A little over a decade ago I went to Munich for Oktoberfest and Oktoberfest only – I know, disgusting.
When I returned with Busabout and 6.9 million other punters in 2019 – older, wiser and more prepared – I made sure to stick around and actually take in Bavaria’s capital, because obviously there’s so much more to do in Munich aside from the world’s biggest beer festival.
I strongly believe everyone should experience Oktoberfest at least once in their lives, so if you happen to have that in the pipeline, below’s what you can fit in before, after or in-between steins.
Cop A Frothy In The Beer Halls
If even the smell of beer doesn’t make you dry heave after Oktoberfest then you’re my own personal hero. Seriously, I commend you. Luckily, if you are keen to keep sinking those steins, Munich is just the place for it.
From Augustiner Bräustuben (a very traditional Bavarian Beer Hall – the one at Landsberger Straße 19 has been around since the 1300s) to Löwenbräukeller (if this sounds familiar, it’s because the Lowenbrau tent is where the Aussies flock to at Oktoberfest), there are plenty of watering holes to down a local beer. Or should I say bier?
Get High At Neuschwanstein Castle
A two-hour drive away from Munich’s main train station, Neuschwanstein Castle (say that three times over) is definitely worth the mission for the scenery alone. It journeys through the stunning Bavarian countryside, which is a nice change of pace before you arrive at the cute little village of Hohenschwangau.
From there you can either jump on a shuttle journey up the Marienbrücke to get to the big girl. Definitely choose the latter if you’re physically able – I did it in a skirt if that gives you an indication of the skill level needed – because the views of Hohenschwangau, plus the waterfalls and greenery you’ll encounter, are second to none.
Neuschwanstein’s a bit of a hard one to pull off solo, but I did it with Sandemans and the tour guides know their shit. Plus, they give Busabout travellers a nice little discount which doesn’t hurt.
Get Amongst The Action At Englischer Garten
Englischer Garten, as you may have guessed, translates to “English Garden”, and it was given this name because its layout is in the style of an English country park. To this day, it’s one of the largest inner-city parks in the world.
Given its size, there’s a lot going on, including Munich’s second-biggest beer hall boasting over 7,000 seats. A recent and very popular addition is the Eisbach – a manmade surfing channel – with locals and tourists alike giving the waves a crack from as early as sunrise.
Visit The Famed Marienplatz
One does not simply go to Munich and not see the Glockenspiel (unless you’re me, 10 years ago).
Marienplatz, smack-bang in Munich’s central Old Town, is essentially a pedestrian square, and home to the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall), where you’ll find the world-famous Glockenspiel in the tower balcony.
The neo-gothic architecture is brill all on its own, but while you’re there definitely check out the two-level balcony show – complete with 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures – daily at 11am, 12pm and 5pm (only March-October for the latter). Showcasing stories from Munich’s history, the Glockenspiel has been attracting visitors from all over since 1908.
It’s pretty cute but if you’re underwhelmed, don’t stress – the hustle and bustle in the square are enough to get you going. Grab some food (Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap, about a 5-10 minute walk from the square is worth holding out for, though), go to the shops (may I recommend the floral-adorned windows of Hermès?) and wander in and around the building (if you can get into the Juristische Bibliothek library do it – but it’s only open to the public between 4.30 and 4.40pm).
See? What did I tell you? Lots of things you can do in Munich to assist the hangover (there’s more, but these are the most achievable in what I predict will be your state).
If you’re worried about time constraints and fitting it all in, I’d highly recommend the Busabout Hop-On Hop-Off network. I went to Munich from Berlin (with a stopover in Prague), and fit all of the above in on both sides of the fest. The coaches come to Munich every second day throughout the season, taking you through to Stuttgart or Paris from there.
If you’re still thirsty after Oktoberfest, I’d also highly recommend (recommendation hoe right here) Volksfest in Stuttgart. Words cannot explain.
This writer travelled to Germany as a guest of Germany Tourism and Busabout.