Oktoberfest in Munich

Yes its rammed, yes its now quite commercialized, yes its a bit of a cliché and like a theme park, but it really is great fun as Munich comes alive with people from all round the world for this once a year event (which confusingly is in September!).  The lederhosen, the bands, the giant beer tents, and general raucous atmosphere – its all just brilliant


Just a few high level tips:

  • Theme Park – it came as a bit of a surprise to me that Oktoberfest itself is held not in the city centre but in a large field called the Theresienwiese a relatively short walk away, and in giant tents more like buildings that what you’d imagine for a “tent”.  Feels a bit more like theme park than what you’d imagine a traditional beer festival to be
  • Book ahead – there are some tents that you can just rock up to get in to, but make sure to book at least one of the major tents, and ideally two
  • Lederhosen is expensive – the proper stuff is upwards of €200, and don’t expect any easy deals in Munich when you arrive in September.  But you can order online beforehand to save yourself a lot of money.  Or get some of the fancy-dress style outfits, which are very clearly not the real thing, but do the job considering everyone will be lashed within an hour of getting to the venue
  • Hofbrauhaus Beer Hall – whilst the main Oktoberfest is held in the Theresienwiese fairgrounds, the beer halls of Munich are still very much worth the visit with their oompah band, painted ceilings and generally raucous atmosphere.  Don’t miss out
  • Steins – these litre glasses are seriously tough heavy buggers designed for toasting and it is genuinely amazing to see the bar girls effortlessly carry 8 of them to the tables.  But they do break, so don’t 10/10 crack them together
  • Neuschwanstein Castle – if the hangover isn’t too bad, you must make the day trip to the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle that is nestled up in the Bavarian Alps.  You can drive there yourself (1 hour 40mins), get the train (2.5 hours and a bit of a faff) or get a day tour that also includes nearby Hohenschwangau Castle, Linderhof Palace and quaint village of Oberammergau as part of a loop.  For more details, see the travel entry for Munich Christmas Markets, Beer Halls and visiting Neuschwanstein Castle

3 week European roadtrip for mountains and wine

If you look through a typical European highlights itinerary it will invariably be dominated by the cities.  For instance, the Lonely Planet’s top itinerary for Europe is 12 cities and nothing else, and of its 24 overall European highlights, only 6 are not cities (the Norwegian Fjords, the Matterhorn, Greece’s Santorini, Montenegro’s Bay of Kotor, Transylvania, North Macedonia’s Lake Ohrid . . .  if you’re interested).  It’s understandable – Europe is a centre for culture and stunning capital cities, but it also has some world class experiences to be found outside of the cities and this itinerary gives you a flavour of those with a focus on its mountain and wine regions


With this itinerary you will enjoy:

  • Mountains – the most spectacular views of Europe’s premier mountain regions with Switzerland’s “big three” of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau from Interlaken, and the Pyrenes’ Cirques de Gavarnie
  • Wine regions – 4 of the best wine regions France has to offer with Bordeaux, Provence, Alsace and Champagne
  • Lakes – 2 of the world’s truly stunning lakes with the simply magnificent Lake Como and the Swiss Lakes surrounding Interlaken
  • Coastline – the epitome of luxury and style with the most famous stretch of coastline in Europe with the Cote d’Azur, its trio of corniches and Monaco
  • Hilltop villages and rural regions – the prettiest in Europe with the hilltop villages and elegant treelined streets of Provence and the timbered fairytale villages of the Black Forrest
  • Roman Ruins – some of the best preserved Roman Ruins with the Pont du Garde and the Arles Amphitheatre
  • Driving – and of course, some of the best driving scenery in all of Europe as you pass from one mountain range to another and along some of the prettiest countryside on the continent

Munich Christmas Markets, Beer Halls and visiting Neuschwanstein Castle

Nowhere does Christmas better than Bavaria.  Sipping on warm Glühwein as you wander around the oldest Christmas Market in Munich with its 140 stalls spread out across the central Marienplatz and with the ice skating ring nearby are wonderfully atmospheric; jump into the Hofbrauhaus Beer Hall for some oompah bands and great atmosphere; and the trip over to the Neuschwanstein Castle, the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle, surrounded in snow is practically the definition of fairytale.  Hard to think of a better experience in the northern hemisphere in December