10 Tips for Surviving and Enjoying Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
Congratulations! If you have plans or are in the process of making plans to go to Oktoberfest, you are definitely making the right decision. Oktoberfest is awesome, so you must be too. Here are some important suggestions to ensure that you have the best time imaginable:
1. Book your flight and accommodations in advance. As you can probably imagine, Oktoberfest is one of the most preeminent festivals in Europe. Unlike other festivals where you can skate by and book something last minute, it is much harder to do. Trust me, I have tried. Everything books up fast. So make sure to plan at least 3 months ahead of time for optimum price and comfortability. You’ll want to book something as close to festival grounds as possible either walking distance or a short metro ride away. As you can imagine, the metro is completely packed; its kind of a free for all so just stick close together with your group and get off when everyone else is getting off.
2. Don’t book a week long trip to Munich and just plan on going to Oktoberfest every day. Similar to Vegas, you want to take the “enjoy and then get the hell out of there” approach. That isn’t to say that you should get out of Munich all together, but take a few days to explore the sites of Munich at a time where everyone else will be on the festival grounds. I spent a day at Dachau concentration camp since my grandfather liberated the camp in World War 2. This might not be for everyone since it is such a contrasting experience; however, if this is your one chance to be in Germany, I personally think it is a very important part of history to see and pay your respects at.
3. To Lederhosen or not to lederhosen. It’s good to know ahead of time that the majority of people both tourists and locals alike will be dressed in traditional lederhosen and dirndls. Every shop on every street will be selling them and they will be expensive. It will take a lot of self control not to purchase one to feel included in the festivities. Since Oktoberfest occurred during the first month of my year teaching in Spain, I had no money to spend an abundance of euros on an outfit. I did feel like an outsider a bit, but it definitely didn’t ruin my time. I have heard from many people who think that dressing traditionally is a must, so it really has to be your choice.
4. Get there early and go during the week. This is advice you will hear from multiple sources but it is really true. It’s nearly impossible to get beer tent reservations if you aren’t “in the know”, but that is okay because as long as you get there around 10 or 11 AM, you will find open spots. It’s also not necessary to go for opening or closing day. There might be a few extra activities you miss, but the chaos and inability to get a spot in a tent overshadows the fun.
5. Radlers! For the beer lovers out there, this isn’t for you. However, if you prefer wine, champagne, or liquor and are trying your best to stomach drinking beer for 8 hours, radlers are your solution. They are a mix of beer and lemonade and taste absolutely delicious! It’s also a great idea for lightweight drinkers (unfortunately not my problem) who want to keep up with their friends but would be on the floor after two steins of beer. Beers are about 10 euros each and make sure to bring plenty of cash because you won’t be able to pay with credit card inside the tents.
6. Food– I was so excited about the beer that I forgot all about the food. That doesn’t happen often, but the great part is that the food does not disappoint. Try the traditional pretzels, bratwurst, and schnitzel, and also the cheesy pasta!!!! It’s called Spaetzle and it is absolutely delicious. Food runs from about 10-15 euros so make sure to keep that in mind when figuring out how much cash you are going to bring with you at the beginning of the day.
7. Utilize the napping hill if you need to. This is not a joke. In fact, this is exactly as it sounds. A hill dedicated to taking those beer-induced naps. Just be sure to have someone in your group who maybe stuck with radlers to hold your stuff for you while you nap. That’s because you will not be alone while you nap. There will be many others with that same vision.
8. Caution: Carnival Rides. In theory, going on carnival rides sound like an excellent idea. After the ride, however, you might have a change of heart as your stomach is making lots of strange sounds and you feel pretty queasy. All that beer just doesn’t sit too well as your body is being thrown around with a bird’s eye view of the festival grounds.
9. No doubt a controversial topic, the decision whether or not to steal a stein from the festival. While I didn’t actually do the taking myself, I was fortunate enough to be gifted a stolen stein from a member of my group. This is my prized European possession. Would I have the guts to have done this on my own? I don’t know. There are definitely people trained to keep an eye out for those sort of things. But I won’t lie and say how happy I am that I have a stein as a reminder of the incredible time I had at Oktoberfest.
10. Learn the Oktoberfest songs. If you want to really get into the spirit of the festival, take a minute to look up the words to Ein Prosit. You will hear locals and tourists alike chanting this song about every 15 minutes as well as whenever some lone soul decides it is his time to chug the entire contents of his stein.
Do you have any additional survival tips to share? If so, comment below!