You can quote me on this: You haven’t been to a party until you’ve been to Oktoberfest. Seriously, this festival can put Vegas to shame if you let it.
Matt and I were only in Munich for two days, and needed to maximize our days by seeing the city and experiencing Oktoberfest. After arriving at 6am on the first day (after three hellish night trains and half an hour of sleep), we chose to explore Munich by doing a walking tour and having some beer on our own, and decided to go to Oktoberfest full force on our second day.
Full force we did. We woke up early on day two to beat the washroom rush at the tent, and were able to get ready and brush our teeth in front of a real mirror! We took the tram, and walked through the gates of the festival by 930 am. I was told we had to get there early if we wanted to get a table.
First impression: it was not what I expected. I pictured Oktoberfest to be a giant beer garden outside with actual tents dividing the areas. It is actually set more like a carnival with rides, and games. The tents were lined up along the outside of the main path, but looked more like buildings than tents. Without any prior research on the different tents, we chose Hackerzelt based on the line forming outside of it: “everyone must be wanting to go into this one for a reason!”, and waited with the crowd. We later found out that this was one of the biggest tents at Oktoberfest (it holds almost 10,000 people), and that it attracts more Germans than some of the other tents do. We ended up having so much fun that we didn’t even think about exploring any of the other places, so unfortunately I can’t tell you how the rest of the tents compare (maybe I can make it there again to find out!). You can read about and compare all of the tents at Oktoberfest here.
At 10am, the doors opened, and we filed into the massive room. We were able to have our pick of tables, and chose to sit close to the band. Staff were already walking around to sell pretzels and take beer orders. I obviously took a pretzel, but thought we should wait until at least 1030 before ordering a litre. Oktoberfest seemed to be pretty tame at this point.
As the clock ticked, the crowd quickly began to thicken. People started asking if they could sit at our table (Germans speak FANTASTIC English, FYI!), and we were finally able to have conversations with people other than each other. We learned quickly that contrary to being told prior to Oktoberfest that it was just for tourists, we were surrounded by Germans taking vacation time from work to celebrate!
We ordered our first round of beer, and started looking at the lunch menu. Oktoberfest menus do not translate for English speaking visitors. A few men beside us ordered a plate which looked amazing, so I got them to point to what they had on the menu and went ahead with that. You can get by in any country if you pay attention to the locals. Sausage and potatoes filled my plate, and I was set to wash it down with a few more litres! If you have ever wanted to try German food, Oktoberfest is the place to try it! HOW do they make those fantastic potatoes?! Someone needs to share that recipe with me asap- my mouth is watering just thinking about them!
The rest of the day flew by. The band started, and the tables filled to the point that no one sat anymore, and everyone stood dancing. The servers stopped taking orders, and instead walked around with fistfuls of litres that they handed out to anyone needing a refill. Matt and I were in beer heaven (or Bavarian Heaven as our tent translated to)! We made some friends, yelled “prost!” a few too many times, and laughed until I dragged Matt out of the tent at midnight. We had a train to catch at 530 the next morning, and I knew as it was, it was going to be almost impossible to make it.
If you ever have the chance to be visit Germany, I highly suggest you try to plan your trip around Oktoberfest. Even just writing this post brings a smile back to my face- I loved the atmosphere that was created by the different generations of Germans all under one roof, and would go back there again if I could!
If you are planning on going to Oktoberfest, I have a few tips for you:
- Get an outfit! Friends at home laughed when they saw that we bought outfits for Oktoberfest- but I promise that you will stick out like a sore thumb if you DON’T wear one! We got ours from the train station in Munich because everywhere else was closed on the Sunday that we arrived. My Drindl cost me €45 and Matt’s Lederhosen were €60. You can probably get better deals (and better quality) if you find some online in advance. If you are planning on going to Oktoberfest this year, I suggest you start keeping an eye out for them now!
- Book your accommodations early (I cannot stress this enough!) Matt and I stayed at The Tent where we stayed for €100 total for two nights. We had to book in February to guarantee this booking.
- You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a great time. Each litre of beer was around €10. As you can imagine, (unless you stand on the table to chug the litre back, like this champ did FOUR times) it takes quite a while to drink that litre. Matt and I had €150 with us for the day (I remember because that was all of the cash that we had left at the time), and even though we spent every last drop of it, it lasted us through lunch, pretzels, and enough litres that we both lost count. You can obviously spend less if you don’t stay there for 15 hours like we did, but you can also spend more if your heart desires.
- Apparently it is illegal to stand ON a table in Germany! I found this out when locals laughed at me when I did it. You have to stand where you would normally sit, but cannot stand on the table itself. Matt and I both had matching shin bruises the next day from leaning on the table top all night.
Have you ever been to Oktoberfest? What were your thoughts?
Are you planning on going to Oktoberfest this year? Let me know if you have any questions!