Oktoberfest on the cheap

Oktoberfest is on the must-do list for any traveller, but is notoriously hard on the pocket. First-timer ED EARL takes on the annual festival with a strict budget.


OktoberfestOKTOBERFEST…without mentioning beer once, and how to do it spending under £300.

Everything but the booze.

No, I won’t mention it once – I promise.

This year was my first Oktoberfest and, hopefully, it won’t be my last.

My challenge, as in keeping with a lean travel budget, was to not spend more than 400 euros during my two days in Munich – the home of the world’s biggest, and original, Oktoberfest.

Can it be done?

Since travelling, it has been one of those must-dos, up there with the London Eye, Loch Ness or Running of the Bulls.

I’ve heard it all – “best weekend ever”, “unreal” and “I got so hammered”.

Because of work restrictions I had two days to bask in the best south Germany had to offer, so had to do the most with the time, and limited money, I had.

To start with – getting there.

Be mindful, flights from London to Munich can be very expensive, especially if you book close or during the start of the 16-day festival which runs from late September to the first weekend in October.

For example, I booked my flights from Ryanair two months out, costing me £75 return from London Stansted to Memmingen Airport (Munich West).

Great value, I reckon, but I had left it until a week out from departure, the same flights would’ve cost me around £300 on all carriers.

So definitely book your flights well in advance, if you know you’re going.

The only other thing to watch for is if you are flying Ryan Air, flights go into Munich West, which is a long way from the centre.

There is a bus which travels regularly (on the hour), costing 19.50 euros for a one way ticket.

The drive, however, takes about two hours or maybe longer, if any traffic dramas.

Money spent so far: 120 Euros, including flights and travel to airport.

After the long bus ride in to the main train station München Hauptbahnhof, it was time to find my hotel.

Having been booked several months out, this was the perfect stay.

Again, book ahead.

Our group had a hotel, a very decent one, five minutes’ walk from the main festive area.

Perfect location.

Hotels book out early, so look around.

Other options include camping grounds and hostels.

So far, this had cost me 220 Euros, meaning I have around 180 euros left to spend at the event to keep to my budget.

Looking around, however, I notice everyone is dressed for the occasion.

Not being one to feel silly in “normal” clothes, I fork out 40 euros for a shirt and a hat.

A bit expensive if only going for a few day, and if you never plan on returning, but I do recommend some form of traditional attire.

You’ll feel like an idiot if you don’t.

Options to consider if wanting to save money are eBay, borrow from a friend or buy from a shop in London.

There are heaps of shops in the centre, so don’t be worried if you go over with nothing.

Money spent before even entering the tents: 280 euros.

The main festive area is massive and features rides, food stalls and pubs.

If there for more than one night, spend one night on these.

Most rides are between five and 10 euros.

Some are very much catered to children and families, such as a ride called the Amazonian, and money definitely not well spent.

But others are quite high octane, None more so than the ‘Five Rings’ (not sure if that’s its proper name), but it’s impressive nevertheless.

There are lots of rides, so if this is your thing, bring a bit of cash.

I’d say the rides and food cost around 30 euros, possibly a bit more.

On the food side of things, good (and cheap) choices range from local delicacies to candy floss.

Transport, accommodation, rides, clothes and food has so far cost me 310 Euros.

Not bad, but I’m running short.

So, that leaves me around 80 euros to enjoy the other stuff, but that’s a very small part of the festival, of course.

So, that is my two rapid days at Oktoberfest, minus doing the obvious.

Oktoberfest can be done for fewer than 400 euros, and in two days, but I do not recommend it.

Take a bit more, have a bit more fun. Four days would be my ideal time, if I did it again.

The music: live music is a feature of the tents, and while during the afternoon everyone takes a casual seat, by 6pm, it gets rowdy. Playing tunes from Neil Diamond and the White Stripes, there were sing-alongs the whole night. Even if you lose your friends, as I did, mixing with the locals and fellow tourists is a blast. The most memorable song was a local favourite (have no idea of its name) with choreography and lyrics the likes I had never seen. It reminded me of the German equivalent of the Chicken Dance.

Missing out on a table: Get in early! Most of the tents fill up quickly, and if you don’t want to get stuck in the aisles getting hit left and right, grab a table (and stay there) in the morning. Not being able to find a seat, and with it raining outside, most of our party decided to leave back to the hotel rather than turn into a human bumper car.