Oktoberfest & Munich, the world’s largest beer festival with Busabout


Busabout Oktoberfest / Germany

Oktoberfest, the world’s largest and most well known beer festival is an annual event, not just attracting thousands of people from all over the world, but millions with 5.9 million attending the event in 2015 which is down on previous years due to the refugee crisis gripping Europe at the time. This is truly one of those things you need to experience at least once in your lifetime and I got to experience this beer drinking festival in all its glory with Busabout.

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With Busabout’s Oktoberfest packages you have the option to either stay in hostel accommodation for three nights and four days, or you can head out to the camping ground and experience Oktoberfest whilst camping under the stars for the same amount of nights, or take up the five nights and six days option travelling from London.

Busabout not only cater for Oktoberfest but they also offer travelers the opportunity to experience some of the other crazy festivals around Europe including the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, King’s Day in Amsterdam, various music festivals and of course La Tomatina in Buńol outside of Valencia.

RECAP: La Tomatina Spain, the world’s largest food fight with Busabout


There are many ways to immerse yourself in the festivity that is Oktoberfest and below I’ll show you how I experienced the fun of this annual festival. I’ll also show you how I was able to have a balance between the celebration of Oktoberfest, experiencing Munich and also even heading out of the city for a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle, all within the four day Busabout Oktoberfest hostel stay package.

Day 01: Munich & Oktoberfest – 21 September, 2015


This morning we check out of our Munich hotel Eurostars Grand Central after grabbing some breakfast to head out for the day before our Busabout Oktoberfest tour officially begins and we are allowed to check into the Wombats City Hostel. We left our bags for the day at the Eurostars hotel so we could go out and explore a bit of Munich before the festivities of Oktoberfest kick in.

Walking down to the train station closest to us called München Hackerbrücke we caught the next train on the S-Bhan into the old town of Munich to a station called Marienplatz. This is the location of the old and new Munich Town Hall and it will also be the meeting place for our Mike’s Bike Tours bike tour around Munich a little later on. While we were waiting for our bike tour to start we had quite a bit of time up our sleeves and decided to climb the tower of St. Peter’s Church.

For a small entry fee you can climb the narrow staircase to the summit of the tower which gives you impressive views over the Munich skyline and a far better view of the New Town Hall. Ironically the New Town Hall is older than the Old Town Hall as this was destroyed in World War II and was later re-constructed after the New Town Hall had already been completed. Once we finished taking in the views we headed over to the Old Town Hall and went inside the old toy museum that is housed inside. It was quite interesting to look at and to kill some time, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to come and see it as it wasn’t that spectacular.

With still some time to spare we looked around the various market stalls at the Viktualienmarkt which is in the market square behind the church of St. Peter and the Town Halls. You can find just about anything here from fresh food, freshly squeezed fruit juice, souvenirs for tourists and of course even a beer garden.

While we were on board the Busabout Hop-On Hop-Off coach coming from Lucerne to Munich we pre-booked our spot for a discounted rate on a Mike’s Bike Tour of Munich. The bike tour takes in all the major sites of Munich lasting for just over four hours, and while to some people that might sound daunting it really isn’t at all particularly when an hour of this time is spent in a beer garden. We started off our tour by meeting under the clock tower of the Old Town Hall at 11:15am, there was a large gathering of people so there would have been about six or seven groups once everyone was split up.

Our guide for the day was Chris, an Aussie expat living in Munich and knew two of the girls from our Busabout Iberian Adventure Tour who were also doing the same bike tour today so we hang out together. This is one of the great things about doing Busabout tour, a lot of people are probably doing the exact same thing as you and more the merrier. We grabbed our bikes which are scattered around the streets of Munich in clusters and then we were on our way to explore the sights of Munich.

One of our first stops along our bike tour was outside the Bavarian State Theatre where we learnt about the impressive efforts of restoring Munich to its former glory after most of the city was destroyed during World War II. It was here where we were introduced to a favourite game on Mike’s Bike Tours where if it was spotted that people who were not part of the group were trying to listen to the commentary we were getting from the guide we would all then suddenly have to crouch down until they left. We ended up having to do that a few times and even then one guy still didn’t get the hint to go away.

We continued down the road to look inside one of the courtyards of the Munich Residenz, home to the Bavarian Monarchs. Today the building is a museum for everyone to go inside and enjoy. From here we moved on to one of the most famous places in Munich for all the wrong reasons. The Feldherrnhalle or Field Marshall’s Hall, translated into English, is a monument dedicated to the Bavarian Army built in 1841. During the 1923 filed coup attempt by Hitler at the Putsch Beer Hall, this was the site of a battle ending the Nazi Party’s failed attempt at overthrowing the government and where 16 members of the Nazi Party were killed. It served as a sacred area for the Nazi Party whilst in power, with the events of that night resulting in Hitler being arrested, charged with treason and jailed.

While we were here we were given 10 minutes to look around the area and to have a quick glance inside the Theatine Church which is right next to the square and at the time was undergoing restoration works with scaffolding covering the exterior. From here we continued onto what was the beginning of our travels through parkland and we stopped outside the Bayerische Staatskanzlei which is the home to the Bavarian State Government and plays a similar role as the German Chancellery in Berlin but for the Bavarian region.

As we continued on from this point we made our way into the English Garden and headed for our next stop which was lunch in a Beer Garden in the middle of the park. Arriving at Chinesischen Turm Beer Garden we were given a run down on how this busy place works and were off to score some delicious German treats. It gets really busy here so be prepared to participate in a little bit of push and shove to get where you need to go, once inside you grab a tray and line up to grab your beer.

You then head over to the area that is serving the food you want from pork knuckle to all sorts of Bratwurst sausages. It is a little chaotic given it looks like there is an orderly line, but no-one really knows where the line goes so you end up pushing in anyway. Grabbing the beer first also ensured that i walked out of there with new muscles that I didn’t have before having to hold that whilst waiting for food and holding a tray. On the way out once you have everything you want you pay and are given a token, this token is exchangeable for €1.00 upon returning your beer glass. Otherwise you can just keep it if you wish and you don’t get your €1.00 back again, however probably not something you want to lug around with you whilst on a bike tour.

After lunch we continued on cycling through the main area of the English Garden where Munich locals like to sun-bake nude, not really an impressive sight at all. Why is it always the wrinkly old men who sun-bake nude and not the young females trying to turn their skin a golden brown? Fair to say there were many disappointed males on the bike tour. We arrived at one of the park’s famous spots just near the entrance where many people gather to watch surfers take to the waves. Yes you’re right in saying that Munich is nowhere near the ocean and that would be correct, however Munich puts on some impressive waves within its river and many people take advantage of this.

We started making our way back to where it all started. Our route included passing a statue on the other side of the river bank called the Angel of Peace, which started construction in 1896 to celebrate 25 years of peace after the Franco-German War. We continued on, gaining some speed on our bikes as we made it to Maximilianeum which is the Bavarian State Parliament.

From here it wasn’t far back to the Mike’s Bike Tour’s shop where we returned our bikes. Whether you’re going to Munich for Oktoberfest or not I can highly recommend going on Mike’s Bike Tour of Munich and doing a bike tour of any city is one of my favourite things to do and it’s always a treat to see and learn things you otherwise wouldn’t have done so if you didn’t take the tour.

After completing our bike tour we took the train back to the hotel where we had been staying last night to collect our belongings so we could go and check-in to the Wombats City Hostel to begin our Busabout Oktoberfest adventure. Once we arrived at the hostel the Busabout crew were waiting in the foyer of the hostel to greet anyone arriving where you were given your Oktoberfest wristband. At this point my arm was full of wristbands from La Tomatina, Hop-On Hop-Off, now Oktoberfest and the hostel was about to give me another one. We then checked into the hostel and were given our room which was a six bed dorm that we were sharing with others on the Busabout Oktoberfest tour.

Tonight the Busabout crew were taking anyone who wanted to go out to the Hofbräuhaus. We were told that there was no booking in place and that we would just be showing up so we may all or may not get a table there. With that in mind we decided to pass on that opportunity as we had made prior plans earlier to meet up with the girls that were on our Mike’s Bike Tour’s trip and our Busabout Iberian Adventure Tour to go and experience our first night of Oktoberfest.

Arriving at the Oktoberfest grounds for the first time we soaked up the atmosphere outside as the whole area was lit up with amusement rides and beer tents. We did a lap around the grounds before heading to the Schottenhamel Beer Tent which is the oldest beer tent at Oktoberfest and where the mayor of Munich taps the first keg of the festival each year, officially opening Oktoberfest for another year. Here we met up with our guide from Mike’s Bike Tour’s, Chris and even Mike himself made an appearance. We then celebrated into the night until it was closing time for the beer tents which is generally around 10:00pm when last drinks are served and the music winds down for the night.

We stumbled back to the hostel and called it a night. The others in our dorm were already back from going out to the Hofbräuhaus with the rest of the Busabout group and had already turned in for the night in preparation for tomorrow that will include a whole day at the Oktoberfest grounds.


Day 02: Munich & Oktoberfest – 22 September, 2015


A new day and with a new day in Munich during this time of year comes another day of drinking at Oktoberfest. Today on the Busabout Oktoberfest Tour there are no set formal plans other than a Busabout guide taking those interested to the Oktoberfest grounds. Although it’s not hard at all to find your way over to Oktoberfest, if you’re not feeling comfortable and you’re new to the city then a good way to get down there is to mingle with some of your fellow Busabout companions.

Busabout advertise in the main foyer of the Wombats City Hostel two departure times of 10:00am and 11:00am for escorting you down to the Oktoberfest grounds. After staying out late last night we opted to sleep in a little and wait around for the 11:00am walk down, even though we had already ventured to Oktoberfest the night before it was a good opportunity to get involved with other people travelling with Busabout.

As we headed down to the Oktoberfest grounds we reach the entrance for some photo opportunities before making our way inside. Along the way were some of the many Clydesdale horses towing along with them some of the ceremonial kegs of beer that are so iconic with this festival. Busabout focus their attention on the Löwenbräu Beer Tent at Oktoberfest. On arrival there wasn’t much room left but we managed to find a spot amongst the other Busabout travelers and spent a couple of hours here downing a few beers, having a bite to eat and listening to the band playing close by. We found that the atmosphere in this ten whilst good, it didn’t seem as fun as the previous night with anyone getting up to skull a beer before being kicked out.

After a while we decided to meet up with some other people that we also met on our Busabout Iberian Adventure Tour that just made it into town. We went back for a beer in the Schottenhamel after meeting up with them but the tent was pretty quiet compared to the night before so we went and checked out some of the rides and amusements around the Oktoberfest grounds.

Personally I’m not a fan of rides and will sit on the sidelines when it comes to them and I’m more than happy to become the designated go to person for holding things for other people whilst they go on the rides. There is an array of ride choices from your thrill seeking dollar coasters, one of which is inspired by the Olympic Rings given Munich is an Olympic city, to jaw dropping top spin rides and tower drops. Rides are even there for your more timid person from carousels older than the festival itself, to a Ferris Wheel or a Ghost train. There is something for everyone who loves a good ride.

Something you will see a lot of on the streets of Oktoberfest are ginger bread hearts, a tradition of the Bavarian region they have all sorts of slogans printed on them written in German of course. They range in sizes from miniature fit in the palm of your hand right up to over sized ones that require two people to carry it. Just don’t expect them to taste great given that depending on when you arrive to the festival they may have been sitting there for two weeks.

Once we were finished looking around at the various attractions we made our way to another beer tent. This time we went inside the Winterer Fähndl Beet Tent serving the lovely beer from Paulaner and we came across several more people that me met whilst on the Busabout Iberian Adventure Tour. The atmosphere in this tent was far better and lively with everyone up and standing on the table tops, beer in hand and singling along to the music being played on the stage in the centre of the tent.

It’s true when people say that “time flies when you’re having fun” and before we knew it the sun had gone down and in-between one of the songs we managed to get a bite to eat before jumping back on the table and jump right back into singing and dancing.

Whilst in this tent we ran into one of our favourite characters along this trip. The gentleman really got into the spirit of things, singing and dancing the whole night away with anyone who would be in the area or would simply walk past. Check out some of his work below…


When it came to closing time we all scattered out of the tent and started to head back to our accommodation for the night on what had been a long day of festivities at the Oktoberfest grounds and another night to remember. Tomorrow we will participate in one of the Busabout optional extra activities. We will take the coach further south almost to the Austrian border and check out the famed Neuschwanstein Castle.


Day 03: Munich & Oktoberfest – 23 September, 2015


Today we thought we would have a break from the festivities of Oktoberfest and head out on an optional extra activity Busabout was providing, a day trip out to the famous Neuschwanstein Castle. We were planning to go on this all along however we never got around to booking tickets with the Busabout crew so we were a little worried we might not be able to go and to top things off we slept in a bit so struggled to meet the 8:30am departure time.

We were in luck as there were spots left and we were able to get on. We would then discover that hardly anyone was going along and that most of the coach was empty so we didn’t need to worry at all. The coach was late leaving the camping ground and stuck in traffic (so they say) so we ended up having to wait an extra hour before we left, which actually worked out well because we would have missed out on having breakfast so we managed to squeeze that in.

I must admit I didn’t do my research into this trip and assumed it was a short drive away. Just under two hours later we arrive at the small village of Hohenschwangau that is located in the valley below the castle. I also thought that we would be going inside the castle, but that wasn’t included in the trip and we would have to pay for that separately, however the next English speaking tour wasn’t until 4:00pm so we gave that a miss.

Instead we hiked to the summit of the hill. You could also catch a shuttle bus to the top for a small fee but we were going to be here a while anyway so it was worth the hike up just to fill in time. The weather wasn’t that great today so the views were a bit restricted and the bridge where most of the iconic shots of the castle come from was closed for restoration. Once at the summit there wasn’t much to do other than look at the exterior from one side and then head back down the hill.

We then had a few hours to kill in a very small town so it was time to get some lunch and to take our time looking in each individual shop. On a positive I was able to buy a limited edition stein that I was planning to buy before I even got to Europe. There was only so much we could do here so a lot of time was spent waiting around for our coach and guide before departing back to Munich in the afternoon. I was really looking forward to seeing the castle, however it turned out to be a rather disappointing day and had I known it panned out this way I wouldn’t have gone.

Tonight we stayed close to the hostel and went out to get some dinner in a nice German restaurant close by. Funnily enough two of the girls we were hanging out with yesterday walked into the restaurant as we were just about to order and they joined us. We then had an early night so we could then make the most of our last day in Munich and Oktoberfest tomorrow.


Day 04: Munich & Oktoberfest – 24 September, 2015

Today is our final day in Munich, Germany, Oktoberfest and travel with Busabout. Today we are spending one final day in Munich before departing this evening on a drama filled overnight train journey to Budapest, but more on that later. Our first order of business this morning is to check out of the Wombats City Hostel after grabbing a bite to eat for breakfast and then we would head out again for our last couple of beers at the Oktoberfest grounds.

The question is what to do with all out luggage? I wasn’t overly thrilled with leaving my stuff in the hostel luggage room as people were constantly going in and out of the room so it wasn’t very secure and I had quite a number of valuables with me. I decided to rent a locker at the train station given we were going to end up there later anyway. So with luggage in tow we head to the station and I find a nice large locker to rent where I can leave all my stuff for the day. One piece of advice, make sure you have everything before you leave because once you pay for your time and then open it, you have to pay again.

While at the station I needed to get into my Oktoberfest gear so I decided what the hell I’ll just get changed in front of my locker, no-one seemed to care and so I did the same on the way back when collecting my luggage later that afternoon. We headed back to the Oktoberfest grounds where we met up with some of our fellow Iberian Adventure passengers once again and spent the morning drinking away. We were quite early this morning so it gave me time to buy my Oktoberfest hat to commemorate the time spent here.

We started the morning out at the Armbrustschützen-Festhalle Beer Tent and jumped on the end of a table that was occupied by a group of German friends who couldn’t speak a word of English. It’s amazing how much you can communicate with other people just by using hand gestures and can still have a full conversation. They were trying to establish where we were from and after saying Australia they joked that our lederhosen should have kangaroos as they symbol embroidered.

Later on we went and did another lap of the Oktoberfest grounds before making our way into the Hofbrau Festzelt Beer Tent servicing the famous Hofbrau Beer. This would have to be one of the best decorated beer tents and was clearly one of the most popular as it was standing room only when we arrived. This was then our opportunity to end our day and our Oktoberfest experience. We said our goodbyes and headed for the train station where we would collect our luggage and wait a few hours until our train was ready to depart for Budapest.

As I said earlier, Oktoberfest is one of those things that you have to experience at least once in your life. I can honestly say that my experience here has been one I’ll never forget and I enjoyed every minute of it. When I reflect back I’m trying to justify to myself that it was worth going on the Busabout Oktoberfest Tour given I didn’t really participate directly with the other people on the same tour which makes me think maybe it wasn’t worth doing Oktoberfest through Busabout. However for me the experience was made so much easier having traveled on Busabout prior to arriving at Oktoberfest that I already knew a number of people that were planning on being there at the same time.

From my personal perspective the great thing about the Busabout Oktoberfest experience was that I was able to secure accommodation in a hostel for a reasonable price that was also close to the grounds. Prices are very over-inflated at this time of year in Munich, hence staying in a hotel for my first night in Munich that costed less than staying in the hostel. I was able to do something different by having the option for a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle even though the experience wasn’t the most thrilling it was none the less an option that I wanted to take up.

Where this type of tour serves its best purpose is for solo travelers needing to experience Oktoberfest with a group of other people. Let’s face it, it’s difficult to get into the spirit of the festival if you were going into the beer tents on your own unless you are extremely extroverted. But not just solo travelers, if you’re stating your European trip off at Oktoberfest with a travel companion then this is a great way to also meet other people with like minded goals for touring Europe. So is it worth it? Absolutely! You have the freedom to experience Oktoberfest without being constrained to anyone’s timetable. Go at your own pace and if you want to you can break away at anytime or stay with the Busabout group the entire time.

Tonight we depart Munich and plan to catch an overnight sleeper train from the main train station at Hauptbahnhof and wake up in the morning arriving in the capital of Hungary, Budapest and then catch a connecting train to Siófok which is the main town in the Lake Balaton region of Hungary. However on this entire trip I would say that pretty much everything had gone exactly to plan with no major incidents along the way. This was about to change and through chance and a bit of boredom whilst waiting at the station I decided to turn my mobile data on to check my email to find that our train was cancelled!

With the current refugee crisis gripping Europe, Germany has decided for the first time in decades to close its border with Austria meaning that our train has been cancelled and no rail services were going through the border. With panic starting to set in we eventually find out what we need to do in order to get ourselves to Budapest and back on schedule…

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NEXT: Munich to Budapest & Siófok via overnight sleeper train navigating the refugee crisis (coming soon)

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Just your average guy doing his 9 - 5 job as a Senior Payroll Officer by day, writing about his travel adventures and hopefully giving you inspiration and ideas for your next travel adventure here at loneXplorer...

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