A Few Travel Tips for Munich’s Oktoberfest (Wies’n)
The last two weeks of September are an oh so happy time for me. It’s time for the world’s largest bier drinking festival, Oktoberfest. For the last 5 years I have gone here and among my beers, fuzzy memories, and newly made friends, I have also figured out a thing or two about the best way to visit this party of 300,000 people per day. And while the Oktoberfest in Munich doesn’t start for 3 more months, I thought it wise to prepare you early…
Plan Ahead – Since I am giving these tips well in advance to the main event, I thought I would start with this tip first. 6 million people visit the Oktoberfest every year, which is a lot of people for this city. So hotel and hostel rooms book up really fast. It’s best to plan early and figure things out far in advance. There are also options for camping and perhaps Couch Surfing if you don’t mind staying at someone’s place.
Weekdays – I realize most people might plan to go to the Wies’n on the weekend, but the weekdays are actually a lot better. The crowds are a little less and you have a higher chance of getting in the tents. During these 2 weeks it seems as though weekdays don’t really matter all that much and almost the whole city is alive all week long, so not to worry if you feel like you may not get enough party time during the week…you will. We almost never go on the weekends because the tents tend to get full and close quite early. The weekdays are always just as fun and maybe even more so because inside the tents is usually where you will have the best time!
Budget – I will just go ahead and say it, the Oktoberfest is not cheap my friends. This year a beer will cost you around 10 Euros, a pretzel 4 Euros and a half of a grilled chicken about 8 Euros. So this can get pretty pricey after a few days, and if your like me, after a couple of these beers, money seems to lose its value. You can save a little here and there by not eating in the tents, drinking less, and not riding the rides… but it expensive regardless. So just to prepare you, maybe save up a few extra bucks so you won’t have to worry or cut corners while your here.
Keep Your Eyes Open – Ok, this may be a fairly odd tip, but I always find money lying around in the aftermath. Now I’m not talking on your hands under the dirty tables or anything, but always on the way home I keep my eyes out for money on the ground. You would seriously be surprised how much people lose! (Last year I found a 10 which immediately paid for my schnizel semmel (pork sandwich) So if your not too tipsy, keep an eye out for the random 5 or 10 laying on the ground, and you just might find something.
Braurosl Tent- Every year, we join some very special friends at this tent for the last day at the Oktoberfest. It is always, always, my favorite day. I cannot vouch for any of the other tent’s last day festivities, but this one is amazing. Every year they celebrate the ending with traditional “Schuplatter” dancers and along with the cracking whips is the traditional music played from every corner of the tent. It’s really great and a wonderful way to end the celebrations. They also give away something every year for everyone to wave in the air for the last songs. Last year it was actually glowing sticks and they turned off all the lights as the tent filled with glowing color everyone drank the last of their beers and sang together. Basically, its just a great time, and I highly recommend it.
Kaefer Tent – Although we never spend an entire evening in this tent, I feel it necessary to mention that this is the only tent open later, until 1:00 am while all others close at 11:00 pm. So if your not quite ready to go home yet, you can head over here and have another beer. It does tend to get quite crowded because of this, so be ready for some close interaction. This is also one of the poshest (is that a word??) tents at the Wiesn’ so if you don’t have a reservation, your gonna have to stand outside, which is actually heated and mostly covered, so no big deal. Also, in my opinion, this tent has the best food…which they should given the name on the tent!
Learn – I think it’s always important to learn a few things about the place your going before going there. A few words and customs of the people always come in handy, and this also hold true when visiting the Oktoberfest. Bavarians have worked hard to keep the culture alive here and the Wiesn’ is a great place to see that. There are several things and words you should learn before heading there…
- “Prost” – first and foremost, the word for “cheers”. Learn it. You will be using it a lot.
- When “prosting” someone, always look them in the eye. This can take a while when your at a table of 10, but regardless, it’s what they do and it’s rude if you don’t.
- “Wies’n'”- The locals name for the Oktoberfest. You will hear this a lot and it comes from the Festwiese which is the large field where the festival is held.
- “Mass”- a liter of bier. When ordering you can just hold up how many fingers to indicate how many you want. Each tent serves one bier in one size…huge. So no hard choices, just how many.
- “Hendl” – Roasted chicken. Delicious. Must try.
- “Servus” – Hi and bye in Bavarian (and in Austria) A very useful word, and you learn two in one, how nice is that?
- “Mal Zeit” or “An Guaden”- Basically means good appetite or enjoy your meal, and obviously you say it before eating.
- The “prost” song…you will hear this over and over and I’m sure catch on very quickly. They play a certain son about every 15 minutes where everyone raises their glasses and drinks together. Goooood times.
- “Obazda” – delicious cheese dip and great with drinking, definitely try this. (Pictured here)
- “Lederhosen” – The traditional men’s leather pants.
- “Dirndl” – The traditional women’s dress.
Late Night Munichies – If you would like to save a few bucks I would recommend not eating in the tents, rather saving your appetite for one of the many amazing late night muchies available afterwards. For 4 Euros you can get a hot Schitzel Semmel as opposed to spending 12-15 on dinner in the tent. There is everything from sausages to candied almonds to satisfy your late night appetite. I always make it a point to go by “Arnie’s Schnitzel Stand” at least once or twice a year. ;)
To Dress Up or Not? – This is debatable discussion with some of the locals, but I think the traditional dress is flattering, colorful and fun and I love to dress in my Dirndl even though I am not from here. Now if your planning on making the Oktoberfest a one time deal, buying one of these dresses or leather pants are quite costly and probably wouldn’t be worth it. You can find cheap imitations of the traditional outfits, but in my opinion it is ugly and kind of insulting to the culture. So, here’s my take on it….if you plan on going to the Oktoberfest a few times (or maybe every year), I think it’s nice to invest in the traditional “trachten” they wear here, I just wouldn’t buy the cheap knockoffs. *Also, on a side note for the ladies…I highly recommend wearing flats for this event. Heals look amazing with the dresses, but later on in the evening when your standing on benches, you will be happy to have flat shoes on!
(2 Photos above by DaniO)
So there you have it. Some of my travel tips for the world’s largest bier drinking festival. If I think of any more tips along the way I will be glad to add them to the list. Have you ever been to the Wiesn’? If so, what are some of your experiences and tips??