Calling all beer enthusiasts! This is the festival for you. If you like beer, German culture, or really just having a grand ol' time, Oktoberfest is where you need to be.
Germany's largest festival attracts beer lovers from all over the world to gather and celebrate together. What better way to celebrate as tourism returns to full swing than with a stein?
You're in the right place if you want all the important details before you go. My guide will give you to everything you need to know to enjoy this celebration of German culture to the fullest!
What Is Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest is a festival celebrated in Munich, Germany, celebrating beer drinking and German culture. Oktoberfest sees over 6 million visitors annually and has over 17 large and 21 small beer tents and a fairground with rides and attractions.
In short, Oktoberfest is a huge no-holds-back drinking party where everyone has a stein in hand and a bratwurst in the other.
When & Where is Oktoberfest 2023?
The celebration will be held over a whooping 18 days this year, from Saturday, September 16th, 2023 to Tuesday, October 3th, 2023 in Munich, Germany. Many Oktoberfests happen worldwide in major cities, and the start dates for those may vary.
What Does Oktoberfest Celebrate?
Oktoberfest started in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of a Bavarian prince, who later became King Louis I. The festival started out small, with horse races and food stalls but soon grew into this beer-drinking cultural phenomenon that it is today.
Now people from all over the world flock to Munich to celebrate Oktoberfest and German culture.
What Happens During Oktoberfest?
At Oktoberfest, you eat, drink, and be merry as if you are celebrating your cousin's wedding! You can expect to see people dressed in cultural clothes, drinking copious amounts of beer, and enjoying the fair.
There are some key events you don't want to miss like:
- Tapping the barrel (Opening Ceremony)
- Parade of Oktoberfest Breweries
- Costume and Riflemen's Parade (first Sunday)
Getting to Oktoberfest is relatively easy! Daily flights to Munich International airport from major cities worldwide are daily. If you're looking for a budget airline that flies from many countries to Munich, you should use Skyscanner to compare flight prices!
Once you arrive in Germany, you can take a bus, taxi or train to the city center and then to Theresienwiese, which is very close to the city center.
Where to Stay
There are many great options in Munich for any budget. Here are our suggestions for places to stay in Munich.
This quaint Hotel is close to the fairgrounds and is a great stay when planning to go to Oktoberfest.
This is the cheapest way to stay in Munich for Oktoberfest. This youth tent hostel is set in a beautiful park, and they rent tents where you'll have access to communal facilities.
This little hotel is located in the 1920s Borstein housing complex. It's very close to many Bavarian taverns and St. Martin Church. You know what they say... Location, location, location!
What to Bring
Overall, Oktoberfest is a party where there'll be drinking, so it's best to leave any oversized items like bags at your hotel. Bring an empty stomach, good vibes, and a willingness to try something new!
If you can, dress in a traditional Bavarian outfit, which can be bought at the festival or around Munich.
What Not to Bring
There are a few things that are not allowed inside the fairgrounds:
- Large backpacks
- Aerosol spray cans
- Items that can irritate or stain
Strollers for children are not allowed on Saturdays and any day past 6 pm. Strollers may be searched by security as well.
Although the entrance to Oktoberfest is free, you'll need some Euros for the beer, food, and games. The average beer will cost between $12 - $14, and food can be between $12 - $20 depending on what you order. A wurst, or German sausage in English, is the cheapest option. You'll spend about $5 - $7 on this authentic German goodie.
Best Tents at Oktoberfest
With so many tents at Oktoberfest, it can be hard to know which one has the best beer and where to start the party. Here are some of the tents I recommended checking out.
This tent is a more modern tent with a hip feel. If you are searching for vegan or vegetarian dishes, this tent is for you!
One of the largest tents at Oktoberfest with an 8,000 seating capacity, this is where the party gets going and stays going.
This tent is the biggest and baddest tent at the festival. It's extremely popular with tourists, but it is well-loved for a reason!
This tent is an off-the-beaten-path choice... You can sometimes avoid the crowds here!
This tent is extremely popular with the locals, and it's an excellent tent for experiencing the tradition of Oktoberfest. It also just so happens to be the oldest tent at the festival!
Visit this tent if you're looking for a yodeler—they have their own! Need I say more?
What to Eat at Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest is the perfect occasion to let loose and try all the traditional German cuisine you can hold! If you're new to German cuisine, it can be confusing to know what you might like to try or what you want to avoid.
Here are some of the most popular dishes you'll want to try at Oktoberfest...
Schweinshaxe is a delicious roasted ham hock that is crispy on the outside and tender inside.
Pretzels that come with many different toppings are famous at Oktoberfest, making the perfect after-stein snack.
Usually made fresh in the morning and eaten by lunch, Weißwurst is a hearty meal. This white sausage may take you by surprise, but it's tastier than it looks.
Don't let the name trip you up... This layered sponge cake with chocolate buttercream and apricot jam is a sinful treat!
You can put this pickled cabbage topping on almost anything! I recommend not to put it on the Prinzregententorte, though.
Similar to Jewish latkes, these potato pancakes can be eaten as a savory or sweet dish!
What to Drink at Oktoberfest?
That goes without saying, beer, of course! You can find many different kinds of beer at Oktoberfest, but I'll bet you didn't know that all the beer served has to have a minimum standard of alcohol?
Oktoberfest beer has to be approximately 6% alcohol by volume, and the beer has to be brewed in Munich for it to be served at Oktoberfest.
Beer drinking hours at Oktoberfest are 10 am to 10:30 pm on weekdays and 9 am to 10:30 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
German Words to Know
You don't need to learn German to get through Oktoberfest, but learning a few German words might help you not stick out. Try saying these common German words!
- Prost - This means cheers! And should be used when drinking with friends and strangers alike.
- Tracht - This means a traditional costume, Dirndl (an alpine dress) for women and lederhosen (leather pants) for men.
- Gemutlichkeit - Pronounced "Geh-moot-ly-kite," this word encompasses the essence of Oktoberfest.
First-Timer Tips & Tricks for Oktoberfest!
Here are some handy tips and tricks for first-timers at Oktoberfest.
1. Make Table Reservations
Although there are free tables to ensure you have a spot to sit, it's best to make a reservation, especially for a large group. This can cost $300 - $400 or about $30 - $40 per person.
2. Arrive Early
Don't worry if you don't want to reserve a table. You can arrive early, and there'll be plenty of seating available. As you move around throughout the day, expect to stand more.
3. Bring Cash
Cash is king! Debit and credit are accepted but carrying cash will make your life easier.
4. Stay hydrated
Don't let the excitement overwhelm you. Drink water between beers and have a bottle ready to return to your hotel. It can be easy to get dehydrated!
5. Eat outside
Don't get me wrong, the food inside the festival is absolutely delicious, but they're not cheap. So, if you want to save money, eat outside the festival, where food is cheaper.
Ready to Eat, Drink and Be Merry?
Can't wait to go to Oktoberfest this year? Make sure you make a plan with Pilot, especially if you're traveling with friends!