Oktoberfest in Munich – our insider tips for a great Wiesn day
The “Oktoberfest” is indubitably the ultimate highlight of Munich’s annual event calendar. People from all around the globe travel to Munich to be part of the world’s biggest beer festival. Let us help you plan your visit!
Let’s hit the “Wiesn” – but when is the best time to go?
In principle, there is one cardinal rule to follow: if possible, you should always choose one of the weekdays to visit Munich’s Oktoberfest instead of going on one of the three Wiesn weekends. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of action at the “Theresienwiese” festival square during the week - just a little less than on the weekend. Meaning: there is a good chance of scoring one of the coveted seats in a beer tent without having to make a reservation 6 months ahead or without having to wait in line for hours. After all, no seat means no beer!
Book early to snatch the best offer for your overnight stay at one of our hotels during Oktoberfest
When choosing a hotel, you should pay special attention to one aspect: the hotel should be within walking distance of the Theresienwiese (see below why). From both of our hotels in Munich – carathotel München City and hotelmüller München – you’ll be able to reach Oktoberfest on foot within only 10 minutes.
Make sure to book a suitable hotel for your Oktoberfest visit as early as possible – especially on the Wiesn weekends, most hotels in the city center are fully booked about one year in advance. Our insider tip: if you intend to pay a visit to the Oktoberfest in 2018, you should book a hotel room while still in Munich for this year’s Wiesn or immediately upon returning home.
Don’t worry if you didn’t plan ahead this early. As some rooms are being canceled at the last minute, latecomers might have a chance to find a vacancy after all. Just check out our booking widget above to see whether there are still some rooms available on your preferred date. Especially if you want to stay overnight during the week, you might be able to get a hot deal. By the way, you might find it easier to get a single room – which, on the plus side, will protect you from the loud beer-induced snoring of your partner or friend ;-).
Hotel room: booked! Check-in: done! But how do I get to the Wiesn?
During Oktoberfest, the whole of Munich is in a state of emergency. In 2016, roughly 6 million people visited the Wiesn. This means not only the festival square, but the whole city and especially public transport during peak times are bursting with people. Taking the subway during Oktoberfest is no fun at all, trust us! How convenient that both our hotels in Munich (carathotel München City and hotelmüller München) are within 10 minutes walking distance from Oktoberfest. You practically can’t miss the Theresienwiese - just step outside the hotel and join the passing groups of excited partygoers (which are easy to recognize by their leather pants and dirndl dresses). Just don’t forget to bring a beer to go!
Here’s another insider tip from us if you can’t avoid taking the subway to Wiesn: especially on the ride back to the city, it’s recommendable to board the train one station earlier. This way, you might easily grab a seat before the masses rush into the train. Most likely, you’ll find much less people waiting at the “Schwantalerhöhe” (U4 and U5) or “Goetheplatz” (U3 and U6) subway stations than at the “Theresienwiese” (U4 and U5) or "Hackerbrücke” (suburban train) stations.
The most important question: what on earth should I wear?
It’s easy to assume that the dress code would require a traditional garb. However, those outfits are in no way a must when visiting the Oktoberfest. While most people think that it’s a no-go to show up at the Wiesn wearing something else than a dirndl dress or leather pants, almost everything is allowed when it comes to clothes. Make sure, however, to wear comfortable shoes.
If you decide to wear a traditional outfit, however, you should do it right. Meaning: don’t even think about wearing t-shirts with fake suspenders or dirndl cleavage print, textile pants imitating the leather pants look or short dirndl dresses which don’t even cover the knees. People in Munich are very old-fashioned when it comes to their traditional outfit (which is sometimes the best piece of clothing in their wardrobe). Thus, cheap copies that go against tradition or fake dresses are not very popular. Even though tourists might consider themselves well-disguised by wearing traditional garbs, they are easily spotted by the locals because they often lack the typical accessories. Although not explicitly required, accessories such as matching jewelry, the right shoes (“Haferlschuhe”) and a traditional jacket (“Jankerl”) are making all the difference and show that their wearer is serious about tradition.
Women and girls that decide to wear a dirndl should pay attention to how they tie the bow of their apron as its location can be pretty revealing. Tied to the left side of the waist, the bow means that the woman is “single” (and open to a flirt). Women who tie their bow to the right are “taken”, while a bow tied in the middle indicates a “virgin”. Tying the bow of the apron in the back has two meanings: either its wearer is “widowed” or a waitress!
Here at last: beer tent, cotton candy or roller coaster ride first?
We recommend trying some of the amazing fairground rides and carousels right upon arrival at the Wiesn. There are several reasons for doing so: first of all, you’ll be reluctant to give up your seat in one of the beer tents because it’s just too comfortable inside. Once you’ve got a beer in your hands, a roast chicken on your plate and nice people to sway to the music with, you’ll quickly forget about the rides, which would be a pity. On top of that, the roller coaster rides will be easier to stomach (literally) when you’re sober. After a few mugs of beer, it might become a gut-wrenching experience for you and others around you....
Our insider tips for great fairground rides: although they might not look too spectacular at first sight, the traditional rides are often the most fun. This includes the toboggan run (which is also a great spot to just stand by and watch others), the giant swing ride and, of course, the huge Ferris wheel. A Ferris wheel ride at night is a particular highlight because you get the best view of the colorful lights illuminating the festival square and Munich city from above!
The time is right: let’s hit the beer tents!
But which one is the best? All of them have three things in common: beer, traditional Bavarian food and brass music. You see, it’s impossible for you to make a bad choice! However, the main difference is the beer brand served at each tent (“Augustiner” beer at the “Augustiner-Festhalle” and "Fischer-Vroni” tents, “Löwenbräu” beer at the “Löwenbräu-Festhalle” and “Schützen-Festzelt” tents, “Paulaner” beer at the “Armbrustschützenzelt”, "Winzerer Fähndl” and “Käfer's Wies'n-Schänke” tents, “Spaten-Franziskaner” beer at the “Marstall”, “Schottenhamel” and “Ochsenbraterei” tents, "Hacker-Pschorr” beer at the “Hacker-Festzeit” und “Pschorr-Bräurosl” tent and, finally, “Hofbräu” beer at the ”Hofbräu-Festzelt”). If you don’t have a special preference in terms of beer brands, just take the beer tent personality test powered by Oktoberfest.de to find out which tent best suits your personal taste.
Once you’re inside, you should look for a seat as quickly as possible, because you won’t be served any beer without a seat. If you’re with a small group, you might squeeze in at one of the tables that are not full yet – the locals won’t mind as this is fairly common in Bavarian restaurants and beer gardens. On top of that, it’s a great way to get to know Munich locals. As a rule, beer is served in huge mugs called “Mass” at Oktoberfest. If it’s too loud inside, just use your hands to show the server how many mugs you want. Of course, you can also order non-alcoholic drinks or rounds of “Obstler” shots later a night. If you want your second round of beer to be served quickly, you should give a generous tip the first time. Although you’re free to choose how much you want to tip your server, you should at least round up to a full amount to avoid being considered a miser. Depending on the tent, you’ll have to pay between EUR10.60 and EUR10.95 for your mug of beer in 2017.
Before starting your second round of beer at the latest, you should eat something to prepare your stomach for future beer consumption. Be careful: with about 6% of alcohol content, Wiesn beer is slightly stronger than regular beer. Fortunately, traditional Bavarian specialties are rather greasy and provide you with enough calories to get your stomach in shape for the next beer. For those who want to enjoy something new apart from the typical roast chicken (“Brathendl”) or roast pork knuckle (“Schweinshaxe”), the ox meat bun (“Ochsensemmel”) at the “Ochsenbraterei” tent is definitely worth a try. Vegetarians should check out homemade cheese noodles (“Kasspatzen”) at the “Hofbräu” tent.
Especially later at night, spirits are running high among the partygoers. While guests are allowed to stand (even somewhat tipsy) on the long benches to dance and sway to the music, the tables are off limits. Those who ignore this rule might find themselves thrown out unceremoniously by the security staff.
End of beer serving hours: closing up already?
You should order your last beer shortly before 10:30 p.m., which is the end of beer serving hours at Oktoberfest. All tents will be cleared by 11.30 p.m., only the “Weinzelt” and “Käfer’s Wies’n-Schänke” tents remain open until 01.00 a.m. The stalls and fairground attractions close at 11.30 p.m. (on working days) or at midnight (on the weekend).
When leaving the tent, some people are tempted to “swipe” one of the impressive beer mugs as a souvenir for their personal bar at home. We strongly advise you against doing so as the security staff is well-trained to catch mug thieves right at the exit. The beer tent hosts don’t consider this a trivial offence, but often report the thief to the police, which might result in a hefty fine. It’s much safer to buy a souvenir mug at one of the stalls. They have the current official Oktoberfest logo printed on them and are much more beautiful anyway.
If you’re tired from partying all night long, you might be tempted to sit down on the small hill behind the “Hofbräuzelt” tent to rest a little bit. However, bear in mind that the hill wasn’t named “puke hill” for nothing.... ;-)
For those who have enough energy left to continue partying, the night is far from over yet. Nightclubs and bars throughout the whole of Munich invite you to participate in their After-Wiesn parties. Check out this small list of Munich’s best After-Wiesn parties powered by süddeutsche.de.
The morning after: coffee or beer to fight your hangover?
Depending on what time you finally went to bed and how many mugs of beer you had, your head might be pounding terribly the next morning. Apart from drinking enough water at night, a tasty breakfast is the only thing to restore your mineral balance after the party. Our caratbreakfast breakfast buffet offers a rich variety of cold cuts and fish, homemade egg specialties, fresh fruit and freshly squeezed juices to provide you with some vitamins and, of course, a strong cup of coffee. If you’re feeling too weak to come downstairs for breakfast, we’ll be happy to serve your breakfast in your room upon request.
Besides, we strongly suggest that you avoid beer to fix your hangover - it’s only a short-term remedy and your headache will be back in no time. The best way to fight a headache is to sleep it off and start your day in a relaxed mood. As soon as you’re ready to get up, you should take a walk outside. The fresh air will work miracles!
For wise guys only: a short history lesson to help you impress your neighbors on the beer bench
Did you ever wonder why Oktoberfest in Munich takes place already in September? The first Oktoberfest was held on October 17th in 1810 on the occasion of the wedding between King Ludwig I. of Bavaria and Princess Therese (who gave name to the famous Theresienwiese festival square). The wedding was celebrated with a giant horse race, which was a striking success. Thus, the festivities were repeated in the years that followed. Mainly a horse race in the beginning, the festivities soon grew bigger with more stalls and attractions appearing on the festival grounds. With only a few exceptions due to several wars or outbreaks of epidemics, the fair was repeated year after year and slowly developed into the popular festivities we know today. The first Oktoberfest after the Second World War did no longer include the traditional horse race. As the hosts often had to deal with bad weather at the end of October, it was decided in 1872 to hold the festivities one month earlier. Thus, the opening of the fair was scheduled for the time around September 17th. In 1950, the Oktoberfest was opened by Munich’s former mayor with the famous words “O’zapft is” (“It’s tapped”) for the first time