Charmingly traditional yet refreshingly modern, Munich is the ultimate city of contrasts. From the winding streets of the old town and romantic spires of the Frauenkirche, to high-tech shopping malls and space-age design of the Allianz Arena, the Bavarian capital offers up no end of ways to mix up your trip.
While the pioneering city has never been known to shy away from the contemporary, history and heritage play a big role in Bavarian culture, and this will be plain to see as you stroll the streets of Munich. Beer and lederhosen are far and away the area’s two most famous exports (other than luxury cars!), and if that sounds appealing, the city’s iconic Oktoberfest should tick all the right boxes.
Taking place for a little over two weeks, from late September up to the first Sunday of October, it lays claim to being the worlds largest beer festival and travelling funfair. Each year, more than six million guests come to soak up its electric atmosphere and sink a stein or two, between exploring everything else this eclectic city has to offer.
So where does all the fun take place, and is it easy to get to from central Munich?
How to get to Oktoberfest Munich
Munich has a vast, speedy and affordable transport network that easily rivals some of the best on the continent. Making use of an underground subway, tram system, suburban trains and buses, you can get from A to B between almost any two points in the city.
If you’re staying in Munich’s central area, which is always a good idea as it puts you in the thick of the action, you can easily reach the Oktoberfest Munich location on foot. The Theresienwiese ground where the festival is held is just on the western outskirts of central Munich. This takes approximately 25 minutes to walk to from the famous Marienplatz.
But if walking’s not your thing or you want to get as much time as possible at the festival ground, you’re in luck. Oktoberfest Munich Germany is nice and easy to reach via public transport.
Which station is nearest to Oktoberfest Munich?
The best way to get to Oktoberfest is to make use of Munich’s U-Bahn underground metro system. With four different lines stopping within the vicinity, there’s a good chance you can get to here from your accommodation without even having to change service!
If it’s easiest to use the U3 (orange) line or U6 (blue) line, head for the Goetheplatz U-Bahn stop. The Theresienwiese ground is just 400 metres walk west of here. Meanwhile, the U4 (turquoise) and U5 (brown) lines call through Theresienwiese Station which is little more than two minutes stroll from the site once you surface.
You could also travel by tram. Number 18, 19, 29, and N39 tram services all run close to the Oktoberfest ground by calling past the Hermann-Lingg-Strasse stop which is 300 metres directly to the north.
If you’re not staying in central Munich and will be heading into the city for your Oktoberfest experience, you’ll probably be best using the S-Bahn. The station you’ll need to make tracks for is Hackerbrucke, served by S1, S2, S3, S4, S6, S7, and S8 line trains. From here it’s a mere five-minute walk over the bridge at Grasserstrasse to reach the Theresienwiese showground.
Tip: Oktoberfest attracts hundreds of thousands of festivalgoers every day that it’s on. That means you can expect services to be extremely busy, so always carefully assess whether walking might be the quicker option!
Which public transport ticket is best?
If you’re only in Munich for the day or don’t think you’ll use the city’s transport much at all, you’re best buying single, return and day tickets as and when you need them.
These are more useful than they seem at first glance. All of Munich’s transport is integrated, meaning the same ticket can be used across different modes of transport. So long as your ticket is valid for the time and length of journey, you could use any combination of trams, trains and buses.
However, if you’re spending longer in Munich, you might consider a Munich CityTourCard. These grant you unlimited use of the city’s public transport for anything from one to six days, costing between €13.90 and €41.90. You even get discount at more than 80 of Munich’s best landmarks, attractions and eateries!
The Oktoberfest Munich Experience
More than 200 years of history. Six million visitors, seven million litres of beer and hundreds of thousands of sausages every year. These statistics go some way to explaining why Oktoberfest is truly a festival like no other. Across a sprawling and purpose-built site that lays dormant for much of the year, this otherwise quiet corner of Munich erupts with sights, sounds and smells just as autumn really begins to kick in.
Most people’s perception of Oktoberfest probably involves swinging steins around and standing on stools in a Bierhalle, and this image isn’t a wrong one as such. But there’s much more to the world’s largest annual public festival than beer (and don’t get us wrong, there is a lot of beer).
Here are a few activities and events you can expect to enjoy as part of your Oktoberfest experience:
What better way to kick off Oktoberfest than with a parade? The Opening Day Parade sees each tent feature in a procession that snakes its way through the heart of Munich, with plenty of Bavarian music, outfits and dancing on display. If the costumes caught your eye, you’ll love the Traditional Costume and Hunters’ Parade on the first Sunday, which shows off all the region’s most impressive attire. Meanwhile, the Closing Ceremony is the perfect send-off each and every year and is marked by a spectacular gun salute.
The big tents
It’s in the big tents where you’ll find that famous Oktoberfest atmosphere, with singing, dancing and the beer flowing from morning through to night. All the city’s major breweries and bierhalles have their own dedicated space, including the famous Hofbrauhaus, with each being distinct in its character and atmosphere. While there’s so much else to enjoy at Oktoberfest, a visit is never really complete without calling in at a big tent or two.
The small tents
The smaller tents are scattered around the Theresienwiese site and offer a totally different atmosphere from their larger counterparts. These are better suited to those taking the festival one step at a time, and who might prefer to chat over a beer rather than belt out Bavarian tunes. Many of these are reservation only, so be sure to do your research in advance of your trip.
The fun doesn’t stop there! Travelling funfairs are a big deal in Germany, and the offering at Oktoberfest is quite unlike anything you’ll have seen before. Think entire five-looping rollercoasters, 200ft tall tower rides and even a seriously splashy log flume (which isn’t always ideal for the autumn weather). Heading for the rides after getting in the swing of things at a big tent is serious amounts of fun, but all that spinning and whizzing is definitely not recommended if the beer has really been flowing.
What carnival would be complete without its share of silliness? Oktoberfest Munich’s games range from traditional coconut shies where you can win something plushy, through to truly ridiculous mini-challenges that involve spectators being spun, sent swinging and climbing in the hope of bagging a prize (usually after a drink or two!). It’s pure, unadulterated fun.
You’ll certainly need something to soak up the beer with! Thankfully, eating is as much a tradition at Oktoberfest as drinking is, and you’ll find all sorts of superb ways to dine while you’re at the festival. Have hearty Bavarian fare brought to your table in one of the beer tents, or sample superb street food style grub as you explore the site – the choice is yours!
Oktoberfest Munich History & Facts
The story of Oktoberfest begins right back in 1810. Then Crown Prince of Bavaria, Ludwig, was to marry his bride Therese of Daxony-Hildburghausen. To make a real spectacle of the event, the Prince invited the citizens of Munich to join in and eat, drink and dance to their hearts’ galore for five straight days. There were spectacular parades, raucous concerts, shooting displays and even horse races. The event took place on the fields in front of the city gates, which Ludwig would declare to be called “Theresienwiese” meaning “Theresa’s Meadow” – a tribute to his newlywed wife.
Such a good time was had by all that it was decided the spectacle would take place again the following year. And then the year after that. It didn’t take much longer for Oktoberfest to become the annual highlight of Munich’s calendar, and later a world-renowned festival attracting millions of spectators from across the planet annually. Taking place in all but 25 years ever since, the festival has moved with the times but never lost sight of its origins.
Restaurants, Bars, and Shops near Oktoberfest Munich
Truth be told, if you’re looking to eat, drink and indulge in some retail therapy, you’ll find everything you need on site at Oktoberfest. The hundreds of tents, halls and stalls cater to just about every taste and budget. You could literally spent several days here and never try the same thing twice.
But if you prefer to get your fill or browse local wares away from the crowds, you could always check out the eateries, bars and shops tucked away in the surrounding streets. If that sounds more your scene, here are some top options to take your pick from.
The best restaurants near Oktoberfest Munich
You’ll find almost every cuisine imaginable at Oktoberfest, though hearty German food is surely the order of the day. But if the autumn air is proving a little too chilly or you’d like to get away from the crowds for a bit, there are lots of great permanent restaurants in the area around the Theresienwiese festival site. Options include:
- King Loui – a charming little burger bar with comfort food that’s second to none
- La Kaz– a stylish modern spot with local lunch favourites like schnitzel and salads
- Restaurant Irmi München – proper German pub food in an unusually modern setting, with the longest beer list in the neighbourhood!
- Frau Li – a super stylish Asian fusion spot that combines all your usual Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese favourites with a few new plates to try
- Max Pett – a charming and friendly vegan restaurant with a calm atmosphere and leafy outdoor terrace
- Restaurant Savanna Munich – a popular South African themed spot where meat is very much on the menu
The best bars near Oktoberfest Munich
Oktoberfest is a literal beer drinkers’ paradise, with perhaps more kegs per square kilometre than anywhere on the planet for those two special weeks in Autumn. But if you’re all beered out or just fancy a quieter spot, try these popular haunts:
- Substanz Club – a locals’ haunt that’s a sports bar by day and a party spot by night, with an excellent offering of shots and cocktails
- Bar Gabanyi – a rustic and jazz-infused cocktail spot with a superb line up of live performances
- FLEX – a friendly but no-frills locals’ spot with pool tables, table football and pinball machines
- Loretta Bar – a cosy LGBT+ friendly spot with a superb selection of whiskies and excellent coffee
The best shops near Oktoberfest Munich
If you didn’t find quite what you were looking for among the almost endless rows of stalls at Oktoberfest, don’t worry. Munich is a real retail hotspot and you have plenty of other options just a short stroll away.
On Maximilianstrasse you’ll find all the biggest international names in fashion, while there’s plenty of quirky boutiques to explore in the nearby Gartnerplatzviertel district. But your nearest shopping area to the main Oktoberfest site is located back towards the old town, walking along Petternkoderstrasse until you reach Sendlinger Tor. It’s here you’ll find some superb independents including the stylish Boulevard Fashion and Sebas Fashion Room. Their clothing doesn’t break the bank but ensures you’ll head home from your trip with something really special. Further on, you can find all the high street names like Adidas and Urban Outfitters if you’d prefer something more familiar.
Opening Times and Prices
Ready to hear the good news? You don’t need Oktoberfest Munich tickets! The festival site is free to enter, though it’s important to note that capacity will be limited for safety reasons and you can expect some security checks, so there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to stroll through the gates right away.
Of course, the various attractions, stalls, tents, and rides at Oktoberfest will charge their own prices – so do come with a healthy amount of spends for all that bratwurst and beer.
Oktoberfest Munich’s dates shift slightly each year, with the festival running for 16, 17 or 18 days leading up to the first Sunday of October. Again, opening times vary a little but there’s usually something going on at the site from 10:00 onwards, with curfew at 23:30.
Getting to Munich by train
It's easy to take the train to Munich from the main destinations across Europe. Travel direct from Prague to Munich in just 4h 56m on a high-speed Deutsche Bahn service, or why not whizz from Berlin to Munich on another direct DB train in about 4h 49m. Frankfurt to Munich is also another well-connected route, taking just 3h 12m.
Ready for your next train journey to Munich? Check out our guide to trains in Germany to learn all about the German trains, timetables and popular routes.