Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Las Vegas on New Year's. These are but pale imitations of the original party to end all parties: Bavaria's Oktoberfest. Plenty of cities worldwide stage their own, but none can match Munich for scale: one-liter glasses of beer, all-night revelry, literal sausage fests and ladies in dirndls.
WHERE TO STAY
Two suggestions: Looking for quite possibly the top five-star brand in the world? Then enjoy the fact that Mandarin Oriental Munich has everything you'd expect, plus a prime location in Old Town, a Turkish steam bath and free Mercedes-Benz bikes to borrow. If you'd prefer a homegrown hotel option, we recommend the Louis, with a lighter, brighter take on Bavaria — best appreciated from the blond-wood bar. The 70-square-meter Louis Room is a bargain at around $310, with two balconies and views of Munich's historic quarter.
WHAT TO DO
Drink as much as possible. Talk to women in dirndls and bustiers, find seats in a huge tent, sample beer from the city's breweries (here's a list), eat sausage, see the Rolls Royce Exhibition at the BMW Museum, maybe take a tour of the city — and continue to drink as much as possible.
For an utterly different going-out experience (read: all the untz you can shake two left feet at), consider Berlin: Europe’s art-making capital by any fair measure. Disclaimer: it’s six hours by train. (You can get to Venice faster.) If you don’t want to dedicate a half-day to travel — or just want somewhere pretty to recuperate — dedicate a couple days to Salzburg, an easy-going Alpine town with tons of Mozart-centric history. Hiking the Austrian Alps is just as satisfying as doing it among their Swiss counterparts, and everything (lodging, food, transport, wiener schnitzel) is considerably cheaper.