Oktoberfest is the biggest party in the world. If you want to have a good time in 2019, there’s no better place. But Oktoberfest has its own rules. Not knowing them can ruin your trip. Here’s what you absolutely have to know, written by a guy from Munich (me!).
1. You have to reserve a seat in a beer tent – or you won’t get in.
Picture: idirectori/ flickr.com
Imagine travelling to Oktoberfest in 2019 and not being able to get into a beer tent – what a bummer. Every year this becomes a sad reality for many people. What most people don’t know is, that if you want to actually get into a beer tent you have to reserve a seat – the earlier, the better.
On weekdays you may have a chance of getting in without a reservation in some tents, if you’re willing to stand in line. However, lines start to form at around six in the morning, and you can be in there for hours. Combined with the usually very mixed weather during Oktoberfest, there’s a good chance you have to hold out in the rain for quite some time. A reservation can make your life a lot easier.
On weekends, however, there’s no chance to get in without an reservation. Lines are sometimes hundreds of meters long, and there’s fights breaking out over the best spots. If you’re trying to avoid drunken boxing and kicking, you better get a reservation.
Most of the time, you have to reserve an entire table for 10 people. The reservation is free, but you have to buy some coupons for beer and food. Usually that’s not more than two beers and a “Hendl” (roasted chicken). So, even if you’re travelling as a couple, it makes sense to reserve an entire table. It’s a beer for each of you and a shared meal, and you can give the other seats to some people waiting in line. Chances are, they’ll be pretty thankful, and buy you at least one round. That’s a good way to meet some locals, too.
You can find the contact information to reserve seatshere. Every tent is special in its own way, and this site will tell you how. Once you found your perfect tent, just call up the reservation-number. They’ll let you know how they want to handle things for this tent.
2. You won’t get change from the waitresses.
Picture: Chris Benseler/ flickr.com
Beer prices increase every year. In 2013, one “Maß” (1 liter, the big glasses) was somewhere between 9,40 € to 9,80 €. In 2019, expect them to be a little over 12 €.
The tricky thing is this: If you pay for one Maß with a 50 € bill, you just lost 40 €. The waitresses won’t bring you any change, unless you specifically ask for it. And if you do, they’ll never serve you again. Waitresses are in enough of a hurry as things are, bringing change just takes too much time. They’ll try anything to avoid it.
So, if you only have 50s left, you have to order four beers! There’s no way around it. “I don’t want to drink that much” is never an acceptable excuse at Oktoberfest. Either man up, or get creative: You’re probably not the only one looking for a beer in your area. Talk to your table-neighbors and see if you can combine orders.
3. If you’re a girl: Your apron tells your relationship status.
Picture: Avarty/ flickr.com
A Dirndl is more than a piece of cloathing. It’s a message. The way you tie your apron lets everybody know about your relationship status.If you tie your apron on the left side of your body, it means you’re single. If you tie it on the right, you have a boyfriend, or you’re married. In the front you’re a virgin, and in the back you’re a widow, or a waitress.
You have to know that, because men are going to judge by it. If you wear your tie on the left, guys will hit on you. Know that in advance, and don’t be surprised about all the attention.
Also, if you’re a little older and wear you apron tied in the front people are going to assume you don’t know the rules. Never forget: Oktoberfest is a party for many, but it’s also a tradition for the locals. Some of them take it very seriously, and they get sad when they see tourist who don’t care. To them, this is like laughing in church. So, please tie your apron right.
And for the guys: If a girl has a its apron tied on the left, she’s fair game. Keep your eyes open, and you’ll find quite a lot of pretty ladies you can talk to.
4. Book hotels early. Very early. If at all possible: Couchsurf.
Picture: Acren23/ flickr.com
Hotels and Hostels are crazy expensive during Oktoberfest, usually at least six times what they cost the rest of the year. If you find a Hostel for 60 € a night, you’re lucky. More likely even the cheapest, rundown places will be somewhere north 80 €. Hotels, on the other hand, can come to 400 € or even much, much more for a double room per night.
You can try to avoid the worst of this by booking very early. If you’re getting a reservation for your table, try to book a place to sleep, too. This won’t get you a cheap stay, but maybe you can avoid spending a month’s salary for a few nights.
If you’re comfortable withcouchsurfing, do it! It’ll save you a lot of money and you’ll have someone to show you around. Demand is high here, too. Last year, I had 12 request for Oktoberfest, which should be about average. However, most people won’t host more than one or two surfers during Oktoberfest. After all, it’s a time to celebrate for them. So, try to find a place early, and be prepared to write a few hosts.
5. Be direct & to the point.
Picture: JasonParis/ flickr.com
Depending on where you from you might have to adjust to Bavarian culture. Around here, people are very direct and say what they mean. Especially at Oktoberfest. There’s no need for any kind of polite phrasing, or to address someone in a special way.
For example, if you haven’t reserved seats at a table, it’s perfectly ok to ask a stranger: “Hey, do you have some spare seats at your table?” If they allow you to join them, you can talk to them like you talk to friends. But if they have no spare seats, don’t expect an overly polite answer either.
In other situations, gentle subtlety could even be your biggest enemy. If you want to order a beer, for example, the loudest person usually gets served first. I’ve seen many foreigners politely wait in line, and never get a beer at all. Also, with the loud music there’s a good chance waitresses won’t hear you either, unless you yell at them: “ONE BEER!!” Forget about “please” and “thank you”. Get your message across, and you’re good. That’s all that matters.
6. After the tents and rides close, the party continues – if you know where.
Picture: DaneBrian/ flickr.com
The tents and rides at Oktoberfest close at 11:30 PM. If you want to keep partying, you have to go somewhere else. Of course there are many clubs and bars in Munich. But you don’t have to go to Oktoberfest to go to a club. You can do this at home, too.
There’s a better way to stay in the spirit: Every brewery has its own “Keller” (basement). There’s the “Paulaner Keller”, or the “Augustiner Keller”, and so on. Don’t let the name fool you – these “basements” are actually huge beer gardens with a restaurant and a bar. But there’s an actual basement to them, too, and that’s where the name comes from.In these basements you can have a beer in the most typical Bavarian atmosphere in the world. There’s Bavarian music, oldschool Bavarian furnishing, Dirndl, Lederhosen, and amazing German food.
If you want the full Oktoberfest experience, it’d be a shame if you miss this.
Picture: R O S E N T H A L / flickr.com
7. If possible, stay away from the Wiesn-subway.
Picture: DIWYY/ flickr.com
Depending on where you’re staying, there’s a good chance that either your hotel is close to the main train station, or you’d have to switch subways there to get to Oktoberfest.
If that’s the case, stay away from the subway that get’s you directly there. It’s a mess during Oktoberfest. Literally every train is packed to the limit and you barely have room to breathe.
However, it’s only a 20 minute walk from the main station to Oktoberfest. You don’t even have to know the way. There are signs saying “Wiesn” that’ll lead you there. (“Wiesn” is the Bavarian name for the area Oktoberfest takes place.)
If you don’t want to follow signs, that’s ok. A huge stream of people is leading from the main station to Oktoberfest at all times. Join in, see a little bit of Munich, and maybe get to know some people.Just FYI: The other subway lines are fine, though. It’s just the U4 and the U5 that are packed. So you can easily take any other line to get to the main station and walk from there.
8. There’s a lot more to Munich than Oktoberfest.
Picture: Nite Dan/ flickr.com
Oktoberfest is great. But if it’s the only thing you see in Munich, you’ve missed out big time.Munich is the city with the highest standard of living in Germany. There’s a ton of good reasons for that. In fact, there’s so much more to do, I’ll write a separate article about it someday.For starters: Did you know that the astonishing Neuschwanstein castle near Munich was the role model for the Disney Castle? And that’s just one of the many great things Munich has to offer!
Thanks for reading!
If you’ve ever been to Oktoberfest, let us know what you think everybody should know before going there in the comments. Also, every share is highly appreciated.
And thanks to all the guys providing pictures. I’d never have the guts to take a camera to Oktoberfest. I even leave my wallet and my phone at home. Believe me, I know why…
If you should go to Oktoberfest, have fun!! If you can’t have fun there, you can’t have it anywhere.Anyway – thanks for reading!!