I’ve just spent 4 fun boozey days at Oktoberfest in Munich. I was a bit nervous about going – thinking it would just be big crowds being drunk and gross – and it was, but if you can’t beat them, join them. I drank, I danced on tables, I went on funfair rides, I ate a lot of weiners and sauerkraut and I met some brilliant and fun people along the way.
I’ll admit I was pretty unprepared for Oktoberfest, luckily I was going with Busabout on one of their festival packages so they gave us the lowdown when we arrived. So with their advice and my own tried and tested, here are the 10 Oktoberfest Tips you NEED for survival.
1. Dress up
– Not your average dress for a day / night out
When else in life do you get to dress up in a drindl or leiderhosen? This is your big moment.
It’s so much more fun when you look the part, but accept that it’s going to cost you a few euros. My dress with blouse was €35 and one of the cheapest, while the leather leiderhosen started at around €70. I’ve got a whole post coming on the cost of Oktoberfest but getting that photo of you with a stein and a pretzel all dressed up is priceless. I’d say about 80% of the people at Oktoberfest go for it with the dressing up, and they all look awesome.
2. But think ‘warmth’
– Arr look at all those coats, they knew what they were doing
No matter how warm you think you are when you leave the hotel / hostel, take a coat. The last day I was there I took my hoody but was SO cold, so cold I only lasted until 9pm. I’m not sure how I made it through to the end the other nights with no jacket at all. It probably explains the current state of me with some sort of ear, nose and throat virus and stuck in my hotel room with a throat that feels like I’m swallowing razors every time I sip water.
The weather can suddenly plummet in Munich, it’s why they moved ‘Oktoberfest’ to September. Bring it!
3. But take as little as possible
Space is so tight at Oktoberfest in the beer halls, you don’t want to be stressing about your things. As the day gets on everyone starts dancing up on the tables and so whatever you have, you need to keep on you really. I had my trusty bumbag just slung across my body the whole time. In that I had some money, my GoPro (which I barely used) and my phone. I debated my DSLR but knew I’d probably lose or break it. I’m just that kind of person.
4. Drink loads of water before you go
– Water, woman, water!
You’re not allowed to take any liquids into the beer halls and they don’t serve water before 12. Seriously. They also never actually bought it to us at 12, despite asking a few times, but then we drank so much beer we’d forgotten we ordered it too.
I’d down a bottle or two on the way there if I were you, and try to remember to buy some from the food and drink stands outside on your way home too.
5. Keep up with the beers
– I’d say he was on track there
I reckon the key to enjoying Oktoberfest as much as possible is to be on the same level as everyone else. So keep up. As people get drunker the whole beer hall gets messier. The benches are pushed in close to each other and can be annoying when you get get battered about my drunken gesticulations from every direction. Everyone’s up, dancing and ‘prosting’ (cheersing), spilling beer all over the place – you don’t want to be that party pooper that gets annoyed, or that tries to start a fight, like some.
6. But don’t get too hammered
– Definitely not the worst thing to happen at Oktoberfest, but pretty grim
Especially if you’re by yourself. One of the best things about going to Oktoberfest with Busabout was the fact that I had instant friends. I got on really well with the five girls from my dorm and met a lot of people from the Busabout party on the first night too – this meant there was always someone to go back to the hostel with, and to look out for each other.
On the fourth night, after the Busabout trip was over but I had some friends come, I’d only had one beer and left at 9pm because I was too cold. On the way out I saw some right states. Guys with bloody faces slumped outside halls, a lady wrapped in that silver foil stuff with the ambulance crew around her and just a lot of young guys asleep outside in their lederhosenin the freezing cold.
Jeez, I’ve just Googled deaths at Oktoberfest and the injury stats are grim. Apparently every ten minutes someone from Oktoberfest is treated at the nearest hospital – just look after yourself and stay cool.
7. Go explore
– The almighty Lowenbrau tent, where I spent most of my time
While you’re there try to have a good look around at least a few of the 16 tents. They’re all owned by a different beer company and have a different theme inside. My favourite ended up being the Busabout preferred one, Lowenbrau, but check out the cloud one at Hacker and the Hofbrau tent was fun too. We went in the Fischer-Vroni one but the stench of fish as you walked in made me want to spew.
8. But find a space by 5pm
– Golden tickets
I’d say you need to find a spot for night by 5pm at the absolute latest. At 9pm the crowds start thinning out again so you can go wander then. After five is not the time to go wandering, as I found out on the 4th day there and just couldn’t even find a spot to stand let alone sit. The tents were packed to the rafters.
On the first day I was with Busabout we went to the Lowenbrau tent at 9:30am to ensure we could find space for the 100 of us. There was loads of room then but by 11 it was getting full. The next day we went at about 4:30pm and after walking through some of the other tents with no luck we went back to the Lowenbrau one and managed to find a seat. I’m pretty sure this was only because they let us in a side door because of our Busabout wristbands.
9. Stay all day
– I’d say this was about 6pm…
I went to meet some friends who were in a different tour group on my fourth day, once Busabout was over. They’d been going since 10am and I gatecrashed at around 4, the tour was only another hour on top and then some of them went home. Couldn’t believe it! And it was their only day there. I’d strongly recommend pacing yourself so you can last the whole day. Oktoberfest has a totally different atmosphere after sundown – stay and see it!
10. Finally, don’t lose your Segway
According to Oktoberfest.net in 2013 someone lost their Segway at Oktoberfest. Don’t be that person.
I went to Oktoberfest with Busabout who sorted 3 nights in the awesome Wombats Hostel, a pre-party the night before, breakfast and parties back in the hostel bar afterwards. The best thing for me, as a loner traveller, was the instant friends. Take a look at their Oktoberfest deals for next year here.