When moving to Europe, I had created a bucket-list of adventures and places that I wanted to see and experience. Being as I’m currently located in Germany, Oktoberfest was at the absolute top of my list and lucky for me, this past weekend Nick and I ventured our way to Munich to take part in the festivities for the weekend. Oktoberfest is the world’s largest Volkfest; it attracts millions of people from all over the globe and it takes place in Munich for 16 days between September and October. Between the fair grounds, the food vendors and the beer tents; there is a lot for people to experience during Oktoberfest.
Nick and I had an evening flight on Thursday, so after my day at school I had come home to quickly finish packing up any last minute items, tidy the apartment and then we were off to Munich. After arriving in Munich, we headed to our Airbnb and crashed for the night to properly rest ourselves (primarily our livers) for the next day of beer drinking. By mid-morning on Friday, we had begun making our way down to the grounds to officially embark on our first Oktoberfest. After arriving, we weren’t really sure what to expect, or what to do first; as I said before, there’s so much to see and do and it can be a little bit overwhelming when you first arrive. We decided it would be best to have a wander through the grounds, check out what was available and then we would decide on where to grab a beer. I was behaving like an indecisive child in ToysRUs as I bounced around from potential tents, but eventually we decided on stopping at Fischer Vroni.
With live music, comfortable booths and a menu serving something other than pig knuckles, Fischer Vroni was a good first choice. Afterwards, we spent some time at Löwenbräu-Festhalle; which is known for it’s warmth and hospitality and Hacker-Festhalle; which is often nicknamed “Bavarian Heaven” because of the constant flow of delicious beer and being surrounded by clouds and stars that the tent is decorated with. Friday night was spent shopping for underwear because it’s not an adventure with Nick unless he forgets to pack something. Saturday consisted of day-drinking at Oktoberfest, site-seeing in the city and then a nightcap. Being as it was officially the weekend, the beer tents were packed full by the time we got there at 11:00AM, so we decided to sit outside in the beer gardens instead.
We checked out the Armbrustschützen-Festhalle beer garden and had one of their famous Paulaner beers, we also stopped by Ochsenbraterei (Spatenbräu-Festhalle) and Marstall.
At this point we had a succinct buzz and decided to leave the festival for a change of scenery. Being as we were in Munich for Oktoberfest, basically all of our budget had gone to purchasing beer, but we still wanted to do some sightseeing in the city. After a little research, we came across two nearly free options that we could spend an afternoon doing; St. Peters Church and Englischer Garten. St. Peters church is a Roman Catholic Church within the inner city of Munich and it is the oldest of it’s kind in the city.
I’ve always admired the architecture and construction of old churches and cathedrals, but what we went to St. Peters for was the view. You have the option of climbing nearly 300 steps to reach the top, or paying a small fee to take an elevator up to the observation deck. Nick and I opted for the later because we were on an all beer and beige diet for the weekend and it didn’t seem responsible to expose ourselves to any unnecessary cardio that could put us at risk for cardiac arrest. Once at the observation deck, you have an unlimited amount of time to walk around and check out the panoramic views of the city. If you’re not a fan of heights, the inside of the church and the grounds are free to explore as well.
Afterwards, we made our way to Englischer Garten; this is the perfect place to rent a bike, have a picnic or layout in the sun. This park is one of the world’s largest public parks, far exceeding the size of New York’s Central Park. Beyond the typical realm of activities you think you would have the option of experiencing in a park, the Englischer Garden is unique in the fact that they have river surfing. Eisbach is a small, man-made river that runs through the garden and a wave was created in one section of it so that people could go surfing. When we were searching for activities to do in Munich and this came up, I knew we had to go see it.
We walked around and took photos and sat by the river for a couple hours before trying to find the river surfing. Locating the surfers proved to be a difficult task; we had been walking around aimlessly for ages and right when we were about to give up on the surfers, we overheard a guide for an Asian walking group exclaim they were going to go to the river surfing next. Keeping a few paces behind, we followed this group right up to the river surfers and stayed to watch the show and take photos. Once we had our fill of river surfing, we made our way back out of the maze that is Englischer Garten and headed back towards the festival.
Once we arrived at Oktoberfest, we realized that it was an entirely different ballgame at night. It is not for the faint of heart. Everyone and their mother is wearing beer goggles, you’re packed like sardines within the grounds and the tents are so full that people are spilling out from them. With the tents being so full, we had better luck getting a beer at a beer garden instead. So, we made our way to Hofbräu Festzelt; from the moment this tent serves their first beer to the moment they serve their last, the Hofbräu Festzelt is always a good time. In their beer garden, we were able to quickly get a seat at a table, grab a couple beers and then wander around the garden. We made some new friends, took a couple selfies, saw some people get pulled out on stretchers and then made our way back to the Airbnb.
Sunday morning brought us our last day in Munich; we had a lazy morning while we packed up our things for the flight home, went to a cute little cafe for breakfast and then went back to Oktoberfest for one last hoorah. We decided to head back to the tent where we had originally started our weekend off at; Fischer Vroni. Sunday was the perfect day to sit outside, so we grabbed a couple seats in the beer garden at a table that was already hosting a more mature crowd. I didn’t think much of it when we sat down with them, but they were seriously the most fun group that we had sat with the whole weekend, and we sat with a lot of strangers this weekend. While there was definitely a language barrier, they would try to include us in their conversations and we were cheering “Prost!” with them every couple of minutes! All too soon, our time at Oktoberfest had come to an end and we were on a flight back to Berlin.
All in all, I would say that my first Oktoberfest was a success. Between the two of us, I think we were able to try out a variety of things that the festival has to offer. Nick was able to test out all the currywurst and traditional meat-heavy German meals and I was able to drink my weight in authentic, locally brewed beers!
In case I have inspired some travel envy and you’ve now begun planning your trip to Oktoberfest, keep an eye out for future posts! I’m going to be sharing my tips for festival first-timers.