The Ultimate German Oktoberfest Road Trip
Due to the recent World Cup the streets in Germany are full of spilled beer, jubilant people, and an abundance of “prost’s”. It reminds me of one of my favorite festivals of the year, good ol’ Oktoberfest. For 16 days in September, starting on the 20th this year, Germany turns into one of the biggest parties in the world. People from all over the globe fly in for arguably one of planet Earth’s top drinking holidays.
I’m here to help you maximize your Oktoberfest experience. Instead of smashing steins of golden nectar in one city let’s turn this into a countrywide affair and get the best of all of Germany instead of the first beer tent you see off the airplane. Without further ado I present to you a five city Oktoberfest road-trip that gives you the best of Germany’s beer and culture.
1.) First Stop Munich
Munich is the epicenter and the beating heart of Oktoberfest. It is the official worldwide Oktoberfest festival and sees over 6 million visitors and 7 million liters of beer consumed in a 16-day period every year. While other German cities do Oktoberfest no one does it bigger or better than Munich. Let’s just write this off for what it will be, you first leg of the road-trip and arguably your blurriness and most debauchery filled. Munich is where you’ll learn your basic Oktoberfest etiquette and songs for the remainder of the trip.
2.) Rest that Liver in Bamberg
After absolutely thrashing your liver in Munich you’ll arguably need a little time to heal, but not too much. Head to Bamberg, the heartland of German beer, to investigate its hundreds of breweries that make over a thousand types of beers. Do I have your attention now? The healthy part of Bamberg and also the part that is going to get your German sightseeing time in are the countless walking tours and hikes around this medieval UNESCO World Heritage site. The most popular hike is Funf Seidla Steig. It is a nine-mile hike that takes you past five breweries on two mountains. Now that is a hike I can get behind.
3.) Cologne and Dusseldorf the Two Cities on the Rhine
These two cities juxtaposed next to each other on the river have had a beer rivalry hundreds of years in the making that is nothing but good news for you and me. With Kolsch in Cologne and Altbier in Dusseldorf you have two distinct beer styles to wet your pallets. While you are serpentining down the streets of Dusseldorf, also known as the “World’s Longest Bar” due to its 260 pubs in one square kilometer, you can get in on the rivalry and learn chants and songs making fun of Cologne. But in total fairness, grab a Kolsch in Cologne and learn to do the same thing and make fun of Dusseldorf a little too.
4.) Back in the Saddle in Hannover
After your break from the big festivals in Bamberg and Cologne you can get right back into the action in Hannover which has the the second biggest Oktoberfest celebration and festival in the country. You found your stride in Munich and now utilize some of your newly learned drinking songs to impress your new friends in Hannover. While you’re there don’t forget to get a special festival beer from the local brewery Brauerei Herrenhausen and the “Luttje Lage” a Hannover specialty.
5.) Take it Home in Berlin
Berlin is no slouch either. Containing a sizeable festival itself with countless brewery tours you won’t lose a step here. The sweet treat of Berlin though is its rich culture. Let’s face it, after a road trip of this magnitude and countless days of drinking how much more can you do? That is why Berlin is so great with sites like the Grunewald Forest, the Berlin Wall, and the Bauhaus Museum you have non-beer related activities that you will find massively worthwhile. Take some time to create some memories of your trip at Berlin’s many Photoautomaten. These black and white photo booths are open at all hours all over the city and provide you with the perfect souvenir to remember your most epic Oktoberfest road trip in Germany.
Now that you have the blueprint for a guaranteed wicked time in Germany you’re going to need a few sources to help you navigate the rail system and many modes of transportation. Some sites that I personally rely on are WikiTravel (free in depth city guides), GoEuro (a great one stop place for flights, trains, buses, travel, etc.), and Thorn Tree (an up to date travel forum with answers to almost any travel question), . You have the means and the tools now for one hell of a good sloshy Bavarian time. May your biers be dark and your prost be loud, as always- ST