So I finally ticked off another item on my bucket list— to experience Oktoberfest in Munich. Miraculously, I managed not to go over my budget and I’m glad to tell everyone how I did it. Keep in mind that when one says Oktoberfest on a budget, it still won’t be cheap. You’re still going to spend a lot of money. So many tourists flock to Munich during Oktoberfest and all establishments take advantage of the fact that these visitors are willing to spend so much money just to be able to take part in the festivities.
The first thing you have to figure out is how to get there. Predictably, domestic plane fares are more expensive during this time of the year. Most international plane fares don’t seem to be affected though. For instance, the price of a return trip from the USA seems to be at par with a return trip a few weeks before or after Oktoberfest. If you’re coming from adjacent countries or from other places in Germany, taking a bus is a great option because their prices remain the same even during Oktoberfest. So if you’re flying from another country and you see cheaper fares heading elsewhere in Germany, you can easily take a bus from there. I highly recommend Flixbus. Often they offer the cheapest fares, and booking a ticket via their app or website is a breeze. If you buy early, you can even get a ticket for as low as 10 Euros from as far as Berlin. Trains can get really expensive especially if you buy a ticket close to the date of departure so I wouldn’t recommend that.
After figuring how to get there, you need to find a place to stay. Hostels are usually a great option for travelers on a budget, but not during Oktoberfest. The average price for one dorm bed for a single night is 100 Euros. I know, that’s outrageous. Wait until you see how much hotels are charging. Even budget hotels think they suddenly turn into luxury hotels during Oktoberfest lol. Airbnb‘s could be a cheap option if you’re willing to stay on the outskirts of the city. Don’t expect a cheap place if you want to stay near the city center. Of course you can try finding a host via the Couchsurfing app and you won’t have to pay anything for lodging, but it’s gonna be really difficult since a lot of budget travelers also have the same idea. I did meet two people who found a host via the Couchsurfing app, but their hosts weren’t people they had common interests with so they ended up hanging out with other people. If you’re willing to stay with anyone I guess you can find a host, but to me that defeats the purpose of couchsurfing. Why stay with someone you wouldn’t be hanging out with? I think that’s rude, and basically you’ll just be using someone for a free place to stay. In case you’re lucky enough to find a host, don’t be one of those surfers who come and go as they please without getting to know the person they are staying with. Those people ruin couchsurfing for the rest of us.
So what’s the best option for budget travelers? Stay at a camp site. First off, i have to say it’s not for everyone. If you don’t like camping, you’re gonna hate it so much and it’s just gonna ruin your entire Oktoberfest experience. It’s better to just splurge for a night or two (which is enough to fully experience the festivities IMO) at a hostel or an AirBnb apartment . If you have your own tent, you can stay in one of the camp grounds in Munich for as low as 30 Euros a night. Bringing your own tent though could be quite a hassle, so the best option would be one of those campsites that sprout up during Oktoberfest. They set up huge tents with air mattresses and heaters. If you don’t mind sleeping inside a tent with strangers, if you won’t mind the fact that it can get really cold a night, then this is the best option. If you do some searching on the internet, the most popular one seems to be the campsite by Stoke Travel. It’s a massive camp site, and they charge 60 Euros a night. I know what you’re thinking. 60 freaking Euros for a tent?! yeah I know that’s still expensive, but keep in mind that it’s about 40 Euros cheaper than a hostel bed. And it includes free breakfast and dinner. If you have a promo code, they also give you unlimited beer and sangria. That’s a pretty good deal if you ask me. They also rent out those traditional German attires so you don’t have to buy one (I called em costumes by mistake and one local frowned at me lol). I wasn’t able to stay here though since the place was already sold out when i decided to go to Munich. I did meet a couple of people who stayed here. They said it was a lot of fun— as long as you don’t mind not being able to sleep. They play loud music until the wee hours of the morning, and start blasting music again as early as 7AM. And it also attracts a certain crowd. I guess the place would be more ideal for me ten years ago.
So I ended up staying at another campsite with favorable reviews. it’s called Oktoberfissa. It was easy to find the place, it’s located inside one of those camp sites in Munich. It’s quite far from the Oktoberfest site though. You have to take the Metro for about 30 minutes. it’s cheaper than Stoke Travel‘s campsite, I only paid 45 Euros a night. There’s free breakfast and they give you one can of beer for free upon checking in. They also rent out lederhosens and it was much cheaper than the rates at Stoke Travel. I only paid 15 euros (with a 50 euro deposit). Stoke Travel rents em out for 90! You can choose not to rent one, but since almost everyone who goes to Oktoberfest wears em, you are gonna feel left out if you don’t heh. The air mattresses at the camp site were comfy, but it got so cold at night i had to wear three layers of clothes before i was able to sleep. Someone told me it was even colder inside those smaller tents. Good thing I reserved a spot on the large tent. There are cheaper campsites, but the reviews were horrible. Other campsites with favorable reviews were charging about same price as Oktoberfissa, so you might want to consider those that are closer to Theresienwiese (that’s where the Oktoberfest tents are located). If you intend to go on a weekday, you can wait until the day before your arrival before you book a night or two. A number of camps decrease the price they are charging per night if they still aren’t sold out the night before. One camp site was only charging 30 Euros instead of the usual 40. Don’t try to wait until the very last minute if you intend to go on a weekend though. All these campsites are guaranteed to be full. You might end up with no place to stay.
Now for Oktoberfest itself. You might balk when you hear than one glass of beer costs about 10-12 Euros. It’s a pretty good deal though once you see how huge those mugs are– they contain a liter of beer. Keep in mind that you have to tip the beer maids. A Euro or 2 should be enough. Of course you can choose not to tip, but they will surely remember you lol. They won’t prioritize you the next time you want to order beer. If you go during the day time on a weekday, it’s easy to get a table. if there’s no free table, you can easily join a group of people in one table— everyone seems to be in a mood to make new friends. it’s also less rowdy during the day time, probably because most people aren’t drunk yet. It’s also a bit more family oriented, i saw a number of families with kids. Not surprising since apparently Oktoberfest isn’t all about beers. The entire site actually looks like a theme park of sorts complete with amusement park rides. The atmosphere is completely different at night, so i recommend you go once during the day and once at night. At night, everyone is in a partying mood and people do get rowdy. Of course you can do it all in one day. Go there in the morning and stay until closing time (a little past 10 PM). Just make sure to pace yourself. In about three hours I drank about 5 glasses and i was already drunk. Not surprising since that’s about 15 cans of beer! i don’t think i can spend the entire day at Oktoberfest lol. Maybe if i was still 21. 😉
For food, the ones sold outside the tents are actually cheaper by about 1-3 Euros compared to the ones sold inside. So if you’re hungry, it’s better to grab some food outside. If you’re really tight on cash, just buy some food at the groceries in the city and eat before heading to the Oktoberfest site. Since groceries are mainly catered to locals, the stuff they are selling aren’t affected by the outrageous price increase during Oktoberfest. You’ll be able to save more money for booze 🙂
So they stop serving beer at the Oktoberfest tents at 10 PM, but they won’t kick you out. They allow ample time for all guests to finish their beers, it wasn’t until a little after 11 PM that they told everyone to go out. The stalls outside the tents are still open though as well as the rides. Perfect if you need some solid food after drinking all that beer.
Most of the campsites have after parties that last until the wee hours of the morning. I was able to drink a couple more beers at the campsite until I felt like i was about to pass out from all that booze lol. I honestly don’t know how some people can still drink more beer after chugging so much at the Oktoberfest grounds. I think I fell asleep at around two in the morning that first night. Someone told me the party lasted until 4 AM. This was on a weekday though. i heard the parties last until sunrise on weekends.
Munich isn’t just for Oktoberfest though. I’ve seen a lot of travelers who only went to the Oktoberfest grounds and their campsites. They did not even bother exploring the city, and I have to say that they missed a lot. Munich is incredibly beautiful, and the architecture around the old town is amazing. be sure to allot one day or afternoon to explore the city!
So all in all, i spent close to 250 Euros in two days. I know, that’s a lot of money and that’s not exactly what people would call traveling on a budget. But considering the other options, i did manage to save a lot of money. And I could have spent even less if i didn’t drink as much— i spent more than 100 Euros on beers alone. 🙂 Overall I had an incredible time during those two days, I met a lot of new friends, and i had a lot of fun. For me, 250 Euros for such an amazing experience is money well spent. And yeah, I’m up for doing it all over again next year. 🙂