I’m not the biggest drinker in the world so actually wasn’t so excited about Oktoberfest. I mainly signed up because I had a group of friends going and could get there quickly via train as I was already in Amsterdam. I thought I would struggle with the excessive amount of drinking. Oh, how I underestimated this festival!

An Oktoberfest guide

I had 2 full days in Munich. On the first day, I wandered around the centre seeing the main sights and purposefully avoiding the festival so I could save it for the next day when all my friends would arrive.

It’s impossible to be in Munich and not know that it is Oktoberfest. Firstly, because 70% of people are walking around in traditional Lederhosen and Dirndl outfits. The outfits were amazing and I was surprised by the quality of many of them….this wasn’t a cheap tacky fancy dress event!

It’s also hard to avoid the festival because of the number of drunk people you see staggering about or, in way too many cases, throwing up.

Just as I was about to cross the road, a taxi stopped in front of me. The car door opened, a head appeared, the guy vomited about 2 litres of sick before disappearing back in the taxi which drove off. This happened at about 11 am.



Where to stay?

I was lucky to be staying with a friend who lived just 10 minutes from the festival, which is based just outside the centre of Munich. It is easy to get to either by walking or on public transport.

Accommodation gets booked up so as soon as you know you are going, get on this! As you can probably guess, hotels all put up their prices. There are a few hostels you can try (Smart Stay, Jaeger Munich or Gspusi Bar Hostel) but Airbnb is a great option.

What time to arrive at Oktoberfest?

The festival is crazy busy, especially on the weekends. I never anticipated how early we’d be getting to the festival, though!


I got up in the morning and got into my costume (I cheated a bit with only accessories – I was saving money for travelling!). Even if you don’t go all out, dressing up really is a must for this festival.

Although Oktoberfest doesn’t start until 9 am, you can get inside and queue up at your beer tent of choice early. It is free to enter the festival.

Each beer tent serves a different beer and you need to know which one you are going for. Head straight there so you are in the queue by 8 am, especially if you are in a large group and want to sit together.


By the time we got there, it was already heaving, and we were ushered into a holding area. We waited anxiously for an hour, discussing tactics about who in our group would run ahead and where to go to grab a table. When they opened the gates everyone went crazy.

Think stampeding herd from the Lion King and you’re halfway there.


Thankfully, some of our group managed to get inside quickly and ran to grab 2 tables that would seat the 13 of us. Only 10 minutes after opening, all the tables were taken. From then on, only small groups of 2-4 people were able to find a space by squashing in with other groups. Now I understood why we had got there so early.

Oktoberfest begins

The waitresses waste no time coming around with beer. (It’s insane to see as they carry up to 11 litres at a time). As there is only 1 type of beer available in the tent and only 1 size – a stein (1 litre) – buying a drink is quick. Each stein costs 12.60 – 14.90 EURO, although most people round up to include a small tip.

(prices updated 2024)

You can also order traditional German food like pretzels and sausages, which are, not surprisingly, overpriced.

Food menu at Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest guide

The tents are massive. The one we were in had the capacity for 7,000 people. The largest in the festival holds up to 11,000 people.

The atmosphere was amazing. Hundreds of people yelling and egging on anyone who is brave (or stupid) enough to down their drink. You can stand on the bench, whack your steins on the table and start chants…anything goes. Except standing on the tables. That’s not allowed.

A live band soon came on and played some traditional German songs.


I thought I would struggle to drink that early but it was impossible not to get caught up in the atmosphere. By 10 am I realised I needed to slow down and pace myself – the beer is 6.5% (!!) – a lesson that a lot of people didn’t learn quick enough.

By 11 am there were people passed out in and outside the tent and, by midday, we had lost over half of our group who went back to the flat to sleep. By 2 pm our group of 13 were down to just 3!


Exploring the rest of the festival

We left the beer tent early afternoon and had a wander around the festival, which is well worth taking a look at. It can be easy to stay in one place, but you’ll be missing a lot. There are tons of food stalls and rides. We headed for a second tent and had to wait about 45 minutes before we could get inside. All the tables were gone, but we were happy to stand.

The band in this tent were playing modern English songs, and there was a lot more dancing (and the occasional fight).


The festival closes at 11 pm but at 10 we left to meet up with some of our group who had slept off the booze and were ready to go to an after party. There are lots about, but we went for Substanz, which had free entry and a good mix of music to dance to.

We barely made it past midnight, but I was pretty proud of my 15-hour drinking efforts!


The next day was painful. I had to get up early to catch a flight. Bad idea!

Octoberfest guide: My top tips

  • Although Saturday is naturally one of the busiest days of the festival, I would say it is well worth catching the festival at the weekend to absorb the atmosphere in it’s fullest
  • Get there at least 1 hour before opening (so 8 am at the earliest) and be ruthless when it comes to grabbing a table
  • Carry plenty of cash on you for the festival (I drank 5 or 6 steins throughout the day)
  • Don’t risk taking a bag as I saw lots that had been left behind
  • It is well worth checking out a second tent in the afternoon but only do this once you are happy to give up your seat as you will be standing for the rest of the day
  • And, most importantly…pace yourself….
Guide to Oktoberfest

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