Oktoberfest, the annual beer festival in Munich, Germany, is one of the biggest public drinking festivals in the world. It can also be one of the most fun, if you keep these tips in mind.
1. Book as early as possible: Hotels and flights during Oktoberfest get really expensive really fast. Even the train into Munich will be a lot more costly during Oktoberfest weekend than during normal times. Avoid paying $450 for a short round-trip flight and book everything at least a few months in advance.
2. Buy a lederhosen! Or, for girls, a dirndl. They’re the traditional German outfits that look like leather overalls and milkmaid’s dresses. They are so ubiquitous during the festival that you’ll feel out of place without one! The costumes can be found cheaply around the train station.
3. Don’t underestimate the beer: The beer served at Oktoberfest is 6% alcohol by volume. American beers are usually around 4%. Needless to say, a lot of tourists forget this fact and drink more than they mean to (and at the price of €10 a mug, they spend a lot more than they mean to as well.)
4. Eat the macaroni and cheese: German mac and cheese is some of the best in the world, and the kind served at Oktoberfest is famous. You don’t even have to order in German-the waitresses will know what you’re talking about. It’s an expensive plate of mac and cheese at €14.50, but it’s worth at least twice that much.
5. Line up early for the tents: Lines start forming at 7 a.m. sharp, even though the tents don’t open and start serving beer until 9 a.m. It’s almost impossible to get into a tent in the morning if you haven’t been let in with the first wave of a thousand or so people. So make sure to pick a tent and be in line by at least 8:00 a.m.
6. Go to the biergartens too: Inside the tents there are crazy parties, but outside, in the biergartens attached to the tents, there’s a lot more space and they’re just as fun. Smoking is allowed outside and there will be a lot more smokers than any city in America.
7. Take a nap: You simply cannot survive a full day at Oktoberfest without a nap. In fact, there are hills that surround the tents and fairground where Germans, Americans, and all other attendees can be found napping on the grass. After lunch is the peak time for napping on the hill, but it’s also a great time to get into a tent if lining up at 7 a.m. was too early.