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Oktoberfest is the world's largest beer festival held annually in Munich, Germany. Being the largest beer festival means accommodation during the festival is either super-expensive or hard to book within a short notice. Showers, breakfast, lunch and beer are available without reservation, so a place to sleep is the only problem.

My friend has a small minivan which is convenient enough for sleeping. Would it be legal to find a quiet parking space somewhere (relatively) close to Oktoberfest and just sleep in the van? Bonus points for recommending a good spot to park in that area.

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    Did you reserve a spot in the tents? – Karlson Jun 3 '15 at 19:05
  • @Karlson, not yet and I would prefer not too, so that its possible to go as a last minute thing – JonathanReez Jun 3 '15 at 20:24
  • Just be aware as you may not be able to get a seat. – Karlson Jun 3 '15 at 20:25
  • @JonathanReez you can get in, just arrive early (10 am sounds good). Later you're gonna have to queue quite some time. – Eagle1 Jun 4 '15 at 8:54
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As @Dirty-flow said, sleeping in the car is allowed, but you should not sleep in the driver's seat etc. if you are drunk, to avoid being fined for drunk driving.

There are many areas, especially inside of the "Mittlerer Ring", where parking is restricted (residents only or parking ticket, see map or text).

I'd suggest to park somewhere in the outskirts, near a U-Bahn or S-Bahn station, and use public transport. Feldkirchen, for example, has a nice lake you can swim in ("Erholungsgebiet Heimstettener See").

Update: Sleeping in a caravan in the city of Munich is forbidden: "Im Wohnmobil am Straßenrand zu übernachten ist im ganzen Stadtgebiet nicht erlaubt." See Tor-Einar Jarnbjo's answer for more information. (They suggest parking at the Messe in Riem, 35 Eur per night.) Feldkirchen should be OK.

Also note: You need a particle emissions sticker for your car ("Umweltplakette") if you want to drive inside of "Mittlerer Ring".

  • 1
    Or try the camper van parking places that you find in some small towns near Munich. I don't know if Feldkirchen has one. – S List Jun 3 '15 at 13:36
  • You can sleep in a caravan even in Munich, you are just not permitted to actually stay there for several nights (camping). In the morning, you have to continue your journey. This rule is a bit misleading, see here promobil.de/ratgeber/… – Adrian Jul 10 '17 at 18:26
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The legal situation is unfortunately a bit more complicated than what is stated by Dirty-flow and user24582.

Even if the German traffic regulations do not directly forbid you to sleep in your car, you may easily violate other regulations doing so. Roads and public parking spaces may in general only be used for traffical purposes and even though stopping for a night to rest or even sleep is considered acceptable, setting up a 'home' for several nights in a mini-van is not what road-side parking was intended for. To be more abstract, it is generally considered acceptable to stop and sleep in your car if the purpose is to relax and regain fitness to continue a ride.

user24582 is right, that the Munich city council writes on their web pages that sleeping in a caravan is forbidden, but they actually have no legal means to prevent you from doing so. This article (unfortunately only in German) addresses exactly this topic and explains that when asked on the phone, the city council also confirms that they actually mean that it is not allowed to stay and live somewhere for several days. Stopping for a night of sleep is also in Munich fully acceptable.

Even if you could get around the law by driving to a new parking space each day and only stay for one night in one location, you should also consider other practical problems. When parking anywhere, you will probably not have a toilet nearby and using the next house corner or a tree in a park as an emergency solution raises new legal issues. Before someone claims that there is no German law forbidding you to urinate in public, the public leak is usually fined according to § 118 OWiG as a 'crude, offensive action'.

  • Talking about violating other laws / regulations: if you are going to park further away from the festival location, as suggested in some of the other answers, keep in mind the laws for drinking and driving. After all, I assume you are not going to the Oktoberfest to drink lemonade! – CompuChip Jun 4 '15 at 15:07
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    It is hilarious with an absurd touch that you discuss public urinating as a problem in the context of the Oktoberfest. That's like city lawn usage regulations in the context of Woodstock. – Peter A. Schneider Jun 4 '15 at 17:30
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    Also don't underestimate the general problem of finding a caravan-sized parking spot in Munich. Another option could be a caravan / camping spot like at Thalkirchen. – Florian Heigl Jun 5 '15 at 7:39
  • @FlorianHeigl someone who's clearly not intending to spend money for his lodgings isn't going to want to pay for a campground to park his caravan for the night (which would have toilet facilities...). – jwenting Jan 16 '17 at 12:49
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It is not forbidden to sleep in the car as long as it is parked according to the rules. I could find many articles about it, but they are in German (www.welt.de or www.anwaltauskunft.de).

A good place to sleep could be a parking on a highway - there you can also find a toilet and a rubbish skip for your garbage.

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