The Ultimate Guide to Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is arguably one of the biggest beer festivals in the world. Each year about 6 million people from around the globe come to Munich to attend Oktoberfest. Kyle and I went back in 2017 and I have to tell you it was one of the coolest things we experienced. The beer was delicious, the atmosphere was amazing, the people were so nice, and the pretzels, well, they were bigger than my head!

When we attended Oktoberfest it was our first time out of the country and there are definitely things I wish we would have done differently. In this guide to Oktoberfest, you will find everything you need to know about the festival and how to plan the perfect trip!

Pretzel at Oktoberfest is as big as my head

What is Oktoberfest?

Oktoberfest is an annual beer festival in Munich, Germany lasting 16-18 days. It starts in late September and continues until the first weekend in October. When Oktoberfest first started in 1810 it wasn’t actually a beer festival, it was actually a festival to honor the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. It has since become the massive beer festival we know it as today.

 

Why is called Oktoberfest if it starts in September?

Well, when it started it was only a week-long in October but became so popular that it was eventually extended and now starts in September.

 

When is Oktoberfest?

This year Oktoberfest runs from Saturday, September 19, 2020, to Sunday, October 4, 2020

 

What to Expect at Oktoberfest?

You can expect a crazy fun time at Oktoberfest. About 6 million people visit every year. While most of the people who visit are from Germany, 19% come from other countries. That’s still over 1 million people coming from around the globe to experience all Oktoberfest has to offer. There will be lots of food and beer to enjoy. The beer that is served is specifically made for the festival by Munich’s 6 big breweries. It can definitely be overwhelming the first time you experience Oktoberfest but it’s so much fun. Everyone is happy and there to have a good time.

 

While walking around you may think you’re at a state fair. There are tons of rides, carnival games, and even some haunted houses. There are also food and souvenir carts. Our favorite treat was the candied peanuts. You could smell them from a mile away.

 

Inside the beer, tents are where you’ll find the traditional Oktoberfest you’re looking for. This is a communal style atmosphere with the heartier food, traditional music, German décor, and of course the steins of beer. There are about 30 beer tents to choose from and each one offers something a little different, but they are all great. Don’t get too overwhelmed trying to pick one because there are really no wrong choices.

Arial view of Oktoberfest

How to Budget your Oktoberfest Trip.

When you are planning your Oktoberfest budget there are a lot of factors to consider. Of course, you need somewhere to stay, possibly a rental car, food, beer, ride tickets, sweet treats, and if you want the full experience a dirndl or lederhosen. Also, keep in mind how many days you want to spend at Oktoberfest. We only went for one day which honestly I think was sufficient. One or two days is the perfect time to spend enjoying the festival, most locals typically go for one day. Any more than a day or two might be overkill.

 

Accommodations

Make sure to book your hotels in advance! Prices go up the closer it gets to the start of the festival. Accommodations range anywhere from $60 a night for an Airbnb to $120 a night for a hotel. There are a lot of great options close to the festival grounds but they will be more expensive. If you are staying outside the city you may want to consider a rental car. Renting a car is also a great way to explore more of Munich during your visit.

Check out our guide to Germany for more ideas on what to see during your trip to Munich.

 

Food/ Beer

When it comes to Oktoberfest that’s where the big costs will come into play.  The festival and the tents are free to enter. Beer usually runs about 11 Euro each. Remember this is for a liter of beer, which if you haven’t seen one before they are huge! Fun Fact: In 2018 7.5 million liters of beer were consumed.

 

Remember the food inside the tents is usually full-sized meals. You can expect to pay between 12 and 15 Euro. You can save money buying smaller snacks or sausages outside of the big tents. Sausages are about 4 Euro and small snacks like pretzels for around 5 Euro. You can also purchase alcohol (but not Beer) outside of the big tents for about 8 Euro. But it’s Oktoberfest, and if you’re drinking you should at least try the beer. Kyle and I are not big beer drinkers but German beer is the best. We even found some German beer at our local Total Wine because we missed it so much.

 

You can also reserve a table inside one of the tents for free. Keep in mind though that when you reserve a table the reservation normally requires that you order food and drinks. Usually, it’s equivalent to 2 beers and a chicken meal which is about 30 a person. This is not the most budget-friendly option but it’s a great way to get the whole experience. If you want to reserve a table you can do so here.

Enjoying a stein of Beer at Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest Outfit

Although, it is not required to wear a dirndl or lederhosen at Oktoberfest almost everyone does. I was really bummed that we didn’t once we got there. I think it would have made the experience so much better. Next time we go we will definitely be buying some.

 

You have two options when deciding if you want to wear a dirndl or lederhosen. Renting or buying. You can rent costumes from a local shop for about $40 a day. If you are going longer than a day it will be cheaper to buy your own. Just make sure if you buy a costume don’t buy a super cheap one from the Halloween store get a good quality authentic one that will last and look nicer.

 

Surviving Oktoberfest Tips

  • Bring Cash– Cash makes everything much simpler. It’s going to be busy and the servers will be helping tons of people. Cash is so much easier. Make sure to tip your server as well.
  • Keep your stuff close– While you most likely don’t have to worry about pickpockets you may get drunk and lose your belongings. I always use my Travelon anti-theft crossbody bag. I also don’t bring more cash than I will need.
  • Get there early– The tents fill up quickly. You’ll want to find a seat in the tents as early as you can. Of course, if you have a reservation you don’t need to get there early.
  • Stay Hydrated– Drink as much water as you can while you’re there.
  • Pace yourself– The beer is strong. Take your time drinking and enjoy yourself. It’s not a race. Just don’t let it get too warm. Warm beer is…gross.
  • Don’t eat inside the tents– Food outside the tents is much cheaper and just as good. I mean you’re in Germany, everything is good.

 

 

I hope these tips will help you plan your Oktoberfest trip. This was one of our favorite experiences and I recommend everyone visit at least once in their lives. Have you ever been to Oktoberfest? Let me know how you liked it in the comments!

 

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16 Comments

  1. April 8, 2020 / 11:08 am

    We love our visits to Germany and specially Munich but have never been during Oktoberfest. Look forward to timing a holiday around it next time. Your info will be useful.

    • hharris11
      Author
      April 9, 2020 / 2:24 pm

      Germany is so much fun. Definitely try and make it to Oktoberfest. You won’t regret it.

  2. April 8, 2020 / 11:12 am

    Sounds amazing! Going there is on my bucket list, thanks for the tips!

    • hharris11
      Author
      April 9, 2020 / 2:30 pm

      Hey, Jewels! Thanks for reading. I hope you make it there!

  3. April 8, 2020 / 11:21 am

    My husband and I live in Berlin and we went to Oktoberfest last year (not something we’d do every year, but it was fun!). I’d add that a great way to get around the area outside of the Oktoberfest tents is downloading an app for the electric scooters in the city and using these. Keep in mind they are illegal to use if you are drunk!

    • hharris11
      Author
      April 9, 2020 / 2:45 pm

      Oh, yea that’s a really good point! We always rent a car so I didn’t even think about that. Thanks so much for that tip. I love Oktoberfest. Like you said not something I would do every year but every once in a while I would love to go back and visit!

  4. April 8, 2020 / 3:27 pm

    I want to go to Oktoberfest some day! This is awesome!

    • hharris11
      Author
      April 9, 2020 / 2:46 pm

      Thanks so much, Cassidy! You should absolutely go its definitely a unique and fun trip.

  5. Chelsea
    April 8, 2020 / 3:56 pm

    I have always wanted to go to this!!!

    It a crazy that it has become so popular!

    Thanks for the tips on how to save money on food and drinks! It’s so true as you said, that’s where the big costs are!

    I love festivals that allows people to dress up and really get into the theme/culture! Love it!

    • hharris11
      Author
      April 9, 2020 / 2:52 pm

      Thanks, Chelsea! It’s so much fun! You should totally make a trip.

  6. April 8, 2020 / 5:37 pm

    I want to go to Oktoberfest now! Sounds so fun 🙂

    • hharris11
      Author
      April 9, 2020 / 2:53 pm

      It’s a blast you should absolutely plan a trip!

  7. Morgan
    April 11, 2020 / 6:44 pm

    This post makes me want to travel to Germany right now! One day I will experience all Oktoberfest has to offer.

    • hharris11
      Author
      April 11, 2020 / 8:00 pm

      Yes! You have to. It’s so much fun.

  8. April 12, 2020 / 9:12 pm

    I love Oktoberfest in Munich but there is also one in Stuttgart. Just saying, in case you didn’t know. Almost as big as the one in Munich. The atmosphere is crazy good and you definitely want to wear a Dirndl or Lederhosen when you go there.
    Great tips.

    • hharris11
      Author
      April 13, 2020 / 9:24 pm

      Oh my gosh, I didn’t know that! That’s awesome. I’ll have to try and make it there one day. I’ve visited Stuttgart before but it was in November.

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