Check the biggest and best Oktoberfest in Germany off your bucket list! Tips for Oktoberfest Munich 2023 will ensure you plan the best Oktoberfest experience!
I love Germany, have visited several times, and have always dreamed of an Oktoberfest getaway in Munich. Putting together the best Oktoberfest plan to ensure an optimum experience is something many United States bucket listers will want to do. With that in mind, I researched the best Oktoberfest tips and information. My hope is that this Munich Oktoberfest guide will help you create the experience of a lifetime in one of my favorite cities in the world.
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Note: If you’ve never been to Munich before or are planning an extended return visit, consult my Munich Guide. If you’d prefer the information in e-book or regular book format, check out my paperback Munich guide or our Kindle Munich guide.
What is the History of Munich’s Oktoberfest and Where is Oktoberfest Held in Munich?
The history of Oktoberfest dates back to the early 19th century. Munich, the seat of the German state of Bavaria, has held Oktoberfest (which really occurs from mid-September through the beginning of October) since 1810. Other cities in Bavaria and the rest of Germany hold similar events with live music showcasing German beer, but Munich’s annual event is the daddy of them all, the biggest Oktoberfest of them all.
The first Oktoberfest was a celebration to which the citizens of Munich were invited by Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig) on the occasion of his marriage to Princess Therese. The fields in front of what were then the city gates were renamed Theresienwiese (Therese’s meadow) in her honor. Oktoberfest is still celebrated at this location, which has its own UBahn stop.
The festival grew through the years and became an annual German tradition in late September with an agricultural show, parades, beer halls serving seasonal beers, amusement rides, bands, a traditional flea circus, a 12-gun salute and keg-tapping ceremony, with an official proclamation by the mayor.
Your visit to Oktoberfest in Munich will consist of lots to see and do, as this is the best Oktoberfest in Germany and the largest Volksfest (People’s Fair) in the world.
What to Expect: Oktoberfest Beer Tents Serving Beer and Traditional Oktoberfest Food to Throngs of Revelers
Expect to share your Oktoberfest experience in Munich with a great number of the approximately six million other folks who will visit. Two-thirds of these will be from Bavaria, and the German heritage will be on full display with liters of beer flowing and traditional German food on offer.
With these vast numbers, your Oktoberfest plan should be strategic in nature. While the Oktoberfest main event location is easily accessible, map out your access to the festival based upon which public transport stop is the most conducive.
More than 30 temporary wooden tents are specifically constructed for the festival. Each of the Oktoberfest main tents serves its corresponding beer or wine. There are six official breweries which are the only ones allowed to produce Oktoberfest Beer™ under special criteria and serve it at the event.
Traditional Oktoberfest food such as Bavarian dumplings, pastries, soft pretzels, pork knuckle, roasted chicken and duck, and sausages are available to feast upon.
What About Safety and Security at Oktoberfest Munich 2023?
Safety and security are paramount at Oktoberfest Munich 2023. Rides and structures are performance tested, and supported by an on-site service center at the Oktoberfest location with police, firefighters, medical personnel from the Bavarian Red Cross. Ambulance and hospital services, including surgery, are present, with additional emergency vehicles and staff on call. Dogs and glass bottles are banned.
There are lockdown rings based on the layout of the Oktoberfest tents, controlled access to the festival, and overhead flight bans in place. Crowds and transportation can be quickly diverted and even suspended in the case of a security-related event. Backpacks and heavy bags over 3 liters are prohibited and a security fence has been built. Other prohibited items are glass bottles, pressurized cans, items which could be used as a weapon, and baby strollers have limited hours. Entrances are monitored and the UBahn entrance to Theresienwiese has been modified.
Dress Authentically in Traditional Outfits for Oktoberfest in Munich
Get into the fun of Oktoberfest with traditional dress! Does Oktoberfest food taste better wearing traditional styles of Bavarian costume during the festival? Only trying it will tell! Along with your Oktoberfest tickets, pack what to wear during Oktoberfest. For women, this means Dirndl (a gathered skirt and blouse combination). If you loop the tie on your dirndl at the left, this means you are single and open to “friendship.” On the right, you’re off the market.
For men, the traditional lederhosen (literally leather pants) and cuffed loferl (which are best described as a diamond-patterned cuffed leg warmer or footless sock) are de rigueur, as well as the hat with feather or brush adornment.
For both men and women, the charivari watch-chain with charms and coins dangling is worn.
Collectors’ souvenirs such as classic beer steins and mugs, stone pitchers, glass jugs, beer glasses and coffee mugs will tempt you. These items can range in quality and price from cheap trinkets to artisan limited editions.
Things to Do During Oktoberfest in Munich Besides Drinking Beer
If it’s your first visit to Munich, you’ll want to focus on Marienplatz in the Altstadt neighborhood. This is the historic city center, with attractions like the Rathaus (City Hall) with its mechanical clock, the twin-spired Frauenkirche, the Viktualienmarkt (fresh farmer’s market), museums, and 18th century beer halls such as the Hofbrauhaus, where you can enjoy traditional dancing to German bands with locals . Hofbrau is one of the sanctioned Oktoberfest German breweries mentioned above, and the Hofbrau tent is one of the most popular destinations during Oktoberfest. The UBahn and SBahn (think Underground and Surface to differentiate the trains) both have Marienplatz stops.
For retail therapy inspiration, check out our photo essay: Shopping in Munich. Perhaps you’ll want to spend some time in a residential neighborhood for a real locals vibe. If so, review our post on Schwabing for ideas, or see some of our recommendations from the Nymphenburg neighborhood, below.
Where Else Should You Go to Drink Beer During Your Oktoberfest Getaway in Munich?
Depending upon the amount of time you’ve planned to spend in Munich, we recommend additional beer-related experiences aside from the Oktoberfest venue. Fortunately, as our roundup post about public transportation shows, Getting Around Munich is a piece of Black Forest cake, and you’ll find plenty of beer at these establishments.
Augustiner Bräustuben – A classic Bavarian restaurant associated with Munich’s oldest brewery which dates from 1294, when Augustine monks laid the cornerstone of their monastery. One of the six brewers mentioned above. Choose from restaurant, roof terrace and outdoor beer garden seating. Walk from Oktoberfest, or take Trams 18, 19 or N19 along Bayerstrasse stopping at either Schrenkstrass or Hermann-Lingg-Strasse.
Chinesischen Turm Restaurant und Biergarten – Englischer Garten – What’s a beer garden doing at the Chinese Pagoda in the English Garden in Munich? Darned if we can explain but it’s a really good time. This beer garden seats 7,000 people in the largest park in Europe.
Enter the Englischer Garten via Thiemestrasse a couple of blocks east of the UBahn Giselastrasse stop (or direct to the Chinese Pagoda from Busses 54, 150, 154 or N44).
Somewhat away from all the Oktoberfest festivities is the Nymphenburg neighborhood. Get there by SBahn via the München-Laim stop, busses 51 and 151 to Hirschgartenalle or Romanplatz, or trams 12, 16, 17, and N16. This is the home of beautiful Nymphenburg Schloss (Palace), which is surrounded by a lovely park and gardens, perfect for a day’s picnic. We lived in this beautiful neighborhood during a month-long housesit, smack dab between our two favorite beer gardens in Munich, one being the largest, and the other an elegant, intimate setting.
Königlicher Hirschgarten is the largest beer garden in Munich, seating 8,000 people. Surprisingly, this is not overwhelming, situated as it is adjacent to the original Royal Deer Park dating from the 18th century. Prior to that, the site was used for pheasant hunting and growing hops. When the Tiergarten (Deer Garden) gamekeeper was required to lease the opportunity to serve drinks and food to guests, the beer garden concept was born.
With a restaurant that seats a total of 500 in a variety of vintage rooms, and outdoor service or self-service, you can enjoy meat-based entrees with spaetzle, fresh pretzels and a variety of cakes and ice cream. Or you may bring your own snacks to enjoy a great time with beer tapped from five different taverns. Centuries old chestnut trees provide shade to the classic wooden tables.
In the Nymphenburg Schloss compound itself, venture down a side alley (on the map, it’s just up from the Romanstrasse back gate to the Schloss) along the auxiliary buildings to the Schlosswirtschaft zur Schwaige Restaurant. This is a very elegant baroque restaurant which serves themed dinners entitled “Sisi” (after the Hapsburg Princess), “Intoxication of the Senses,” and “King Ludwig,” as well as a 3-course menu with beer tasting.
It is all breathtakingly lovely inside, but head through the garden gate adjacent to the main entrance and you’ll find the seasonal beer garden, which is shaded by the proverbial spreading chestnut tree. We regularly walked the dogs we were caring for here in the evenings, and would pretend we lived in the neighborhood permanently.
Where to Stay during Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest is Munich’s busiest time of year. While there is hotel availability as of this writing, your search will reveal expensive rate increases if you’re looking for where to stay during Oktoberfest to be the order of the day. For example, our favorite hotel, Le Meridien Munich (see our review here), prices out at well over €400 per night and even more on weekends. Click on the interactive map below for ideas on where to stay in Munich for Oktoberfest.
If you’re open to the idea of alternatives, hostels in Munich for Oktoberfest might be a good choice. But if you’re going to be sacrificing the privacy of a private hotel room for encounters with other revelers, the best place to stay in Munich for Oktoberfest would be “glamping,” in our opinion. Click here to see information on glamping stays.
But catch your breath, if you’re set on a hotel, you can still afford to go to the best Oktoberfest in Germany. Expand your search from “Munich hotels for Oktoberfest” to a bigger radius and consider neighboring locations.
It’s easy to get to Munich by train; from the city of Augsburg, for example, it takes only about 45 minutes. Other communities and outer ring suburbs are even closer. The Oktoberfest tents are only a 10-15 minute walk from the Munich Hauptbahnhof. Leave the station at Bayerstrasse and turn right. Turn left on Hermann-Lingg-Strasse and proceed about 400 meters. Prost!