As most of you know, I recently attended Oktoberfest and as a first-timer I have some suggestions to help you survive your first Oktoberfest…
If you take anything that I mention in this post, remember this: Oktoberfest is a marathon and not a sprint; especially if you’re there for a long weekend like Nick and myself. Don’t ruin it for yourself by drinking too much and getting thrown out of the grounds, getting sick or having to be taken off in a stretcher. Typically, most tents only serve Maß sized beers (1 litre) and breweries usually make them stronger for the festivities; so, even though you’ve only ordered and drank one beer, it may feel like more than just one beer to your body.
What to Expect:
All of the tents at Oktoberfest have their own vibe and are known for their own thing, but no matter what tent or beer garden you’ve decided to sit down in and grab a drink you can expect the same general thing throughout the festival; dancing, drinking and singing. Beyond the realm of the beer tents and gardens, you have the option to eat your way through the assortment of food vendors serving your stereotypical German foods, shop for souvenirs or to gamble your life on one of the carnival rides.
While you’re in a beer tent or a beer garden, you have to be seated at a table to order a beer. You can’t be standing off to the side, hail a server and order and because of this it is common practice for people to book tables in advance to guarantee that they had a place to sit once they arrived. Nick and I booked our Oktoberfest trip incredibly last minute, so this wasn’t a possibility. Being as we were a party of two people, we didn’t have much trouble finding a couple empty seats with other groups of people. If you’re planning on having a large group of friends (more than three) go with you to Oktoberfest though, I would recommend booking a table and splitting the cost between your group because once the tents and gardens fill up, it’ll be nearly impossible to find enough table space to fit a larger group of people all together. These reservations do book out quite early in advance, so make sure you plan ahead!
Similarly with reserving tables, you need to book your accommodations well in advance. If you book ahead, you’ll have a better chance of finding somewhere closer to the festival grounds and you will save some money by planning ahead. If you’re trying to do Oktoberfest on a really tight budget, they do offer camping options for trailers and tents. But, once accommodations start to sell out, both hotels and hostels will start jacking up the prices and Oktoberfest is expensive enough to begin with. It is an actual miracle that Nick and I were able to find a room on Airbnb that was a 15 minute walk from the grounds and didn’t cost us a fortune.
Nick and I didn’t have the time or the money to purchase good, traditional outfits for the festival and that is probably my biggest regret of Oktoberfest because it would have been that much more of an authentic Oktoberfest experience if we were able to both drink and dress the part. There is always the option to buy a costume-y type Dirndl or Lederhosen on Amazon, but the locals will probably make fun of you for it. An authentic outfit is going to run you upwards of €150.00, but if you have the money I would recommend going for it to get the most out of your experience! That being said, it is not mandatory by any means to dress up in a traditional Dirndl or Lederhosen; there were just as many people walking around in normal street clothes as there were people dressed up. Besides that, I would recommend wearing closed-toed, comfortable shoes. Everyone is drinking and a little wobbly, it’s more than likely you’re going to get stepped on. Not only that, but dancing on the benches within the halls is both accepted and encouraged; you don’t want to be that girl in heels that falls and sprains her ankle after dancing on the bench in heels.
To get the most out of your time in the beer tents or gardens, I would say that €50.00/per person, per tent would be sufficient if you’re eating and drinking in the tent. Most Maß beers are around €10.70-€10.95 and the meals are upwards of €15.00-€20.00. If you plan on checking out multiple tents, €50.00 per person/per tent would be enough to get yourself a couple beers, tip your server and a meal. If you want to save on the cost of food, you can always opt to eat at the vendors outside of the tents. The food on the grounds are still traditional German food, but they are at a fraction of the price compared to what is offered in the tents.
**You’ll have better luck getting a table without a reservation if you arrive earlier in the day. I don’t mean 12:00PM early either, I’m talking 9:00-10:00AM. After that, the tents and gardens start to fill up and it’ll be harder to get yourself a beer, especially if you’re going with a bigger group.
**Don’t bring anything you can’t put in your pocket. The tables are covered in beer and the floors are covered in beer and who knows what else, so if you’re the type of person who needs to carry a purse or a bag, you won’t have anywhere to stow it. Also, they have really strict security restrictions on what size of bag you’re allowed to bring it. So, if it’s not teeny-tiny, they’ll turn you away at the gate.
**Bring some small bills and change to help out your server! Oktoberfest is insanely busy and they’ll always appreciate you having the correct change for your bill and tip.
I hope you take these suggestions into consideration when planning your trip to Munich for Oktoberfest!