Everything you need to know before visiting the Oktoberfest
Whenever I meet new people from other countries, and they learn that I live in Munich, they often mention the famous German beer festival. The Oktoberfest in Munich is a lively and spirited festival known worldwide. While it is not your regular music festival, it is still a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I highly recommend adding it to your bucket list if you have never been. The Oktoberfest can be honestly a bit overwhelming, but it is also a unique and unforgettable festival. To help make the most of your trip to the Oktoberfest, here is everything you need to know in advance.
WHEN DOES IT TAKE PLACE?
Although the name suggests October, the Oktoberfest actually begins in September. The festival lasts for two weeks and spans over three weekends. Typically, it commences on the third or fourth weekend of September. Here are the dates for the current year and the next two years.
16.09. – 03.10.2023
21.09. – 06.10.2024
20.09. – 05.10.2025
For more information about the dates, also for the following years, visit the official Oktoberfest website here.
WHEN TO GO?
I suggest avoiding visiting Oktoberfest on a Saturday afternoon with a group of 10 people as it is generally not a good idea. Instead, going during the week is better. Moreover, I think the first week is better and more relaxed than the second. It is recommended to arrive early to secure a table in a tent or, generally, even to get into the tent. If you are unable to attend Oktoberfest during the weekdays, going on the weekends is an option. However, arriving early when the tents open is essential, as they fill up rapidly and will close once they reach capacity.
HOW TO GET TO THE OKTOBERFEST?
The Oktoberfest is on the Theresienwiese, which is also the reason why we locals call the festival “Wiesn”.
If you are coming from Munich’s central station, you have the option to take either the S-Bahn (the city train) or U-Bahn (the metro). However, taking the metro is better as it will take you directly to the festival grounds.
U-Bahn: take the metro directly to the Oktoberfest with line 4 or 5. Get out at Theresienwiese, and you will be directed to the festival ground. (You can also get out at Schwanthalerhöhe – the other end, and you will immediately get to the Käfer and Schützen tent.)
S-Bahn: every line to the station Hackerbrücke, and it is about a 10-minute walk from there.
DRESS LIKE BAVARIANS
When attending Oktoberfest, it is way more fun to do so dressed in traditional Bavarian clothes. Men typically wear leather pants with a shirt, but if you want to step up your style game, consider adding a wild leather vest like the guys in the picture above.
Many Oktoberfest women don the traditional Bavarian dress known as a Dirndl. By following these eight guidelines for achieving the ideal Dirndl appearance, you can ensure a flawless look and enhance your experience at the festival.
In this article, you can see so many different Dirndls, from simple and elegant Dirndls over glittery princess Dirndls to very colourful Dirndls. The Bavarian women’s dress trends have been changing constantly over the past few years. While I started out with very bright Dirndls in my younger years, I wear very clean and classic Dirndls nowadays. There are Dirndls for every type of style.
WHICH TENT IS THE BEST?
I still remember how overwhelming my first time at the Oktoberfest was. My friends told me to come to that particular tent, and when I set foot on the Oktoberfest ground, I just realised that there were a lot of huge tents next to each other. However, every tent looks different from the inside, has a different beer and an in particular different atmosphere.
The tents open at 10 am during the week and at 9 am during the weekend. Closing time is 22:30 pm, exceptional for the Käfer Wies’n Schänke and Kuffler’s wine tent. These two tents are open a little bit longer.
Occasionally, the tents may become too crowded and will need to be closed during the day. If this happens, you’ll see a sign at the entrance stating that it’s closed due to high capacity. Typically, the tent will reopen within 2-3 hours. In the meantime, you can either explore another tent or take a stroll and indulge in the delicious food and exciting rides.
The following tents are the best ones in my opinion:
PARTY OKTOBERFEST TENTS:
– Hacker Festzelt: I have to say, this tent is absolutely stunning. Locals refer to it as the Hacker tent, and it is known as a slice of heaven for Bavarians. The atmosphere is lively, and the music is excellent. You can even receive sparklers for the Wiesn closing on the final day. However, it is essential to note that this tent fills up fast, so arriving early is best.
– Schützen Festzelt: Another tent I really like is the Schützen Festzelt. A lot of local people are going to this tent. Here you will also get champagne and not just only beer. Furthermore, there is also a liquor bar with a lively atmosphere in the Schützen tent. Unfortunately, the Schützen tent fills up even faster than any other tent, so you must also arrive very early for this tent.
– Paulaner Winzerer Fähndl: This tent is one of the largest and therefore offers the most accessible access to a table. As Paulaner is a popular local Bavarian beer, many tourists choose to visit this tent. However, locals also frequent this tent, providing a good mix of people to enjoy your Oktoberfest experience with. If you’re new to Oktoberfest, I recommend checking out this tent. The impressive interior design features a large carousel with a live band and beer mug in the centre, making it a unique experience.
– Schottenhamel-Festhalle: I used to visit Schottenhamel tent frequently a few years back. It is known for having the youngest crowd, and the opening ceremony is held there.
SPECIAL OKTOBERFEST TENTS:
– Käfer Wies’n Schänke: This VIP tent is unique compared to the others. Despite the large number of VIP visitors, it doesn’tdoesn’t have a vast central area. Instead, it features several small tables arranged beside each other. The Käfer tent offers the most delectable food and a stunning beer garden.
My tip: If you’re looking for a casual lunch or dinner spot at the Oktoberfest, the Käfer beer garden is a must-visit. The atmosphere is delightful and embodies the Bavarian tradition of gathering for delicious food and beer. It’sIt’s the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy good company.
– Kufflers Weinzelt: The Kufflers Weinzelt tent is an excellent option for those who prefer wine over beer, as it exclusively serves wine. It is often used as an after-hours spot when other places have closed down. Additionally, VIPs favour this tent, and it closes at 1 am like the Käfer tent.
In all of the tents, the beers are pretty large (it is a 1l beer mug) and cost around 14€. In order to purchase a beer, you must have a table, as waiters are not permitted to sell beer to those without a table. Additionally, cash payments can only be made as cards are not accepted. Lastly, it is essential to remember to tip your waiter.
Honestly, I’m not a big fan of beer. However, besides singing and dancing, what I truly enjoy about the Oktoberfest is the Bavarian food! If you were to ask my friends what I do all day at the Wiesn, they’d tell you that I spend the whole day eating. I highly recommend trying the Hendl with potato salad, Käsespätzle, enormous Brez’n, and Kaiserschmarn with apple sauce inside the tents. And outside the tents, indulge in the delicious chocolate strawberries, sausages, and roasted almonds. Essentially, I spend the entire day eating.
HAVING FUN ON RIDES
Oktoberfest offers more than just the opportunity to drink beer and enjoy German country music. You can also have fun with various rides and roller coasters, ranging from adrenaline-pumping thrills to romantic wonder wheels. The rides are open from 10 am until approximately 11 pm. Additionally, Tuesdays are designated as family days, where rides are available at half price.
AFTER WIESN (CLUB)
Lastly, once the Oktoberfest comes to a close, it’s time for the after-party. By that, I mean heading straight to the club in your Dirndls and leather pants! The top after-parties for Wiesn are 089 Bar, Jakob, Call Me Drella, P1-Club, and Lucky Who.
I wish you all a perfect time at the Oktoberfest and take care!