Your guide to having the best time at Oktoberfest Munich

By Sarah Gillespie, Feb 2020

Rambunctious, refreshing and endlessly photogenic, Oktoberfest is the beer festival to end all beer festivals. Our guide will show you how to get the most out of your vacation in Munich, avoid the tourist traps and enjoy the festival to its fullest.

Munich, Germany- October 2, 2014: People drinking in the Hippodrom Beer Tent on the Theresienwiese Oktoberfest fair grounds

Join in the fun under one of Oktoberfest's many beer tents on the Theresienwiese.

The facts and figures of Oktoberfest Munich

The first Oktoberfest celebrated the 1810 wedding of Prince Regent Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen; the celebration was so popular that it became a yearly event. To this day, it's still held in the same meadow: Theresienwiese, which was named after Princess Therese.

Contrary to its name, Oktoberfest Munich mostly occurs in September, stretching into early October. Millions of people come from all over the world to attend every year, drinking millions of liters of beer under the festival's myriad tents. The largest tent holds close to 10,000 revelers, and there are no half-measures: Each drink comes in a one-liter stein.

Where to stay in Munich

The first rule of planning an Oktoberfest vacation: Book as far in advance as possible. Accommodations fill up fast, so get in quickly to secure the best price and location. Public transport in Munich, though efficient, overcrowds come festival time, so be sure to pick a hotel within walking distance of the Theresienwiese. The Altstadt area is a popular choice, but for a less touristy alternative, check out the hip Glockenbach neighborhood.

Three friends in beer tent at Dult or Oktoberfest holding giant pretzels up in the air

Traditional garb is encouraged, so sport your finest lederhosen or dirndl at this year's Oktoberfest.

What to wear

Dressing up for Oktoberfest is optional, but it's a fabulous way to get into the festival spirit. That means lederhosen for men, and for women, it means the dirndl, a traditional dress that, according to The New York Times, is en vogue with Bavarian millennials. Traditional clothing is readily available in Munich, but it can be expensive; if you can, purchase it before you arrive.

The Oktoberfest experience

Once you have found your perfect hotel and you've dressed the part, all that's left is to have a fantastic time. Expect to see carriages, floats and people in costume parading down the streets of Munich toward the Theresienwiese on opening day. On the festival grounds, you'll find the famous beer tents (most of which have live music), hundreds of fairground rides and food stalls. Chow down on giant pretzels, whole roasted chickens, beer-flavored ice cream and even spit-roasted wild ox at the Ochsenbraterei, an Oktoberfest staple since 1881. In recent years, vegan options such as soy steak and sauerkraut strudel, have become more widely available.

Oktoberfest like a local

The key to doing Oktoberfest like a local is picking the right tent. Skip the touristy Hofbräu-Festzelt tent; try the Bavarian-themed Hacker Festzelt, the cozy Vinzenzmurr Metzger Stubn or the music-oriented Pschorr-Festzelt Bräurosl instead. Book your place well in advance to avoid missing out, and try to arrive on a weekday, when the crowds are more manageable.

Mass group singing is an integral part of the Oktoberfest experience, too, so learn some of the songs. If you can sing the traditional drinking song "Ein Prosit Der Gemütlichkeit" without slurring, you're most of the way there.

Ready to experience Oktoberfest? Browse our Munich vacation packages today!

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