So, Oktoberfest 2018 is 9/22 - 10/7. We are planning the My Way Alpine Tour 9/24 - 10/5. Our initial thoughts were to fly in & out of Munich, but now we are wondering if this will be more difficult, more expensive, etc? We would be flying in several days earlier than the tour begins and leaving several days after the tour ends, as we had planned on some pre or post time in Munich. Will these dates make hotels impossible to book or super expensive? Any alternative airport city suggestions? Is it hard to fly right into Salzburg where this tour begins? We aren't stuck on seeing Munich, but since we haven't been, we read that it may be an easy place to fly into/out of. We've been to Frankfurt, and like to see places we haven't been. Thanks!!
Didn't affect airfare prices this year from Toronto, actually they dropped after Sep 10th. We are flying in & out of Munich to tour Bavaria. Hotels on the other hand are ridiculously expensive in Munich during that time & must be secured almost a year in advance for best selection.
As far as flights go, it should not be a big impact, you can check Zurich, Vienna, or Frankfurt. I like airports I can get a direct flight from North America, and Salzburg is not one of them, so you would have a European connection to make. Hotels will be posting their top rates of the year. There are lots of interesting towns to stay in outside of Munich, like Augsburg, Nuremberg, that are close enough to go into Munich during the day. And Oktoberfest is nothing to sneeze at. Should make an interesting afternoon, and who knows, you might enjoy yourselves.
I wouldn't suggest Nurnberg as a bedroom base for Munich. It's over an hour away by train--more like two, IIRC.
But a great place to stay and tour, and its 2 hours by Regional Express (with a train change in Ingolstadt) to Munich for a day trip there using a Bayern Ticket.
Flying into Munich: yes easy and not difficult to travel on to another location from the airport, via S-bahn, to Hauptbahnhof. I did this a few years ago during Oktoberfest enroute to Innsbruck. Should be just as easy to Salzburg. If you have a stop in London, you can get a direct flight to Salzburg, and probably from other airports, too. It is just London that I am familiar with.
Now, the S-bahn was super crowded presumably because of Oktoberfest, and I can imagine the city and hotels will be also. Once on the train south to Innsbruck via Garmisch, it was not so crowded, so perhaps outside the city would be a better place to book a hotel. Other folks on here will have more info than I.
When I took that tour, I flew Lufthansa into Vienna and out of Frankfurt. I spent a long weekend in Vienna, then took a mid-day train to Salzburg (I'd been before) on the first tour day. Had just enough time to unpack before the meet-and-greet. At the end of the tour, I spent time in eastern France, ending in Strasbourg, then took the train to Frankfurt. There's also a shuttle bus from Strasbourg to the airport, takes about the same amount of time, was more expensive than an early-purchase train ticket. I put my bags in a locker at the station and planned to wander around the main square, but I passed a sports bar and got lured in to watch the tennis at Wimbledon instead.
You can fly into Salzburg, but it's a small airport (can only accommodate small planes), so you'd be adding a European connecting flight - not a great plan.
Pre-tour time in Munich would be best because of its proximity to Salzburg, but you'll probably end up with high prices and crowds in Munich. If you want to visit Munich post-tour, you could fly from Geneva.
If you haven't been to Salzburg, there's enough to see on the first day of the tour. With one more day there, you could visit Berchtesgaden either the lake or Eagle's Nest/Documentation Center/Bunkers. With a tour you might be able to do both in one day. I went to the Freilicht Museum, about a 45 minute bus ride outside of Salzburg and highly recommend it.
My husband and I finally visited Oktoberfest in 2016 (after avoiding it our previous 3 visits to Munich by arriving before or after it was finished). We did visit mid-week (not the week end). Here are my thoughts:
We did not think the city areas were that much more crowded than on previous visits. Munich is a busy city and the main tourist areas are always filled with people. (at least in September when I have always visited.) It did not feel any more crowded than usual. The most crowded day I have ever experienced in Munich was in mid-October of 2008. It was a beautiful sunny day and it felt like every person in Munich was out enjoying this last bit of good weather for the year.
The U-bahn and the S-bahn were crowded. It was so fun to ride into the downtown area and see all the people in their traditional Bavarian clothes on their way to Oktoberfest. Because we stayed outside main part of the city, we were the first stop on our train and always had a place to sit. Coming home, it was packed. But everyone was friendly and having fun, so it was an enjoyable experience.
The Oktoberfest grounds and tents are crowded, even mid week. I don't drink beer and I hate crowds, so I had avoided this experience. My husband felt we needed to try it once, so we did. We (including me) had a great time. The people who worked in the tents helped us find a place to sit and enjoy a meal there. It really was a unique, fun experience. It is free to enter the grounds, but food and drinks are expensive. If you are there during Oktoberfest, I recommend you at least go in and walk around to see what it is all about. There is an agriculture fair that costs money, but it is optional. My husband did go in and really enjoyed it.
Hotels do go up. We stayed here:
it was in Ottobrunn and was right on the border of zone 1. It was not fancy, but it was clean and adequate. Their 74 euro rate goes up to about 125 euros during Octoberfest, but that is still pretty good for Munich during this time. We bought day passes for the buses and trains for zone 1. There was a bus stop across the street that took us to the U-bahn station where we caught the train. The line we were on had stops at all the major areas in the tourist zone, plus stopped right at the Oktoberfest grounds. Book early.
After avoiding Munich during Oktoberfest, I would now return and enjoy it again during that time.
Salzburg has limited flights, especially outside of the ski season.
European flight prices to Munich are higher during Oktoberfest, especially inbound Thursday/ Friday and outbound Sunday/ Monday but transcontinental shouldn't alter much and there is a good range fo flights.
Hotel prices can be high, especially at weekends.
Ingolstadt/ Nuremburg/ Augsburg are all wrong side of Munich for Salzburg. The tour suggests the Salzburg day be used for the city or the Berchtesgaden area (Eagles Nest, Konigsee) - but you won't have time for both. My first idea would be to find out which hotel you will be in at Salzburg and book your extra nights there, then use the time to border hop.
If you can't do that, head for Bad Reichenhall (nice old town centre, reasonably priced area) and visit Berchtesgaden from there. Bad Reichenhall is easy to reach from Munich airport by train and is the end of a local bus line from Salzburg. Several hotels have pools or even spas. Since you may be a bit jet lagged to start with a gentle visit to Berchtesgaden followed by a hour or so in the pool would break you in ready for the real tour. https://www.berchtesgadener-land.com/en/come-see/towns/the-spa-town-of-bad-reichenhall I've used the Vital hotel a couple of times, (nice pool, good breakfast) check for deals through https://www.hrs.com/ a few months in advance (not really early as they won't be loaded into the system)
I say either embrace it or ignore it, but I don't think I'd contort myself into a pretzel (yeah, couldn't resist :) to avoid Munich if it's the most convenient international airport. Which it is.
I ended an RS trip in Munich several years ago during Oktoberfest period. I took the train from Budapest to Salzburg, spent the night and a day in Salzburg (I had been there before) and continued on to Munich the next day to spend one night before flying out. I stayed within walking distance of the grounds and went over early evening to walk around. I didn't go into any tents but grabbed a Coke and a brat from one of the numerous stalls. As others have noted, I didn't notice any huge crowd outside Oktoberfest itself, and it is fun to see both attendees and office/retail professionals walking around in traditional wear.
I may have been there on a weeknight, but I don't recall my hotel room being much more expensive than at any other time. The trains were busy, but not overly crowded. With all this said, reserve a hotel room early if you want to stay in central Munich. You already know your travel dates, so you can prepare, and if you want to get into one of the tents, you also have notice and time to consider doing so. All a long way of saying, if Munich works best for flying, stick to Munich.
Like Connie, I was not enthused about attending Oktoberfest. But when a rescheduled flight brought us there on opening weekend a few years ago, it turned out to be a wonderful experience. There were two parades on opening weekend, our favorite being the the Sunday morning parade ... dozens of groups of people in various Bavarian costumes, some with band instruments, others driving oxen, lots of children. It lasted a couple of hours and was an amazing spectacle to watch.
In addition to the huge beer tents, the Oktoberfest grounds had carnival rides, food booths, souvenir stands ... almost like a gigantic county fair. A memorable, and I think worthwhile, experience.
I flew into Munich and back out 3 years ago during Oktoberfest. The flights were not any more expensive that those to anywhere else in Germany (I was able to take a Lufthansa flight non stop from Denver to Munich which was very convenient for where I needed to be).
The city was not crazy unless you went near the Oktoberfest grounds. You should be able to see most of the sights without problem.
I found a room at a Holiday Inn that was affordable opening weekend of Oktoberfest (booked only 2 weeks before my flights). That particular hotel was right on top of a U and S-bahn stop so moving around the city was easy.
The first weekend is an excellent time to visit Oktoberfest. I especially enjoyed the Sunday costume parade. Then from Munich to Salzburg takes under 2 hours by train on the day the tour starts.
With the tour ending in Chamonix, consider flying home from Geneva, Lyon, or Basel/Mulhouse airports, if you'd like to spend any more time on the French side of the region.