Surviving Oktoberfest can be a messy affair. The clearest way I could describe Oktoberfest is great beer, great food, great music, great people, and a sea of perfect German breast. If you're a guy it's an easy thing to get sucked into. But what's great about Oktoberfest is it's not all about booze and boobs, it's about good humored frivolity, celebration and commodore, and also celebrating a tradition: the royal wedding of Ludwig I...and the massive party he threw afterward for the Bavarians.
Oktoberfest in Munich Germany is officially the largest 'Peoples' fair in the world, with over six million people annually in recent years. It covers over one hundred acres of ground.
Oktoberfest Official Website
Location of Oktoberfest Fair Grounds
If you are staying in Munich you'll want to take the public underground (blue sign marked-U-) to the stop Theresienwiese, just follow the crowds a couple blocks from the stop. If you're walking just head to the central station and from there it's only about a 10 minute walk south.
The smartest thing to do is park outisde the city and ride the train into the city. Pull into a Park+Ride (P+R) located outside the city, off the autobahn. If you decide to brave the traiff you drive in as close as you can to the fairgrounds take the autoban toward Munich center. Eventually, you’ll come across the Mittlerer Ring; take this West and exit at Landsberger Strasse, then head straight towards the city (Zentrum). Park in the nearest available parking garage and the fairground is within a couple kilometers, just follow the crowds!
Finding a Place to Stay
Finding a place to stay in Munich during Oktoberfest can be difficult, and pricey. Hostels are usually the cheapest route, but most are booked full throughout the event, with extremely jacked up prices. If you want ensured and reasonably priced lodging in Munich during the festival you will need to book early. Six months in advance is maybe the cut off. Many people book nearly a year in advance.
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- Hostels, Hotels & Youth Hostels at HostelBookers
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In my opinion the absolute best website for finding accommodation is AirBnB. If you aren't familiar with the site yet get with the program because you'll find deals and flats you'd never find anywhere else. It's basically a site where people can post short term who live abroad or travel, have vacant apartments, extra rooms, etc. So they let these amazing rooms out at very discounted prices. You have the added bonus of all the equipment the house comes along with. My mates and I stayed in a big five person flat in the city center, just a few stops away from the fair grounds, for 20 euro a night per person. However, it relies on trust and referrals so if you have a bad track record it will become harder to find decent places. So you need to rack up some positive referrals in order to find the better locales.
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One of the most important things about Oktoberfest are the tents (which are more like permanent looking warehouses than tents). There's fourteen of them scattered around the fair grounds, mostly along the main avenue. Every tent has a different personality. No two tents are the same and every one serves its own beer (which are the breweries each tent is named after). So if you want a well rounded experience of Oktoberfest you need to visit as many tents as you can. Some are very rowdy whereas some are more mild. The most famous tent (Hofbrau) is always a good time, but it's usually jam packed. The Schottenhameltent is where the mayor taps the first keg officially beginning the festival. Augustiner tent is a personal favorite, filled with a lot of younger people to party with. Best thing to do is wander around a bit and find your own vibe. But a lot of the tents will be overloaded, and reservations will be needed. These are easy to get and some of them you can get just a few days before. An important thing to remember is that most tents require you to sit at a table to order beer. The best plan, if you are like me and don't really have a plan, is to just show up early, get a table at any tent, get your drinks in, then wait until about mid-day until everybody is already drunk and you can pretty much roam through the tents freely.
Tricks of the Trade
If you aren't having fun at Oktoberfest, no matter what you're doing, then you're doing something wrong. But, there are always ways to have a little more fun by being aware of a few cultural observations made by previous patrons.
1) Invest in a Lederhousen (Guy) or Dindle (Girl). Some can be very pricey, but if you look in the right place you will be able to find them at a reasonable rate. It's worth the money, trust me.
2) Know the Dindle code: the little bow around their waste is more than merely decorative. It signifies their marital status. If it's on the left side she's single, on the right she's taken, and if it's in the middle then she's a virgin.
3) Make a Reservation. A lot of tents allow you to call just a night or two before so it's always worth a check. If you don't make a reservation get there early. Tents open at 9am. As said already the best thing to do if you don't have a reservation is to get there early, stay until midday, then the entry lines at other tents should be died down.
4) Know the German drinking songs. The most popular one (which is sung every 20 minutes) is Ein Prosit.
5) Come prepared with a few basic German phrases. These are the most important ones:
-A Beer Please: Ein Bier bitte
-Thank You: Danke
-A more polite and personable Thank You: Danke Schoen
-Cheers: Prost! (with emphasis)
-You are beautiful: Du Bis Winderschön
-You have nice eyes: Ich mag deine Augen
Many people come to Oktoberfest every year thinking they are going to stay a week or more, and drink everyday yadda yadda. The reality is after a couple full days of drinking with Germans, you are reallllly hurting. So I would suggest plan on three entire days at Oktoberfest, should be plenty, and then maybe a day or two for just checking out the city. Munich on its own is one of Europe's neatest cities!