Six ways you can save money at Oktoberfest
The greatest beer-drinking event on Earth is right around the corner. The annual Oktoberfest takes place in Munich, Germany from September 21 through October 6. If you haven’t been, you really should go. You don’t know the true meaning of beer until you’ve sat in a huge tent drinking it from one-liter mugs, surrounded by thousands of merry folk doing the same thing. Oktoberfest is a spectacle not to be missed.
Problem is, it can be quite expensive. Oktoberfest is a major tourist drawcard, and the price of beer, food, and accommodation can easily spiral out of control. For backpackers doing the Europe-on-a-shoestring gig, a few days at Oktoberfest can really put a dent in the finances.
But fear not. With a bit of creativity and advance planning, even the most poverty-stricken traveler can venture to Munich and join the beer-fuelled festivities. These tips will help you do Oktoberfest on the cheap and still have a good time while you’re at it.
1. Stay outside Munich.
Munich hostel beds get very pricey when Oktoberfest comes to town. If you can find a bed at all, expect to pay upwards of 60 or 70 euros per night. Ouch. The smarter idea is to rent a flat in a nearby town and commute to Oktoberfest each day. Check out the 9flats listings in Nuremberg, Regensburg, Augsburg, or Salzburg (Austria). Munich is easily accessible by train from all these cities. The journey will take 2-3 hours, so you’ll have to get up early.
2. Buy group train tickets.
If you’re traveling with a few people, Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) offers great value group tickets, which let up to five people travel anywhere in the country for around 10 euros per head. Wherever you’re staying in Germany, you can get trains to Munich at minimal cost. And if you miss your last train home in the evening, simply join the hundreds of other partygoers sleeping on the floor at the Munich central train station.
3. Drink on the street.
Germany is one of the few countries where it’s totally legit to drink booze in public. You can buy very cheap beer from any supermarket or convenience store and drink it safely on the street without fear of police harassment. Before you hit Oktoberfest and start knocking back those big 10 euro mugs, get the party started with a few 50 cent take-away beers outside the festival grounds.
4. Eat lots of pretzels.
Don’t even think about going hungry at Oktoberfest – you’ll never survive a day of heavy drinking without some food in your belly. Sampling hearty Bavarian fare is a key part of the experience. But the enormous plates of schnitzel and pork shoulder can get a bit expensive. If you need a cheaper form of sustenance, just load up on novelty-sized German pretzels. They’re bigger than your head and full of bready goodness. At just a couple of euros apiece, those bad boys are the perfect accompaniment to a serious beer session.
5. Decode the public transport.
Oktoberfest is walking distance from the Munich central train station. But if you plan on navigating the outer reaches of the city, be sure to get yourself a daily ticket (Tageskarte) that can be used on all trams, trains and buses in Munich. It’s cheaper than buying individual trips every time, and saves you the hassle of fumbling around for loose change at 2am in the morning after you’ve had 10 litres of beer.
6. Do your research.
Leaving the finer details to chance is a surefire way to spend more money than you need to. Invest a bit of time in planning your Munich mission and you’ll get more bang for your Oktoberfest buck. Here are some useful links to point you in the right direction:
Oktoberfest website (in English)
Long distance trains and group tickets in Germany
Public transport in Munich