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A Backpacker’s Guide to Oktoberfest

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Vicky Philpott

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Written by: Caitlin Graaf

Everybody knows about Oktoberfest, or Wies’n if you want to impress the locals. And everybody wants to be there. Picture it: Germany, the endless flow of amber beer, beautiful girls carrying arms full of sloshing beer steins, the smells of bratwurst wafting through the tents. Ahhh, how wonderful it will be!
As the daydreams continue you realise one big thing. Oh yeah, Oktoberfest is expensive. Turns out its not only you having Munich beer festival fantasies. Approximately six million other avid drinkers, partiers, and beer connoisseurs from across the globe share the same dream. And as we all know, that many people in one city means accommodation costs skyrocket.
Camping at Oktoberfest Beer Hall
Thinking of getting a hotel room? Think again. You would be lucky to find a hotel room for less than €200 and could easily spend upward of €600 per night, if you don’t book very early. Even hostels can run you dry. Hostel costs during Oktoberfest generally range from €50 pppn to €100+ pppn in multi-bed dorms. Even privately owned, shared flats and rooms in Munich will run you around €60 a night if they are anywhere close to Theresienwisese. So what is the wannabe Oktoberfester on a student budget supposed to do?
Camping can be a wonderful way to experience Oktoberfest on a budget. Although you will need to book quite far in advance (things that cost less fill quickly!), you will save a ton of money and you may just have a ton of fun too. Camp sites in Munich generally range from around €20-€50 per night for a campsite or tent. So travel with friends and split the cost.

Oktoberfest accommodation

Interested? Check out these campsite suggestions:
Munich all-inclusive camping: Accommodation in this campsite is offered in two-man tents; the tents and bedding are already there so all that’s needed is you! One night will run you and your mate €50. Better yet, upon your entrance you will be greeted with a beer, and offered unlimited beer and sangria for €10 a day.
Oktoberfest camping: For the drivers and RV-lovers among us, this will be your place. Your campsite costs €35 per night (for two people, add €15 for each additional person), and has room for your vehicle of any description and your tents. This facility also has onsite shopping and restaurants.
Men singing at Oktoberfest
The tent: This laid back, bohemian hostel/campsite offers very affordable camping. They charge a flat rate for your tent depending on size (small 1-3 people = €7, medium 4-10 people = €30, and large 11-30 people = €50), and then add €8 for each person staying. For example, if you and a friend camp for one night your combined stay will be €23 total. They also offer cheap hostel-like accommodation.
Almost all Munich campsites that offer Oktoberfest accommodation have the use of public facilities (shower, toilet, etc) and offer breakfast or some sort of food / drink. Think your campsite may be too out of the way? Think again! Almost all of the campsites have easy access to and from the Munich city center via German-engineered public transportation systems. Some even offer 24-hour access. After long days of being stuck cheek-by-jowl in beer soaked tents with thousands of sweaty men you may also be glad to get out of the city and into a quieter, natural environment to sleep at night!
Sometimes the best parts of a trip can be the friends and memories you create at ever-unpredictable youth hostels, but don’t let camping fool you. Some Oktoberfest campsites will get quite festive and have a very young and exciting vibe. Many offer drinks, food and pubs and will be full of other intrepid young Oktoberfesters, who like yourself, are just looking for a good time.

What should I pack?

Camping Oktoberfest begs the next question: what do I pack?
Oktoberfest stalls Oktoberfest camping
First things first – camping equipment. Some camp grounds provide tents and sleeping equipment, others do not. If you need to bring your own, you will need a small lightweight tent, sleeping bags or blankets and travel pillows. It will be in your best interest to adopt the buddy system here. The cuddlier you and your friends are, the smaller the tent will need to be and the fewer blankets you will need to keep warm. You may want to invest in a lock for your tent or a small travel safe to keep your personal belongings safe while you are gone too. A flashlight and a first aid kit for the bumps and bruises you are sure to acquire will also come in handy. You will also want to bring your own towel, and shower flip-flops. Other than that, keep it simple and leave all unnecessary camping gear behind!
As for clothing, you will want to pack to handle varying weather. Temperatures could dip down into the mid 40Fs (4C) at night and be as warm as 75F (23C) during the day. Keep in mind that with all the activity, the festival tents will also get much warmer than the outside temperature. Basically, be prepared for anything and practice the art of layering.

  • Something warm to sleep in
  • Pair of shorts
  • Pair of long pants
  • Few t-shirts
  • Long sleeve t-shirt or two
  • Light sweater
  • Waterproof windbreaker
  • Few pairs of socks
  • Comfortable closed toe shoes

Ladies, don’t dress to kill especially in the shoe department (you will not want to acquaint your new pedicure with the broken glass and smushed half-eaten bits of bratwurst on the ground through your peep-toe heels). Also, don’t forget to pack the number of underwear greater than or equal to the number of days you will be away from home.
If you want to get extra fancy, and be well respected by hardened Oktoberfest veterans you could invest in an original Dirndl (girls) or Lederhosen (guys). Oktoberfest is all about celebrating German culture, so if you’re going to drink like them, why not dress like them too?


Out and about at Oktoberfest

While you’re in Theresienwisese participating in all the festivities you will want to be travelling light.
Guys, bring an easy and small wallet that can fit in your front pocket. Your phone should go in there too. Ladies, leave the big handbag at home. Rather bring a small cross over-the-shoulder purse with you. This will be an easy and hands-free way of carrying your phone, tissues (never a bad idea! You never know when you’ll need them) wallet, camera, etc.
While releasing your inner Bavarian, try to take the ‘less is more’ standpoint on technology. Phones? Sure, it’s a safety issue and you may have trouble finding members of your party in packed tents. Of course you will want some visual keepsakes of your time in Oktoberfest (especially since you probably won’t have any mental recollection!) but keep the quality of cameras to a reasonable level. You’ll be in an everything-is-breakable zone and having to babysit an expensive piece of technology the whole time will not be worth the extra-clear photos.
All you need now is toiletries. You will need to pack the essentials such as toothbrush and paste, deodorant (and let me say again, deodorant), soap, shampoo, hair brush and girls, your own personal selection of ‘can’t-do-without’ make-up items. Other must haves include: condoms, Aspirin (you’ll need it), and sleep aids if your campsite is rowdy or noisy at night.
Now you are ready to tackle camping Oktoberfest. All that’s left to do is get your beer-drinking arm in shape. Get your lederhosen and your headache tablets ready and…

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