A first time guide to Oktoberfest: Everything you need to know (2021)

From the moment I heard about Oktoberfest I have wanted to go to Oktoberfest and I finally made it in 2019. As soon as we arrived to the fair ground I knew I was going to love it.

From the tent, the singing, the tables, pretzels, the chicken and to the beer. This is the worlds biggest beer festival that runs from the middle of September until the beginning of October.

The festival runs over three consecutive weekends, in 2019 6.3 million people attended the festival over 7.3 liters of beer were consumed.

Whether you have been to Oktoberfest a million times or this your first time, this first time guide to Oktoberfest will prepare you for your best Oktoberfest trip yet.

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About Oktoberfest…..the history

Oktoberfest began as a celebration of the Royal wedding between Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese back in 1810. Locals came out to celebrate the Royal wedding by drinking beer (which was brewed especially) and watching horse races

The locals enjoyed the celebrations so much that continued the next year. Whilst there were horse races again the locals were beginning to enjoy the beer that was brewed for the event more than they were enjoying the horse racing.

When Oktoberfest first began it was a small beer stand outside that locals would stand around whilst enjoying the horse racing.

However, when the festival began to grow in popularity the local referred to the festival as Wiesn, which means fairgrounds. Locals still use this name but it is known around the world as Oktoberfest.

It was in the late 1800s that the beer had over taken the horse races as the main attraction, so the first beer tent was put erected. The rest of the fair ground was used to house a fun fair to entertain the children and the beer drinking was left to the adults. The horse race eventually died out and the festival continued as a beer drinking festival.

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Oktoberfest today

A view over the fair grounds at Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest has become not only the biggest beer festival in the world but also the biggest festival in the world. The beer that is served at Oktoberfest is the specially brewed for the festival.

The beer is amazing (and this is coming from some one who does not like beer!!), but not only is the beer amazing it is amazing watching the Beer maids carrying 10-12 beers at a time. Remember, each beer is 1L!! I struggled to hold my one beer let alone 12!!

Today, Oktoberfest is a fantastic place to mingle with both tourists and locals and to wear traditional Bavarian clothing.

The fairgrounds at Theresienwiese come to life with the tapping of the first keg at 12 noon on opening day.

Not only will you be able to eat and drink the Oktoberfest tents but you can also shop at the stalls, eat around the grounds, take part in festival games and go on some amazing rides.

A first time guide to Oktoberfest

Party goers standing inside a marque in front of stage with a giant beer on top

Below you will find a first time guide to Oktoberfest to help you navigate around Munich, find the perfect place to stay, decide on what to eat and drink and of course, how to pick the perfect outfit.

Getting around Munich

As with most Germany cities, Munich has metro system that is very easy to navigate and it is super efficient. Once you have arrived at your final metro stop you may need to take one other connection or walk to reach your hotel.

When you are heading to Oktoberfest Lines U4 and U5 will take you directly to the fairgrounds and you want to get off at the stop “Theresienwiese”.

If you prefer to take a taxi or an uber both of those options are available in Munich are easy to access.

As you are approaching Oktoberfest (or any other festival) you will see hordes of people walking in one direction wearing Dirndls and Lederhosen, it is a pretty safe bet that they are heading to the same place you are. However, there are usually arrows painted on the road and signs to help point you in the right direction.

Where to stay for Oktoberfest 2021

A stage surrounded by people in the middle of a marque

One of the most important things to do when it comes to attending Oktoberfest in Munich is to book your accommodation early.

In fact, when we attended October in 2019 we had booked our Oktoberfest accommodation BEFORE we had even booked our flights to Europe.

If you are reading this now and you are planning on visiting Oktoberfest this year, I would book your accommodation now!

The closer you stay to the fairgrounds the more expensive your place is likely to be but as I mentioned before the metro is pretty easy to navigate.

We stayed at Rilano 24/7 Hotel Munchen City and we were less than a ten minute walk from the fair grounds. It did cost 575€ for the two nights which is MUCH higher than their regular rate but it was perfect for attending Oktoberfest! They even provide you will a hangover drink the day after.

Wombat City Hostel is another fantastic option, it is a super comfortable hostel and has everything you could need for your perfect Oktoberfest experience. One of the best things about this accommodation is that is it is super close to the fair grounds.

Another hostel that is clean, comfortable and close to Theresienwiese is Jaeger’s Hostel Munich. At Jaeger’s Hostel are just steps from the central train station. The hostel has clean rooms and private bathrooms, which are perfect for the day after Okotberfest!

If you are looking for something a little more fancy, check out Platzl Hotel Munich. The Platzl Hotel is located two minutes from Marienplatz Square and the Hofbräuhaus.

It is also a ten minute drive (or 20 minute walk) from Oktoberfest. As the hotel is on the fancier side you will pay significantly more but you will be able to load up on a beautiful breakfast before spending the day drinking steins of beer.

Camping at Oktoberfest

One very popular option for Oktoberfest is to camp. The camp sites are located a little further away from Oktoberfest but can be a super fun few days.

Most campsites provide you with everything you need so if Oktoberfest is part of your Euro trip you won’t need to worry about lugging a lot of luggage around with you.

Some companies that offer camping at Oktoberfest are Stoke Travel and Bus-about. Stoke travel are currently offering 1 euro bookings on all campsites until it is certain that boarders are opening and that Oktoberfest will go ahead in 2021.

If you would rather be right up close to the action, check out the official Oktoberfest Campsite. The campsite is only open during the Oktoberfest and has a great train connection.

Oktoberfest Dates 2021

The front of a traditional german building

**UPDATE: SADLY, OKTOBERFEST HAS BEEN CANCELLED FOR 2021 DUE TO THE CONTINUING COVID-19 PANDEMIC**

Oktoberfest 2020 runs from the 18th of September until the 4th of October. Most people think that Oktoberfest is named as such because it runs in October but it starts in September!!

Oktoberfest Opening Hours

Opening Day

Weekdays

Weekends and Holidays

12:00pm

10:00am

9:00am

10:30pm

10:30pm

10:30pm

The Oktoberfest Tents

A large stage inside a german marque

One of the main attractions at Oktoberfest is of course, the beer tents. They are filled with music, drinking, dancing, singing, food and lots of fun.

At the fair grounds there are 14 main tents and 20 smaller tents, it can be slightly overwhelming deciding which tent is best and where you should go to spend most of your time.

Generally speaking, they are all the same and no matter the tent you are in, you will have a fantastic time.

The most important thing when it comes to deciding which tent you should go in is, the best tent is the one you can get into and you can always move around through out the day and night.

party goers in front of stage with a large beer on top inside a marque

No matter the tent you end up in you will have a brilliant time. Having said that, here is a break down of the major tents and what you can expect:

Schottenhamel is the tent that starts it all! The first keg is tapped here at noon on the first day of the festival.

Pschorr-Bräurosl is one of the more traditional tents and has been managed by the Heide family for seven generations. This tent is filled with mostly locals.

Hofbräu Festhalle is considered the “American tent or international tent. It is a large tent field with Americans, Aussies and other travellers from abroad.

Löwenbräu-Festhalle is a favorite for locals and travelers alike you will find a lot of locals but also Australians, South Africans and New Zealanders.

Fischer Vroni serves grilled fish and other dishes. If you are not feeling the typical meat and potatoes from the other tents, head here.

Augustiner-Festhalle has some of the best beer!

If you have a little too much beer but you’re still in the mood for drinking head to Weinzelt, this the wine tent.

Map of Oktoberfest Tents

What to eat at Oktoberfest

A large pretzel being held up inside a marque filled with people

The main street of the fair grounds is lined with food venders selling a wide range of food from bratwurst, pretzels, French fries, fairy floss, gingerbread (I suggest taking photos and grabbing a fresh one from a bakery), chocolate covered fruit and assorted nuts.

Inside the tents if you can get a table you can enjoy a wide range of traditional German meals. I recommend the chicken or pork with Potatoes.

If you are not sitting down but you are getting a little hungry you can always buy a giant pretzel off one of the maids.

If you are vegetarian you can find veggie burgers but these are more likely outside the tents.

And of course, the tent: Fischer Vroni serve fish!

For all you vegetarians, some booths even serve veggie burgers

What to drink at Oktoberfest

A stein of beer on a table inside a marque

Beer! Even if you are like me and you don’t like beer I suggest ordering a beer. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the beer!

Each tent has their own beer that is brewed just for the festival, so if you enjoy something make sure you order a couple.

In order to get a beer you must be sitting at a table, Oktoberfest is the time to be soicla and make friends so if you see space on a table go over and say hello.

If you are travelling solo or in a small group larger groups will happily welcome you onto their table.

One stein of beer, which is 1L, typically costs ten to twelve euros. It is much easier if you have exact change! Make sure to double check your change.

The maids carry up to an impressive 12 steins at one time so be prepared for some sloshing of beer.

If beer really isn’t your thing or you’re feeling a little full of beer, try a radler! It is a stein half filled with beer and half lemonade.

The stalls outside do sell coffee, wine, soft drinks, juice and other types of alcohol and of course, there is the wine tent.

What to wear to Oktoberfest

colourful dirndls hanging on a rack

Most people who travel to Oktoberfest, whether they are locals or tourists, will wear the traditional Germany clothing. For women this is a dirndl and for men this is the lederhosen.

You can wear “normal” clothes but you may stand out, however, we did see plenty of people wearing “normal” clothes.

One of the cheapest ways to order your Oktoberfest outfit is to order it from Amazon before you arrive in Germany. If you do order one from Amazon try to make sure it is not a Halloween costume. You need to ensure that your dirndl is below your knee and that it is respectful.

Another option is to buy your Dirndl or lederhosen in town. They are not difficult to find and you can find them all over Munich. They sell both traditional outfits and also some for tourists. The tourist option is much cheaper than the traditional option.

Dirndls range from seventy to 150 euros while lederhosen range from ninety to 200 euros.

Some of the campsites or hostels may even sell them for discounted prices.

As for your shoes, people wear all different things. The most traditional footwear for females is a pair of ballet flats, kitten heels, or booties.

I wore converse a lot of others were also were some kind of sneakers.

What ever you choose, make sure they are shoes that you are happy to get dirty and covered in beer! It is not a clean event.

Lastly, take only what you need and stuff it somewhere on you! I recommend taking cash, we took 80 euro per person. This was more than enough for alcohol and food (and I even managed to lose 30 euro!)

Oktoberfest Tips 2021

The outside of a beer tent at Oktoberfest

Go early we got to Oktoberfest at about 11am and we had no trouble ordering a beer or getting a table. Once the tents are full they will not let any body else in

Get a table – you must be seated to be served so make sure you have a table

Drink water – Remember, it is an all day event so pace yourself and drinking water will help you the day after

Bring Cash – It is easiest to pay with cash. The barmaids are much more friendly and happy if you’re able to pay with cash and don’t forget to tip!!

Sample the food – There is plenty of food around Oktoberfest so don’t forget to eat

Bring shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty – with all the beer being spilled (and on rainy days the mud!) you want to bring shoes that are okay to get dirty

Don’t dance on the tables – You can stand on the chairs and dance but don’t stand on the tables

A blow up sponge bob square pants being held up by people inside a beer tent

Enjoy the rides – Oktoberfest isn’t just about the beer but also the fun fair. There are plenty of rides and carnivals activities to take part in. Go on the rides before you drink too much

Pick a meeting spot – It is easy to get separated from your friends so much sure you know where and when you are going to meet

Know how you are getting home – if you are staying in a hotel or hostel – take a card from reception. Worst case scenario you can show the card to a taxi driver

Don’t go jet lagged – We arrived in Munich from Australia the day before we went to Oktoberfest. I suggest, where possible, at least have a few days some where in Europe before going to Oktoberfest

Final thoughts on Oktoberfest

A marque filled with tables and decorated with green decorations.

Ever since I first heard of Oktoberfest, I wanted to go. My expectations were super high. My partner on the other hand, wasn’t really fussed whether we went or not.

At the end of the night and the next day we both were planning our next trip! I could highly recommend going at least once in your life. Whether it is to drink beer or just enjoy the festival grounds it is a must.

We went to Oktoberfest for just one day but I would recommend going for two days. One day you could explore the fair grounds and the other day you could spend time in the beer tents.

We were a little nervous about going as just a couple but we very quickly met a lovely American family and we spent the whole day drinking and dancing with them. Throughout the day we met many travellers from all over the world and each person was super friendly.

We spent four months in Europe on this trip and Oktoberfest was the first day of the trip and it was one of the best days!

Have you been to Oktoberfest before? Share your favourite story in the comments below

Fiona xoxo

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