Munich – Oktoberfest, Old Town’s & More!

Oktoberfest munich things to know

Our visit to the German capital, Munich, was centred around Oktoberfest, however in the brief moments we had to explore its delightful old town, we found out it had so much more to offer. Whilst our few days at Oktoberfest was an obvious highlight, the architecture of the old town impressed us, particularly as this town had only semi-recently been rebuilt following the WW2. Visit Munich for excellent beers and beer halls, outdoor markets, a picturesque old town, good shopping and lots to do! Read on for some highlights and photo memories.

A few days at Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest runs between mid September to the first weekend of October. This beer-themed festival is a ‘Disneyland for adults’, and one of those experiences we will remember for a lifetime. There are around 40 tents at Oktoberfest, with 17 large tents. These tents are all set up and run by the big German breweries, with brands such as Pauliner and Hofbräu. There are also tents that offer up wine, and other calmer tents which locals will visit for a beer and lunch. Each of the tents has a different atmosphere and varied decorations. Most of the big tents have live music from German bands, with a variety of local, traditional, and ‘pop’ music covers. Stay tuned for the regular ‘Ein Prosit’ song, which is sung every 10-20 minutes as a toast.

We visited with Ky’s brother, his partner, and cousin, and a group of friends. We had a good time with a bigger crew, however we also met a lot of people during our 2 days visiting, so don’t stress if you have a smaller group. We checked out over 5 of the different tents, enjoying the calmer and busier tents for different experiences. Whether you park yourself at one tent, or move around, you’re likely to have a good time!

A few tips for those looking to hit up this festival:

  • Entry to Oktoberfest is free!
  • Oktoberfest is cash only, so bring your cash or face crazy ATM withdrawal fees.
  • You should definitely dress up! The tourists and locals alike all dress up in traditional German attire. The locals will rock beautiful high quality costumes, whilst tourists like us often purchase cheap versions online.
  • Don’t get too excited at the start of your day.. pace yourself! It is very easy top get carried away, but this often leads to drinking a little too much.
  • The German beers are stronger than you expect, often around 6% (or more).
  • The beers will cost you between €12-14 for a 1L stein.
  • There are non-beer options, with the most easily accessible the radlers aka a chandy (beer and lemonade). Some tents also offer wine and wine/sparkling water mixes.. but you have to seek this out.
  • Tipping is part of the culture, and you typically tip €1-2 on top of your beer (e.g. if your beer costs €13.50 you might want to pay a total of €15). Why tip? The servers make their income from the tips, and if you don’t tip them, they may be unlikely to return to your table to serve you.
  • You don’t need to book tables, it’s a ‘first come first served’. The big tents get quite popular in the evenings and during weekends, so be early, or prepared to join on another table. This is particularly important if you have a large group like we did.
  • You need to be at a table to order a drink in the tents.
  • All of the tents will offer food which is often delicious. Look out for the specials of the day for budget friendly options (often €9-15).
  • Oktoberfest isn’t all about the drinking. Yes, it’s a key theme, but some of the smaller tents are more about having a meal and enjoying the atmosphere. There is also a lot of carnival rides and great food trucks. Even if you don’t plan on drinking, it may be fun to wander through.

A few things to do when visiting Munich:

Go to Oktoberfest (if it’s on)

We had so much fun on the days we ventured to Germany’s biggest festival. Think fresh German beers, live music and sing alongs, wonderfully designed beer halls, dressing up in traditional Bavarian costumes, tasty food.. and so much more! Read above for some information and recommendations!

Learn the dark and varied history of Munich on a walking tour

We love a good walking tour, and Munich’s old town really is the perfect place to do one. With a very long (and at times dark history) learning about the events that make Munich what it is today whilst walking amongst some of its historical sights really gave us a deeper appreciation of Bavarian culture itself. In particular, learning about some of the history from World War II was eye opening.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though, our tour guide Tom scattered in some more light-hearted anecdotes as well along the way as well. Most tours of Munich’s the old town commence in Marienplatz where you can watch the Old Town Hall Glockenspiel chime (read more about this below) and they generally run for 2.5-3 hours. We organised ours through Guru walk which was free* (although the expectation is that you pay a small donation at the end of the tour depending on how much you enjoyed it). Fellow travel blogger Michelle has put together an excellent Munich walking guide (click here).

Watch the Rathaus-Glockenspiel chime

Overlooking Marienplatz, the Old Town Hall Clock (Glockenspiel) chimes 2-3 times a day depending on the season. In the lead up to it you’ll notice a crowd start to assemble just underneath the clock tower. At 11am, 12pm and 5pm (note the clock only chimes at 11am and 12pm during the winter months) the bells begin to ring, but hang in there… this is only the beginning. Approximately 5 minutes later three tiers of ‘life-sized’ figurines re-enact famous Bavarian scenes, from the wedding of Duke Wilhelm V, a joust between Austria and Bavaria (spoiler alert: Bavaria wins) and finally coopers dancing in the street bringing life back to the city of Munich after the plague. Reminiscent of the medieval clock tower in Prague, it is no where near as old, but we would argue more enjoyable to watch.

Go inside the old town hall

After watching Munich’s famous Rathaus-Glockenspiel you’ll be in the perfect place to head inside the city’s Old Town Hall. The cool thing about visiting the town hall is its open to the public whether you’re part of a tour or not, and its free. Thankfully not many tourists know about this so its generally much less crowded than Marienplatz outside. Once inside you can appreciate the ‘Harry Potter-esque’ architecture and stunning stained glass windows. Be aware that the Town Hall itself remains a functioning workplace for public servants in the city, hence stick to the common hallways and try to keep the noise to a minimum.

Visit some of the impressive churches

Munich is home to a number of impressive churches and cathedrals dotted around the city. We visited a few, marvelling at their architecture and grandeur. Many of the churches can be climbed for a small fee, with St Peter’s church highly regarded for the views of Munich including the clock tower.

Head to a beer hall (especially if you didn’t get to Oktoberfest)

In classic Bavarian style, no matter the question, beer is the answer. They’ve even built a beer hall (Munich Ratskeller) INSIDE the Old Town Hall! Alternatively stop by the famous Hofbrauhaus only a short walk away. Built as a brewery for the Royal family, it continues to produce high quality beer using only the finest ingredients. Admittedly the place is full of tourists, but when you step inside you can understand why. Serving up authentic Bavarian food, drinks and vibes its the closest thing you’ll get to experiencing Oktoberfest outside of festival season.

Check out the VICTUALS food market

This outdoor food market runs every day except on Sundays and public holidays in the centre of Munich. All vendors are independently owned and thus take the quality of their produce very seriously. There’s even a lovely outdoor beer garden shaded by chestnut trees where you can sit and BYO food from nearby stalls as long as you purchase a drink to go with it.

Enjoy one of the best coffee’s in Europe at Sweet Spot Kaffee

You know by now we love seeking out the very best coffee around! The cup of coffee we had at Sweet Spot Kaffee was top notch, so much so, we think it was one of the best in Europe! It’s a cosy little cafe just off the main square and nearby the food market. Don’t expect to sit here and work on your laptop, but expect top shelf coffee!

Check out the river surfers

Head to Eisbachwelle, a fast flowing river which has it’s own wave ‘surf break’. This attracts surfers who brave the waves in all weather to wow the locals. You have likely seen these videos do the rounds on social media, and these impressive surfers are definitely worth checking out. This man-made surf break has been surfed by locals and famous surfers alike for over 40 years. It’s around a 20 minute walk from the heart of Munich, located along Eisbachbrucke road.

Where to stay in Munich?

Accommodation in Munich isn’t cheap, especially if visiting during the popular Oktoberfest. Book early, or be prepared to pay the $$ or stay in poorer quality accommodation. Take a look at some accommodation options here, or take a look below:

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