When to Go
For the best Oktoberfest experience, go midweek. The opening and closing weekends will be heaving with crowds, with higher prices and queues for the tents starting as early as 6am. Go during the week and you can expect slightly smaller crowds but you may also pay less for food, accommodation and transport (both in and around and to Munich).
Entrance to the beer tents at Oktoberfest themselves is free, with beer prices varying slighting but costing roughly €10 for a litre glass.
Where to Stay
There are a variety of options for accommodation, from hotels to campsites, although it is worth booking in advance to get the cheapest deals and avoid the risk of everything booking up. Prices of hotels and hostels can be hugely inflated around the dates of Oktoberfest, especially the closer it gets to the event. A relatively ‘cheap’ hotel room could set you back as much as €800 for 3 nights, whereas camping could cost closer to €100. Some campsites and travel companies offer all-inclusive packages where meals and drinks are provided. However, as sleeping in the woods isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, you may want to consider Airbnb, local hostels or, if you’re brave, maybe even Couchsurfing (benefits: free!). Consider public transport links when choosing where to stay; being near a bus or train line will make things much easier and cheaper than relying on local taxis.
How to Get There
As previously mentioned, once you have already arrived in Munich the cheapest way to get around is via public transport, unless you can find a package deal that includes accommodation and buses to the beer tents. Fortunately, Munich is well-equipped with trams, buses, a network of underground trains (U-Bahn) and suburban trains (S-Bahn). The best choice, especially if you want to explore some of Munich while you’re there, is to get a day ticket or 3-day ticket (€16.50), which covers you for all modes of transport, or a 3-day group ticket that permits up to 5 adults, a bargain at €29.10.
Getting to and from Munich, however, is not going to be such a bargain. The cheap airlines do fly to Munich airport for a reasonable rate, outside the Oktoberfest period. Booking early may land you a cheap flight, however if you end up leaving it too late you may actually find it cheaper to fly to nearby Nuremberg airport and get a transfer or bus to Munich.
If you’re visiting from elsewhere in Europe, your best bet may be to look for cheap coach tickets, a great budget (if lengthy) solution to budget European travel.
What to Eat
It’s important to eat at Oktoberfest, especially as the litre-large glasses of beer are around 6% alcohol content; you don’t want to end up a drunken Bierleichen (or beer corpse). It’s worth saving some of your money to eat at Oktoberfest as there is a lot of great, traditional German food to try. However, the giant pretzels (or brez’n) you see in all the photos will set you back up to a ridiculous €5-€10 if you buy them in the beer hall, whereas just outside you can pick them up for €1. Likewise, sausages, meat and snacks can be bought for cheaper the further away from the tents you get. A traditional ‘Wiesn-Hendl’ (roast half chicken) meal may set you back up to €15-20 so plan to take some of your own food with you, or share with friends.
What to Do in Munich for Free
There are plenty of free things to do in Munich while you walk off all those beers and pretzels, even if it’s just wandering around the city. A great way to explore is with a Munich Free Walking Tour, which takes you around all the main sights in the historic city and offers lots of interesting facts about the sights and buildings.
If you’re looking to relax in quiet for a while, away from the crowds, then the Englischer Garten is a wonderful green park in the city centre where you can have lunch or (if you haven’t had enough) a beer.