A Few Hours at Oktoberfest
Before we take off on our big adventure we want to share some of our previous travels with you. Kassie is excited to share with you one of her favorite travel experiences from her study abroad in 2012– Oktoberfest!
My time at Oktoberfest was far too short.
My friends and I decided that instead of spending a whole weekend at Oktoberfest we would detour to the festival on our way back to Florence from Prague. With only 5 hours to explore,we covered not even a fourth of the grounds. But don’t worry, we managed to fit in plenty of steins, pretzels and even a ride on the tall swings.
Our time at Oktoberfest might have been brief, but it was definitely some of the most fun I had in Europe. Good beer and good friends make for a great time!
Oktoberfest was so much more than I imaged.
The image I had in my head of Oktoberfest was filled with Lederhosens, steins and a giant beer hall. In reality, it had all that and more. Outside of the beer tents, Oktoberfest is basically one giant carnival with rides, games and food tents to enjoy when not drinking.
The six-day Bavarian festival is held in Munich, Germany and despite the name, the majority of the festival takes place in late September. The festival has been held every year since 1810 and over 6 million people attend every year.
We headed straight for the Hofbräu Festhalle tent. This tent is the festivals biggest, with over 10,000 seats. Despite its size it is the hardest tent to get seated at once the day gets going. We arrived just around 11AM and were seated at one of the last tables after waiting for a bit. The staff told us we were lucky to get in that late.
The HB tent is a great place to start off your day at Oktoberfest. The atmosphere is fun, with shouts of “Prost!” from every direction and many servers to ensure your stein is always full.
Being lightweights, we were in need of some food to soak up the beer after finishing off a stein or two. It’s far too easy to throw back one too many, since beer is typically served in 1 liter steins which hold the equivalent of almost three 12oz beers. Sadly, a few of our group had to tap out early after going too hard in the first tent.
Liter steins typically cost around €10 each.
Unfortunately, the steins are not served in souvenir glasses and many tents charge a refundable deposit on your stein. Security stands by the door confiscating them as people walk out. Those who managed to sneak one past, then had to figure out how to get it home.
So we left the tent in search of the traditional German pretzel we’d heard so much about.
Oktoberfest has so. much. food.
The larger tents are organized along the main festival road, with food and souvenir shops scattered throughout. There are tons of traditional German options to try– including Wurstl, potato pancakes, pretzels and oddly enough ornately decorated gingerbread hearts.
After filling up on a doughy delicious pretzel we left to explore the fair ground. In addition to the beer tents, Oktoberfest has several coasters, a ferris wheel and many other carnival rides and games. We decided to go for a ride on the high swings.
While the liquid courage helped me quell my fear of heights enough to enjoy the ride, I would recommend hitting the rides first or giving yourself a bit of time between drinking and riding the rides. A belly full of beer and the intense movement of the rides don’t always mix well.
After exploring the fair grounds, we found an open table at the Armbrustschützen tent and settled in for yet another stein. We were seated at a table with a couple who lived a block over from my apartment in Florence and a few young guys from Vermont.
Small world moment, for sure!
Sadly, after we finished our steins we made our way back through the festival for the 6 hour bus ride back to Florence.
Even if you are only able to go for a few hours, make your way to Oktoberfest (it’s how the Germans usually do it!). It’s worth it and a day can keep the expensive festival a bit more affordable.
I spent around €80 in five hours on beer, a pretzel, a ride on the swings and two overpriced t-shirts. Without the t-shirts, I could have kept it under €50.
I didn’t stay in Munich during Oktoberfest, but a few friends stayed at the Stoke Campground and loved it. Another great option is renting through Airbnb, which might be cheaper than camping if you are with a larger group. If you click that link you can get $20 dollars towards your first stay!
It was worth every penny and I would do it all over again. It was a must-do on my European bucket list and while I got to check it off, I would love to go back someday, with Joe, and leave a bit more time to explore this amazing festival and see some sights in Munich.
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