Are you planning to visit Munich, the capital of Bavaria, this year? Whether you are a fan of Oktoberfest or not, you will find plenty of reasons to fall in love with this city.
Munich is a city that combines tradition and modernity, history and innovation, culture and entertainment. It is famous for its annual Oktoberfest, the world's largest folk festival, where millions of visitors enjoy beer, food, music and fun. But Munich has much more to offer than just beer and pretzels, whether you are a fan of the Oktoberfest or not.
If you plan to visit Munich during the Oktoberfest, which 2023 will take place from September 16 to October 3, here is a small guide to the big festival.
The opening ceremony.
On the festival's first day, the mayor of Munich taps the first keg of beer in the Schottenhamel tent and declares, "O'zapft is!" (It's tapped!). This is followed by a parade of the beer tent owners and their families, accompanied by brass bands and horse-drawn carriages.
Watch the traditional events.
The Oktoberfest offers many opportunities to witness some Bavarian traditions and customs. Some highlights are the costume and riflemen's parade on the first Sunday of the festival, the stand-up concert under the Bavaria statue on the second Sunday, and the gun salute on the last day.
The big tents.
There are 17 large tents at the Oktoberfest, each with its theme, atmosphere and speciality. Some of the most popular ones are Hofbräu-Festzelt, where you can sing along with international guests; Hacker-Festzelt, where you can admire the blue-and-white sky ceiling; and Schützen-Festzelt, where you can enjoy traditional Bavarian dishes.
Try the small tents.
If you prefer a more cosy and intimate setting, check out the 21 small tents at the Oktoberfest. Some offer specialities such as organic beer, wine, coffee, fish or cheese. You can also find hidden gems like Café Kaiserschmarrn, where you can taste the famous fluffy pancake, or Glöckle Wirt, where you can see a collection of antique clocks.
Enjoy the rides and attractions.
Apart from drinking and eating, Oktoberfest is about having fun. The festival has over 80 rides and attractions, ranging from classic carousels and roller coasters to modern thrill rides and games. You can also visit the Oide Wiesn (Old Oktoberfest), where you can experience the nostalgic charm of the historic Oktoberfest.
Shop for souvenirs.
If you want to bring home some memories of your Oktoberfest experience, you can shop for souvenirs at one of the many stalls and shops at the festival. You can find everything from beer mugs gingerbread hearts, hats, and lederhosen.
Not fancy the Oktoberfest but still want to visit Munich?
If you are not interested in the Oktoberfest or want to avoid the crowds and noise, you can still enjoy Munich anytime. Here are some suggestions on what else to see in Munich:
Admire the architecture
Munich has beautiful and varied architecture, from medieval buildings to baroque palaces to modern skyscrapers. Some of the landmarks that you should not miss are the Cathedral of Our Lady (Frauenkirche), with its distinctive twin towers; New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus), with its famous carillon; Nymphenburg Castle (Nymphenburg Palace), with its stunning gardens; and Olympic Park (Olympiapark), with its iconic tent roof.
Visit the museums
Munich has a rich and diverse cultural scene, with over 80 museums covering various fields and topics. Some of the most famous ones are Deutsches Museum (German Museum), one of the world's largest science and technology museums; Pinakothek der Moderne (Pinakothek of Modern Art), one of Europe's largest collections of modern art; and BMW Welt (BMW World), a futuristic exhibition and delivery centre for BMW cars.
Relax in the parks.
Munich is a green city, with many parks and gardens where you can relax and enjoy nature. One is the English Garden (Englischer Garten), one of the world's largest urban parks, where you can see surfers on the Eisbach wave or visit a Chinese pagoda. Another one is Hellabrunn Zoo (Tierpark Hellabrunn), one of the first geo-zoos in the world, where you can see over 19,000 animals from different continents.
Taste the cuisine
Munich is not only famous for its beer but also for its cuisine, which reflects the influence of different regions and countries. You can try some of the typical dishes, such as Weißwurst (white sausage), Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle), or Kaiserschmarrn (shredded pancake), or sample some of the international specialities, such as Italian, Turkish, or Vietnamese food. You can also visit some markets, such as Viktualienmarkt (Victuals Market), where fresh and local products are found.
Where to Stay in Munich
Depending on your preferences and budget, you can find different options for where to stay in Munich.
If you like the Oktoberfest and want to be close to the action, you can stay in one of the hotels near the Theresienwiese, where the festival takes place. Some are Arthotel Munich, Eden Hotel Wolff, and Boutique Hotel Atrium München. However, be prepared to pay higher prices and deal with noise and crowds.
If you want to avoid Oktoberfest and enjoy a quieter and more relaxed atmosphere, you can stay in one of the hotels away from the city centre. The H2 Hotel München Olympiapark, Gambino Hotel Werksviertel, or Bento Inn Munich Messe are all recommended. You can also benefit from lower prices and better availability.
If you want to balance convenience and comfort, you can stay in one of the hotels near the main train station or the airport. You can have easy access to public transportation and other services while still enjoying a good quality of accommodation.
How to navigate Munich
Munich has a highly developed and functional urban transport system consisting of four main modes: U-Bahn (subway), S-Bahn (suburban train), tram and bus, and they are interconnected and share the same ticket system.
You can buy tickets at ticket machines, online or via the MVV or MVG app. Depending on your destination and duration of stay, you can choose from different types of tickets, such as single tickets, stripe tickets, day tickets or group tickets. You can also use the MVV or MVG app to plan your journey, check timetables and get real-time information about traffic and delays.
Alternatively, you can use the MVV website or call the MVV hotline at 089 41424344 for more information.
You can also use the bike-sharing system MVG Rad2, which allows you to rent a bike from one of the many stations around the city.