What You Need to Know Before Attending Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
Massive steins of frothy German beer. The hearty roar of accordion music. Good-looking locals in dirndls and lederhosen.
Oktoberfest is a quintessentially Bavarian celebration — a feast of epic proportions that honors the German dedication to good beer, good food and good times. While there are some Oktoberfest celebrations in other parts of the world — the largest outside of Germany taking place in Kitchener, Ontario in Canada — nothing compares to celebrating in Germany, more specifically in Munich.
If you want to experience this festival for yourself, use this Oktoberfest guide to plan your trip.
What Is Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest is the world’s largest folk festival. It’s an essential part of Bavarian culture and it’s been held in Munich since 1810. More than 6 million people from around the world attend this celebration every year to drink Bavarian beer, eat traditional food and enjoy the attractions, including amusement rides and games.
There are 14 different tents to choose from, each one filled with music, food, beer and lots of laughing, chatting strangers (who are just friends you haven’t met yet). Each tent has a different personality, so check out a few until you find your favorite place to eat, drink and be merry.
When is Oktoberfest in Germany? It usually begins the second to last Saturday in September and comes to a close on the first Sunday of October. This year’s Oktoberfest runs from September 21 to October 6.
How to Get There
First of all: don’t try to get to Oktoberfest by car.
There are almost no parking facilities nearby and it’s really busy so it’s not recommended. Instead, use the very efficient public transport network in Munich. You can leave your car at one of the numerous Park & Ride stations throughout the transport system.
Take the subway to Theresienwiese , which will let you out right in front of the gates of Oktoberfest. The frequency of trains and buses is higher than usual during this time of year, to accommodate the extra visitors to the city.
How do you buy tickets?
Well, here’s the good news. Oktoberfest is free. You can simply enter the tents and you don’t have to buy a ticket to get in. You can only be served if you are seated, so get to the tents and get a table.
If you visit during really busy times you might have to wait in a line for a while to enter the beer tents, as they will be full. If you want to make sure that you get a spot in a tent, you should arrive no later than 2:30 p.m. on a weekday and on the weekends you should arrive in the morning. The lines start forming outside the tents at 7 a.m.
Where to Stay
With 6 million visitors per year, the city of Munich gets booked up quickly during Oktoberfest, so it’s important to book your accommodation as early as possible. It is recommended that you start booking your hotel at least six to 12 months in advance, as they will start to sell out really early.
For social, extroverted travelers, a Munich backpacker hostel is your best bet during Oktoberfest. You’ll be able to meet other travelers very easily and find drinking buddies at the blink of an eye.
If you are really on a budget, there are campgrounds within Munich where you can pitch your own tent for a very affordable price. However, if you don’t have your camping gear, the expenses of buying or renting it will make this option just as pricey as a hotel. So, instead you might consider the “glamping” options that supply your camping gear for you.
If you book early enough you might be able to grab a decent Airbnb room during the festival, but they get snapped up pretty quickly and are much more expensive than camping or hostels.
More Oktoberfest Tips
- If you can, visit during the week as it will be less crowded and you’ll have a better chance of getting a table.
- Cash is king. You’ll need to pay for food and beverages with cash directly in each beer tent, so make sure you have plenty of cash with you.
- You cannot bring backpacks or large bags inside, so either leave them at home or check them with the security staff or in the locker stations.
- The lines for the bathrooms can be pretty long, so get in line before it becomes an emergency!
- With lots of beer flowing, it’s important to eat as well so that you don’t become too intoxicated. A soft, doughy German pretzel, some finger-licking roasted chicken or hearty German potato salad is perfect.
- Don’t forget to carve out some time to enjoy the rest of the city of Munich — there’s so much more to see!