Once a year this world famous beer festival is held in Münich. The festival is held in honour of the wedding of a Bavarian prince and princess. If you want to find out more about the history click here: The history of Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest is called die Wiesn by Germans after the slang name of the fest grounds. The great thing about living in Germany is that many regions have their own smaller versions of Oktoberfest during Oktoberfest season. That being said I do highly recommend attending the original Oktoberfest held in Münich. I’m not a beer drinker and it rained buckets when I went. Despite the bad weather I still loved Oktoberfest. There are people who’ve told me that they were bored at Oktoberfest and ended up standing. So it’s not always enjoyable for everyone. You have to be prepared so that you don’t end up standing the whole time. In this guide I will provide you with comprehensive tips because you should only be dancing on the benches. No dull standing allowed.
Where is Oktoberfest held?
Oktoberfest takes place in Münich at the Theresienwiese there is a sign which indicates the area. Festwiese is what the locals call the area. It is basically a field which is fenced and has 9 entrances. Security is present at every entry way. Oktoberfest is extremely popular and this means that crowd control is essential. If the festival grounds are full only attendees with reserved tickets are allowed to enter the grounds. Get there early to avoid disappointment.
When does Oktoberfest take place?
Oktoberfest starts in September when I first arrived in Germany on the 2nd of October 2015 I didn’t know this. The festival continues for at least 16 days. So it runs into October hence the name Oktoberfest. The festival usually ends on the first Sunday in October and sometimes it is extended to coincide with Germany’s reunification day. Reunification day is a national public holiday which celebrates the reunification of West and East Germany. The next dates are as follows:
- 2018 September 22-October 7
- 2019 September 21-October 6
- 2020 September 19-October 4
- 2021 September 18-October 3
How to get to Oktoberfest?
By travel bus
If you are living inside of Germany like I did but, you aren’t living in Bavaria close to Münich then the bus is the cheapest option. I choose to with a student travel agency called Studifahrten. Studifahrten offers a youth discount and anyone aged 35 and younger can use their services. To travel from Essen to Münich with them costs €55. I paid a bit less as I attended Oktoberfest in 2016. You can contact the company at https://www.facebook.com/studifahrtendeutschland
Flixbus is another low budget option. The buses are relatively reliable they are clean, safe and I had no problems whenever I chose to use Flixbus. Postbus is also a good option. Train travel inside of Germany is can be expensive so rather stick with the bus. And don’t forget night buses are cheaper. Sleeping in the bus and arriving at your destination the next morning can help with cutting your travel costs.
If you are travelling from outside of Germany then try to get a flight which lands directly at Münich. You will land at Münich International Airport (MUC). A connecting flight from Frankfurt airport isn’t worth the trouble if you still need to pay to take a train from Frankfurt to Münich. Try booking your flights in advance as ticket prices go up because of Oktoberfest.
View of Munich Germany
From the airport to the grounds I recommend that you take public transport to Münich central. Yes there are taxi’s available however, traffic is hectic during the festival times. Taxis also charge from €60 upwards. If you still rather take the taxi contact IsarFunk taxi: +49 (89)450540 or IsarFunk taxi service point at Münich airport: +49 (89) 97585050
Lufthansa airlines run a bus that goes from the airport to Munich. You can take this bus no matter airline you chose to fly with. There are bus stops at both terminals and at the airport centre. The journey takes about 45min and tickets start at €10.50. The prices range according to time etc. To find out more see: https//www.airportbus-muenchen.de/en/
There are two S-Bahn lines which connects the airport to the city. They are the S1 and S8 lines. It will take roughly 45min- 50 min to complete your journey. Take the S1-S8 to Hackerbrücke. Alternatively take S7 and S20 to Heimeranplatz and then take the U4 or the U5 to station Theresienwiese or Schwanthalerhöhe. The U-bahn is the underground tram and U4 or U5 is the line you should get on. Tickets for the train and tram are found at the station.
My advice is to go by train from the airport. I don’t suggest you drive to Oktoberfest. Traffic will be a nightmare, parking is a double nightmare. And getting your car towed would make it a triple nightmare. It’s like a horror trilogy. On top of it if you are going to be drinking you shouldn’t be driving. The beer is sold in 1 litre mugs with look more like a jug or vase to me. Be safe and use public transport rather or pay for a private taxi.
If you still rather travel by car then park away from the fair grounds. The following parking locations of the Münich public transport system might have parking available. You can travel directly to the fairgrounds from these Park and Ride stations:
Candid- und Mangfallplatz(U1)
Fröttmaning (U6, parking garage which can house 1200 cars and 80 buses)
Fürstenreid-West (U3, Parkhaus)
Klinikum Groβhadern (U6)
Kieferngarten( U6, Parking garage)
Innsbrucker Ring (U5, U2, Parkhaus)
Where to stay during Oktoberfest?
Hotels & Hostels
Hotels, hostels and Airbnb rooms get booked up super fast. Bear in mind that millions of people attend Oktoberfest, around 6 million every year to be exact. Book your room in advance. You should do so as soon as you know which dates you will attend the festival. Room prices increase as Oktoberfest season approaches. Do note that the first week of the fest is always more busy than the second week. I recommend you book for the second week if you plan on attending Oktoberfest.
The best location to stay at is a place close to the Hauptbanhof (Central station). It’s ideal because you can get there from the airport via train or bus. It is within close walking distance to the festival grounds. You can also explore the rest of Münich easily from a room located close to the public transport network. Again do book in advanced and use booking.com to get a room. On this site you will find a number of hotel rooms. It also lists hostel rooms if you are looking for a cheaper option.
Where is the caravan Parks and camping sites located?
If you plan on hiring a mobile home there are a few sites where you can park it. You cannot park your trailer at the fest grounds. If you plan on staying in your trailer during the festival you can park it at a number of caravan park spots and camping sites in the city. You can find the details listed below.
The centres’ fairgrounds are able to accommodate 1000 mobile homes. And there are sanitary facilities as well. To get there you need to take Autobahn99 to Autobahnkreuz München Ost, and then continue on to Autobahn 94 take the Feldkirchen West exit. The road signs will then direct you to the Messe/ICM. From this site the U-bahn (underground tram) will take about 20-30 min to get you to the festival. To check for available spots call: +49 (089) 547 06 70.
It can hold around 250 caravans. You can walk from this location to the fest. To book a spot call + 49 (089) 547 06 70
Thalkirchen Camping site
This site is found at a scenic nature conservation resort. It also has a fast U-bahn (subway) line that can reach Münich’s city centre in just a few minutes. This spot is small and it tends to attract lots of tourists. You going to need a bit of luck if you heart is set on this site.
Campingplatz München Thalkirchen
Telephone +49 (89) 7231707
Campingplatz München Obermenzing
Lochhausener Straβe 59
Telephone: +49 (89) 8641566
Campingplatz Langwieder See
Eschenrieder Straβe 119
Telephone: +49 (89) 8641566
Telephone: +49 (89) 15820463
What do I need to enter the festival grounds?
Although the festival is free to enter, security is rigorous. This means that you have to carry your passport and visa at all times. If you are a European citizen carry your ID. Security can ask to check your ID at any time and without it you can be refused entry. If you reserved a table you will get an entry pass along with your invoice. It’s important to have this pass with you. You also need to know the name of your table. Even with a reservation you can be refused entry without your entry pass. And not knowing the name of your group makes you look suspicious. Security and the waitresses might think you are trying to sneak in. Keep your documents with you and keep them safe.
Where is the opening ceremony held?
I got to attend the opening day of Oktoberfest. The 2018 opening ceremony will be held on the 22nd of September. The Schottenhamel tent is where it all goes down. At noon the Mayor or Munich will tap the first keg of beer. He then yells O’zapt is! (It is open). Once the first barrel is tapped the fest officially kicks off. And everyone can cheers loudly by saying Prost and knocking their mugs together. Arriving early before 10 am is a good idea to secure a good seat. Many attendees do so and it also builds up anticipation for when you get to have your first sip of fest beer.
What’s the weather like during Oktoberfest?
It poured down with rain when I attended. The weather can be bright and sunny or freezing cold. It has snowed during Oktoberfest before. The average day time temperature is 21 degrees Celsius. German evenings tend to be chilly. Don’t forget to take a warm light jacket with. Check the forecast for rain and be prepared. Wear waterproof shoes and take along an umbrella. If you are luckier than I was to attend on a sunny day take along sunscreen. You can get sunburnt even in Germany.
Where will I find food?
There are different food options. The fest offers vegetarian dishes as well. A popular traditional dish served at Oktoberfest is a half portion of grilled chicken. Alternatively you can snack on pretzels or have bratwurst. I chose to go with the chicken. I also ate my friend Elian’s food which she couldn’t finish and had applestrudle after. You can also buy food at some of the outside stalls. The food at the festival is scrumptious.
How to get a reservation?
It’s hard to get a reservation. Some tents start bookings in January or February. Companies in Münich also tend to book tables for their staff and clients. And reserved tickets tend to be sold first to attendees who attended the year before. Regulars get first dibs. The best thing to do is try to get a table for every beer tent. You booking will not be confirmed until you pay the reservation fee don’t pay the fee for every table that confirms availability. Chose a tent and once you are happy then reserve a table at the tent of your choice. If you are staying at a fancier hotel 4 or 5 star do ask about making a reservation. Some hotels have tickets for their guests. Remember if you are going to be 2-3 people attending together you don’t need a reservation. I didn’t have one and had a fabulous time with my friend.
How to tell if a table is reserved?
The table will have a reserved sign on it. The word “Reserviert” or “Reservierung” will be easy to spot. The time of the reservation and number of people the table is reserved for will also be on the card in some cases. A table only stays available for 30 min after the reservation time, after that it will no longer be reserved. If you choose to sit there and order drinks and food with your friends waitresses will serve you. Once the people who reserved the table shows up you don’t have to leave, so don’t be late if you reserved a table. You can lose it. It is a festival if there is place do be kind and let the latecomers sit with you.
What about the food and drinks vouchers?
When you reserve a table you normally have to purchase food and drinks vouchers. The minimum purchase for each person is for 1 half chicken and 2 beers. This means your reserved table of which seats 10 people must purchase 10 half chickens and 20 beers. This costs about €300 per table. This policy ensures that attendees show up at the fest. These vouchers can be used inside of the tent where you reserved a table. These vouchers are valid at the tent during the entire fest. It can also sometimes be used at the restaurant of the tent in the city for a limited time after the festival.
You only give the voucher to your waitress after your beer arrived if you ordered beer. For food orders you might have to give the voucher before your food arrives depending on the tent’s policy. There might be a separate tip voucher so that you can tip your waitress. If you do not have one and your tip isn’t included in your vouchers, be nice and tip your waitress. Tipping ensures faster and friendly service.
How much should I tip?
Tipping fees are around 10 to 15 percent of beer and food price. Like I said tipping is a good thing to do. If you have purchased reserved tickets find out if your tip is already included. If the service is extremely good then tip again if you are able to. After all those ladies are continuously carrying around heavy beer stein’s for attendees.
How much does it cost to attend Oktoberfest?
There is no entry fee. You do have to pay for all your drinks, food, fair rides and souvenirs. There is also a historical tent that charges admission. If you want to enjoy yourself you should put aside around €60-€100 per day.
2 beers cost about €23
1 half chicken €16
2 public transport trips €6 to €20
This adds up to roughly €50
I got away with spending less as I got my souvenir as a gift from my friend Elian. A Lowenbrau Stein and I bought myself a postcard and small broche. It was raining so no fair rides for me. And I’m not a heavy drinker. Two mugs of beer were enough for me. I had half a chicken, applestrudel, walked to the fairgrounds from the bus and back. So I ended up spending far less than €100. Oktoberfest is certainly not cheap for most people though so budget for it.
Do I have to wear traditional clothes?
You can wear what you like. I chose to buy a dirndl long before Oktoberfest because it’s beautiful. It does feel great to dress up like the locals and immerse yourself into the culture. Buying the traditional clothes called (trachten) in German is also lovely as you can keep it as a souvenir. From a photography standpoint it also makes for an impressive photo. So my answer is no to but, do try to get a dirndl ladies or lederhosen guys. For more information on how to wear a dirndl check out my blog post :How to wear a dirndl
Should I buy second hand trachten?
eBay is where you can find second hand traditional wear. There are lots of retailers which stock dirndls and lederhosen in Germany. Places like C&A for example. Prices vary and cost less if you buy them long before Oktoberfest. You will also pay less if you buy your outfit once the fest is close to starting as some shops will want to get rid of the extra trachten still left. My advice is to look around online and at stores in Germany if you can. Second hand clothes tend to cost more or less the same as new outfits. I got my dirndl for around €40.
How to find my friends inside of a tent?
Send texts it gets loud inside of the tents. Laughter, cheers and the band will make it difficult to hear anything. Then look for reference points. The band and front entrance area are good places to use as a reference point. The layout of the tent is usually posted at the main entrance and the tables all have names. Get your friend or friends whom are seated to ask the waitress the name of the table.
Which tent is the best?
I picked my tent based on looking at what others had to say about it. I wanted a big tent, not too far from the entrance. I also wanted to be in a very traditional styled tent. Ultimately all the tents seem great. The only ones I’d advise against are the wine tent and the coffee tent. Oktoberfest is about the beer, the music, dancing and cheers. Besides you can order coffee, wine and non alcoholic beer etc inside all of the tents. Stick to a beer tent that’s my only advice.
I can’t speak German will it be ok?
I can’t speak German either. I did have my German speaking friend with me still you can get by without speaking the language. Just be polite. Ask your waitress for an English menu. The staff can speak English as Oktoberfest is an event that draws in many tourists. Learning basic words and phrases will be useful but, it’s not essential.
Basic German words and phrases
Excuse me, how do I get to
Oktoberfest? – Entschuldigung, wie komme ich zur Festwiese?
Excuse me, is there space for the (2, 3 , 4, 5) of us at your table- Entschuldigung, hätten sie wohl Platz für uns (zwei ,drei, vier, fünf)
We don’t speak any German; can you please bring us an English menu? – Wir sprechen kein Deutsch. Kötten Sie uns bitte englische Menükarten geben?
Thank you- Danke
One beer please- Ein bier bitte
Where do you find the toilets please?- Wo befinden sich die Toiletten
I’m a solo female traveller is it safe for me to go alone?
As a solo attendee you will have many advantages. You can easily sneak into a tent. If you are sober and friendly security will most likely let you into a tent if you ask nicely. You could tell security you have colleagues waiting inside. Use the word bitte which means please, and you might be lucky. Sit somewhere close to the middle of the tent. There you can see the band. And it won’t be too loud. Being a women means you will have to fend off male attention. Don’t sit at a table with just drunk guys. Look for a table with families and younger people. Find a seat where there are ladies sitting to and sit next to a women if possible. And sit at bench which is located closer to an aisle in case you need to get away from drunken guys. Skip the wine tent (Winezelt) as there you will find older people and it’s not a true reflection of the fest.
Where are the bathrooms?
There are outside portable bathrooms located around the fairgrounds. There are signs indicating where they are. The bigger beer tents also have bathrooms conveniently located inside of the tents. For guys it takes around 10-5 min to get inside the bathroom. For ladies it takes longer 10-20 min. I didn’t stand in a long line so you could be lucky. The bathrooms are safe so no worries. You don’t have to go with a friend. The bathroom section is labelled with a WC.
Are children allowed to enter?
Children and teenagers are allowed entry to the fest. Young children are strictly not allowed to drink any alcoholic beverages obviously. Adult supervision is also required. If you are 16 years old you can drink beer. No hard liquor is allowed unless you are 18 years old, so shots of Schnapps are a no go. There are fun carnival rides to keep kids entertained. Remember that no baby strollers are allowed inside the fairgrounds. I also don’t think it’s a good idea to take your kids inside of the tents in the evening once lots of attendees are drunk. Weekends and public holidays are popular fest days so rather take the kids on a weekday around noon or early afternoon. This will ensure that your kids will have a less rowdy fest experience.
Is Oktoberfest wheelchair friendly?
The festival is wheelchair friendly. You can enter with a wheelchair and other mobility equipment. The first floor of tents will be able to accommodate wheelchair users. Unfortunately, getting to the second floor won’t always be possible as all of the tents do not have elevators.
What are some tips that I should follow?
Don’t carry a backpack. Bigger bags are no longer allowed. Carry a hand bag or small bag instead.
Don’t get crazy drunk. You need to survive Oktoberfest intact.
Don’t leave your seat unattended. This is important as there are hordes of people trying to sit down. Have someone you trust keep your seat.
Don’t be rude. Security is tight and if you are rude you will get thrown out.
Don’t leave your tent.
Don’t dance on the tables it is prohibited, rather dance on the benches it’s allowed.
Don’t take the Stein (beer mug). If you are caught with one you may have to pay a fine or get arrested. Rather buy one at the souvenir store inside of the tents and keep the receipt.
Don’t try to enter with glass bottles. It’s not permitted.
Don’t eat food you brought from outside the tent.
Don’t smoke inside the tent each tent has an outside smoking area.
Do carry cash. You will end up struggling to pay for things if you don’t carry cash. And cash tips are preferred.
Do learn some basic German words.
Do bring along your camera and a fully charged powerbank.
Do research which tent you want to visit.
Do check the weather report
Do wear comfortable shoes.
Do remember that you must cheers.
How to cheers?
Be willing to cheers often. Once a new round is ordered and for spontaneous reasons a hearty cheers is in order. Its fun and don’t forget to say Prost! (Cheers!) And look the person who you cheers with in the eye. This is important. Germans believe that if you avoid eye contact you will be cursed with 7 years of bad sex. The whole table can also cheers by knocking mugs together at the same time in this case look the person in the eye sitting directly across from you.
How much beer is too much?
It is seen as bad luck to get caught with an empty mug when someone says Prost! It’s believed that you will have a bad love life so keep your mug full. Two mugs are what most people can handle. Three will make you tipsy by four you will most likely be drunk. Still different people have different tolerance levels. Nonetheless if someone tells you they had 10 mugs of beer in one sitting they are lying. 10 litres of beer would knock anyone out. You can order radler instead of beer which is beer mixed with lemonade if you like me have a low tolerance for alcohol. The radler remains high in alcohol content so take it easy especially if you are planning on walking back to your hotel room after.
What time do the tents close?
Beer tents stop serving beer at 10:30pm this means that by 10:50 you the tent are closed and you would have left. On weekdays beer serving starts at 10:00am to 10:30am. On weekends and public holidays beers start being served at 9:00 am to 10:30 am. The only exception is on the opening day when beer starts being served at 12:00 noon. If you still want to stay at the fest after the beer tents are closed you can go to the wine tent which stays open until 12:30 am. And the Kafer tent which takes its last order at 12:15am it closes at 1am
For now that all I have to share. Do you think I missed something and or do you have something to add? Let me know. If you attended Oktoberfest feel free to share your experience. If you plan on attending one day what makes you want to go?
Thank you for reading and please comment if you would like to. I enjoy talking to other bloggers and people who take the time to read my blog. I’m also open to online collaboration.
Wishing you many happy travels through your journey of life!
xxx Nikki xxx