy hat
This is a personal pet peeve I have with first-timers at Oktoberfest. Maybe it’s because they’re the cheapest souvenir around, but these tacky, grey felt hats claim to be “original Bavarian” style. Trust me, there are much better and much more flattering Munich hats out there that don’t resemble a drunk college guy meets wimpy Halloween witch.
10. Save time by knowing when to go
Yes, it’s true people wake up at 6 am to score a seat in a tent, but it’s more out of anxiety than necessity. Tents are open from 11 am to 11 pm but waiting early for a tent to open is for beginners. Locals know that Oktoberfest weekends are for sunny beer garden afternoons and weekdays are for hassle-free walk-ins to any beer tent.
Timing is still important: try to get there before 4 pm for any decent seat. But the key to a fun Oktoberfest experience is flexibility, patience and going with the Oktoberfest beer flow.