The Oktoberfest is by far the best known event in Germany. Every year 6 million visitors (6.3M in 2018) from all over the world gather to drink beer, dance and enjoy the short and fleeting German happiness.
In this article I will summarize all those tricks to organize your visit for those who want to visit the Oktoberfest for the first time and not die trying.
The Oktoberfest usually takes place during the last weeks of September and ends at the beginning of October. In 2020 it is from September 19 to October 4.
Ready for Germany’s biggest party?
- What exactly is Oktoberfest?
- Traditional Bavarian German costume
- Where to Sleep
- Medical insurance
- Reserve a table
- How to get to Munich
- Latest General Tips
- Before you go
What exactly is Oktoberfest?
Started as the wedding celebration of Prince Ludwig and Theresse on October 12, 1810, today is the world’s largest beer festival.
The reason it is celebrated in September instead of October, as its name suggests, is due to the climate. The Germans know they’re more likely to have
In total 2 weeks and 3 weekends that give a lot of themselves and that the locals take it easy. The thousands of visitors who come every day are usually at their peak, so you will have to celebrate EVERY day of the festival.
If you want to know more about the story and other information you can read this wikipedia article that goes into more detail…
Visiting this great event can be really expensive, and people can easily spend up to 1,000€ in a few days without doing much, between transport, reservations, beers and accommodation.
Aljoamiento: Keep in mind that demand is so enormous that prices go up like foam. Especially the accommodation. I’ll talk a little further down the lodge.
Tickets: Admission to the venue is free. There are no queues and you can access without problems.
Entrance to the shops or tents is free or many make you pre-purchase vouchers to buy beer or food. The problem is that they are usually full and you have to book in advance if you want to sit down. If the tent is full you will have to queue, which can be lengthened in time or even never get in.
Drink: Each pint of beer is 12€. It is known as “Maß”, which would mean something like “measure” in German.
Tips. The jug was worth in 2018 approximately 11.40 €, depends on the tent, to this we must add the tip, because if you do not tip you do not bring it and waiters are indignant. At the end it is rounded to 12€.
Plus they don’t usually have much change (or they don’t want change) so bring some cash around or you’ll have to give them a big tip!
It is wrong to generalize, but waiters are (or many believe themselves to be) demigods. If you ask for a pitcher they look at you badly or tell you to ask for 2 or 3 at least. For the same food. If there are several at the table (or corner) agree and order several beers at the same time.
Drinking some beer sooner or later on the street is possible and will save you a few euros. It is totally normal to see people drinking beer on the road, or near the enclosure, as long as you behave and not lies.
Inside the Okotberfest you can’t bring any beers from outside, whether they are cans or bottles. So you’ll have to empty everything or throw it in the containers at the entrance.
Don’t steal any beer jugs. At the exit they are very attentive and you can also get a good fine (it’s also ugly, isn’t it?). If you want to take one with you, the jars are sold out for about 10€.
Food: Go to the oktoberfest or at least inside the shops with a full stomach. Inside the food is very expensive, and with the large amount of beer you will need a good base. The typical meal is half roasted chicken with garnish for about 12-15€ or a snack for 5€.
Outside the shops you can find all kinds of food stalls between 4-8€, where the most popular are the sausages.
In my opinion, I would plan 2 days for Oktoberfest, or even 1. This can be done with one night and the second day going out at night or with 2 nights and the third day visit a little the city.
The Oktoberfest is a difficult and hard place, very few people can endure 2 or 3 days in a row in the Oktoberfest Wiesen. Germans usually plan 1 day.
Probably on the last day you don’t want to see the beer anymore.
Besides, the prices make it more complicated…
Traditional Bavarian German costume
We all have in mind the typical photo of the Oktoberfest with the boys with checked shirts, brown leather pants and suspenders and the girls with those “shepherdess” dresses with good necklines…right?
Dress in Bavarian for a better experience, I think it’s basic.
The pants are called “Lederhose” and the girls’ dress”Drindl“.
Take your Lederhose or Drindl to mix a little more in the culture, people and try to be one more.
For the girls:
The Drindl is going to cost around 15-40€ asking for it by Amazon in advance. Here are some examples of Drindl (option B and option C). Sometimes it is a single piece (the cheapest) or the most traditional and elaborate, the shirt goes separately, the corset and then the skirt. In the shirt at the height of the breasts it takes a few loops to tighten and to raise the neckline. But… it can be regulated!
For the boys:
A normal Lederhose can cost around 200€ in the shops. Don’t buy them in Munich, or at least at the train station.
It is best to order them online in advance, for example on Amazon. If not, in Munich there are shops, Chinese type that sell at more affordable prices, type 30-50€.
If you don’t want to buy the pack pants + shirt, at least wear a checkered shirt, which at least gives a little punch and then with the confusion not much noticeable either.
There are also trousers or/and imitation t-shirts normally for carnivals, that for about 20€ make you the function more or less.
The Lederhose straps are somewhat uncomfortable with the passing of hours, so many people lower them. This is like a wedding with a tie, which takes a while, but then a lot of people take them off…
Another option is to rent them for about 40€ a day, and they give you good quality clothes with many details. But watch out for the bail that has to be paid. If there are stains, or dirt force you to buy it. I have heard that some foreigners are ripped off and they try to in the end they acquire the rented clothes.
Do I really need to wear traditional Bavarian clothing?
No doubt about it. With all the people I talked to who weren’t dressed, they told me that if he had known that almost 95% were dressed, they would have bought one. It’s like going to the carnivals dressed normally in jeans.
Where to Sleep
Accommodation is almost impossible during those dates, at least with respect to price.
Rooms on the outskirts of the city (~10km) can be found from 150€. Rooms in the centre cost between 200 and 500€.
Special camps with tents, tents or prefabricated cabins are set up especially for the occasion. The shop costs from 100€/2 people. There is a very good youthful party atmosphere, and usually international. Some of these cabins can be booked online:
- Oktoberfest Wiesn Camp Lodge
- Hangover Hospital Oktoberfest Camp
- GPTents Oktoberfest Munich
- Festanation Munich Glampig (Festanation nº2)
Camping with your own tent can cost you about 35€/night.
The best thing is to sleep at a friend’s house… but of course, it’s not always possible!
A lot of people choose to sleep at the train station. Finding a piece of floor you can sleep for a while, because they are spending every 2 hours with the floor cleaning machine waking everyone up. Until the 6 are made that already directly wake up and drive everyone out. Then you’re more stuck than a cigarette butt. In 2013 we did that 2 nights in a row and I already promised that I would only come back if I slept at someone’s house… and so it was 🙂
Remember that in order to travel in Europe, you will need a Medical Insurance with a minimum coverage. If you don’t have anything contracted yet, take a look at Iati Seguros, the company I’ve been traveling with since 2017 with my first trip to China. At the moment the 2 incidents I had to do with them (1 in Lombok and another in Barranquilla) have answered by phone 100% in Spanish and without paying (or overtaking) or 1€.
If you are European, you already have yours, in that case take your European health card with you. The Germans are alerted to nothing, and they call the ambulance right away. Once the ambulance is called (it doesn’t matter whether you requested it or not), you have to pay for it.
I still remember, one morning when I went to college in Germany, I had a low blood sugar. A professor who was out there called the medical services. In 15 minutes I was riding in an ambulance full of wires, etc. One month later, the Red Cross received a bill of €512 for the 5-minute transfer to the hospital. If I had had my European Health Insurance Card with me (or some kind of travel insurance) I would have saved myself the trouble of managing that. Red Cross said to pay and then I’d fix myself… which is obviously better not to do.
Reserve a table
Booking a table is technically free, but you are forced to put in a minimum amount of money, which is then returned to you in beer and food. It is usually the equivalent of 2 beers and a chicken for about 30€, depending on the store.
There are 10 people sitting at each table, so it costs about 300-400€ per table. Then you get some beer chips and some food vouchers.
Each chip gives you a beer, but you’ll have to tip the waiter if you want him to bring it to you. In other words, you have to give him a chip + 1.5€.
If you’re sure you’ll be there on a few dates, book a table. It’s much more comfortable.
If you don’t have a table you can go in, but you will have to stand in the corridors, where people and waiters are passing like bullets. In addition you can not leave the jacket or simply support the beer and it is not pleasant.
Germans often book or at least always know someone or a friend of someone who has a table and gather there.
Tables are booked in 2 shifts, morning (from 9:00 to 16:30) and afternoon (from 17:00 to 22:30).
Logically, it’s easier to get a table in the morning or during the week.
If you’re in the morning, they’ll throw you out at the shift change. The strategy is to lengthen that time to the maximum, then go to the bathroom or by some side and get the beet. If they come to throw you out you have to move a few feet and say yes, you’re leaving, blah blah. Until at last people suddenly start coming in. At that moment you can go in and look for a table that is not reserved. Although if it’s a weekend, it’s going to be difficult.
Reserved tables have a sticker with the name of the person and the time.
How to reserve a table
You have to contact or enter the website of each store individually. The best tables and schedules sell quickly. Although there are many intermediary pages that manage things for you or sell you packages, I always prefer to do things directly. Many of the websites are only in German, but with the translator (and a little intuition) I think it is well understood…
To say that on some pages, the English version is often not the same as the German version, and on some pages you are not given the option to book in English. For example in the Kufflers Weinzelt tent.
Booking a year in advance is not crazy, from March general reservations open and we can find relatively good tables.
The stores that are best (as I have seen and heard)Paulaner–> web to fill in a form and they contact you.
- Hofbräu (HB)–> web to book with the remaining places and timetables
- Löwen –> web to send an email and already process the reservation.
- Armbrustschützen –> Web in English, quite complete and with the schedules and days available
- Augustiner –> Pre-reservation only open to former customers. Web in English.
- Fischer-Vroni –> Although the web is in English the online portal for bookings in German only.
- Hacker –> Reservations on the web are not open at the moment (or are covered)
- Käfers Schänke –> Intuitive Web with days and times that are covered marked
- Kufflers Weinzelt –> Web use German version for booking). Carp with the particularity that they have wine
- Marstall –> web, but do not say the real availability
- Pschorr –> web which they do not give much data just a mail
- Schottenhamel –> web with good online portal to select your table
- Schützen-Festhalle –> web with an easy form with all available dates and times
How to get to Munich
It is best to travel to Munich by train and buy it in advance. For this I explain in my other post how to buy train tickets in Germany without being a millionaire.
In the regional trains, people are already drinking beer and there is a good atmosphere the closer you get to Munich.
Going by bus is another option, but you will have to book in advance, as prices rise as well. Check the Flixbus company for timetables and prices.
If you have to fly to Munich, do so well in advance, as prices rise during those seasons, especially for the weekend.
How to get to the festival in München (Wiesn)
The large festival site is very close to the central train station (Hauptbahnhof). The place is called Wiesn, which comes to mean something like meadow.
Walking is about 10-15 minutes from the station.
By Metro (U-Bahn) the stop is called Theresienwiese on lines U4 and U5. There’s no loss because a large mass of people will go in that direction. The ticket is €2.90 or €5.60 for the whole day. Tickets for 3 days can be purchased for 16.50€.
There’s no loss!! From the train station (or really any metro stop) just follow the people going to the festival.
Ticket offices at the train station
At the train station (Hauptbahnhof) there are enough lockers to leave suitcases or backpacks for 1 day.
They are easy to find with the posters with a drawing, if you can not ask for Schließfächer or directly in English “lockers”.
It costs between 6-8€, for 24 hours, depending on the size and are quite wide.
Latest General Tips
Take it easy, it’s a resistance race not a speed race. Those liter pitchers make long (and expensive).
Drink plenty of water before, during and after.
If you don’t have a reservation, go to the precinct well before the shift change: between 10-12 in the morning it’s fine.
All stores close strictly at 22.30, except for one, which closes at 1 am (Käfer). If you want to go there, go long before the other tents close and people accumulate at the door, because you’re hardly going to be able to get in.
If you want to continue the party after 22.30 there is an “after Wiesen”, if you ask people they will take you or at least they will show you where it is.
phoe-icon name=”fa-check”] It carries cash, although inside the stores and around the premises there are ATMs, they usually have high commissions because they know that whoever needs money is going to get it regardless of the commission.
Search and listen to some German music to get into it. In Munich many songs are international, but all the tracks are still German songs. If you’ve heard them or they sound familiar, you’ll enjoy it more. By writing “Oktoberfest Musik” or “Wiesn Musik” on YouTube you can find good compilations.
In Munich there are many people. If you really want to go see the party, but you don’t like crowds (and/or you’re on a budget) my advice is to go to Stuttgart to “Wasen”. It’s almost exactly the same, but with more local people, fewer queues, less stress, cheaper, it’s possible to find accommodation, etc.
If you see people sniffing white powders in the middle of tables, it’s not cocaine, it’s “Prairie Cocaine“ (Wiesen Koks in German). A mixture of refined sugar and menthol. It’s not something that’s very healthy for the nostrils. Creates a menthol effect and freshness in the mouth and nose. It is typical (I don’t know why) to suck this sugar through the nose, which they carry in small cans.
Before you go
- Check transport to get to Munich
- Accommodation booking
- Table reservation
- Order a Lederhose or Drindl online (Amazon for example). (Highly recommended)
You’re ready to go to Oktoberfest!
If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to comment below… and tell me how it went when you got back! 🙂Preparing a trip through Germany? Reed my Full Guide to Travel Germany with tricks, itineraries, transportations, destinations, German culture, food, etc.All for organize your trip to Germany