Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Augsburg: It’s Good to Be Back

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Augsburg

Last July, I discovered Augsburg for the first time: a small Bavarian city just 25 minutes from Munich, and one that I found far more livable than its more famous counterpart. The occasion? My dear friends’ offbeat Bavarian wedding.

This year, Josh and Daniel celebrated their one-year anniversary with friends and family flying in from all over America. As usual, they had a colorful assortment of friends and family (and wait until you see their Someone Once Told Me photos!).

One thing I love about Augsburg is what a surprise it was to me. This is a city that just gives me a great feeling — it’s a wonderful place to just be. Augsburg continued being just as much of a surprise this time around. After walking into one of the city’s oldest and nicest traditional buildings, we found this in the basement:

Augsburg

Augsburg

Augsburg

Bright, neon, and serving the most delicious cocktails.

It was so great seeing my friends, and reminded me how fortunate I am to have to have friends in random places all over the world.

Two highlights: the first being finally meeting Josh’s family and learning that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree (and you can take that any way you’d like). The second was getting so many interesting people to pose for Someone Once Told Me.

Daniel’s is the first one to go live from Augsburg. Find out the English translation and Daniel’s story here.

Josh’s is going up next week. His references one of my favorite “Josh stories” — the night Josh accidentally got into three fights in a row at Gypsy Bar, a crazy club in Boston where anything can happen.

Augsburg

The Oktoberfest Secret

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: staying in Augsburg for Oktoberfest could save you a lot of money.

Every year for Oktoberfest, Munich lodging prices rise exponentially and hostels get booked solid months in advance.

Augsburg, however, is only a 45-minute ride away from Munich by slow train (about €11, or $13, each way) and a 25-minute ride away by fast train (about €19, or $25, each way).

AND — the region of Bavaria offers group rates for train tickets. For the price of two tickets, up to five people get to travel a single ticket. That means that a group of five people could go to Munich and back on the slow train for just €4.50 ($6) each way. The trains run until around midnight, but trust me, you don’t need to stay out late at Oktoberfest if you’re there for most of the day anyway.

In addition to that, you can stay where I stayed — an Augsburg hostel that does not even raise their rates during Oktoberfest. My eyes nearly fell out of my head when I heard that.

Jugendherberge Augsburg

Jugendherberge Augsburg

Last time in Augsburg, I stayed in a budget hotel, having no idea whether there were even hostels here. I came across the Jugendherberge Augsburg while walking through the city, and decided to stay there on my next visit. Through HostelWorld, they graciously offered me and Mario a complimentary three-night stay.

Jugendherberge Augsburg is in a great location, close to the canals and an eight-minute walk from the city center.

We had a private ensuite room with easily-push-together-able twin beds. The bathroom had a shower and toilet. Security here was excellent, with keycard access only. The staff members we met, especially Tobias, were open, friendly, and helpful, giving us direction to area sites and restaurants. While fellow guests seemed friendly, however, there wasn’t much of a social atmosphere.

Most notably, they do not raise their rates during Oktoberfest. I couldn’t believe it when I heard it!

There’s one critical flaw: wifi is only accessible in the common area downstairs, and they close the common area after midnight. If you need wifi after midnight, you need to sit on the stairs in the dark or turn on the switch that gives you 30 seconds of light before shutting off again. Additionally, there was neither air conditioning nor fans (and temperatures were about 95 F/35 C!), though I understand that this is fairly common for lodging in Bavaria and throughout Germany.

In the past, hostels used to be nothing but a cheap, basic place to stay. After all, isn’t a bed, a shower, and a common kitchen all you need?

That is changing fast. I’ve been loving the hostel revolution taking place around Europe and elsewhere — properties are offering all kinds of cool amenities, private rooms, couple-friendly double rooms, free wifi in every room, community-building events like dinners, pub crawls, and group tours. At places like Gallery Hostel in Porto, MyMojoVie in Vienna, and even Hanoi Backpackers, the hostel stay can be the highlight of the trip. And they often cost the same or within a few euros of other hostels.

At the same time, some properties are just sticking to the basics. Jugendherberge Augsburg is of those — a place where you can stay and know you’ll be secure, comfortable, and close to the city. But I think if they added a few more amenities — a more comfortable common area where wifi is accessible 24/7, double beds for couples — they could get themselves to the next level.

Essential Info: Rates at Jugendherberge Augsburg start with €21 ($27) for dorms, private singles from €32.50 ($42) per person, double (actually twin) rooms from €25.50 ($33) per person, private triples and quads from €21  ($27) per person.

The hostel is an eight-minute walk from Maximilianstrasse and central Augsburg. Wifi is only available in the lobby, and common areas are closed at midnight.

Many thanks to Jugendherberge Augsburg and HostelWorld for the complimentary stay. Many thanks to Eurail.com for their support of the European leg of the SOTM Tour. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Comments

17 Responses to “Augsburg: It’s Good to Be Back”
  1. Nicole says:

    One of the things I’ve always wanted to try was Oktoberfest in Germany. I feel the one’s in LA pale in comparison to Germany’s (like, really REALLY don’t even run the gamut of Germany’s). And Augsburg just looks so pretty, too. Love the architecture! =)

  2. Edna says:

    Oh man you’ve got to be kidding me. Just two days ago two friends and I decided, on a whim, that we were going to meet up at Oktoberfest this year — I’m super excited but I’ve been worried about finding accommodation and then you post this today — it’s too perfect!

  3. Never heard of Augsburg before! I’ve always wanted to attend Oktoberfest so this post was super helpful. Also, hope you had a fabulous time at the wedding!

  4. Ooo if you like quaint little towns in Germany I totally recommend Heidelberg! Cobbled streets, a beautiful castle, old tram that takes you high into the hills and a beautiful river with arched bridge. Steeped in history.

  5. Kim says:

    Just wondering….I thought you weren’t going to take any comps on this trip????

    • I said I’m not taking any comps during my two-week Macedonia/Bulgaria trip, not this whole yearlong SOTM Tour. Sponsored travel is one of the primary ways that I earn my income, and there’s no way I would give up a huge percentage of my income for a full year.

      However, I did decide to change how I cover sponsored travel — mostly by going on fewer one-size-fits-all press trips and focusing more heavily on budget travel (with exceptions, like my upcoming birthday in Dubai, where I’ll be doing some pricier things to celebrate!). These days, I only take on comps that I think will be valuable to you as readers — like my Eurail pass and unique hostels. This hostel has a fantastic Oktoberfest deal. I also reviewed two other hostels that are really interesting properties on their own.

      Additionally, I decided to start taking one trip per year that is 100% paid out of pocket with zero comps whatsoever. My Macedonia/Bulgaria trip will be that trip for 2013.

      • Kim says:

        That makes sense Kate. There was no judgement intended. I am always happy to read about budget and cost saving accommodations. Thanks for all the great info.

  6. They DON’T raise their rates during Oktoberfest?!? Woah. That’s crazy. But good crazy. And yes to hostels being a bigger part of the trip now. I stayed in a great one in Chisinau, Moldova – Trotter’s Den Hostel – and a fantastic one in Brno called Hostel Jacob. And an awesome one in Sibiu, Romania called Felinarul. Awesome places.

    Augsburg looks like my kind of place, too. I love those off-the-beaten path places that aren’t really off-the-beaten path – just places that nobody really considers much, and they end up surprising you when you visit.

    And on another note, can’t wait to see you in Istanbul! :D

  7. Susanna says:

    As I am living in the wonderful franconian city Nuremberg it is not too far from Munich… and famous Oktoberfest. For those people who are planning to visit the Oktoberfest: You should try to reserve table in one of the “Bierzelte” (beer tents) as soon as you can because they are sold out many, many months before Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest is really crowded and standing around in the crowd during the whole day because you did not find any place to sit down is really no fun at all.

    If you don’t have a reservation you should go there in the morning or early afternoon (Monday to Thursday). This is the best time to find a nice place without a reservation.

    Kate, I also like Augsburg very much and I’d recommend you to visit Bamberg or Passau, too. They are so nice and have great architecture. Some parts of the Hollywood movie “The Three Musketeers” were recorded in Bamberg and Passau has lots of little bars and beautiful alleys.

    Cheers, Susanna

  8. Never been to Augsburg actually, but would love to check out their Oktoberfest. Thanks for the tip!

  9. Darla says:

    I can’t believe that they don’t raise the rates!? That’s crazy. Crazy good. Oktoberfest sounds like one of the most fun things to do while traveling but I can only imagine that the room rates go to outrageous levels. This seems like the perfect way to do Oktoberfest!

  10. Jeff P says:

    Hi Kate-
    Love your website and have been following for over a year. Going to Augsburg and Munich for Oktoberfest to celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary and leaving the 4 kids with my parents!!! Party on! I’m from LA but graduated from BC w/ Doug Flutie, so I love Boston. What is the name of Augsburg oldest and nicest traditional building that has neon bar in the basement? We’ll definitely go to Pow Wow and probably be the oldest people there. Also, you had an article on travel suitcases, but can’t seem to find it after searching your website (the turtle). Can you share the name of the travel suitcase you use. Thanks. Hope all is well. Hope to meet you some day.

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