Oktoberfest Survival Guide

Oktoberfest is the Munich event of the year. When tourists invade the city to sing silly songs, dance on tables and drunkenly stagger around the city. This will be my fourth year at Oktoberfest, and I come armed with tips for Wiesn virgins – here goes!

  • Don’t wear a dirndl with Converse. Please. Knee-length boots don’t work either.
  • Fishnets are a questionable accessory at the best of times, but do not combine a pair with your dirndl. It’s best to go tights-less, if the weather’s warm enough.
  • Lederhosen – traditional Bavarians will tell you you shouldn’t wear a brand new pair of Lederhosen to Oktoberfest. You’ll be the obvious tourist. However, if you do have a new pair, please don’t try to make them look well-worn. I once experienced a friend throwing dregs of beer at his Lederhosen in the garden, and it didn’t work as well as planned. Especially as his girlfriend refused to let him back in the house with musty Lederhosen, so they got rained on on the balcony.
  • Hotpant Lederhosen on girls. Just wrong.
  • If you’re a lady with a small chest, a dirndl bra is expensive, but works wonders.
  • Don’t buy a mini dirndl. Anything above the knee is frowned upon, and you really will look cheap.

Fairground rides

  • From past experience, I know that drinking 3 Maß (6 pints of beer) on an empty stomach and deciding to go on the carousel is a bad idea. However, slightly tipsy fairground rides are a lot of fun, and the horror house is much more horrifying while drunk.
  • If you have kids, this is the best part of Oktoberfest. There’s a separate section of the Wiesn, the historic Wiesn – with pony rides, gentle train rides and puppet shows.


  • The Hendl (roast chicken) is your staple at Oktoberfest. It’s delicious – the skin’s marinated and cooked to perfection, and it’s just the right level of salty to help soak up all the alcohol. They serve thousands of roast chickens each day, and how each one tastes so good, I’ll never know.
  • If you’ve got a sweet tooth, Magenbrot (literally ‘stomach bread’) is also good for a drunk stomach.
  • Many tourists will head to the Hofbräuhaus on a night off from Oktoberfest. While it’s worth checking out, it’s horribly full during Oktoberfest and the traditional beer hall experience will pass you by. Instead, check out the Augustiner beer hall. Fewer tourists.


  • Oktoberfest isn’t much fun unless you’re ready to drink. And I mean drink. You can’t order anything smaller than a litre of beer. Be prepared to pay around 10 € for your litre, and tip the waitresses generously. They work hard.
  • If you order a “Maß”, you’ll get a litre of helles – which is pretty much lager. If you want anything else, such as a shandy (“Radler”), you have to be specific when ordering.


  • Getting a table inside a tent means getting to the Wiesn at around 8am and queuing. Ideally, you need a reservation (people reserve around a year in advance). If you get a table, or can squeeze on with others, you’d be a fool to leave it – which often means drinking copious amounts of beer from the morning on.
  • If you fancy a more relaxed evening/day, it’s easier to get a seat outside. There, you won’t be dancing on tables to Oktoberfest songs, but you will be able to chat with friends. Swings and roundabouts.
  • Learn this song – you’ll be singing it every half an hour.


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