Bavaria transforms into a wonderland each Fall with local Oktoberfest celebrations popping up in all small towns and villages. With gingerbread-house looking beer halls, ribbon draped wreaths hanging from polls and ceilings, and music from brass bands and accordion players filling the air, it’s easy to lose yourself in the fun, and be swept up in it all.
Here are a few places in the region to enjoy the season, and if you end up in Munich, even if not for the celebrations, we’ve also included a few places worth checking out while you’re there.
Must experience – Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest as we know it today, stems from a wedding celebration held in 1810 in honor of Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. Today it is the largest celebration in the world, and millions of people from around the globe travel to Munich to partake in the festivities. With its parades, carnival games, amusement park-styled rides, and monstrous beer halls, there is much to do and experience. Here a few tips about to help you navigate the scene.
Without having a reservation, or queuing up at 6am in a cold sleepy line, it’s said to be difficult to get into a beer tent- and stay put. This blog lays out very clearly, your options if you want to have as fail-proof of a plan as possible, but a few tips we can provide are:
- Go on a weekend, around noon, and see which tent you can get into (look for the shortest line. By then, all the tables will be full, but the isles won’t be, so scout out a table with a friendly crew, and do your best to make friends with them. With all luck, they’ll invite you to be a part of their table, at which point, you can get up on the benches and start “prost’ing” with the rest of them!
- Visit during a weekday before 4pm. You can walk into almost any tent to experience the bands and dining, without much of the table dancing that you’ll see on the weekends. The reason for this is Germans tend to frequent Oktoberfest three times: 1x with friends, 1x with family, 1x with work. What you’ll see much of during the week is Germans out enjoying their work parties.
- What to wear. We’ve been told by many close German friends that it’s only appropriate to wear the traditional costume if it’s authentic (meaning no cheap “plastic/Halloween looking” outfits). If you want to invest in a dirndl or lederhosen, plan to spend anywhere from 150 Euro (on the absolute low end) to upwards of 500 Euro. For the ladies, the side you tie your apron bow will depend on if you’re single or in a relationship. The left side means that you are single and ready to mingle.
- Buy a “Lebkuchenherzen” (the heart shaped gingerbread cookies). It’s said that in gifting one to an admirer, the message on it will be more fully “absorbed” as it’s meant to be consumed (though many keep them as souvenirs instead).
- Eat traditional fare in the beer halls.
- The beer brewed for Oktoberfest is 30% on average, stronger than regular beer. Keeping that in mind, order water after each stein!
- Each stein of beer costs almost 11 Euro. An average tip for your table server is 1 Euro per stein.
- Food dishes range from 10 Euro to 15 Euro on average.
- Large pretzels (known as “brezels”) and other breads are sold from passer-by’s with baskets (not from the table servers), and cost 5 – 6 Euro each.
Lesser known than her big brother, Nurnberg offers a delightful old town folk festival (their version of Oktoberfest) by the river in its old city. Known to be the oldest of these types of celebrations, you’ll find quaint beer halls filled with exuberant villagers dressed in proper dirndls and lederhosen. Small brass bands and ad hoc musicians playing washboards and accordions are plentiful, and the food and beer are outstanding.
Arrive early and try to find a seat at one of the non-reserved beer halls, ask your waitress what she’d recommend if you’d like to try the authentic fare (we had schnitzel with potato salad, and a dish comprised of beef that had simmered for so long, it was falling off the bone with the famous potato dumpling), and make friends with the others at your table.
Move on to try your hand at an old-fashioned carnival game or two, and stop at any of the sweets stalls for candied nuts. Don’t forget to buy a heart shaped cookie as a souvenir!
Here is the link to the site where you can find more information. Nurnberg is roughly two hours by car from Munich and well worth the trip!
German wine or German beer at Goldene Bar. A trendy lounge hidden behind the Haus der Kunst Museum, with craft cocktails, local brews, and an excellent wine selection, not to mention a breezy terrace where on nice nights, you’ll hear the mixes of local DJ’s.
Experience cred: Thank you, Jan and Alex!
If you’ve had your fill of Bavarian food, and are in the mood for something a little less traditional, check out these places for some great eats:
- Eclipse. This may possibly be the best Israeli food we’ve ever had. The atmosphere and pricing are spot on as well.
- Italian Shot. A cozy pizza shop that serves nothing but pizza. Each pie is extraordinary, and their homemade lemoncielo they surprise you with at the end is a sweet treat.
Experience cred: Thank you, Steevy and Jon!
Man versus Machine. This is a great coffee shop with great coffee, an exceptionally nice staff, decedent pastries. They even have blankets for you to lay over your legs if you find yourself there on a chilly Fall morning.
Experience cred: Thank you, Delaney!
Surfing in Munich? How can this be? We thought the same. Check out this site for more information. Riders take on man-made waves in all types of weather, but it’s also an entertaining spectacle for by-passers!
The English Gardens. If you’re in Munich, you can’t leave without strolling through these beautifully landscaped gardens.