The Girl’s Guide to Oktoberfest

The Girl’s Guide to Oktoberfest

So you’ve decided to go to Oktoberfest. Well, you can rest assured that you’re going to have a once in a lifetime experience. But what do you need to know before you go? From dirndls, to beer, to those ridiculous gingerbread hearts; I’ve got you covered!

What to expect

Believe it or not, Oktoberfest is a family friendly event– particularly during the day. There are countless carnival rides in addition to the famous beer tents, and hundreds of food options. There are 14 massive tents to choose from, each more epic than the last. It’s completely normal to only visit one or two tents per day depending on hour long you stay. If you get a good spot and are enjoying the environment, there’s really no reason to leave for another! Most tents have brass bands who play a mixture of Bavarian tunes and pop culture classics like Don’t Stop Believin’ on breaks. Feel free to join in on traditional drinking songs, and ask a local for the lyrics. You’ll feel like a natural in no time! Towards the close of the festival (11pm) the tents turn into a huge party with music you can’t help but sing along to.

oktoberfest munich

When to go

The best time to visit Oktoberfest is during the week, as weekends are insanely packed. However, even if you go during the week, be prepared to face some serious crowds. During lunch hour (12:00-4:30pm) you’ll find families and business people. During the later seating period (5:00-close), the crowds grow bigger (and wilder). To get to and from the festival, public transportation is really your only option. Keep in mind that most stations don’t accept credit cards.

The most important part… The dirndl!

Without question, you must get a dirndl! It makes the experience so much more authentic, and you’ll be treated differently if you aren’t wearing one. It’s a bit of a splurge at around 100 euro and up, but you can convince yourself that you’ll wear it for Halloween every year. (At least that’s what I did). When buying the dirndl, here are some things to consider:

    • Whether you want to purchase it ahead of time online or wait until you get to Munich is up to you. I chose to order one for $100 and paid $50 for shipping from Germany. My friend (Martha) decided to wait until we got there, and she found one at C&A for about 120 euro. You probably won’t save much money either way.
    • If you decide to order online, make sure you measure yourself to ensure sure it fits as return postage to Germany isn’t cheap, and do not opt for a short one. At the most, it should hit slightly above your knees, or you’ll end up looking tacky.
    • If you decide to buy it there, ask a local where to shop. There are tons of spots that cater to tourists, so you’ll want to make sure yours looks authentic– especially when you’re dropping that kind of dough! Martha’s from C&A near Marienplatz was absolutely adorable and super authentic!

oktoberfest prost

Tip: The proper way to prost (cheers) is by clanking your mugs from the bottom up while locking eyes. The goal is to slosh a little beer from one glass to another.

Where you tie your apron is important!

  • Right side: You’re married or seriously dating someone.
  • Left side: You’re single. Be prepared for some extra attention.
  • Middle: You’re a virgin.
  • Back: You’re widowed or a waitress.

dirndl oktoberfest

What else should you bring?

Keep in mind that anything you bring to Oktoberfest can and will get beer on it. I wore my Birkenstocks the first day, and lace up boots with a sweater the second day because the temperature dropped overnight. As far as purses go, bring one you don’t care too much about like an inexpensive crossbody. I brought my DSLR camera the first day, but I left it at home the second because it was too much to worry about. Your iPhone or GoPro will do the trick. Most importantly, make sure you bring plenty of cash! Credit cards aren’t really accepted at the fest, and running out of money is sure to ruin your time. I recommend at least 120 euro to be safe. Hopefully this goes without saying, but leave your passport and other valuables at home. And as always, keep an eye on your belongings. Other good items to bring include hand sanitizer, tissues, and a back up phone charger.

Don’t forget to eat!

Start your day off like a true bavarian with veal sausages, beer, and a pretzel with traditional sweet mustard. I was a little skeptical about the sausage, but was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it.

bavarian breakfast

Pretzels are your best friend! You may not want to look at another one after a couple days at the festival, but it is absolutely essential that you keep your stomach full when drinking liters of beer. Unless you want to end up on the hill of shame or on one of those ‘Oktoberfest fails’ YouTube videos.

pretzel oktoberfest

All hail the half chicken! *insert hands up emoji* This is an Oktoberfest classic. They’re extremely salty, but I promise they taste absolutely amazing once you’re a liter or two deep.

oktoberfest chicken

Around the festival, you can find other delicious treats like crepes, kettle corn, and bratwursts.

Getting a spot in the tents

This is by far the biggest battle you will face during your time at Oktoberfest. The tents are constantly full, and any open table is usually reserved. The rule is, if a table isn’t occupied within one hour of the reservation, it’s up for grabs.

The reservation windows are 12:00-4:30pm and 5:00-11:00pm

Our group got really lucky when we found an unoccupied reserved table at Schottenhamel, which is the “it tent” according to our AirBnB host, at around 5:30pm. Nobody ever tried to claim it, and we let other fest-goers join us to make our table complete. I highly recommend visiting this tent in the evening for an unforgettable time!

schottenhamel oktoberfest

If you don’t see an open table, try your best to walk around and politely ask if groups have room for you to join. The smaller your party is, the better your chances will be. If you’re unsuccessful, there is usually open seating outside each tent. It just isn’t as fun.

lowenbrau oktoberfest

A fan favorite tent is Lowenbrau, complete with a massive lion statue. The dreamiest tent (literally) is the Hacker tent with its cloud and stars theme. Hofbrau is world famous, and Augustiner is considered the most family friendly tent. For a map and complete list of tents, check out the official Oktobefest website.

Tours and reservations

If you want to play it safe, you can’t go wrong with a tour with The Thirsty Historian. Ours was 100 euro, which sounds like a lot, but it included a traditional bavarian breakfast (half liter of beer, two sausages, and pretzel), a private tour of one of the Pauliner breweries including another half liter of beer, a ferris wheel ride ticket, and a tent reservation at Lowenbrau from 12:00-4:30pm with two liters of beer and a half chicken. Plus, our host’s son was there and was the cutest thing ever.

oktoberfest germany

The more the merrier!

If you have a table at Oktoberfest with a little extra room, it’s important to spread the love. When you see someone looking for a spot who seems friendly, invite them to join your group. We made friends with the sweetest couple from Australia and a few Germans, and they made our experience even more memorable.

Keepsakes

Once you get to the festival, you’ll probably wonder why every girl is wearing one of those silly gingerbread hearts around their neck. Well, they’re meant as a sign of endearment from men and come in all different sizes with various sweet and funny phrases.

oktoberfest hearts

If you’re looking for something a bit more practical, I recommend a close pin with your name on it. This is what most of the locals wear. You can find them all around the festival with phrases like “Oktoberfest 2015,” but if you want a personalized one, they can be found inside the tents. We got ours at Hacker Pschorr. Of course, there’s no souvenir quite like your memories. Be sure to take lots of pictures!

close pins oktoberfest

Have any more questions about Oktoberfest? Just want to share your excitement after reading this post? Let’s chat in the comments!

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Your complete guide to Oktoberfest in Munich from dirndls, to beer, to those ridiculous gingerbread hearts.

22 Comments

  1. Rita Peters October 4, 2015 / 3:23 am

    Great article and loved the pics! Your blogs are fun to read, informative. and I also like your recommendations!

  2. Leonie October 5, 2015 / 9:37 am

    I would love to go to Oktoberfest one day. Maybe next year.

    Leonie ♥ Lo On The Go

    • Jenna Jenna October 5, 2015 / 9:32 pm

      If you ever do, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions! :)

  3. Paige October 13, 2015 / 1:44 am

    Was always wondering if girls bought the dirndl’s or rented them for a day or something! Loved the detailed description, I’ll know to try to book a tour or reserve a table when I go!

    Paige
    http://www.pagebypaige.ca

    • Jenna Jenna October 13, 2015 / 2:41 pm

      That would be amazing if you could rent them! I was thinking about selling mine on ebay, but it’s just too great of a keepsake!

      • Liz June 13, 2016 / 3:27 pm

        I’m traveling to Europe this September and I can’t wait to go to Oktoberfest! I was thinking of ordering a dirndl ahead of time but is it worth the space on the way there? Where did you order it from?

  4. Rose April 6, 2016 / 8:09 pm

    Your post is great! I’m moving to Germany next year and I am looking forward to Oktoberfest!

  5. Bianca May 29, 2016 / 3:34 am

    This is an amazing guide! I’m from Australia and a group of us are heading there in 2017 and i’m already excited :)
    Just wondering where you ordered your dirndl from online?

  6. Emily June 1, 2016 / 1:38 pm

    My friend and I are looking into doing a tour through Thirsty Historian and I was wondering if you remember the name of yours?

    • Jenna Jenna July 5, 2016 / 9:42 pm

      So sorry for the delayed response! Hope this gets to you in time, but I just checked and his name was Levi. He was awesome! Highly recommend. Let me know if you have any other questions. :)

    • Jenna Jenna August 15, 2016 / 7:14 pm

      Hi Emily! Sorry for the delayed response. I just checked, and his name was Levi! Highly recommend him :) Hope you have a blast!

  7. Caitlin June 1, 2016 / 7:25 pm

    Hi! I’m in the process of planning my Oktoberfest trip for next year (early i know). I was wondering where you ordered your Dirndl online!?

  8. Caitlin June 1, 2016 / 7:41 pm

    Also, what type of shoes did you wear!?

    • Jocelyn Steiber August 8, 2016 / 1:11 pm

      I’m curious about this too!! What to wear on my feet? Also, is it a nightmare to purchase there (not much stuff long times?) Or we live in New York and I can deal with it? haha

      Thanks :)

      • Jenna Jenna August 26, 2016 / 6:59 pm

        I wore birkenstocks! Haha but I saw all kinds of shoes from basic flats to converse. Where whatever you’re comfortable in!

  9. Amanda Hahn July 17, 2016 / 5:34 am

    Hello

    I was wondering if you remember how long your dirndl was. I am seeing 60cm and 70cm and yours os absolutely adorable! I do not want to look like a short costume but also i do not want to entirely age myself! Let me know whatyou recommend! Thank you

  10. Angela August 1, 2016 / 11:29 pm

    My husband and i are going this September to celebrate our 30th birthdays with some friends! Where should i look for a dirndl ahead of time?? Also, any idea where the guys got their stuff??

  11. Deb August 17, 2016 / 10:30 pm

    I’m headed to Oktoberfest in just a few weeks! I am traveling alone, as it’s a stop over between work trips. Do you have any recommendations for a solo girl at Oktoberfest that might be different from traveling in a group?

    • Jenna Jenna August 26, 2016 / 6:59 pm

      That’s awesome! You go girl. I would say just don’t be afraid to be friendly with people. Honestly I’d just head into a tent and find people who look nice who have room at their table and ask if you can hang out with them. After a couple of beers, people are usually reluctant to say yes! :)

  12. Desiree February 13, 2017 / 3:08 am

    A group of friends and I just booked our flights to attend Oktoberfest! This post was super helpful. Now to find the perfect dirndl! :)

  13. Stephanny June 27, 2017 / 2:20 am

    Where did you buy your dirndl online?

    • Jenna Jenna July 22, 2017 / 7:41 pm

      I bought mine on amazon!

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