How to Visit and Survive Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany 2024

by | Last updated Dec 30, 2023 | Europe live work and play

Prost – Visit and Survive Oktoberfest

 

Oktoberfest (pronounced ok.toba.fest) in Munich, Germany is an exciting event not to be missed. I presume this is why some 7 million people go to the festival each year. In fact, I think it was the best festival I have ever been to! It has been happening every year since 1810, except for 2020 and 2021 because of Covid. I went a few years ago to Oktoberfest and had the best time. And now Oktoberfest is back for 2024. In this post, I provide my reasons why you should experience Oktoberfest, how to plan your visit, the top things to see and do at Oktoberfest and how to survive it.

 

What is Oktoberfest?

 

Here is a little history of Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest actually began in 1810 as a wedding celebration. The then Bavarian Crown Prince, Prince Ludwig invited all the citizens of the area to come celebrate his marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. This initial celebration has grown to what we know and love today. It originally occurred in October but was moved a couple of weeks earlier so as to allow for the better September weather. But what is Oktoberfest or Wiesn (the German name for Oktoberfest) all about and what to see and do there? Keep reading.

 

What to Expect at Oktoberfest?

 

Without giving too much away, Oktoberfest is one wild party. In the tents you drink beer, sing, drink more beer and sing again. Outside in the fairground you can ride on the rides, walk around the stalls and eat plenty of German food. 

 

The Top Things to See and Do at Oktoberfest

 

  • Experience Day 1 and See German Culture at its Best

 

If you can, be there to see the opening day parade which is a great way to kick off Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest officially starts when the horses bring the first keg on a carriage and the mayor taps it, declaring “O’ zapft is” or “it’s tapped”. The first person to traditionally get a beer is the Bavarian Minister-President. This happens around mid-day and is interesting to watch. After the Minister-President has sipped his beer everyone can then enjoy a beer plus everything else the festival has to offer. You may want to dress in the traditional clothes as well and really get in to this German cultural experience.

Oktoberfest (pronounced ok.toba.fest) in Munich is an exciting event not to be missed. It has been happening every year since 1810. I went a number of years ago and had the best time. Here are my reasons why you should experience Oktoberfest and how to survive it.

 

Cart Drawn Horses Bringing Beer Kegs to Oktoberfest Munich

See the horses bringing beer kegs on cars to Oktoberfest

 

  • Oktoberfest is all about German beer

 

If you are a beer lover, like me, then you will love drinking the beer at the Oktoberfest. Originally the Oktoberfest was a non-alcoholic celebration. That’s right, it was, but it didn’t take long for that to change and now around 7 million litres of beer are consumed at the event. Now the only beer that can be served during Oktoberfest must come from one of Munich’s six breweries  – Paulaner, Spaten, Hacker-Pschorr, Augustiner, Hofbräu, and Löwenbräu. All the beers must pass Reinheitsgebot (the purity test) which is a law passed in 1516 to ensure the quality of the beer. That’s right, Germany, particularly Munich doesn’t mess around when it comes to the brewing of its beer.

 

  • Choose Your Beer Tent

 

There are a number of beer tents, 17 large ones and some 21 small tents. All the tents are free to enter. My friends and I moved from beer tent to beer tent. Well actually they are bigger than a tent. Each area can fit hundreds of people in them at once. The atmosphere is electric inside with people wearing traditional Bavarian clothes (lederhosen for guys, dirndls for girls) while drinking German beer and clinking steins together during German songs. Great fun! My personal favourite tent was the Lowenbrau tent. But honestly, all the tents have a lot of character and beer! Beer is typically around 12-14 EUR.

 

  • Oktoberfest is the World’s Largest Funfair

 

Ride the Rides in the Fairground

 

Oktoberfest is also a world-renowned funfair. It is situated on the Theresienwiese Grounds which is around 100 acres in size! There are a number of rides to experience – just look at my photo of the Loop Ride. So if you don’t like, or just need a break from drinking beer, make time to go outside the beer tents and enjoy the fair grounds. As well as the rides, walk along the side stalls, listen to the lively music and taste traditional, mouthwatering foods.

 

  • Enjoy the German Food

 

If you start to get the munchies after a few beers don’t worry, there is plenty of food. Lots of German delicacies like smoked sausages, pork knuckles, sauerkraut, pretzels, roasted almonds and gingerbread. You definitely won’t starve as you walk around the grounds. But don’t eat too much if you plan to go on some of the rides! Food is available in the tents while drinking however, it will be more expensive. Which is why to help your budget, buy your food outside of the Oktoberfest beer tents.

 

Pretzels at Oktoberfest Munich

Enjoy a pretzel between beers!

 

How to Visit Oktoberfest in 2023

 

In 2023 Oktoberfest begins on Saturday, September 16 and finishes Tuesday October 3. Oktoberfest takes place on Theresienwiese, in Munich. Munich is well serviced by roads and an international airport. Once in Munich you can walk from the main railway station (Hauptbahnhof) or from the closest U-Bahn (Theresienwiese). Just follow the crowds.

Oktoberfest’s opening hours are: on the first day from 12pm-10.30pm then during the week 10am-10.30pm and on the weekends and holidays 9am-10.30pm. There are only two tents that open late Käfers and Weinzelt open until 1:00am.

 

How Much Does Oktoberfest cost?

 

The beer tents are free to enter however, a typical beer in a stein will cost around 12 Euros. A meal inside the tent may set you back 12-15 Euros but as I said, the food outside is much cheaper.

If you are thinking of purchasing a traditional Bavarian outfit to wear during your time at the Oktoberfest a good lederhosen outfit can start at around 140 Euros, while a dirndl can start at around 100 Euros. You can also rent them for about 40 Euros per day however, traditional clothes aren’t a requirement to enjoy yourself.

 

My Top Tips for Surviving Oktoberfest

 

First of all my biggest tip for surviving Oktoberfest is to treat your time at Oktoberfest as a marathon, not a sprint. You will be drinking all day and probably most of the night and there is no need to rush it. So pace yourself and enjoy it. Otherwise you will be one of those ‘beer corpses’. Yes, that’s what they call them. Someone who has drunk too much beer and is passed out on the ground.

 

My other survival tips for surviving Oktoberfest are:

  • Hydrate yourself. Drink as much water as you can while there. Maybe one beer then one water. You may thank me for this tip later!
  • Get there early, before midday to get a table. However, we found the staff are great at finding spots at tables for your party.
  • When hungry, eat outside at one of the many food vendors. The food is cheaper.
  • If with friends, ensure you have a meeting point in case you get separated.
  • Bring cash. It is easier.
  • Watch your things. Keep them safe. I suggest you don’t bring valuables because if you get too drunk and pass out you don’t want to wake up without any money or ID!
  • Enjoy yourself as you never know when you will be back.
  • Have your accommodation booked and know how to get to it, even when you have had too much to drink. I suggest you have the name and address written down on a piece of paper that you can show your ride to get you home safely.

 

Where to Stay for Oktoberfest – Oktoberfest Accommodation Options

 

Normally, Munich has a lot of accommodation available but during Oktoberfest it is usually fully booked. So book your Oktoberfest accommodation early. And the closer to the festival grounds the more expensive it will be, but the easier it should be for you to stroll there and home.

I stayed in a small Guesthaus near the centre of Munich and shared a room with 3 other people. My suggestions for hostel accommodation include Wombats City HostelMunich Hostel Haus and Smart Stay Hostel. There is also The Tent which is classed as a youth hostel but is actually a massive tent. It is located outside of Munich and costs 20 EUR per night for a dorm bed, 10 EUR for a sleeping mat on the floor and 40 EUR if you wish to sleep in a private tent. If looking for a budget hotel room try BM Bavaria. More options can be found at  Booking.com.

 

What to Wear to Oktoberfest?

 

Man in Lederhosen and Women in Dirndle at Oktoberfest Munich

Dressing up in a lederhosen or dirndle at Oktoberfest is great fun

 

Half the fun is dressing up in traditional German clothes to enjoy Oktoberfest. You’ll see just about everyone dressed up in traditional Bavarian clothes. Lederhosen for guys and dirndls for girls. But you don’t have to get dressed up if you don’t want to. I didn’t and I still had the best time. If you want to get a traditional outfit you can buy one. A lederhosen can set you back 140-180 EUR. While a dirndls will cost from 100 EUR up. You can order them online before you arrive or you can find them in the local Munich stores. You can also rent them however, if you are going for a few days, it works out cheaper to buy your outfit. I also found that some people sell their outfit on Facebook pages such as Aussies in London.

 

What to See and Do in Munich besides Oktoberfest?

 

Dachau Concentration Camp

 

If the beer becomes too much, which it can, you can explore Munich as there is plenty to see and do. Some of the things I recommend you could do is visit Marienplatz and see the Glockenspeil clock. To see more of Munich consider taking a ride on Munich’s Hop On Hop Bus and be taken to all the sites. Soccer lovers may want to tour FC Bayern Munchen Football Club. There is also the Olympic Centre, BMW Museum and the Dachau Memorial Concentration Camp which was the first concentration camp during the war. It is an easy tram ride to Dachau from the centre of Munich. If you like castles then maybe consider a day-trip to Neuschwanstein Castle. Yes, it is the castle Walt Disney modelled his castle on.

 

Are You Ready to Enjoy Oktoberfest?

 

I suggest the Oktoberfest in Munich is a must on your European itinerary. Many places around the world try to emulate Oktoberfestit every year but there is nothing like experiencing the real thing. It is a great way to discover and immerse yourself in German culture plus enjoy the food and of course, the beer. I loved every moment of my time at Oktoberfest but must confess that 5 days of drinking German beer got a bit much. But I’ll leave you to discover this for yourself. Prost (cheers).

 

Useful Links

 

Oktoberfest Official Website
Book Your Ticket to Oktoberfest here
Don’t forget to take out Travel Insurance.

Beers Clinking and People in German Dress PIN

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Sharyn McCullum Sailing Through The Panama Canal With Storm Chasing Boat.

Sharyn McCullum – Travel Writer / Blogger, Remote On-line Worker, sometime Digital Nomad and Travel, Live and Work Abroad Expert. Is a chocoholic, coffee connoisseur and lover of ’80s music. Been travelling all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. Lived in London 4 years on a working holiday. Has holidayed in Hawaii over 15 times and currently calls Melbourne, Australia home. Is inspiring others to get the live work play travel lifestyle with this blog. Read more about Sharyn here.

21 Comments

  1. Sabrina

    Wow what a great guide, thank you so much! Last time I was there, someone else organised everything for me, but I found a lot of nice tips here for improvement (:

    Reply
  2. Alice Ford

    I was just in Munich in July and walked right by the festival grounds located in the park. The only thing I had to do in Munich was get a pretzel and beer but I would love to go back for this festival at some point in my life.

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      The festival is something else – I do hope you get back at some point to enjoy Oktoberfest.

      Reply
  3. Samantha

    Such an awesome guide! I’m actually going this year, so this is literally perfect for me!

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      I’m so glad you found it awesome – have the best time at Oktoberfest.

      Reply
  4. Cristina

    I didn’t know that Oktoberfest lasted so long. It’s definitely an event I would like to attend one day. It’s such a unique and fun event!

    Reply
  5. Andrea

    Well this is definitely bucket list, thank you so much for sharing.

    Reply
  6. ANUKRATI DOSI

    That is such a great guide, and just at the right time. Love the tips that you have shared here.

    Reply
    • Joey

      Great post! I didn’t expect that Oktoberfest originated from a wedding party, and that there was no booze at first

      Reply
  7. Linnea

    Definitely would recommend bringing cash! However, I’m curious if that will still be the same in 2022.

    Reply
  8. Terri

    I experienced this festival once and it blew my mind. I think it is on a lot of beer drinkers’ bucket lists. I also fell in love with dark beer as a result of this festival.

    Reply
  9. Cass

    I love that this is part survival guide haha! Great posts with tips for making the most out of Oktoberfest, I can imagine it could be a lot of fun and a memorable experience`

    Reply
  10. Kate Jacobsen

    I can’t think of a better place to experience an Oktoberfest than Germany! This sounds so much fun and has been added to my list

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      It is great fun. I loved experiencing Oktoberfest. It is one experience that I remember vividly and puts a smile on my face every time.

      Reply
  11. Hannah F

    I’ve never been, but I know a handful of separate friends who went last year and loved it! These are great tips!

    Reply
  12. Claire

    Happy Oktoberfest! For a girl who loves beer and Germany I still haven’t visited during Oktoberfest. But this is such a great guide for those looking to survive their first Oktoberfest. Saving this post for when I do finally go. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      It’s funny how you spend a lot of time in a country but may not go to the events it holds. Maybe one day you will get there!

      Reply
  13. Gallivanting Laura

    WHat a great guide! I’d love to visit one day. Do you know if they offer any gluten-free beers or wine too?

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      I’m not sure. I hope so, but I haven’t heard of one.

      Reply

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