Tips for the Oktoberfest

Travel Tips — By Mike Richardson on July 15, 2011 at 11:08 am

Although the famous Oktoberfest is still a couple months away, it’s never too early to look into your plans for the largest beer bash on Earth. Hotels are usually booked a year in advance (though availabilities always exist, so don’t give up hope!), tours run with peak season numbers, and nearby tourist attractions are flooded with “beer aficionados.”

For Münchners (Munich locals), the Oktoberfest is simply the largest volksfest in the country. A volksfest is a people’s festival very similar to an American county fair.  In Germany, the Oktoberfest is held only in Munich at the Theresienwiese. In 2011 it will be held from September 17th to October 3rd.

If you’re heading for the Oktoberfest, here are a few tips that might make it easier on you:

  • If your hotel is not within walking distance of the Theresienwiese, it is a very good idea to have a look at the MVV transportation map so that you can navigate the system while extremely inebriated.
  • Aside from navigating the system, figuring out the appropriate admission tickets is quite another matter. Day tickets for the inner area are usually the best option. If you are not traveling solo, then a partner ticket is good for up to five people, making the partner day ticket for the inner area (Partner Tageskarte Innenraum) the best option for the majority of tourists. The current cost for this ticket is €9.80 and it is valid from the time you stamp the ticket until 6am the next morning. The same ticket is valid for buses, trams, commuter trains and subway lines. The tourist bureau likes to promote “Citytour cards,” which are rarely worth the price to most tourists, let alone Oktoberfest tourists.
  • Table reservations: it can be nearly impossible to get a seat at the Oktoberfest, so I hope you have table reservations. If you do, then look near the entrance doors of your chosen tent for the layout of tables. If you don’t have a reservation, look for tables in the center section of each of the tents as these areas normally cannot be reserved. If you see a seat or two available, ask if the seats are free; the more you ask the better your chances of getting a seat. In the worst case scenario, you should head to the Hofbräu tent, which has a standing area called the “pig pen” where you can be served without a seat. However, be careful as this is probably the wildest section of the entire festival.  Good luck!
  • There are six major breweries in Munich (Augustiner, Löwenbräu, Hofbräu, Spaten, Hacker-Pschorr, and Paulaner). Try to at least have a liter of each brand as they are not at all the same.
  • You can go inside the huge bronze statue overlooking the Theresienwiese.  Its name is The Bavaria, and for a couple of Euros you can go inside her and look out at the Oktoberfest from her head.  This is one of the best photo opportunities in the entire festival.
  • Day trip tours like Neuschwanstein run at peak season numbers during the Oktoberfest, so you should book online to secure your spot as soon as possible.
  • Lederhosen (leather pants, sometimes shorts) and dirndls are the customary local dress for Bavarians heading to the Oktoberfest. You can find new and used lederhosen and dirndls at stores all over town all year round as these are not Oktoberfest-specific garbs. But they will cost you least €150.
Tags: Bavaria, beer, bier, lederhosen, Munich, Oktoberfest, Theresienwiese, Volksfest