A group enjoying a beer at the Oktoberfest, Munich tents

Everything You Wished You Knew About Oktoberfest

From Lederhosen to Schnitzel – Everything you need to know to be an Oktoberfest pro!

You have done some research, you have heard the stories, now you are ready to dive straight into Oktoberfest to see what all the fuss is about.

Hundreds of thousands of people, non-stop beer (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), a village erected for the sole purpose of hosting the mother of all booze ups… what could possibly go wrong?

As an Oktoberfest veteran (I have been going to Oktoberfest in Munich for years!), I can safely say that this event is definitely one for the bucket list. You may have swam with dolphins, watched the sunrise at Mount Bromo or snowboarded down the Rocky Mountains but until you have danced on a table with six Brazilians and a Polish guy, who you met 10 minutes ago, while singing German songs and drinking local beer then you haven’t really lived.

Is Oktoberfest free?

There is no admission fee to get into the Oktoberfest village or tents and you can walk around freely to enjoy the event.

You will likely spend money on souvenirs and gifts…maybe even a beer or ten.

Is Oktoberfest family friendly?

The answer is absolutely yes!

It may sound strange, but Oktoberfest isn’t just about the beer. The village has many attractions such as fair ground rides, games and stalls selling chocolates, pretzels, candy floss etc.

The event is also extremely well policed and, although it can get a bit rough late at night, it is extremely safe for the most part.

What do I wear at Oktoberfest?

This one is simple. If you want to truly be a part of the event and feel like a local, then you have to dress in the traditional outfits (Dirndl for the girls and Lederhosen for the men). You may feel silly but trust me on this one.

You can of course still get into the event in normal clothing and there is nothing forcing you to wear the traditional clothing but you WILL be the odd one out when you get inside the tents.

Just so you know.

BackpackingCraic at Oktoberfest!

Are Dirndl / Lederhosen Expensive?

Honestly, the traditional outfits aren’t cheap and can cost a few hundred Euros for the real deal….But don’t worry, you don’t have to spend that sort of money to look the part. It took me a lot of searching and haggling but eventually I was able to find some affordable options (see below for details).

This is what I like to refer to as “hack-packing”.
Definition: Doing intensive research to find the backpackers alternative to expensive things.
“Sorry I can’t eat that schnitzel right now, I need to do some hack-packing”

Where can I buy Dirndl / Lederhosen?

You can buy them in pop-up shops all over the city and also in clothes shops, shopping centres etc. You won’t have to look far to find them but don’t dive in to buying too quickly.

Head on over to München Hauptbahnhof (Munichs main train station). They have a selection of Oktoberfest clothing here for sale and the prices are far cheaper than anything else I could find in the city.

For the men, they sell the traditional Bavarian shirts, the Lederhosen, the socks and even the shoes.

For women they have the dress, aprons, socks and shoes.

How much do Dirndl / Lederhosen cost at Hauptbahnhof station?

When I went last year (2018), the prices of items in the train station were as follows:

  • Socks were €7 per pair
  • Shirts were €15 each
  • Shoes were €25 per pair
  • Lederhosen were €50 at the cheaper end of things
  • Dirndl €25 – €70 (depending on quality)

Generally vendors will negotiate on the price if you are buying more than one item from them. I would suggest getting the lederhosen as a minimum for the men, particularly if you want to keep costs down (you can always wear your own socks, shoes and a shirt and still feel part of the action).

Why do girls tie their Dirndl aprons differently?

This is vital info for all the men reading this so listen carefully lads! You might save yourself (or your friends) some embarrassment.

  • Bow tied on the left side
    This means that the girl is single.
  • Bow tied on the right side
    This means that the girl is already spoken for (it looks so right but it is so wrong!)
  • Bow tied in the middle at the front
    Normally used by younger girls or to tell you that they are a virgin!
  • Bow tied in the middle at the back
    Usually means that the girl is a widow… or a waitress*…
  • *Pro tip: Widows aren’t the best people to order a beer from, stick to the waitresses for that.

Where is the best place to go to enjoy Oktoberfest?

In Munich, the best place by far is the Oktoberfest village. This is the hub of the event and is a village constructed solely for Oktoberfest. The various breweries erect tents in the village to sell their own beers. The party never stops here.

Do I need to book a place in the Oktoberfest tents?

Making a booking is not necessary and you can just arrive at the tents and get a seat*.

*Note that there is no bar in the tents and that all beer is served by waiters/waitresses. You will NOT get a drink unless you have a seat at a table.

Try to arrive early (before 12 noon) if you intend on going into the beer tents. It can get pretty busy in the village and, once the tents are filled, they are closed and no one else is let in.

How much is a beer at Oktoberfest?

The price of a beer changes year on year and is normally announced a few weeks before the actual event. The price of a litre of beer at the 2018 festival was between €10.70 and €11.50 (depending on which tent you were in).

Can I get food at Okterfest?

Yes, of course you can.

Inside the actual tents there is a menu of food which is the wurst (see what I did there) there is also pork, dumplings, schnitzel, pretzels etc.

There is also a half chicken on the menu, known as Hendl, if you are looking for something a bit more filling then this is the one to choose! (Hendl is pretty nice too).

Is food expensive at Oktoberfest?

Honestly – yes.

Expect to pay €15 – €20 for a pretty average sized meal. You won’t be too full after it, but you know what that means – more room for beer!

If you are on a budget we would recommend having food before arriving at the tents… a few sneaky croissants at the hostel is the way to go!

Should I tip my waiter/waitress at Oktoberfest?

If you want another beer at some point in the next 12 – 15 hours then yes.

The amount you tip on your first round is usually directly linked to how long you will be waiting for future beers.

Be as generous as you can afford.

Tipping etiquette:
The waiter / waitress will arrive at the table with your beers or food and tell you how much it costs. Normally, when handing over the money you tell them how much money you are paying them (the amount owed plus your tip).

For example:
“Here are your two beers… that is €23 please”
“Take €27 in total” (hand over cash)

Any other advice?

Familiarise yourself with the german word “Prost” which means “Cheers”. You will be saying this every 15 to 20 minutes inside the tents to every man, woman or animal that is near you!

As always, the best piece of advice we can give is to be respectful. Be respectful to waiters/waitresses and to all the festival goers. Remember – the event is there to be enjoyed by everyone.

Always ask if it is okay to join a table before sitting down, it is just good manners.

Smile, chat and share stories with your new pals. You might actually make a few new friends (if I made a few then there is hope for anyone)!

So that’s the craic with Oktoberfest in Munich! Any questions then just ask below….. Prost!

Read our guide on How To Travel Lighter for your next trip!

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