Oktoberfest in Munich: 
The Survival Guide

I knew that this year Oktoberfest was a must. I love Germany, and cities like Berlin are great for backpackers. Plus it was one of the main items on my travel bucket list!

For me Oktoberfest was one of those love/ hate relationships.  Yes, I love beer, singing with a bunch of strangers, and getting good food, but I hated the daily headache I woke up with every morning from to much grog.

These are some things of the Oktoberfest Tips I wish someone told me before I hit the beer tents.

What is Oktoberfest?

Before we get to the Oktoberfest tips we need to know the festivals origins if we hope to survive the blathering beer halls.

Oktoberfest evolved out of a massive wedding celebration in 1810. Every year since then, the Germans have kept the party going.

Fast forward 200 years and it has become one of the biggest festivals in the world, and who isn’t looking for an any excuse to wear Lederhosen (Oktoberfest Costumes). Oktoberfest is my type of party!

Thousands of strangers clashing their one liter mugs together and filling the beer tents with songs while the nonstop celebration of new friendships, good food, and beer rages from morning until night. However, Oktoberfest for all the reasons listed above, can get a tiny bit hectic.

This Oktoberfest tip list and guide will feed you all the survival knowledge you need to help you not only enjoy it, but also get the most out of this crazy festival.

Funnily enough Oktoberfest starts the last Saturday or September and goes to early October. (2014 Dates – Sept 20 – Oct 5th) in Munich, Germany, which I think is one of the best cities in Europe. In fact, you should take a couple days from the festivities to see the city as well. Alright enough basic information. Lets get to the Oktoberfest Tips!

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Oktoberfest  Munich:
Tips and Tricks

Oktoberfest Tips #1 The Early Bird Gets in the Beer Hall

Oktoberfest Munich Beet TentMany backpackers and travelers tend to avoid earlier morning hours, but during Oktoberfest, this is not wise.

Morning is the perfect time to start your adventure. Thousands of people come to this festival, so as you can imagine, the beer tents fill up fast.

If you want to get a seat in the tent of your choice and don’t feel like waiting in line for an hour or more, then you need to get there early. If you do end up waiting, you should know that beer is only served in the tents, but you can find some vendors in the outside area that sell small glasses of overpriced wine.

You also have the option of reserving a table, but this can be anywhere from 200-400 Euros or more. So unless you are with a big group it is not worth it.

So How Early is Early?

Opening and closing Weekend: These are the busiest weekends of all. People start lining up outside the grog tents around 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. Yes, in the morning! I know you are on vacation and that is early as hell, but if you arrive any later, the chances of getting in a place are slim.

During the Week: Ok, during the week you can get there a little later. If you arrive somewhere between 10:30 and 12:00 p.m., you will have a good chance of getting into the tent of your choice. However, don’t get lax on your timing. After noon, when the bands start playing, it gets a little harder to find an opening.

Weekends in Between: Like anything else, the festival attracts more people on the weekends. Get there around 11:00 a.m.

Oktoberfest Tips #2 Pace Yourself

Oktoberfest is an all-day event and the beers are massive. (1L), and cost around 10 Euros.

Yes, you might be a backpacking Europe champ, but your liver can only take so much damage. It doesn’t matter how much you think you can drink, if you don’t pace yourself at the start of the day, you will be back at your accommodation and in bed by 3 p.m. *cough* that didn’t happen to me *cough*.

Oktoberfest Tips #3 Eat Often

 

Common sense, right?

Well when you are drinking 1L beers that fill you up, you can easily forget to eat.

Also, eating will give you a break from all the drinking, but since you can eat in the tents, you don’t have to take a break from the festivities. Plus the food at Oktoberfest is absolutely “give me another” delicious. Yes, I am looking at you, you mouth-watering roasted chicken and soft, warm pretzels. ( All Traditional Oktoberfest Foods).

A typical meal will cost between 10 to 15 Euros.

Oktoberfest Tips #4 Book Accommodation Early

As a typical night winds down at Oktoberfest, it doesn’t seem like many people use their accommodations.

Of course I am talking about the hundreds of drunken men passed out in parks, in front of stores, or on park benches.

Personally, I wanted nothing but a comfy bed….sadly, I didn’t get it.

I booked late, which was actually two months before the festival, and all that was available was a crappie tent that 50 Euro’s a night! I’m an adventure travel blogger, and I still found this accommodation rough!

Granted the prices of hostels skyrocket during Oktoberfest and go for around 80- 100  Euros, so the tent was still cheaper.

However, it I could do it all again, I would book as soon as the hostel started taking reservation.

Hostels will be around 70 Euros then and for  a little more cash is a small price to pay for comfort.

I suggest booking early and finding a cheap hostel instead of a tent for a few reasons.

1- Comfort: Over the last year I have slept in airports, cars, and in the middle of nowhere Mongolia and still, the Oktoberfest tent might have been the most uncomfortable. However, they do give you an inflatable mat, which by the way, uninflated every chance it got. For the price of a tent, you are seriously getting ripped off.

2- Security: The tent had a lock on the zippers, but let’s be honest, if you are spending most of the day at a dubious drinking festival, and someone wants to break into your “locked” tent, they will find a way.  

3- Warmth: September is freezing. Drunk, exhausted, and cold is not a good mix. Tip: My favorite hostel in Munich is Wombats.

Travel the Cheese Trail

Other Oktoberfest Tips

  • Stay Hydrated. (Water = Life)
  • Know your hangover cure.(Mine is Advil, Baraka, and a Pepsi)
  • Check out Munich: Take a day or two off to see the city halfway through your Oktoberfest experience.
  • Carry cash: Most places in the festival only take cash, plus you don’t want to drink a lot with your debit cards. Talk to the people around you. Everyone is your friend at Oktoberfest.
  • Oktoberfest is a fantastic festival that is full of life, fun, and energy. I loved sitting around a big table making Bavarian friends, singing songs, and drinking beer.
  • If you have the chance to be in Europe during late September, this is a festival that you don’t want to miss. Have you been to this massive beer festival? Though 5 days is a little extreme!
  • What are some suggestions and what did you think of these Oktoberfest Tips?
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20 thoughts on “Messy in Munich – Oktoberfest Tips and Travel Guide”

  1. Great tips Stephen. And you managed to get some good photos too. My husband spent 4 days there and came home with just a half dozen blurry photos. I would love to go one year myself but thought it would be best to let him go and really enjoy himself without me and my lack of drinking bringing him down.

  2. The only proper way to cure a hangover is to have another beer. That’s how I survive 5-day beer festivals like the Oktoberfest. In Germany we call it ‘Kontrabeer’ and I believe in England you call it ‘the hair of the dog’. 🙂

  3. Tourist in Romania

    Awsome story and tips! I am now in a great mood to drink a beer. :))) I will go fetch it from the store and start arranging transport for Oktoberfest 2014.

  4. Germany sure knows how to party! I’ve been to bierkellers in Germany and the UK but never managed to experience Oktoberfest yet. I guess I have a few months to prepare for the next event. Now where did I put my dirndl dress… 😉 Btw I’ve added you on Twitter – hope to see you there sometime. Selina

  5. Did you find any issues getting seats on city to city on trains without making reservations during Oktoberfest time? I’ll be backpacking through the country in late Sept and plan on stopping in Munich for the festivities for a few days…wondering if I’ll need to commit to a pre-set schedule to get seats or if the rails are generally empty enough to wing it.

  6. Wow! I skipped Munich during Oktoberfest (and went during a ‘normal’ time) and actually don’t know too much about the festival outside of what you have written here and some movies I have seen, but I am really surprised that people line up so early in the morning to get into the beer tents. It must be a really exciting time!

  7. My colleagues were searching for a form last year and located a web service that has a searchable database . If you want it too , here’s http://goo.gl/5KfXVe

  8. Hey, thanks for the great tips! Great preparation for the next oktoberfest visit! I would also strongly recommend to learn the lyrics of “ein Prosit”. It’s a german drinking song which is played over and over at the oktoberfest

    Cheers!

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