When people planning their trips to Oktoberfest find out I’m an Oktoberfest tour guide, I get asked for all the Oktoberfest tips and advice. And since Oktoberfest is my favorite two weeks of the year, I’m always happy to talk tracht, discuss drinking, lecture you on lagers! I’m also starting to lose my voice so I decided to put all my Oktoberfest tips into one blog post-shaped basket.
Oktoberfest is a celebration on a massive scale. It may be the most massive scale party around. (And I’m not just talking about the big beers, the big brats, or the big… fine, I’ll say it, boobies.)
A lot will go into planning your trip, especially if this will be your first time to Oktoberfest. It’s huge, it’s overwhelming, and you want your trip to be absolutely perfect. Enter: Ashley *curtsies dirndl*
Oktoberfest tips from the pros
I’ve included all my top Oktoberfest tips here on topics like where to stay, the best Oktoberfest beer tents, money stuff, how not to anger the locals, and, most importantly, the secret way to always know where the nearest bathroom is.
I’ve perfected these tips over years of attending and working at Oktoberfest. (You can find me there every year for the whole two weeks.) I’ve also included Oktoberfest tips from locals as I’ve tapped my native Munich friends for their best advice as well.
For this list of must-know Oktoberfest tips, I’ve done my best to bunch them into categories that make sense. I think I’ve covered everything in this post, but if there’s something else you’d like to know, please feel free to ask it in the comments section!
General Oktoberfest tips
Here you’ll find a few general Oktoberfest tips and some of the most important things you should know before even starting to plan your Oktoberfest trip.
1. Know that Oktoberfest actually starts in September
Maybe you already know this. Or maybe you’ll call your tour leader mid-October to request your hotel details. After the festival has already ended. This actually happens. Don’t be that guy.
I can’t stress the importance of knowing this enough: Oktoberfest starts in September.
Oktoberfest begins annually in mid/late-September and ends in October. Every year. Oktoberfest maintains this schedule every. single. year.
Most years Oktoberfest lasts just 16 days. But because its end date revolves around German Unity Day (a national holiday), some years we get a few extra days as a bonus!
2. Never pay anyone for “Oktoberfest tickets”
Oktoberfest is a free event. By that I mean: admission to get into both Oktoberfest and the beer tents is 100% free. Don’t let anyone scam you into buying “Oktoberfest tickets.”
Oktoberfest tickets do not exist. At least, not official ones that weren’t printed in some guy’s mom’s basement and distributed from the trunk of his Corolla.
The only things you’ll pay for at Oktoberfest are:
- The food and drink you consume
- Any rides you ride
- The souvenirs you buy
- And tipping the bathroom attendants because man do they deserve it
And while we’re at it…
3. Never buy Oktoberfest tent reservations from a third party
I’ll talk more about Oktoberfest tent reservations in a minute, but I should note this right now. Anyone can apply to purchase beer tent reservations at Oktoberfest, but it must be done directly with the tent owners.
I repeat, it is illegal to sell Oktoberfest beer tent reservations. If someone who is not the tent owner is trying to sell you seats or tickets, or you see them for sale on Craigslist (or whatever) do not purchase!
4. Spend at least 2 days at Oktoberfest
They don’t necessarily need to be back-to-back, but you should definitely spend more than one day at Oktoberfest. Actually, go ahead and budget a hangover day in between.
There is so much to experience at Oktoberfest. So many tents that all provide very different experiences. So much to see and do and so much fun to be had.
You may be able to get a general idea of what Oktoberfest is all about in a single day, sure. But to really experience Oktoberfest, you’ll need (and will most definitely want) more time. Two full days at Oktoberfest with a sightseeing day in between is perfect.
5. Start the party in Munich as soon as you land.
Why this isn’t more well-known is beyond me, but there’s actually a full-scale brewery and beer garden right there in the Munich airport. To the surprise of absolutely no one who’s familiar with Bavarian levels of beer appreciation.
Airbräu, as it’s known, is the world’s first airport brewery and has been since 1999. They serve typical Bavarian meals and a wide range of beers with flight-related names. It’s really too cute.
It’s my favorite place to start my big beer, big meat Oktoberfest party and comparable to teaching a baby how to swim by just tossing it in the pool.
6. Plan your Oktoberfest trip as early as possible
As you already know, Oktoberfest is an enormous event. But did you know the annual average attendance is 6.3 million people? Needless to say, Oktoberfest is not an event you can just show up to all willy-nilly.
Many visitors included in that total are locals, sure, but most of that number is not. That means millions of people who need hotels. Millions of people who need flights and dirndls and airport transfers and adequate time to practice drinking liters and liters of beer.
When to start planning for Oktoberfest
To attend Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany you’ll need a good amount of advance planning. Ideally, you should start planning your Oktoberfest trip just after Oktoberfest has ended the previous year.
I know I sound like I’ve had a few already, but the later you wait to book everything, the harder it’ll be to find anything at all. And what you do find at that point will be so incredibly unaffordable you may just be stuck chugging longnecks in the Corolla with the sketchy ticket salesman instead.
And when you need personalized help planning your trip, I’m here for you! I offer one-on-one Oktoberfest trip planning to get you all the advice you need.
Oktoberfest tips on booking hotels
This is, quite possibly, one of the most important Oktoberfest tips for planning.
7. Book your Oktoberfest hotel before you do anything else
Planning your trip as early as possible is key, yes. But the most important part of that is booking your hotel. Before you do anything else, put the beer down and book your Oktoberfest hotel room.
So, 6.3 million people will attend Oktoberfest. Those 6.3 million people will need a place to sleep and I can tell you right now there aren’t that many beds in Munich. There aren’t even that many people in Munich (population: 1.5 million).
Don’t forget, vacation rentals are always an option, even for Oktoberfest. They may not be best deals you’ve ever scored, but it’s good to know you have the option. Check out Munich vacation rental listings here!
8. Stay as close to the Wiesn as possible
Keeping in mind that at its core Oktoberfest is a festival centered around beer and its consumption, it should go without saying that you’ll want to limit your time in transit. And by that I mean, the closer you are to the festivities, the easier it will be for your drunk ass to get home.
I can’t recommend enough to stay at a hotel as close to the Wiesn as possible. After your day consuming strong German beer by the liter-full, getting back to your hotel may pose a challenge. (Huge understatement alert!) The fewer trains, cabs, trams, subways, or physical walking steps it takes to get there, the better.
Obviously, since this is prime Oktoberfest real estate, prices will be higher. (Book as early as you can for the best deals.) But lemme tell you—there is nothing more worth the extra money than a hotel just outside the Wiesn.
- Getting to and from Oktoberfest is fast and easy, especially when the Munich weather isn’t great.
- If you get turned away because of a big purse, or if you decide you want to leave your jacket behind, you can easily drop it off at your hotel and return to the party.
- If you have to catch a cab home from Oktoberfest and you’re staying far away, you’ll probably pay the equivalent of a hotel room anyway.
- That’s if you can catch a ride in the first place, which is highly unlikely.
- You may just score a room with some awesome Oktoberfest views
- There’s nothing better than people-watching the Oktoberfest crowds (and horse-drawn beer wagons) coming and going.
If you can’t get a hotel close to the Wiesn
If all the hotels near the Wiesn are sold out or are simply too pricey, don’t panic. Munich’s U-Bahn, S-Bahn, and tram systems are cheap, easy to use, and can get you to many hotels around Munich.
If you have to go this route, look for hotels along these routes and with as few stops as possible in between. (Falling asleep on the train after a few liters of beer is a likely scenario.)
Best time to attend Oktoberfest tips
Public service announcement: the only place to get a beer at Oktoberfest is inside the beer tents. And the only way to get a beer inside a beer tent is to park your tuchus at a table.
9. Go to Oktoberfest early in the day
With how many people attend Oktoberfest, this isn’t an event you can just show up to whenev. You and the sun are going to have to race each other there and you better win!
Remember when I said 6.3 million people attend Oktoberfest each year? Over a period of 16 days? I’ll do the math for you – that’s almost 400,000 people a day. There are only so many seats for so many butts in the 32 Oktoberfest beer tents. And since I still have my calculator out I can tell you that that is 12,304.5 butts in each tent. Someone must be sitting on the edge of the bench.
Your best bet of getting a seat at Oktoberfest is to go as early in the day as possible. The beer tents open at 10 AM during the week and 9 AM on the weekends (with a few exceptions). And puh-lease, like you’ve never had beer before breakfast. I don’t even want to hear it
Get there when the tents open and you’ll be absolutely spoiled with seating. Wait until noon and you’ll have to really search for a spot. Get there any time around 5 PM and there’s a good chance the tent will be at capacity and therefore closed to new butts. It’s definitely not impossible, it’ll just be a little more work.
And if you’re looking to party hard well into the nacht, make sure you…
10. Go to Oktoberfest during the week
And if you’ve ever been, well, anywhere, then you should already know that Oktoberfest tends to be much busier on the weekends than it does during the week.
On weekdays the crowds are much, much lighter and they show up much later. On the weekends, Saturdays especially, the crowds start forming to get into the Wiesn around 6 AM. For a beer tent that opens at 9. You don’t need a calculator to solve this no-brainer.
Don’t get it twisted (a lil pretzel humor), Oktoberfest in the morning on a weekday is still going to be a jam-packed and incredible time. It’ll also be a better chance to get a seat (especially if you need a bunch of them together) and I can’t think of a better way to start a day.
11. Best weekend to attend Oktoberfest?
If I had to choose the best weekend to attend Oktoberfest, I’d personally go with the second one. It’s not as insane as the first, but still more lively than the last. It’s a real Goldilocks situation over here. However, there are many things to consider. So, what are the differences?
Oktoberfest begins on a Saturday. On that day the Wiesn opens at its usual 9 AM, but the festivities don’t get underway until noon. At noon, the Lord Mayor of Munich taps the first keg, shouts “O’Zapft is!” (“It is tapped!”) and then, and only then, can Oktoberfest begin.
This is the busiest and most insane day at Oktoberfest. Thousands of people start lining up pre-dawn to get in. When they open the gates, it’s an all-out, every man and woman for themselves, mad dash to the tents where you’ll then sit for three more hours without beer. Get a sample of the chaos in this video.)
If you can get into the Schottenhamel tent to witness the tapping of the keg, it may be worth it to experience just once. Otherwise, maybe sit this one out?
The first Sunday of Oktoberfest is unofficially known as Gay Sunday. Special festivities—prepare to get whipped—and such take place in the Pschorr-Bräurosl tent.
The second weekend of Oktoberfest is, again, unofficially but pretty much officially, dubbed Italian weekend. This is the weekend seemingly everyone from Italy chooses to head north to trade in wine and pasta for beer and brats.
The vast majority of this festa takes place in the Löwenbräu tent and they even bring their own police force to curb tensions between Germans and Italians brought on by the Italians’ frequent use of flagrant hand gestures. I kid you not, that is their actual reason.
Oktoberfest typically ends on the Sunday of the last weekend. On the last night, there’s an “unofficial” closing party in the Hacker-Pschorr tent. They dim the lights, strike up the band, and everyone who’s been drinking boatloads of beer for hours, possibly days, waves lit sparklers through the air. And everyone is totally fine with this.
It’s another hard to get into “event” but would be worth a try maybe once. Other than this, by the last weekend of Oktoberfest the party is slowly but surely winding down.
Obviously the best weekend to attend Oktoberfest will depend on your own personal desires, but I prefer the soft middle. It’s juuuust right.
Oktoberfest tips on what to wear
Oktoberfest tips on what to wear are kinda my bread and butter pretzel and mustard. I have a whole super detailed blog post on how to dress for Oktoberfest that covers just about anything you could think to ask on the topic.
Click on that (it opens in a new tab) and read it after you finish this. In the meantime, here are a few of my top Oktoberfest outfit tips:
12. Wear the traditional Oktoberfest outfits
Are you required to wear traditional Bavarian clothing to Oktoberfest? Oh yes, absolutely! No, not officially. But should you? Hell yeah!
I mean, what is Oktoberfest without the dirndls and lederhosen? A regular Monday morning, that’s what it is. Wait. Downing beers by the liter is not how you spend your weekdays? That will all change soon enough.
Wearing the traditional clothing (called tracht) is a big part of fully experiencing Oktoberfest and takes the fun of it to a whole ‘nother level. Traditional clothing is:
- Lederhosen for men
- Dirndl for women
If you’re concerned you’ll be the only one dressed up, trust me that’s not the case. The vast majority of Oktoberfest attendees wear one of these two items and you’ll most likely feel out of place if you don’t dress up.
My post on what to wear to Oktoberfest covers everything: what to buy and where to buy it (both online at home and in Munich), how to wear it all, some helpful dos and don’ts, different options for different weather, and so much more. All your Oktoberfest outfit questions, answered. I also have a full guide to buying a dirndl online with everything you need to know.
13. Wear the right shoes
There are two big rules when it comes to choosing shoes for Oktoberfest:
- They must be comfortable
- They must be close-toed
At Oktoberfest, you’ll be standing, walking, and dancing for entire days on end. Make sure you wear a cushy, comfy shoe that can keep your feet going that long.
Also, the later it gets in the day, the more broken glass you’re bound to encounter. Those big mugs may be thick and sturdy but they still break. By the end of the night, you’re almost wading in glass shards through the tents. Do not wear any type of sandal or open-toed shoe. That would be a bigger mistake than riding the Drop Tower after three liters of beer.
You can find a full list of comfortable, cute, Oktoberfest-appropriate shoes in my Oktoberfest packing guide.
14. Don’t wear a costume
Big, huge, major point to make here! Do not wear any type of “costume” to Oktoberfest. Steer clear of anything sold as:
- “Beer Garden Babe”
- “Oktoberfest Hottie”
- “Lederhosen Honey”
- or “Flirty Beer Fraulein”
(All real examples I just found.) These are not traditional, no one wants to see your schnitzel, and my Bavarian friends find them extremely offensive. Plus, there are even parts of the Wiesn you won’t be allowed into dressed like that.
If you’re afraid of looking like a big nerd in a “traditional” outfit, trust me when I say: Dirndls are the sexiest! Every single body looks good in a dirndl and there are many more modern styles to choose from. Wouldn’t you rather err on the side of appropriate than stand out as “Slutty Oktoberfest jerk?”
No other kinds of costumes either
On that note, many other costumes will actually get you kicked out of Oktoberfest. Trying to get into the beer tents dressed as Carry Me to Oktoberfest, for example, will get you a one-way ticket back to your hotel to change. (So I hope you’re staying close by!)
I even saw a guy dressed as Jesus get booted once.
And while a lederhosen T-shirt or dirndl T-shirt won’t get you turned away, it will make you stand out as a clueless tourist. That being said, if you don’t feel comfortable in lederhosen or a dirndl, wearing your everyday street clothes is perfectly acceptable.
When it comes to wearing costumes to Oktoberfest, we get it. We know you think you’re funny. But let us find that out once you start dancing and not a minute sooner.
15. Tie your dirndl apron the correct way
Did you know that how you tie your dirndl apron will reveal details about your love life? Sho’ will.
- If you tie your apron with the bow on your left, it means you’re single.
- Tying your apron with the box on your right means you’re taken.
- If you tie it with the bow in the front middle, it means you’re a virgin.
- And if the bow is in the back, it can mean either that you’re a widow or a waitress.
Here’s a quick video to illustrate:
16. Tie the perfect bow
Maybe I’m a dirndl snob at this point, but it drives me crazy to see a limp, lifeless apron bow. #firstworldproblems, I know. Regardless, people are always asking me to tie their dirndls for them.
But I didn’t always know how to tie the perfect dirndl bow. My friend Erika showed me how. Watch her video on how to tie the perfect dirndl bow. It’s my favorite super power!
17. Leave big bags at the hotel
Large bags and purses over “3 liters” are prohibited from even entering Oktoberfest. To get into the Wiesn you must first pass through a line of security officers who will judge everything about you, especially the size of your purse. If they deem it too big, auf wiedersehen! (Hope your hotel is close!)
Besides, you do not want to lug around anything more than chapstick all day anyway. And since we’re American and have no clue how big “3 liters” is, just stick with a small crossbody bag and you won’t have any problems! (I recommend this anti-theft one.)
Tips for Oktoberfest tents
Inside the Oktoberfest beer tents is where the party really happens. And with 16 large Oktoberfest tents and just about as many smaller ones, there’s much to learn.
18. You don’t need Oktoberfest reservations
It’s understandable that with so many millions of people attending Oktoberfest and only a relatively small number of seats to go around you’d prefer to make reservations. And you can, but you don’t need them. By law, every beer tent has to set aside a certain percentage of its seats for walk-ins.
Anyone can reserve a table at Oktoberfest… if you’re willing to jump through the proper German hoops. The owners of each beer tent handle the reservation process for their own tent and each have their own set of requirements, deadlines, etc.
Acquiring beer tent reservations at some tents is pretty straightforward, most are complicated, and some are downright impossible if you don’t live in Munich.
Some tents open their reservation applications as early as February. Some even require the use of a fax machine. And some tents are already booked up with so many repeat customers the public never stands a chance.
The one thing all beer tent reservations have in common though, is that you must reserve an entire 10-person table. You can’t make reservations for just you and your husband, or you and your 3 friends. For more on acquiring beer tent reservations, check out my post on popular Oktoberfest questions.
19. Know how to get seats
It may sound like you need beer tent reservations but that’s entirely not true if you’re willing to try these Oktoberfest tips. To find a seat in a beer tent:
Go early, on a weekday
Heading to Oktoberfest early in the day and/or on a weekday will be the most effortless way to get your butt on a bench.
Limit your group size
Don’t try to all sit together if you’re a large group. Any group larger than 4 may have a hard time finding seats together later in the day. (And FYI: ain’t no way your entire group will still be together by then anyway.)
Find a server who’s not incredibly busy, tell him/her how many people are in your party, and do so as nicely as possible. They will know exactly where you can fit. Also, chances are if they have a party who hasn’t been ordering (or tipping), they’ll happily kick them out. (I know this from experience.)
Try the beer garden
Most of the large Oktoberfest beer tents also have large outdoor beer gardens that don’t fill up as quickly as the inside. Festbier with a side of vitamin D!
Another amazing way to find an open seat at Oktoberfest is to…
20. Download the official Oktoberfest app
In the official Oktoberfest app you’ll find many things to help you navigate Oktoberfest smoothly, both literally and figuratively (and while drunk).
This app includes a map of the Wiesn to easily find the beer tents you’re looking for. It has the official Oktoberfest event calendar to keep track of what’s happening and when. It’s got a list of helpful Oktoberfest tips and hours. But the two most important things it offers are:
The friend finder
The app keeps track of where you and your friends are so you can easily find each other among the millions of people after millions of liters.
In the app you’ll be able to compare the tent capacity of each beer tent. You’ll be able to see:
- which tents have plenty of open seating
- which tents are nearing their capacity
- and which beer tents are already at capacity and therefore closed
21. Be prepared to get cozy
If this is your first time outside the U.S., you may be shocked at the fact that you *gasp!* have to share a table with strangers. Welcome to the German beer hall.
You will be cozy with everyone around you. The tables are long, narrow, and fit as many people as is physically possible. Don’t expect to see open space just waiting for you to sit in it—you gotta squeeze if you want that cheese. Obatzda, specifically.
And, whatever you do, do not save seats. Don’t show up early and try to save an entire table for your friends that might show up later. So much no to this. This is not gemütlichkeit.
22. Check out a bunch of the Oktoberfest beer tents
So, yes. There are around 32 tents at Oktoberfest and all with their own vibes. Half of them are large holding around 10,000 people at a time, and the rest are smaller (holding anywhere between 100 and 5,000+).
Try out a few during your time at Oktoberfest to see how they all differ. You may be shocked by how the day changes upon entering a new tent. Some tents are more laid back while some are major party tents. The food, beer, bands, and the entire experience are different in all of them.
This is best done before 5 PM, but not entirely impossible afterwards. Besides, what are the chances your whole group is still together at this point anyway? Zero. A zero chance.
Do I personally know people who have opened a tent at 9 AM and not left until it closed at 10:30 PM? Yes! I mean, more power to them, but don’t be like them.
23. Get familiar with the Oktoberfest tents ahead of time
Have a plan as to which Oktoberfest beer tents you’d like to check out ahead of time. You can get to know each of them better in this post I wrote on the different Oktoberfest beer tents.
Don’t miss the Marstall tent and its horse and carousel theme. And the Hacker tent with its beautiful Bavarian Heaven motif and rotating bandstand. Or the Armbrustschützenzelt that has an honest-to-goodness crossbow shooting range inside.
And be sure to visit the Schottenhamel tent for the best half chickens. As well as the Augustiner tent for the best beer. And if you want to read more about my favorites, check out my Oktoberfest questions post.
24. The Schottenhamel tent has the best tables
ladies you with the purse. Unlike most of the other beer tents that have long, narrow, typical beer hall tables, the Schottenhamel tent has much better versions.
The Schottenhamel tent has larger square-ish tables–much better for legroom, talking to your friends, and fitting multiple dinner plates. But these tables also have something no other tent has: mesh netting underneath to hold your purses and sweaters!
This is a great function to utilize, just don’t leave your purse in there when you leave.
25. Never smoke in the beer tents
All Oktoberfest beer tents are non-smoking. Do not bring your cigarette smoking ass up in here and expect everyone to be okay with it. News flash: Oktoberfest is locked and loaded with bouncers who, I assume, were used as stunt doubles in the Terminator franchise.
Most Oktoberfest beer tents have designated smoking areas outside. If you think you can (omg) hide under the table and smoke your cig, you’re fooling no one. Don’t be a jerk.
26. Never stand on the tables
The further you get into the afternoon at Oktoberfest, the less likely it is you’ll be sitting down. At some point—and it’s different in every tent—the crowds move to the benches for dancing and celebrating of all sorts.
While this is totally fine, encouraged, and expected, you are to never stand on the actual tables. Dancing on the benches is dangerous enough—no need to add increased heights to fall from, beers to knock over, sauerkraut to slip on, or more glass to break.
You will be immediately yanked down by an employee of the beer tent and may or may not get das boot.
27. Know what the white powder is
Before you freak out and write home to your grandmother about how Oktoberfest is just one huge drug-fueled keg party, get the (very weird) facts.
There’s a chance you’ll see some Oktoberfest-goers snorting white powder right there in the beer tents. This is not cocaine.
I’ll admit I was a little confused when I first saw the white powder being passed around and no one thinking twice about snorting it right there at the table. I was like, “For sure I’m getting arrested today.”
This is wiesn-koks—okay fine they call it “Oktoberfest coke,” moving on—a harmless mixture of glucose and menthol. It’s sweet, has a refreshing cooling effect, and is intended to give you a short burst of alertness while clearing up those bogged down beer sinuses.
This stuff (essentially “grape sugar”) is purchased directly from your beer tent server or at the souvenir booths inside the tents. And while using this is not exactly encouraged (or maybe it is, they sell it right there!), you won’t get in trouble for trying it.
And if you do want to try it, please purchase your own. Don’t just snort any white powder that gets passed your way. (A bottle of it runs around 5 euros.)
28. Know what Ein Prosit all about
There will be one song you hear more than any others at Oktoberfest: Ein Prosit. You’ll hear this song pretty damn often actually.
You’ll be expected to sing along each and every time. And, though it’s in German, there are only a few words you need to know.
(raise your mugs high in the air)
Ein Prosit, ein prosit, der gemütlichkeit
Ein prosit, ein prosit, der gemütlichkeit
Oans, zwoa, drei, g’suffa!
(toast and drink)
The lyrics basically mean: “A toast, a toast, to cheers and good times” followed by “1, 2, 3, drink!” Watch this video for a prep course.
Oktoberfest tips about money
There are just a few Oktoberfest tips I can give on money-spending being that I’m the farthest thing from a financial expert. But let’s start with the big one…
29. Prepare to splurge
Look, I’m not gonna zucker-coat it here. Oktoberfest is not a budget destination. I mean, sure I guess there are ways to do Oktoberfest on a budget. But do you feel like camping in a tent in a communal field? I DIDN’T THINK SO.
First of all, with limited hotel rooms, obviously prices during Oktoberfest are going to be higher than what you might normally agree to pay. This will be your biggest expense.
Inside the festival, you can expect to pay around 11 euros per liter of beer (before tip), and anywhere from 5 – 30 euros for a meal. But I’m telling you, Oktoberfest is so worth it. Given that you have to plan this trip about a year in advance, that gives you plenty of time to save save save!
30. Bring cash and plenty of it
Inside the beer tents and just about everywhere else at Oktoberfest, credit cards are not accepted. Bring cash with you to the festival and plenty of it.
Yes, there are ATMs all around the Wiesn, but the ATM fees at those machines are steep. I mean, Alpine steep.
I recommend hoarding cash from ATMs in other spots like the airport, your hotel lobby, or around town before coming to Oktoberfest.
31. Always tip your servers
And yes, a good portion of that cash should go to your server(s). Did you know these people work 16 straight hours for 16 straight days? On their feet, running around, carrying heavy beers and food trays, dealing with lord knows what?
For more on what it’s like to be an Oktoberfest server, read this salute to Oktoberfest servers I also wrote.
Yes, the beers are pricey, but toss your server an extra couple of euros and you, too, shall be rewarded. Not tipping an Oktoberfest server is the easiest way to simply not get served anymore. When you see what they go through, you’ll see they deserve all the cash in your fanny pack.
Oktoberfest food tips
Oktoberfest food is the wurst. And by that I mean the absolute best you’ll have on your travels. The meals here are huge and hearty, flavorful and beautifully Bavarian. Try as many different dishes as you can! And don’t leave without having an Oktoberfest pretzel or twelve.
32. Try the daily specials
One great way to try some Bavarian foods you may never have tried before is to take advantage of the beer tent lunch specials.
Each tent already has their own unique menu and specialties, but during the week they also offer lunch specials. Sometimes these are classic favorites like hendl (1/2 roast chickens) and sometimes they’re dishes you’d never think to order, like knuspriger schweinerollbraten (crispy rolled roast pork). (Which is amazing by the way!)
These lunch specials typically come with side items and a reduced price. You can find them listed on the beer tent food menus.
33. Don’t eat the gingerbread hearts
Did I learn this the hard, drunk way? Absolutely. The pretty gingerbread hearts (lebkuchenkerzen) are to be given as gifts to your friends and lovers. With sayings like “I love you” and “You are my sweetheart,” I hope you’re not passing these out to coworkers.
Regardless, after many liters of beer a lebkuchenherz may look like the perfect sweet treat for the walk back to the hotel. I mean, it’s literally right there under your nose!
However, it is very… much… not. They’re technically edible, yes, but they’re gross. Do you really want to eat food that’s not actually intended to be eaten?
If you’re looking for something sweet at Oktoberfest, get yourself a dampfnudel. Check out my page on how to make dampfnudel at home to learn more about them!
Oktoberfest tips for drinking
I knew all that beer drinking would eventually come in handy for my readers!
34. Try the beer, even if you “don’t like beer”
I know, I know, you don’t like beer. And that’s fine, you can still enjoy Oktoberfest. However, I do want to point out that I’ve attended Oktoberfest with many of my non-beer-drinking friends. And guess what? They drank the beer! And they loved the beer!
Oktoberfest beer is far superior to all other beer (I’ll fight you). Plus, when you’re in a beer tent with 10,000 people all singing together, that festbier just hits different. Before you know it, a liter is gone and you’re like “OMG I LOVE OKTOBERFESTTTTT!”
I’m just saying, maybe Oktoberfest beer is worth a try.
35. Prepare for stronger beer than you’re used to
Oktoberfest beer is pretty misleading. It’s surprisingly light (in color) and incredibly smooth (in your mouth) but packs a bigger punch than you realize.
Despite its color and drinkability, Oktoberfest beer actually clocks in between 5.8% (Hacker-Pschorr) and 6.3% alcohol (Augustiner and Hofbräu).
So though it goes down easier than most other beers you’ve tried, don’t be deceived! Add in the fact that you’re drinking it liters at a time and you may be in for a surprise when it all catches up to you. Or so I’ve heard…
It’s a marathon not a sprint, okay!?
36. Try a radler
And if the thought of drinking 6.3% alcohol beer by the liter all day worries you (hear that, try doing it every day for two weeks), switch to a radler.
At Oktoberfest, a radler is a maß of half beer, half lemon soda. It’s sweet, refreshing, and perfect for the beer gardens. It looks like beer so no one would ever know the difference and it’s what I start all my early Oktoberfest mornings with.
Most of the tents offer them (with the exception of Augustiner) and they cost the same as a liter of beer.
37. Or hit up the wine tent
And if beer is just an absolute hell-no, there is a wine tent at Oktoberfest! The Kufflers Weinzelt is actually a really great time, even for non-wine drinkers.
They sell a whole menu of wine, sparkling wine, and other delicious things for you types. And as far as beer goes, they only sell Paulaner Hefeweizen.
The wine tent is unique in many ways actually. Instead of your standard Oktoberfest tables, this tent has cozy wooden booths, a huge upper deck, and amazing, upbeat bands that are always ready to party.
38. Know proper Oktoberfest beer drinking etiquette
Bavarian beer drinking culture is pretty laid back for the most part. But don’t you dare break these beer drinking rules.
The most important of Oktoberfest tips, don’t ever pour what’s left of a beer into a new beer. This is known as noagerl and is a huge faux pas ‘round these parts. Plus, it’s just gross. Do you even know how long it took you to finish that liter? (If you’re me, then about two hours.)
When cheersing, hold the mug by the handle (so you don’t break your fingers—I’ve seen it happen). But when drinking, put your hand through the handle.
When you prost, touch mugs on the bottom, not the top. That’s just standard sanitary practice right there.
As you can expect, I wrote an entire article on all the proper Oktoberfest beer drinking etiquette. Seriously, check this post out. If for nothing else, than to learn about the Oktoberfest beer police squad that really and truly exists.
Oktoberfest tips for the Wiesn
Believe it or not, there is plenty to do at Oktoberfest outside the beer tents.
39. Ride the ferris wheel for the best views of Oktoberfest
So maybe you’re not all that into riding rides at a beer festival (huh? Why not?), but there is one you should ride: the ferris wheel.
It’s not loopy or stomach-turning, and from the ferris wheel you can get the best views of Oktoberfest. You can see all the tents and the hundreds of thousands of people. You can see all the rides and lights, and even the snow-covered Alps to the south.
40. Save money by riding the rides on Tuesdays and Thursdays
And if the steep price tag of riding the ferris wheel and other rides turns you off, know that on Tuesdays and Thursdays all Oktoberfest rides are half price. They call these “family days” but I call them “mo’ money, mo’ beer.”
41. Don’t be shocked to see children at Oktoberfest
So yes. Tuesdays and Thursdays are “family days” but that’s not the only time you’ll see children at Oktoberfest. Children are allowed at Oktoberfest every day (with a parent) but have to be out of the beer tents by 8 PM.
However, my favorite is seeing groups of school children on field trips to the Wiesn. Learning the proper Oktoberfest ways at an early age, I love it.
42. Do not take a nap in the grass
At Oktoberfest, behind all the beer tents on the west side, you’ll see a grassy hill. This area is typically covered in, among other things, extremely drunk people.
Don’t be those people! (Get a hotel near the Wiesn!)
Puke Hill, as it’s locally known, attracts the drunkest of the drunk—those who simply have nowhere else to go. The grass is full of vomit, pee, lord knows what else, and, regrettably, people sleeping on it. It may look like a delightful little spot for a break, but do not let it tempt you!
43. Know how to find the restrooms
Inside the beer tents you’ll find large restrooms with plenty of stalls. These restrooms are maintained all day and night and the attendants work hard to keep the place clean and the line moving fast. (Always leave a small tip.)
If you’re looking for a restroom outside the beer tents, let the angels be your guide. When you’re out in the Wiesn and need a toilet, look for the giant cupids sitting on what I can only assume are soup crocks. Their arrows point the way to the nearest restroom.
44. Check out Oktoberfest’s secret section
I’m going to let you in on the biggest Oktoberfest secret there is: the Oide Wiesn.
The Oide Wiesn is a part of Oktoberfest most tourists never get to experience. “Oide Wiesn” means Old Wiesn and this whole area is designed to replicate the first Oktoberfest back in 1810. The rides and carnival-style games are vintage and the tents are more traditional than your typical Oktoberfest beer tent.
The Oide Wiesn is located back behind the ferris wheel and costs 3 euros to enter. (This is the only time you’ll have to pay an admission for Oktoberfest.)
In here, you’ll experience Oktoberfest as it used to be—before AC/DC and white powder came along. You’ll see traditional dance troupes and brass bands, whip-cracking and alphorn performances, and even get to dance on the main stages yourself (à la Clark Griswold).
In the Festzelt Tradition (the largest tent in the Oide Wiesn) you’ll drink Augustiner beer out of traditional stone mugs and eat amazing food. But know that the Oide Wiesn expects you to dress traditionally and act appropriately. No “saucy beer wenches” allowed.
If you’re looking for a wonderfully traditional Oktoberfest experience, or are just looking for a low-key break from the madness of the other tents, head to the Oide Wiesn!
45. Send your postcards directly from the Wiesn
Get all your Oktoberfest souvenir shopping done at the Wiesn and send your packages and postcards directly from there.
Just inside the main entrance, Oktoberfest has its very own post office. You can buy postcards and postage, and mail everything directly from there. Send a postcard from here and you’ll get to see the exclusive Oktoberfest cancellation stamp. #nerdalert
46. Check out one of the many Oktoberfest events
Besides beer drinking and rides, there’s also a whole calendar of special Oktoberfest events. There are the traditional parades through town, concerts, and even a crossbow-shooting contest (and more).
Check out the Oktoberfest 2021 schedule of events here.
Miscellaneous Oktoberfest tips
I have to end this list at some point! So let’s do it with a few Oktoberfest tips that just don’t fit anywhere else.
47. The more the merrier
Oktoberfest really is a “more is merrier” situation. Why do you think they pack those beer tents 10,000-strong? Attending with your husband or wife is great, but attending with a group of your best friends is an all-out BLAST.
48. Go with an Oktoberfest tour group
And if you just so happen to be friends with a bunch of non-drinkers (shame), you can always go to Oktoberfest with a tour group.
As an Oktoberfest tour guide, I can vouch for the fact that this is a great way to go. Not only do you automatically have a fun group to party with, but you also get:
- Beer tent reservations in awesome tents
- Food and beer vouchers
- Prime hotels within a 5-10 minute walk from the Wiesn
- Someone to do all the planning and troubleshooting for you
- And a group of knowledgeable and local guides who know all the best Oktoberfest tips and are there to make sure you have the best time ever (like, me!)
If you’re interested to see what all a tour includes, check out these Oktoberfest tours. And when you decide to book, you can help me out by booking through this link or telling them Ashley sent you. (Feel free to reach out with any Oktoberfest tour questions!)
49. Plan some time for exploring Munich
And whatever you do, don’t leave amazing Munich without seeing more of the city. There’s so much more to Munich than just Oktoberfest. There are tons of great museums and landmarks, lots of Munich World War II history, beautiful parks (with river surfers!) and some of the best bars and restaurants everrrr.
You can even take some fantastic day trips from Munich like:
- Neuschwanstein Castle tips
- Visiting Dachau Concentration Camp
- Rothenburg ob der Tauber
- Salzburg, Austria day trip
- and many, many more.
Find out more on what to do in Munich in my other Oktoberfest advice post.
More info and Oktoberfest tips
What Oktoberfest tips would you like to see here?
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