Experience Oktoberfest: Fun Facts & Train Travel, Munich to Berlin

It’s a Beer Bonanza! Sample The Best at Oktoberfest

Crowd at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

Crowd at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

Munich is best known the world over for its overtly rambunctious Oktoberfest. For 16 days, over six million lager lovers turn the city into a giant keg party. It’s far more organized and upscale than a frat party with toga-wearing co-eds. You’ll find steins instead of red plastic cups, containing quality hops and not buck-a-bottle skunk stuff.

At Oktoberfest, beer is only allowed from Munich’s select breweries. There are 14 tents to sample, and you can wash it down with tasty accompaniment: think Bavarian pretzels and plenty of encased meat.

Don’t think this is just a college kid bonanza filled with dudes looking for the St. Pauli girl. Oktoberfest is actually a family affair, with centuries of tradition to uphold. Each Tuesday during Oktoberfest is Family Day, with fairground ride discounts. And on the last Sunday, fireworks commence in the Theresienwiese, the fest’s main field.

For many brew connoisseurs, heading to the fest is a bucket list dream. We say, get out of your local bar and book now for 2013. You’ll stand with new friends from far and wide clinking beer steins together, while chugging and chanting “O’zapft is!”

The Eclectic Oktoberfest Vocabulary

There are always 14 tents – and some are just for food. The Stiftl-Tent is famous for its chicken and various other poultry-dishes, which washes down well with Paulaner beer and live music. This is an incredibly family friendly tent, if you want to bring your little ones in their dirndls and lederhosen. If you’re looking to get all sloppy and fetznrausch (Totally drunk), head elsewhere.

The world-famous Hofbräu Festhalle has its main hall in the city of Munich, but this satellite tent is a huge tourist attraction. It’s not uncommon to find Maß glasses being raised to toasts and partiers rocking to music in the middle of the day. You’ll find plenty of international visitors here – don’t embarrass yourself by schbei’ming (Vomiting) all over the tent floor.

The Schottenhamel is one of the most important tents at Oktoberfest, as the first keg is tapped here. Not until the Mayor confirms the tapping was successful can any other tent begin to serve beer. In 1867, this was just a small beer booth with 50 seats, and has grown to be the largest – with over 10,000. This is a hot spot for young singles to meet and party.

Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

The Glockenspiel Tradition at Oktoberfest

Set at the foot of the Bavarian Alps, the city is a mix of rustic tradition and modern life. Munich is more than a destination for beer lovers, believers in fairy tales and Christmas gift shoppers.

While drinking may be of top priority to you, don’t miss out on the city’s other gathering of people, which happens daily at 11 am. The Rathaus-Glockespiel is located in the 800+ year-old Marienplatz. This huge mechanical clock has 43 bells and 32 life-sized figurines that come to life in a 260-foot tower, reenacting two scenes from Munich’s history. The whole show lasts about 15 minutes (so you’ll be back drinking in no time), culminating in the appearance of a small golden bird chirping three times. And the crowd goes wild.

There are plenty of clichés that go along with Oktoberfest. The thigh-slapping dances, the lederhosen, metal hats with horns. Forget what you’ve seen in movies, and discover centuries-old traditions that have become the stuff of legend.

Drink up. Then go beyond the brew.

Getting Around: Train from Munich to Berlin

Munich is in the south of Germany, in the heart of Bavaria. But thanks to the high-speed ICE train, you can easily get there from all points in Deutschland with a German Rail Pass, or a single ticket, Berlin is just over six hours. You could also save on a hotel stay by taking the relaxing overnight train, which takes a few minutes shy of 10 hours. The ride is longer because the trains go slower, to allow for a quiet chug to lull you to sleep.

Because this is a longer trip, a single ticket from Munich to Berlin can cost anywhere from $191 to $561. In this case, if you plan on making any other trips in Germany, it would be well worth it to buy a German Rail Pass, which includes unlimited train travel within Deutchland – plus great pass bonuses.

Insider Rail Tip: The German Rail Pass covers S-Bahn service, which is a city center and suburban metro.

Here’s a breakdown of the accommodations.

Deluxe Sleepers: These are part of the Premiere class, which on this train are Single or Double and gender specific cabins with private bathroom and shower, table and chairs, towel warmer and mirror closet. Enjoy a down-filled duvet, panoramic window with Venetian blinds and welcome drink. Breakfast is included, and delivered to the compartment or served at seat.

Premier Class night train accommodations on the City Night Line.

Premier Class night train accommodations on the City Night Line.

Economy Sleepers: These Single or Double, gender specific compartments feature a side window, Venetian blinds, bed with down-filled duvet, washbasin and mirror closet. Breakfast is included, delivered to the compartment or served at seat.

Couchettes for 2, 4 and 6: These compartments come with reclining seats and a quilt, reading lamp, side window and curtain. A neck pillow is available at an additional cost. There’s space for luggage under the lowest couchettes, and the washing facilities are at either end of the carriage.

Couchette night train accommodations on the City Night Line.

Couchette night train accommodations on the City Night Line.

How far ahead can I book the train from Munich to Berlin:

You can book the City Night Line up to 180 days in advance. Head to Berlin for the quintessential modern European city experience, then hop on board the train to whet your whistle in Munich. Do a search for German Rail Routes Now!

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