We are planning a trip to Germany/Austria in September for two weeks. I was hoping to spend a few days in Vienna, Salzburg possibly even Switzerland and then into Germany. We were hoping to explore the Rhine (suggestions appreciated as to which towns) I am struggling whether we are crazy if we are close and don't go to Oktoberfest. It is very expensive with 6 of us and I'm not sure if we would even get reservations to get into the tents. Are there other "Oktoberfest" like beer gardens or places that will give us a similar experience or is this a must do? Please help as I just am not sure how to begin my planning without making this decision.
" Are there other "Oktoberfest" like beer gardens or places that will give us a similar experience"
Many German cities have their own autumn harvest festival, even other cities in Bavaria. Some are rather small affairs, some are quite large and even comparable to Oktoberfest, but minus the huge invasion of international frat-boy types. Probably the closest I have attended is Stuttgart's Cannstatter Volksfest. Closer to the Rhine, Bad Dürkheim's Würstmarkt is another huge festival, but the main focus here is wine, not beer. Köln also has some kind of large festival, but I don't know too much about it.
Two years ago we arrived in Munich on the first Tuesday of Oktoberfest. We made our way to the Paulainer Tent around noon and were lucky enough to find a nonreserved table. Shortly after we sat down and started our first beer two older gentlemen asked if they could join us - a 64-yr old man and his father-in law. Over the next 3 hours we became great friends and, in the meantime, made a memory of a lifetime.
Shelly, if you can get to Munich, get to the tents, find a table, and open your mind to new friends, you will have the time of your life and never forget your time there.
By all means, if you can go - DO IT.
Thank you both for the information. I like the idea of some of the other experiences as well and they may fit into our plans better.
I can't seem to find definite dates for the Wurst Festival but it looks like we may get lucky.
I think it would be great fun to go to a tent and try to find a tent but I am afraid it may be difficult with 6 people. I do hope to experience meeting new people and making lasting memories.
Shelly, you can try http://www.duerkheimer-wurstmarkt.de for some details on the Wurst festival in Bad Durkheim. It is 12-16 and 19-22 Sep this year. Same caveat as the Oktoberfest, if you go on a Sat or Sun and the weather is nice, get there early as it will be really packed. And try to use public transportation as the single lane roads into and out of town really get crowded.
That's perfect thank you. We should be around that area then.
September is my favorite time for Europe, and Germany in particular. Most of the crowds have gone home, the weather is still nice, and the farmers have pretty much finished their work and are ready to party. Lots of harvest festivals, featuring both beer and wine.
I have relatives near Stuttgart so I am more familiar with the Volksfest than Oktoberfest, although I've been to both. It is the 2nd largest beer festival in Germany and not nearly as expensive as Oktoberfest has become. It also has a midway with lots of rides, good beer, good food. I believe it starts and ends a week after Oktoberfest (or maybe before). Something else to look into are the Besens. Each year, when a vineyard puts up it's wine, many of them open a portion of the farmhouse as a restaurant for a specified period of time. They serve new wine, which obviously is not aged, so it tends towards the sweet side, but most people mix it with mineralwasser. In September you will find Zwiebelkuchen everywhere. It's an onion pie and its always different and always good. Have a wonderful time!!!
September is ideal for Germany.
If you think Oktoberfest is expensive, you haven't priced Switzerland. In two weeks, I'd probably skip Switzerland. Fly into Vienna and out of Frankfurt. You have time for a few days in Vienna, a full day in Salzburg, a few days in Munich and a few days on the Rhine (plus some travel time between those). If you try for more, you will be disappointed.
As was said, go to Oktoberfest in the afternoon and eat before you visit a tent. Six can't get reservations (lines aren't too bad in the early to late afternoon), so pick a tent, be seated, order a beer (which tent you're in decides what beer you get) and enjoy a few hours there. If you're using public transportation, you will do better leaving a little before the crowd leaves at 10:30.
This is all really great advise. Thanks so much for all of the input. I think we have cut out Switzerland as it is just to much. We will fly out of Amsterdam rather than Frankfurt just because we fly KLM from Calgary and since we have to stop there anyway we will spend a day I think. Germany sounds like a wonderful place to be in September. Now for another question that I may have to put under separate post....Does anyone know if you can take a train from Salzburg to Hallstat? It sounds like a place worth fitting in as well. Suggestions as to how long for Vienna, Salzburg and Hallstat? I was hoping 5 nights max.
Yes! You can take a train. It drops you off on the other side of the lake but you can just take a quick ferry ride across. Hallstatt is AMAZING and a quick trip from Saltzburg. Good choice cutting out Switzerland. While it is a beautiful country it is so incredibly expensive I would save it for another time. The beauty you will see in Germany and Austria will take your breath away that time of year. Enjoy your travels.
That's great news! Thank you so much for the info. Yes I think we will have plenty to see Austria and Germany as well.