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How to Survive Germany’s Historic Festival: Planning Oktoberfest

By July 31, 20182 Comments

The celebration King Ludwig I’s marriage has turned into a over two-hundred year old tradition in Bavaria. Known as Oktoberfest, this annual festival is embedded in German culture. A few years back I had the opportunity of planning Oktoberfest adventures into a fantastic road trip through Bavaria.

Here at Pure Wander we know a bit of preparation can change your experience at this historic festival. Along with a few of my fellow travel enthusiasts, we have created a must read guide on how to make the most of your trip. We’re all heading to the city of Munich, which hosts the biggest Oktoberfest gathering in the world!

Table of Contents

Planning Oktoberfest Tip 1: Book your accommodation far in advance

Popular festivals like Oktoberfest is a bucket list experience for many. Be sure to book your vacation rental far in advance. The annual event means that vacation rental owners and agencies make their properties available at a premium price this time of year. The the best options close to the action book quickly.

Some apartment owners make their homes available just for the festival because of the tourist demand. In addition to advance booking, make sure to read the cancelation and transfer options closely when planning Oktoberfest. Sitting on your private balcony, and talking with local hosts is the best way to experience this fabulous German holiday.

Cerise Roth-Vinson – The Enchanted Vagabond  

When we went to Oktoberfest in Munich, we were very happy with the simple and clean B&B Hotel München City-West. It’s ideal for a small group of 3-5 people with private rooms, walkable to all the festivities and tents.

Tip 2: Dress for Success at Oktoberfest

If you’re visiting Munich for Oktoberfest, it’s worth deciding whether you want to dress up for the occasion. Lederhosen for the men and dirndls for the ladies. The answer to this question is yes of course!

The next question is how much do you you want to pay? When planing Oktoberfest, are you looking something authentic or a budget friendly repurposed Halloween costume? Authentic doesn’t come cheap: real lederhosen start from around €200 while dirndls are are around €120. For both of these items, you should go to a proper shop to get measured as it’s really important to get the fit right.

If you’re in the market for something more affordable, try C&A, eBay Germany, Lidl, or Aldi. Obviously they won’t be anywhere near the same quality as the authentic options. However, on the plus side, you’ll have a lot more money left to spend on beer and sausages.

Planning Oktoberfest pick your lederhosen wisely

James CaveThis Travel Guide

Tip 3: How to travel to Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest has been on your bucket list for eons and yet somehow you procrastinated planning. Flights are now exorbitantly priced and the Ubers are all in surge pricing. So how does one enjoy the festival without breaking the bank or pinching pennies? It goes without saying planning Oktoberfest requires you to book flights as far in advance as possible. However,  you can also check surrounding airports (Frankfurt, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Vienna, and Zurich.)

Claim your table at Oktoberfest!

You may have better luck flying into a neighbouring airport, and taking the Eurorail to Munich. It’s worth noting that the festival is less crowded on weekdays. These are generally cheaper days to fly. Once you get to the Munich, the subway is your best bet to get around. Affordable and efficient, you can get to Oktoberfest by connecting through the central train station, Hauptbahnhof. Both have multiple, frequent routes throughout the day and it’s easy to follow the merry festival goers.

Lauren MonitzThe DownLO

Planning Oktoberfest Tip 4: Pick a Meeting Point for Your Crew

Oktoberfest is a jam-packed place with hoards of people.  Whether you are wandering the paths lined with delicious goodies and fun rides or are dancing on the tables in one of the tents, all it takes is a look away and you’ve lost everyone in your party.

No problem, right?  Just give them a call!  Wrong. With that many people, cell phone lines are often jammed, people can’t hear their phone ringing, or worse, they aren’t exactly “coherent!”

Whether you are traveling with your family or friends,  planning Oktoberfest meeting point is a critical part of your gameplan.

Find a REALLY tall ride or specific tent as your meeting point if anyone gets away from the group.  But no matter what, know what to do if someone gets lost or separated before it actually happens!

Beer Steins Clinking at Oktoberfest!

LeAnna Brown –  Well Traveled Nebraskan

Tip 5: How to Obtain that Coveted Table within the Tents

In order to survive Oktoberfest, you must be up for the challenge of finding a table inside the tent. The easiest way is reserving a table in advance as a group of friends. However, this might not be an option for tourists, so you’ll need a proper strategy for your visit.

First of all, when planning Oktoberfest, try to avoid the weekends. It is the busiest time of the festival. Locals generally avoid Oktoberfest on the weekends since tents are full and tourists.

Another important advice is arriving early, especially if you’re in a bigger group. On a Saturday two years ago, I found myself queuing up at 7am to be one of the first to enter the famous Schützenzelt. We succeeded in getting a table. However, we had to leave around 4pm, since that’s when the whole front area was blocked for reservations. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was already awesome early in the day and it was completely fine to leave in the afternoon.

Strategising your table is essential for planning Oktoberfest. You are not allowed to stand in the aisle if you want to be served. But believe me – as soon as you got your table, you’ll have the time of your life!

Patrick Muntzinger The German Backpacker

Survival Tip 6: Eat Plenty of Local Grub

Let’s face it… a liter is a A LOT of beer. The average Oktoberfest visitor doesn’t just enjoy just one! Therefore, if you want to ‘survive Oktoberfest’, you’ll need to eat copious amounts of food to soak up all of the delicious beer! Throughout the grounds and within the tents, there are plenty of options to choose from! For traditional sweets, grab some gingerbread cookies or candied nuts. For something more hearty, dine on Bavarian pork knuckles, grilled chicken, or bratwurst and sauerkraut.

Girl with a pretzel at Oktoberfest.

When planning Oktoberfest be sure to eat plenty of food.

Additionally, if you didn’t reserve a table in advance and are lucky enough to snag a table in or just outside one of the tents, you will be able to purchase food. Just be sure to have cash (Euros) on hand. And who can pass up a humongous soft German pretzel the size of your head? These are delicious and are perfect for counterbalancing your beer consumption!

Toccara & Sam –  Forget Someday

Have you ever been to Oktoberfest? What tips do you have to survive?


Jeanne Harran

Author Jeanne Harran

Jeanne is a digital creative by day who is always itching to take her next adventure. She was bit by the travel bug while living in London in 2007 and has been exploring ever since. You can find her on Instagram @jmharran.

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