I just got back to London after a whirlwind trip to Oktoberfest, and boy was it a weekend for the books! There were 11 of us in one Air Bnb, with 1 bathroom, and a whole lot of Stein! From selecting tents to dressing in Dirndls, here’s everything I picked up on to make the most of your Oktoberfest in Munich!
DRESS THE PART
Half the fun of Oktoberfest is fully embracing the part. If you’ve managed to make it all the way to Munich, you might as well embrace the culture and drink your heart out in traditional German style. So ladies, dress in your favorite Dirndl and lads, whip out your lederhosen!
There are quite a few stands selling outfits on the way, but to save both time and money, I fully advise ordering your outfit ahead of time. Dirndls in Munich can start around 100 euro, but we found some pretty fun options online for as low as 20. The most “authentic” dirndls will come in 3 pieces: A blouse, dress, and apron. I advise forgoing the traditional Halloween costumes and finding something more authentic that falls just above your knees or longer!
When wearing your Dirndl be mindful of where you tie the knot!
Left side = Single | Right side = Taken | Middle = Virgin | Back = Widow
SHOES: We all had a tricky time deciding on shoes. Some went with converse, I went with booties, but after talking to a few locals here’s what I picked up. The most authentic Oktoberfest goers will wear some form of ballerina flats or heels. If you’re aiming to be fully authentic I recommend the ballet flat route, but if your sole focus is comfort and you’re being mindful of getting stepped on, I recommend a flat boot. My roommates and I all bought a different version of these booties from Primark (H&M equivalent). They were only 8 pounds, so we didn’t care if they were ruined and did their job of being comfortable, functional, and somewhat beer proof.
ADDITIONAL ACCESSORIES: Depending on when you visit, the weather might be rainy or cold, so pack a cheap umbrella, bring some form of a cardigan, and be sure to bring your least favorite, inexpensive bag! Chances are things might get drenched, but that’s what you sign up for when you take on Oktoberfest!
PICK YOUR TENT
Despite being at the festival for just two days, we made quite the dent exploring several tents. For those of you, who have no clue what to expect, Oktoberfest kind of feels a big like a state fair. You walk into the festival grounds stocked with German food stands, carnival rides, and games, then as you wander around you’ll soon discover several large beer tents filled with people. Despite being fairly close in proximity, they all have extremely different vibes- some touristy, some authentic, some rowdy, some family friendly — all with A LOT of beer, pretzels, and German music.
Out of the 14 or so tents, here’s my take on some of the main ones to help you pick your poison!
SCHOTTENHAMEL: Overall my all-time favorite tent at Oktoberfest! If there’s one tent you visit, make sure you go here! For starters, the vibes are good, making it genuinely fun without feeling too exclusive or “stuffy”. The food was great (try the veggie dumplings and chicken!), the music was fun (think German classics + Justin Bieber and Baby One More time), and the decor felt super authentic. Overall, the crowd was fairly young and fun here compared to other tents, but as always there’s a bit if the mix, probably one of the contributing reasons to why we had such a good time!
SCHÜTZEN-FESTZELT: Definitely the most authentic, exclusive tent where apparently all the Germans go. Not gonna lie we had to sneak and bribe our way in, but once inside it really was worth it! The vibes are fun, the crowd is beautiful, and the music scene was the perfect German/ classic mix! It is considered one of the smaller tents at Oktoberfest, another reason feels more exclusive, but come early, try to get tickets or wristbands, and enjoy lots of German music, beer, and colorful decor once inside! ** If you can’t get inside there is also the option of the outdoor beer garden (Opens 10 am | Last song at 10:30 pm)
HACKER: Definitely on my list of top 3 tents, we started our Oktoberfest here and set the stage for an incredible weekend! The tent is decorated with bright colorful murals and a ceiling of painted clouds. The band here is located in the middle, which set the scene for a super lively, young crowd! While reservations are encouraged, you can definitely walk in. We got there around 11 am, did some maneuvering to arrange a table for 11, and drank plenty of beer over the span of a few hours!
HOFBRÄU TENT: Probably my least favorite tent that we visited, solely because of the unfortunate smell of vomit (if I’m being honest!) But if all else fails and you need a lively place for a rowdy group, your chances of getting in here and having room are best. Like all other tents there are rows and rows of tables, but this one is unique in that it has standing bar tables too. The band is off to the side playing mostly German melodies & if you’re feeling very spirited, this is the tent you’ll want to be in if you’re looking to stand on a table and attempt to chug your beer.
A FEW OTHERS TO CONSIDER DEPENDING ON YOUR VIBE:
Pauliner: For dancing, food, and a spot for a big group.
Augustiner- Festhalle: A fun German tent with guests wearing traditional outfits and normal clothes.
Lowenbrau: For fun German vibes with a bit of an older crowd.
****RESERVATIONS: If time is on your side, definitely plan ahead and try to snag a tent reservation. Even though it’s still completely do-able to take on Oktoberfest without any prep in advance, it’s MUCH easier to keep a large group together and guaranteed entry if you have a reservation. If you don’t have any reservations, that’s totally ok too. Just get there early, do all of your “tent hopping” before 2 pm, and prepare yourself for quite a bit of waiting in line (especially if you want to go to one of the popular tents!)
INDULGE IN THE CARBS
If you come to Oktoberfest you’ll obviously have to eat a Pretzel, but prepare to also be tempted by a whole lot of other treats! If you arrive in the morning there are the traditional breakfast bites, like crepes, Bavarian donuts, and delicious German pastries. Come afternoon your main snacks of choice will most likely be more pretzels, pom frittes, popcorn, and bratwurst! While it might be different to your typical menu of choice, you’ll find yourself very thankful for the assortment of carbs after drinking beer all day!
SIP A STEIN
When at Oktoberfest you absolutely have to drink a beer. Not the biggest beer drinker myself I found the beer quite light and easy to drink. You can never go wrong ordering a traditional stein but if you’re needing to pace or want something that’s a bit easier to drink, order a Radler- half beer half German soda!
*** ALL BEER TENTS ONLY TAKE CASH! Plan ahead, take euros out at the airport and bring more $$ than you’d think. Most steins cost 11 Euros regardless of the tent, but every single server expects at least 1 euro tip. Also, you must be at a table to order a beer, so if you don’t have a reservation I advise finding a server and tipping them 5+ euros to help you find one, or make some friends and order from theirs! Once you have your beer you are free to roam around, but all drinks must stay in the tents or beer gardens.
If you get hungry in the tents but don’t want a full sit-down meal, there will plenty of servers that roam around in the afternoon selling an assortment of German sandwiches and snacks!
OTHER OKTOBERFEST ESSENTIALS:
** If you have a phone with a data plan, service is surprisingly quite good. I recommend creating some form of Facebook messenger group as you WILL get separated, but we all found it quite easy to meet back up together by sending photos of your view inside the tents. It also helps to have at least one friend wearing an outfit with a distinct feature like a Bavarian Hat for the Men or a bright flower crown for the girls.
**If you don’t have a table reservation you WILL get kicked out of a table that you snag! Just prepare to go with the flow and play a bit of musical chairs. Tables are reserved in shifts so they clear everyone out after every few hours. It’s fairly easy to hop from tent to tent, but I recommend posting up at the place you want to be by 2 pm, especially on the weekends. Some tents are more selective than others, but if you leave a tent during prime hours you’ll have an extremely slim chance of getting back in!
** Leave the nice cameras at home! Unless you plan on getting the gram and going straight home, having a professional camera at Oktoberfest is completely unrealistic. With beer, limited purse space, and quite the long day ahead an iPhone + portrait mode will be enough to pull you through!
** If you can, try to take bathroom breaks while the band is on a break. The lines will be longer, even though they move efficiently, but you won’t want to miss any of the music. It’s one of the best contributing factors to an enjoyable Oktoberfest and you’ll often have to wait a solid hour before the band comes back on.
** Be prepared to be pushed by some Germans! (But really!) The servers and bouncers here have zero regard for Oktoberfest guests. There are SO many people and their main concern is their job, so if you’re walking around aimlessly and there’s a food tray coming your way, move out of the way or you will get hit!
** Take the train! You will see taxis, I believe there is uber, but your best form of transportation is the train. Depending on where you are staying you will obviously need to determine your route, but the station is only about a 10-minute walk from the Oktoberfest grounds and super convenient for both coming or going!
Hope this helps with a little Oktoberfest prepping! Whether you’re a keg stand queen or can’t stand the taste of beer, I definitely recommend at least one trip to Oktoberfest for anyone during their lifetime!