This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.
Intro: Is Going to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany worth it?
Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany was always on my bucket list. But does it truly deserve a spot there? Are you trying to decide if making the journey to the largest Oktoberfest celebration is genuinely worth it? Let’s get into the details of Oktoberfest, my experience in 2019, and things I would have done differently so you can determine if it’s worth it for you to attend the best Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany!
History of Oktoberfest
The roots of Oktoberfest run deep in the Bavarian region of Germany (where Munich is located.) Deep as in since 1810. The original Oktoberfest celebrated the prince of Bavaria (who later became Prince Louis I) marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.
As part of the celebrations, the couple invited all of the citizens of Munich to join them in celebrating their nuptials by drinking beer and enjoying traditional Bavarian food. The event was such a hit that they decided to make it an annual tradition.
Since then it’s been an annual festival that is always held in Munich for a little over two weeks. The festival and Oktoberfest celebrations have evolved into booths and later large beer halls which is much of what the Oktoberfest event is to this day. It’s largely understood to be a beer festival. Since October weather in Germany can be quite chilly and unpredictable, organizers eventually moved the festival up into September.
Each year Oktoberfest draws nearly 6 million people. Some are Germans and many are visitors or tourists from other countries. On opening day, there is a parade where all the breweries are represented with floats carrying in kegs of beer and having a ceremony to tap the first kegs and start the Oktoberfest festivities.
Many cities across the United States with strong German heritage have festivals and events to simulate Oktoberfest. Wurstfest in New Braunfels, Texas is the most well-known Oktoberfest-like event in the state.
When is Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest in Munich Germany starts in the middle of September and concludes the first weekend of October. Refer to the official communications of Oktoberfest for the specific dates for the year you’re planning to go. This can be confusing due to the name says “October” in it. The original celebration was actually after Oktoberfest concludes in current times.
Where is Oktoberfest?
The location of Oktoberfest is held outside of Munich, Germany at the Theresienwiese fairgrounds. This is the largest fairground in Munich.
The easiest way to get to Oktoberfest is using Munich’s public transportation. Be sure to map your route both to and from Theresienwiese in advance. The city’s U-Bahn (subway) system is efficient and easy to use; just be prepared for crowds during peak hours.
How long does Oktoberfest Last?
One of the most important things to consider before you decide to go is when is Oktoberfest in Munich Germany for the year you’re going to go. Timing is important! Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany typically starts in the middle of September and runs through the first weekend in October for 16 days. The official dates each year change, so be sure to look up the specific dates through official Oktoberfest communications and information.
The weekends are usually the busiest times, so if you can swing it, try going during the week instead. Many say the best time to go to Oktoberfest is during the week and daytime because it isn’t as busy. And be sure to book accommodation well in advance – hotels fill up quickly during this time! (And the closer you are to Thereseienwiese grounds, the more expensive your accommodations will be!)
Oktoberfest Guide: What to Expect
Oktoberfest doesn’t have an admission fee. But, the food and drink at the grounds can be expensive. You can bring food and snacks but bringing drinks is not permitted. Expect there to be a lot of people.
Only bring what you need with you. There are restrictions on bags and items you can bring in. If you’re planning on bringing a stroller there are some times when it isn’t permitted and you have to pay a fee to park it in an authorized area. Travel tip: It’s best to travel as lightly as possible with the most cash as you can!
The main attraction at Oktoberfest is the beer tents. The beer tents differ in size. Some are considered “big tents” while others are “small tents”. While Wiesn beer is typically the drink of choice, there are other drinks available at Oktoberfest. One tent caters specifically to just wine!
You might be wondering what else is there aside from beer tents at Oktoberfest. You can enjoy carnival rides, games, and vendor stalls.
What to Eat at Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest is a world-famous event that takes place in Munich, Germany every year. It’s all about beer and food, so if you’re planning to attend this festival, knowing what you should eat and drink is important. Just thinking about food and drink makes any festival, including Oktoberfest, worth attending.
When it comes to food, there are many delicious options available at Oktoberfest. One of the most popular dishes is roast chicken or Hendl in German. It’s simply seasoned with salt and pepper then roasted until crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. It’s usually served with sides like fries or potato salad.
Another must-try dish is Schweinshaxe which is a roasted pork knuckle that’s crispy on the outside but tender on the inside – definitely not one for vegetarians! You can also try Würstl (sausages) such as Bratwurst or Weisswurst served with sauerkraut (fermented cabbage).
If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to try Kaiserschmarrn – these are chopped-up pancakes topped with fruit compote or apple sauce – yum! You can also indulge your sweet cravings by trying some Schmalzkuchen (a type of doughnut.)
Lebkuchenherzen is similar to gingerbread. You will see these in gingerbread-looking hearts in various sizes with frosting and decoration on them at many stalls at Oktoberfest. They’re really pretty and very traditional.
What to Drink at Oktoberfest
Of course, you know I’m going to say the beer! Being a craft beer enthusiast, I will say that German beers truly aren’t my favorite. I’m not over the moon for wheat-forward styles. But, Oktoberfest is known for its traditional German beers, which are brewed specifically for the Oktoberfest festival.
The official beer of Oktoberfest is called “Märzen” or Märzenbier, a rich amber-colored lager with a malty flavor. This beer is a type of lager that’s brewed in March (hence the name) and then aged until September or October when it’s ready for drinking. It has a rich, malty flavor and typically clocks in around 5-6% alcohol by volume (ABV). This beer has been brewed since the 16th century and has become an integral part of the festival.
When it comes to drinking at Oktoberfest, you have a few options. You can either order a liter (“ein Mass”) or half-liter (“ein Halbe”) of beer at one of the many tents set up throughout the festival grounds. One thing to note: to order a beer you have to be seated! Each tent is sponsored by a different brewery, so if you have a favorite German brewer, be sure to seek out their tent.
Some popular breweries that have tents at Oktoberfest include Paulaner, Hofbräuhaus München, Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu, Augustiner Bräu München, and Hacker-Pschorr Bräu. Just seeing their epic tents at Oktoberfest made going to Oktoberfest worth it.
When you get your beer, make sure to hold your glass up high and say “Prost!” which means “Cheers!” in German.
If you’re not much of a beer drinker or just need a break from all that maltiness (I won’t judge), there are other drinks available at Oktoberfest as well. I mean my favorite German beer styles are Dunkel or Doppelbocks which tend to be less malty or wheat-forward. But there’s also wine, jager, cider, and non-alcoholic beverages available as well.
What to wear to Oktoberfest
You can wear whatever you want to Oktoberfest. Standard jeans and a T-shirt are just fine! Many attendees will wear traditional Oktoberfest attire. Oktoberfest attire for men is lederhosen while women wear a dirndl.
The way a woman ties her dirndl apron does have significance. If it’s tied on the right the woman is married or in a relationship but if it’s tied on the left she’s single.
Oktoberfest itinerary or Oktoberfest plan
While I’m normally definitely an itinerary kind of gal while traveling, Oktoberfest is a little bit of a different scenario. I will say, these were the items that were on my list:
- See the opening day parade
- Walk through most of the beer tents
- Drink some liters of beer
- Eat some traditional German food
Other than knowing if you have a table reservation or where you want to get a seat at a beer tent, the rest is up to how the day unfolds. As the day progresses into night, things definitely get rowdier so keep that in mind also.
Is Oktoberfest worth it?
Personally, after going to Oktoberfest in 2019 I don’t think Oktoberfest is worth it. It’s expensive, crowded, and overhyped. But you might be thinking should I go to Oktoberfest? The quick answer is yes. Everyone can enjoy it or have a very different Oktoberfest experience. Not everything will be your cup of tea, but having a new experience is always worth it. So, if it’s something you’re even remotely considering, do it! Hey, the worst thing that could happen is you have a little Oktoberfest fun to reminisce about for years to come.
Part of the reason I didn’t think Oktoberfest was worth it was my decisions. There are several things I should have done differently when visiting. Here are some tips to have a better experience at Oktoberfest in Munich than I did!
Oktoberfest tips for the best experience
1) Make accommodation reservations early
Depending on how close you stay to the fairgrounds will determine how expensive it is. Generally, you can plan to spend 2-3x more for accommodations in or around Munich during Oktoberfest. But the key thing is booking as soon as you know you’re going to go. Hotels and rentals by owners will book a year or more in advance!
2) Have beer tent table reservations in advance OR have a plan where you want to get a seat
There are tents where tables are set aside for those who don’t have reservations. It’s different on a tent-by-tent basis. If you are able to make advance reservations (especially if you have a large group) do so!
3) Dress for the occasion
Whether you choose to don traditional apparel for the festivities or not, be sure to dress comfortably (especially the shoes you decide to wear!) and pack a rain jacket for good measure. Other than when you’re in the beer tents, Oktoberfest is largely outdoors so you will be subject to the weather.
4) Have cash and be prepared
You do not need tickets to attend Oktoberfest. But, everything else will cost money. Oktoberfest is cash only. Be sure you’re prepared by bringing cash with you prior to arriving. Not to fear, there are ATMs onsite, but it’s just better to have at least what you think you’re going to spend on hand. Then you don’t have to worry about it, you can get to the festivities and start having fun right away!
5) Have a budget
You might be wondering how much does Oktoberfest cost or how much is Oktoberfest? Getting in, there isn’t an admission fee but everything you eat, drink, and do has a cost. Based on how much you’re allowing yourself to spend each day, only bring that amount in cash with you. Then when it’s gone it’s gone and your day is done. It would be really easy to overspend especially if you were able to pay by card.
6) Walk through the beer tents
Even if you aren’t able to get a seat in all of the beer tents, I strongly suggest walking through as many of them as you can! Each tent has a different vibe and decorations. Some are really lively with loud music while others are more chill. The tent you choose to visit (and sit down in if possible!) also have different types of food available.
Is one day at Oktoberfest enough?
I spent only one day at Oktoberfest and felt like it was enough. On opening day, after the parade, we made our way to the festival grounds. After walking through several of the beer tents, having a few beers, and perusing the stalls of the festival it was a long day.
Is Oktoberfest worth it if you don’t drink?
Oktoberfest is not just about drinking beer. Yes, it’s true that beer is a big part of the festival (after all, it originated as a celebration of Bavarian beer culture), but there’s much more to see and do beyond that. From traditional food like sausages and pretzels to carnival rides and games, the festival caters to different tastes and interests.
How expensive is Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest can really add up! There isn’t an entry fee to get into Oktoberfest. If you plan on eating and drinking that’s where you’ll spend most of your money. Liters of beer at Oktoberfest in 2022 cost between 13-17 euros a piece. These prices can be expected to rise over the years.
Is Oktoberfest cash only?
Yes! Be sure to have an ample amount of cash with you. Vendors and beer tents do not accept card payments. If you forgot there are ATMs onsite. For the nearest ATM location, you can refer to the Oktoberfest app if you’ve downloaded it. Otherwise, they’re usually located in quieter areas of the beer tents where security personnel monitors them.
Should I go to Oktoberfest?
Yes, you should definitely go to Oktoberfest if you’re considering it. For starters, it’s a great opportunity to experience German culture firsthand. You can drink traditional Bavarian beer served by waitresses dressed in dirndls, eat delicious German dishes, listen to Bavarian music, and experience the parade and the grand entrance to the fest on opening day.
Why is Oktoberfest always in September?
Originally, it started on October 12, 1810, as a marriage celebration. The prince & princess of Bavaria invited the citizens of Munich to celebrate and enjoy German food. It was such a hit that it became an annual event. Since October weather in Germany can be quite chilly and unpredictable, organizers eventually moved the festival to start in September.
Conclusion: Is Oktoberfest worth it?
Personally, I’m not in a hurry to go back to Oktoberfest. Even though I really love craft beer and travel to experience beer and beer culture all over the world. I’m glad I went and if it’s a bucket list item for you, definitely go! I just felt it was somewhat underwhelming.
Other beer experiences I’ve enjoyed a lot more include the Bermondsey Beer Mile in South London and a beer spa in Iceland. Read more about the European beer travel experiences I’ve felt were better and more memorable. I was even really impressed by the craft beer in Italy!
But, if you’re choosing to go to Germany to experience the culture, check out Oktoberfest, then do a lot of other things I would say heck yes, pack your bags and go! There are so many great things to see in Munich and close to Munich, so it’s a great starting or ending point for a trip to Germany or a European adventure!