Saturday, August 29, 2015

19 Essential Tips for Celebrating Oktoberfest!

There is no doubt about it, Oktoberfest is the happiest place on Earth for any beer-drinking, fun-loving, individual- or, better yet, group of individuals. I've spoken before about the history of Oktoberfest, but for those unfamiliar with it, Oktoberfest is a traditional German festival to celebrate the coming of the month of October. For many tourists (such as myself, over the last two years), Oktoberfest is a time to get together, meet people from all over the world, and drink terrific beer, all while dressed up in a fabulous outfit. However, Oktoberfest attracts over 6 million visitors each year from countries throughout the world, and there are definitely some tips and tricks to ensure that you have the best time ever at this amazing festival. Without further ado, here are the 19 best tips you need to know for Oktoberfest!

having a blast with my family - inside the tents - at Oktoberfest!

Purchase a traditional dirndl or lederhosen in advance. This will be your best way to (almost!) guarantee having a terrific time, fitting in, getting into tents, and really getting yourself in the mood. While you are purchasing your attire, make sure to get something that is more authentic-looking and not the first item you see on the internet. The Halloween costume you see? Perhaps not the best dirndl. Take some time to research Oktoberfest pictures and fit in- otherwise, you will stick out like a sore thumb! In addition to fitting in and getting in the mood, wearing traditional gear will help you to gain access to the beer tents, which really are the place to be!

Book your accommodations early. Oktoberfest attracts so many visitors that to the city of Munich, it is known as the "fifth season". As such, it is incredibly important to book your accommodations early so that you can stay within your price range in your ideal location. Better to book early and have your choice of accommodations than be extremely limited!

The grounds are very accessible. The Oktoberfest grounds are located in Theresienwiese, which is fairly close to the center of the city. You can access the grounds by foot, taxi, train, or bus. The easiest transportation (and cheapest!) I have found is definitely taking the subway. Truthfully, you really don't even need to know 'exactly' where you are going- any subway car will be FULL of people heading to the Oktoberfest grounds decked out in their apparel- just find the crowd and follow them!

Bring plenty of cash. Most-if not all- of the tents will only accept cash, and even at that the exact change is preferred. On top of wanting to have cash to purchase food and drinks, you will also want cash for the various attractions at Oktoberfest grounds, transportation, and tips. My first Oktoberfest experience, I was with three guys and we were able to gain access to a tent within 10 minutes, with no reservations, our first night. After speaking with her for a few moments and learning she would be working all weekend, we tipped her- and promptly gained access each of the next nights. It has been said before in this world that cash is king, and there is certainly a reason for it!

Don't bring a purse. Let's be honest, Oktoberfest has become a holiday revolving around beer. You will drink plenty of it, while you are either sitting (or standing on top of!) long tables. Your purse will end up on a beer-covered table or the floor...and will get beer spilled on it. Definitely bring with your cash and any necessities that you think you may need- but these past two years, I was able to highly enjoy Oktoberfest bringing only my ID, hotel key, and cash with!

Arrive early. The grounds of Oktoberfest open up usually around 10 AM and stay open until 10 or 10:30 at night. Weekdays are a little more calm, but the weekends certainly get crazy- so plan on arriving early to ensure that you can maximize your Oktoberfest experience! Arriving to the grounds early will allow you time to walk around and experience the outdoor atmosphere of Oktoberfest, including all of the food carts, games, and various attractions.

It gets more than a little crazy- and busy- inside the tents!
Get reservations, whenever possible. I mentioned above that Oktoberfest attracts over 6 million visitors a year. With only 14 large tents, your chances of getting in to a tent increase exponentially if you are able to get reservations. If you have a large group- or are mainly men- having reservations will make your lives much easier and you will be able to fully experience the Oktoberfest experience.

If you can't get reservations, arrive early. To second the arriving early- if you don't have reservations, arrive to the tents early. The real celebrations at Oktoberfest will be inside the tents, and you absolutely do not want to miss out on this experience. The earlier you can get to the tents the best chance you will have at not only getting to be at the tents, but also to make it inside where the bands, singing, and dancing occur.

Know the costs to get inside (if any!) If you don't have reservations, there will most certainly be people outside trying to "scalp" their reservations- and likely, charge a fortune for them. Don't fall for this trap- reservations are typically based off the number of people, and cost approximately two liters of beer and a half chicken per person. In dollar amounts, this will be anywhere from $30-50 per person, with a minimum of 10 people. Outside of the tents, people will attempt to sell these same spots for anywhere from $100-500+ per person.

No matter what, if you have female friends, bring them (or six of them!) Men tend to want to go where women are. As such, female attendees of Oktoberfest are usually the first ones picked out to gain entrance into the tents. My first year at Oktoberfest, I was attending with three guys and we made sure that I was standing in front of them and appeared to be alone. Each time, I was picked out of the crowd in less than five minutes, and simply grabbed the guys hands in order to gain them access. Women are your friends at Oktoberfest!

The tents are the place to be. I've said it before, and I will continue saying it. The grounds at Oktoberfest are huge, expansive, and very entertaining. However, it is not an Oktoberfest experience unless you make it inside the tents. Inside the tents, you will be able to partake in singing, dancing, standing on tables, and so much more. When visiting Oktoberfest, you absolutely must make it inside a tent!

You have to be seated - or minimally, at a table - to order a beer. Oktoberfest tents are a very busy  and crowded place. The workers - many of whom carry no less than 10 liters of beer at a time to distribute - will not serve you unless you are 'seated' at a table. Again, at Oktoberfest you will likely be standing and dancing on top of your table, so you simply need a spot at the table in order to order a beer.

Bring more cash than you think you need. I mentioned above to bring cash, but this is so important I will touch on it twice. Most of the vendors at Oktoberfest only accept cash. As such, bring plenty to pay for food and drinks, but also to pay for tips and other random purchases. For instance- never in a million years did I think that at Oktoberfest I would want to try snuff (tobacco). However, I did- and of course, it costs money. Bring more money than you anticipate is necessary- even if you don't spend it, you will be happy you have it!

Pace yourself. Oktoberfest can be a long day, and beer is only served in a liter. On top of that, it is strong beer- it is not the 3.5% alcohol beer that us Americans are used to drinking. Make sure you are drinking water when possible, and watch your intake. The last thing you want to do is be one of the Oktoberfest idiots that pass out outside, in public, at 2 pm, and get ticketed. Take care of yourself!

Yep, this weighs around 5 pounds!
The average maß (one liter of beer) in the traditional mug weighs 5 pounds. Five whole pounds! Be prepared for the weight of your beer, and to get your arm workout in drinking out of it all day.

The decorated kegs from Hacker-Pschorr!
Use the buddy system. Tons of drinking, people, and entertainment makes it difficult to keep track of your friends and loved ones that you attend Oktoberfest with. Add to that the occasional poor cell service because of the mass amounts of people, and it would be a wise decision to utilize a buddy system to make sure that the group of people you attend Oktoberfest is always well taken care of.

The party ends (surprisingly) early! Oktoberfest grounds usually close at 10 or 10:30 PM, so it is not the all-night party that you might be expecting. If you are a night-time person, I would research things to do in advance so that you can make plans or have a general idea of where you will be heading after the grounds close. Make sure to get some sleep though, so that you can wake up and return to further enjoy Oktoberfest!

In the spirit of Oktoberfest, despite delayed planes and skipped meals!
Be in the spirit! Even though Oktoberfest is the happiest place in the world, things can go wrong. Learn to roll with the punches and enjoy your experience to the fullest extent. Last year, both my family's flights and mine were delayed/cancelled- so with no phone service, we had an interesting experience finding each other. Nobody ended up eating dinner prior to heading to the grounds, so we literally had a German pretzel for dinner, along with a couple of beers. It would have been easy to let travel problems ruin our night, but by rolling with the punches we had a night none of us will ever forget!

Bring your hangover cure. You are about to have a crazy, busy, exciting trip filled with plenty of beer drinking. Whatever you need to cure your hangover, make sure to bring it! Personally, for me that means something in my stomach ASAP in the morning, ibuprofen, and gatorade. If all else fails, hair of the dog (another beer!) usually works- and in Munich, will only put you in the mood for another full day!

For those of you who have attended Oktoberfest, what are your best tips to enjoy the celebrations?! If you enjoyed this post, please pin it as well!

Your guide to celebrating Oktoberfest in Munich!


  1. Still can't believe I have yet to go to Octoberfest...even with my blog name!!! Horrible, I know!

    1. I'm sure you'll make it some day! I was so happy to go the last couple of years- I know I'll be missing it this year!

  2. Looks like a blast! I am dying to go and embrace my german roots!

    1. Oh, it definitely is a blast! I'm German as well, so it was tons of fun when my family came. You'll have to make it one day!

  3. This sounds like so much fun! I'm planning a trip to Germany this year, but it'll be during the Christmas season. I definitely want to go back for Oktoberfest though!

    1. Christmas in Germany is great too! I was in Berlin last year for a few days before Christmas- the German Christmas markets are so good! You'll definitely want to visit those. Do you know where you'll be going?!

  4. Samantha, this looks like so much fun! It looks crazy crowded (kind of like you expect), but we've always wanted to do that. Instead, we've decided to go to Munich for the Christmas markets this year and I couldn't be more excited! Have you ever been?

    1. I haven't been to Munich for the Christmas markets, but last year I was in Berlin for them - and Paris the year before! German Christmas markets are awesome, and like nothing else! Depending how much time you have in Munich, you should definitely check out Viktualienmarkt - the farmers market right in town - or schedule a day trip to Füssen!

  5. Looks like such a good time! And I love these tips! I had a friend go to Germany this summer and I was quite jealous because I'd love to go! Thank you for linking up with Travel Tales!

    1. Julie, thanks for hosting it! Can't wait to keep participating. Germany is such a great country- I've loved it each and every time I've been able to visit!


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