Even if you’re not a big beer drinker, it would be a shame to miss out on some of the world’s best beer cities to visit to learn more about the history and culture of beer. Not only will traveling to these great beer cities make you a more well-rounded beer aficionado, it will give you serious street-cred with your friends when they hear you’ve tackled Oktoberfest and drank your weight in Guinness in Ireland.
There are so many ways for beer lovers to explore and enjoy beer around the world. There are international beer festivals, microbreweries popping up everywhere, and beer gardens to enjoy. Here are some of our favorite destinations around the world for beer.
Top Beer Destinations Around the World
The Pacific Northwest is well-known for their hops, particularly because more than 97% of all hop production in the world comes from the Pacific Northwest. So it’s no surprise that Portland, Oregon, is one of the world’s best beer cities to visit.
Portland is home to some well-loved brands like Breakside Brewery, Deschutes Brewery, Culmination Brewing, and Full Sail Brewing Co. In fact, there are more microbreweries per capita in Portland than in any other city in the world, and most of them welcome visitors with open arms.
If you’re going to Portland for the beer, be sure to stay downtown so you can walk and cab it to many of the popular microbreweries. You can walk right in and try their tasting trays or make an appointment for a tour. Some even have outdoor beer gardens and food trucks.
One of the top festivals on many bucket lists is Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, which takes place from mid-September to early October every year. What makes Oktoberfest so unique is that each of the top Oktoberfest beer producers have a dedicated tent or two, and visitors sit in those tents all day consuming multiple liters (called a Maß) of beer.
If you’re planning to go to Oktoberfest, you can secure tickets for a particular tent (well in advance), or you can just wander around and try to get into a tent that has open seating. Go for lunch and you’ll have no problem getting in. Get half a chicken or a pork knuckle and you’re all set.
I’ve heard many people say they don’t go because it’s crazy and way too busy, but that’s not true. You can go during the week days and before 6pm for a calm and fun environment where table reservations are not needed. Outside of the beer tents, there is a whole fair to enjoy, with rides, games, and tons of food, pretzels, and giant cookies.
If you go to Munich outside of Oktoberfest, don’t worry, you’ll still be able to enjoy all of those beers at various beer halls and gardens throughout the city. The festive beer atmosphere can always be found at places like the Augustiner-Keller Biergarten or the famous Hofbräuhaus München.
Vienna is one of the most charming cities you’ll ever come across. It has culture and art, shopping and entertainment, and most importantly, it has beer. Lots and lots of beer! Whether you’re out to have a good time drinking it up with strangers or you’ve come to Vienna to learn a bit about the fantastic new craft breweries that are popping up across the city, you won’t have to look far to find a pub or brewery in Vienna.
One of the most common beer brands Austria is Stiegl, which means “little step”. It was founded in 1492. However, these days there are more than 80 microbreweries in Austria, the greatest concentration – about 1/3 of the total – being located in Upper Austria, bordering Germany and Czech Republic.
Brussels has always been an epicenter for beer tourism and you will be very well rewarded for your efforts once you arrive in the capital city of Belgium. You can get stuck right in to the beer scene by visiting A La Mort Subite, Pouchenellekelder, Beermania, Delirium (their menu features 2000+ beers from all over the world), and Moeder Lambic where there are no less than 40 beers on tap, and 100+ bottles.
It’s in Belgium that you’ll find the Trappist beer and Lambics, which can only be brewed in Belgium. What I recommend is clearing your weekend and hopping bar to bar to try a few different Belgium beers on the menu. If you’re not sure what to order, rely on the staff to recommend. Each one will come in the glass it’s meant to be served in and perfectly poured.
You must try the highly rated Westvleteren 12, which is an outstanding Trappist Quadrupel beer. Be prepared! It’s expensive and robust, to say the least.
When you travel to Ireland, you better be prepared to drink your weight in Guinness. Though it’s not the only beer being served, it’s the most loved and respected and you can find it in every pub in Ireland. Some say it’s better in Ireland than anywhere else in the world. You’ll have to go there yourself to find out.
You can visit the massive, seven-story Guinness Storehouse in Dublin where you can spend almost an entire day looking through interactive displays, learning to pour the perfect pint and enjoying an included pint in the top floor Gravity bar. Aside from the storehouse, there are about a hundred pubs awaiting your arrival.
If you haven’t visited Montreal, it’s a great place to visit year-round as a beer lover, especially if you’re also into food and pairings. With a huge beer scene throughout the Quebec province, you’ll find a huge concentration of breweries and beer pubs in Montreal.
One of the best places to start your beer pilgrimage is the well-known craft brewery Dieu du Ciel who were pioneers in the Montreal beer scene. They have 20 rotating taps and a large bottle list. Also visit Brasserie Harricana, which we love for both food and beer, and Vices and Versa, one of the best places in Montreal to try a variety of Quebec beers on draft. La Chavel Blanc is also a mainstay – the first brewpub in Montreal.
One of my favorite beer festivals in the world is held in June in Montreal. It’s called Mondial de la Biere. The festival is a great way to get to know the world of beer, both in Quebec and internationally.
Prague, Czech Republic
You’ve no doubt heard about the Czech Republic’s beer culture. They have the highest beer consumption per capita in the world, so they clearly know a thing or two about beer. The style of beer drank there is a light and crisp pilsner, but more craft beers have started to get in on the action now too.
Czech Republic is the birthplace of Pilsner; It’s home to the famous Pilsner Urquell Brewery and Budweiser Budvar – the original Budweiser (they have been in a dispute over the naming rights for years!). They host an over-the-top 2-week Czech Beer Festival that takes place every year in May and features more than 50 breweries.
The Czech Republic doesn’t have a lot of microbreweries, but the ones they do have are absolutely worth visiting. You also must also try a tank beer at a Tankovna (tank pubs), which is the freshest beer you can get.
Bend, Oregon is one of best destinations for beer in the United States. Bend has led the way for microbrewing and craft beer since long before it was popular. It’s the city with the most breweries per capita in the U.S. and it’s unapologetically hoppy about it.
Although Bend is a small town and not somewhere you’ve likely heard about unless you live and breathe beer or live in the Pacific Northwest, it is a great place to go for a low-key vacation. The highlight of the area is definitely the beer, but you can’t overlook the amazing natural beauty that surrounds it either. Fishing and hiking should also be factored into the itinerary.
The best way to explore is by doing the Bend Ale Trail. Founded in 2010 with only 6 breweries, it now includes 22 breweries! It’s a well-planned route, completely with passport and prizes, that will take you to some of the top breweries, like Deschutes Brewery, Sunriver Brewery, Crux Brewery and Worthy Brewing, which by the way has an amazing outdoor patio.
This one might be completely off your radar. Did you know that Slovenia has a public beer fountain? Yes. It’s located in the small town of Žalec, which is the center of Slovenia’s hops producing region. The town decided in 2016 to open Europe’s first ever outdoor beer fountain, located in the town center.
Patrons can buy a glass for €6 and pour themselves the five beers that are on tap in the fountain. Although Slovenia has a few major beer players who are major rivals, there are a growing number of microbreweries in Slovenia who are reshaping the way people think about beer.
These are just a few of the world’s best beer cities to visit. I’m sure you could find enough places to fill an entire year’s worth of travel, but you have to start somewhere! What are your favorite places to visit for beer?
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Laura is the founder and editor of the travel blogs Savored Sips and Savored Journeys. She is dedicated to sharing the best information about drinks found around the world.