Munich is expensive to stay in during Oktoberfest, so we limited our stay in Munich to just two nights at the Comfort Hotel am Medienpark. With the day between the two nights, we went to Oktoberfest at the Theresienwiese.
We attended Oktoberfest on the second to last day of the festival. It was a Monday, and the crowd meter on the Oktoberfest website showed that crowds would be manageable until around 4pm.
Katie downloaded the official Oktoberfest app, which we highly recommend as it was extremely useful with a map showing real-time crowds at each of the larger tents.
We left the Comfort Hotel am Medienpark around 11:30am. We bought four tickets at Unterföhring station – two validated and two unvalidated – so we wouldn’t have to worry about buying tickets after leaving Oktoberfest. We took the S8 S-bahn to Hackerbrücke station, where we bought a pretzel, apple pastry and wrap to ensure we had some food on our stomachs before starting to drink.
From Hackerbrücke station we just followed the crowds to the Theresienwiese, where the Oktoberfest festivities are held.
We entered the massive Oktoberfest grounds with no issues – admission is free but you have to walk by three tiers of security staff. The security staff mainly seemed to be checking bag sizes. Bags must be smaller than 3 liters or 20 cm x 15 cm x 10 cm, so the only bag we took was Katie’s small purse.
If you had a larger bag, there was a facility to store baggage. From what we could tell, strollers were €3, small bags were €4, and large bags were €7. Bags had to be picked up by 1am, otherwise a €100 fine would be assessed.
We saw a lunch special being offered at Goldener Hahn for €7.80. Goldener Hahn was on the list of interesting small tents we wanted to visit, so we decide to enter.
The tent was not crowded yet, so we easily were seated at a large booth by ourselves.
The Monday lunch special – offered from 11am to 3pm – was waldrahmschwammerl mit Entenfleisch und hausgemachtem Breznknödel (wild mushrooms in creamy sauce with duck meat and homemade pretzel dumpling). Here’s the entire menu. We decided to split the lunch special and a Maß (liter) of beer. The lunch special ended up being rich, filling, and generally delicious.
After finishing our lunch and beer, we decided to wander the fair grounds for a while. There were horses standing with decorative beer wagons – as this was traditionally how each of the breweries brought their beer to the festival grounds.
There were also fair rides (including roller coasters) and game booths towards one end and along a side of the Theresienwiese. The cost for each ride varied based on the intensity of the ride.
There were also many snack stands selling pretzels, pizzas, nuts, and more scattered through the Theresienwiese grounds. Prices at the snack stands were reasonable considering the location.
After walking around for a while, we decided to try to find a seat in one of the big beer halls.
We tried to find seating in the Hacker-Festzelt first, but after walking throughout the hall we failed to find any non-reserved spaces that weren’t taken.
We tried Augustiner-Festhalle next, and found seats at a table with two older men on the far end of the hall. A family was leaving, so we swooped in on their seats once they left.
People frequently walked through the walkways selling pretzels, flowers, and other items.
The Augustiner-Festhalle was pretty packed when we were there! We easily ordered two Maß and eventually had another couple join us. It seems that the tables in our area might have been reserved at 4pm, so we finished our beers and headed to the exit to wander the grounds some more.
— JT Genter (@JTGenter) October 2, 2017
We found it was raining when we left the Augustiner-Festhalle. We tried to find space in Armbrustschützen-Festhalle, since the Oktoberfest app said it was only 40% full. But it was packed inside. We exited and stood under an overhang while deciding what to do, and noticed extra space at a nearby table under the overhang. We asked the 5 German students at the table if we could join, and they luckily said yes. We ended up talking, drinking, and playing drinking games with them the rest of the evening.
They lived in a small town reachable from Munich by a S-bahn and a bus. We enjoyed talking with them – and ended up drinking 5 Maß more of beer while chatting with them under the overhang. We learned a lot from them as well. A liter of beer is called a Maß. The last bit of beer in a Maß should never be drunk because it is hot and filled with spit. You must always look others in the eyes while saying Prost (cheers). And you should send your beer back if the beer (not the foam) is not up to the 1L line.
We chatted with a variety of other people who came to our table, including some friends from their school and some other travelers. Some travelers from Russia even convinced us to try cocaine. Not real cocaine – just wiesn koks which is Oktoberfest cocaine made of sugar and menthol.
The kitchens in the beer halls are impressive. They have to be to handle the thousands of people eating and drinking in each hall.
The Oktoberfest beer is 6% stronger than normal beer brewed by Munich’s breweries and costs between €10.40 to €10.70 per liter – and we had 8 liters between the two of us – so we were pretty drunk by the time we left the beer tent with our new friends.
We went with them as one guy in the group played a shooting game and won fake roses for all three girls. Then our new friends convinced us to ride a crazy, spinning fair ride. We were short about a euro, and they were kind enough to just give us the euro we needed so we could ride with them. The ride was lots of fun, but a bit challenging after all the beer!
After getting off the ride we wandered towards the S-bahn station. Our friends made sure we knew which platform to use, and then we bid our farewells as they hurried to catch their S-bahn train in the opposite direction.
We caught a S-bahn to Munich Ostbahnhof and then exited to switch trains. We decided to withdraw some cash, use the restroom, and buy a kebab at this station before getting on a S8 train to Unterföhring.
Once back at the Comfort Hotel am Medienpark we ate the kebab, drank a liter each of Gatorade, and then crashed.
We woke earlier than desired to catch our 10:45am FlixBus to Stuttgart airport. We were both surprised by how good we felt after drinking so much beer at Oktoberfest.
JT described the Oktoberfest experience best saying that it is like a state fair, but with beer halls. It was a great, but expensive, experience!