The Festival Hopper’s Guide to Summer in Europe 2016: September for 2 weeks
September is one of my absolute favorite months to travel throughout Europe. The weather is perfect, not too hot and not too warm ( I know, I know sorry I am talking about the weather), the crowds are slowly dissipating from the crazy tourist season, and prices are cheaper as locals start preparing to close up shop for the winter. I’m getting a little ahead of myself, fall comes first but you get the point.
So without further ado, here is my September festival itinerary:
MUNICH ——> BARCELONA ——>MADRID ——>IBIZA
The trickiest part is that dates for La Merce in Barcelona are not released until about a month prior to the festival. While planning ahead is not necessary for La Merce, you MUST plan ahead for Oktoberfest which falls right around the same time, so ultimately you just have to do the best you can with the information given. And that’s why I am here to help!
Fly into Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest. For all of the specifics on Oktoberfest click here. You will be arriving on a Sunday which should give you some time to get acclimated and be ready to get up bright and early the next day. Monday morning will be two days after the opening ceremony—yes, I planned it that way—so as long as you get to the festival around 10 or 11 you should not have a problem finding a tent and a table with availability. Eat, drink, and be merry for as long as you can, then go home, sleep and repeat for the next few days. I say few because if you feel as though you would explode if you had one more beer at Oktoberfest after 2 days, you should spend the 3rd day sightseeing. Also, if you want two days at Oktoberfest, a day of sightseeing in Munich and a day for visiting Dachau concentration camp, you could fly in on the 17th instead.
Fly from Munich, Germany to Barcelona, Spain. Wow, right now flights are only $52 on Vueling…now that is why you plan ahead. Lufthansa and Vueling are the two airlines with nonstop flights on the 22nd. Since the actual main day of the festival for La Merce, the 24th of September, lies on a Saturday this year, there is a pretty good chance that most of the festivities will be held over the weekend. Key events include the Correfoc, Human Towers competition, Giants Parade, and Pijromusical. I have all of the details on La Merce right here. Personally, I would choose an accommodation close to Plaza Sant Jaume as that is where the majority of the events take place.
Disregard this if you would prefer to spend a week in Barcelona. With all of the festival activities and sight seeing opportunities, you will definitely be able to fill up a week’s worth of time with lots of exciting plans. For example, you can take day trips to Montserat and the Dali Museum in Figueres. However, if you would prefer to spend 5 days in Barcelona and another 2 days exploring a different city, head to Madrid via Alsa bus or Renfe train. Madrid truly showcases Spanish culture so go out for some tapas on La Latina, drink tinto de verano at Retiro Park, or explore the art in the Prado and Reina Sofia. Here is my guide to Madrid.
Whether or not you decide to stay in Barcelona or Madrid, make sure to book a roundtrip flight for Closing Weekend in Ibiza. Spend two nights having the best night (and early morning) of your life, and then wake at 3 PM feeling absolutely awful but exhilarated from just having gone to some of the greatest clubs in the world. You need to go into this part of the trip knowing that cover fees to get into the clubs are expensive, but also well worth it. During the day, take a bus or rent a vespa and drive to the beautiful beaches around the island. The water is so clear that you can see the fish swimming around you. I found this absolutely petrifying, but for you fish lovers out there, I could see how that would be really incredible. You also may be able to find promoters offering deals for the nightclubs walking around on the beach during the day. Whatever you do, just be prepared for some outrageously fun times here for closing weekend. I was able to go to Space and Pacha, but I have heard Amnesia is awesome too. Make sure you check out the DJ’s schedules for the different clubs to determine which one to go to as all of the clubs themselves will be spectacular.
Fly back to either Barcelona or Madrid, wherever your roundtrip ticket takes you and then fly home. Congratulations you have now made it through an incredible few weeks of festival hopping throughout Europe and a fantastic end to the summer!