Attending Oktoberfest in Germany has been on my bucket list for years. To say I was excited when I decided this year was the year I’d be going is an understatement. Here is what I learned from my first time attending Oktoberfest, and what you need to know before you go!
Travel and Accommodations
Something I wish I had known sooner was how fast hotels book up for Oktoberfest. Most people going start booking their stays a year prior to attending! Being as this was my first time going, I didn’t start looking into flights and hotels until June. I was able to find a relatively inexpensive flight, but options for hotels were another story.
The festival grounds are located in Theresienwiese in the borough of Ludwigsvorstadt-Isarvorstadt. I choose my hotel for the proximity to the festival and ended up being about a 15 minute walk away. With proximity comes cost of course, and I spent a little over $1000 for my 4 night stay. You can certainly stay further from the grounds, and even outside Munich to save money.
The public transportation in Munich, and Germany for that matter, is really great. I downloaded the DB Navigator app which allows you to see all times and plan trips for trains, subways, buses, rail cars, etc. and purchase tickets. This app made traveling around Munich and Germany so much simpler.
What to Wear
Traditionally at Oktoberfest women wear Dirndls and men wear Lederhosen. While it isn’t required to dress up, I would say 90% of the people in attendance were wearing Dirndls and Lederhosen. I’ve even heard that some beer tents vet who they let in by how they are dressed, so keep that in mind. I purchased all of my Dirndls from Amazon and was really happy with the quality of them.
In terms of weather, it can be pretty chilly the time of year the festival is happening. When I was there it was rainy and in the 50’s the entire time. My rain jacket was my best friend on this trip and I even purchased an umbrella to use while there. Once you are inside the beer tents they are warm so you won’t have to worry about bundling up a ton. I even got hot one of the nights we were out due to the sheer number of people in each tent. I did wear water resistant boots the entire time as did most women I saw at the festival.
How it Works
If you’re from the States I can only describe walking into Oktoberfest like walking into a giant fair. There are food stalls lining the streets and every carnival ride you can imagine. At first I thought I was in the wrong place because there were no beer halls in sight. After some walking around I found the row of beer halls with food stalls sprinkled in between. There are 17 large tents and 21 smaller tents at the festival. Both big and small tents have reserved sections, but the larger tents have sections of “general population” unreserved tables. Find an open seat at an unreserved table and sit down and order some beer! Beer can only be ordered if you are sitting at a table. If you plan on reserving a table do it months in advance of your trip because they book up fast!
It’s free to enter Oktoberfest and every beer tent there, you only have to pay for the beers and food. Beers range from 12.50 Euros to 13.50 Euros, at least in 2022 when I attended. It’s expected to tip your server so expect to pay around 15.00 Euros per liter of beer. Everything is cash only so have smaller bills with you to make paying the server easier. There are also ATMs inside the tents. All the halls offer food of some kind too so you can even sit and have a meal with your beer.
Best Times to Go
During the week and during the day is the least busy time at Oktoberfest. I met up with some friends and we got to a tent at around 3:30 and were able to get a table to ourselves. I would say for the best chances at getting a table, or even a seat, get there by 3:30 at the latest because the beer halls fill up quickly! We got to the festival around 6 PM on a Thursday and were unable to find anywhere to sit, and some beer halls were even turning away people because they were at capacity.
I had the best time attending my first Oktoberfest and plan on going again in the future. I hope you find this helpful if you’re planning on attending!