First Timer’s Guide To Oktoberfest 2019

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While many label Disney World “The Happiest Place On Earth,” for me (and my fellow beer lovers), Oktoberfest in Munich wins that title. Oktoberfest 2019 is only one month away, and if you’re planning on attending Oktoberfest for the first time this year, you’re probably starting to feel overwhelmed by all the logistics of the festival. From what to wear to Oktoberfest to where to stay in Munich to which tents to visit, we’ve got you covered in our first timer’s guide to Oktoberfest 2019.

First Timer's Guide To Oktoberfest 2019

What is Oktoberfest Munich?

Oktoberfest is a 16-18 day traditional German beer festival in Munich, Germany held every year from mid-late September to the first Sunday in October. The dates for Oktoberfest 2019 are Saturday, September 21, 2019 to Sunday, October 6, 2019.

Opening Hours at Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is open on Monday to Friday from 10am to 11:30pm. The band stops playing, and the last beer is served at 10:30pm, and guests have one more hour to conclude their night before lights out at 11:30pm. On weekends, beer is served starting at 9am. The only exceptions to these hours are on the first Saturday of Oktoberfest, beer is served starting at 10am, and the Käfer Wiesn-Schänke and Kufflers Weinzelt (wine tent) are regularly open until 1am.

Other Oktoberfest 2019 Options Around Europe

Oktoberfest Munich draws over six million visitors from all over the world each year. If that sounds overwhelming to you, there are also smaller Oktoberfest around Germany with just as much energy but much fewer people in cities like Frankfurt and Stuttgart, or in other European cities like Copenhagen and Paris. This first timer’s guide to Oktoberfest 2019, however, focuses only on the big Oktoberfest celebration in Munich, Germany.

First Timer's Guide To Oktoberfest 2019

First Timer’s Guide to Getting to Oktoberfest 2019

Getting to Oktoberfest 2019 by plane

The closest airport to Oktoberfest is Munich International Airport (MUC). The Munich Airport can get extremely crowded during Oktoberfest, so make sure you allot more time for yourself to get through security and around the airport.

From Munich Airport, you can easily take the train to Oktoberfest. If you don’t mind a short walk, the easiest way is to take the S-Bahn from the airport to München Hackerbrücke and walk about 10 minutes to Thereisienwiese, where Oktoberfest takes place. Otherwise, you can take the S-Bahn to Hauptbahnhof and take the U-Bahn to Thereisienwiese (one stop).

Getting to Oktoberfest 2019 by train

If you’re traveling to Oktoberfest 2019 by train from a neighboring city or country in Europe, you’re in luck because you won’t have to deal with the chaos at the airport. While the train station will be more crowded during Oktoberfest than it normally is, it is a much better situation than the airport. From the central train station, take the U-Bahn one stop to Thereisienwiese, or walk 15-20 minutes there.

Getting to Oktoberfest 2019 by public transportation

Once you’re in Munich, there are many ways you can get to Oktoberfest 2019 via public transportation. The easiest way is to take the U-Bahn to Thereisienwiese, or the S-Bahn to München Hackerbrücke. You can also take the U-Bahn to one of the neighboring stops if you want to avoid the crowds and don’t mind a short walk.

Below is a list of all the modes of public transportation you can’t take to get to Oktoberfest 2019:

  1. U-Bahn: U4/U5 to Theresienwiese or Schwanthalerhöhe OR U3/U6 to Goetheplatz or Poccistraße
  2. S-Bahn: S1-S8 to München Hackerbrücke
  3. Bus: Lines 53, 58, 62 and 134
  4. Tram: Lines 18/19 and 16/17

If you want to have a timetable for all the different modes of public transportation in Munich on hand at all times, click here to download the MVG Fahrinfo München app to your phone.

First Timer's Guide To Oktoberfest 2019

First Timer’s Guide to Oktoberfest 2019 Tents (And Which One You Should Visit)

There are 17 main tents at Oktoberfest 2019, as well as 21 smaller tents where you can pick up a quick bite to eat while walking around the festival grounds. The larger tents serve food as well, and some serve wine and cider, for those who are gluten free or do not prefer beer. Each tent serves a different type of beer, so if you’re committed to trying each type of beer, you’ll need to do some tent hopping. Make sure you download the Oktoberfest app before you go. The most helpful part of the app is the maps function that shows a layout of all the tents at Oktoberfest, as well as the tent capacity in real time.

Visiting Multiple Tents at Oktoberfest 2019 In One Day

Speaking of tent hopping, while not impossible, it will be very difficult to find a table or seat for a larger group if you plan to move around from tent to tent throughout the day. If you are only with one or two other people, it will be much easier for you to make some new friends and join a table at a new tent later in the day.

Securing a Tent at Oktoberfest 2019 Without a Reservation

If you are traveling in a larger group and want to secure seating together, your best strategy is to get to the festival grounds before it opens in the morning and start lining up with the masses. As soon as the grounds open, run (literally, run) toward the tent you want to settle down in. This is what we did with a group of 10+ last year, and we were able to secure a table at the Schottenhamel tent without a reservation.

First Timer's Guide To Oktoberfest 2019

Look how empty the Schottenhamel tent was when we arrived first thing in the morning on a weekend.

The reason I don’t recommend making a reservation in advance is that it’s pretty expensive and complicated to reserve a table as a foreigner. Most tents are owned by private local companies, so you would have to know someone at the company or send a cold email to the company asking to purchase a spot at their table. Plus, as long as you’re able to get to the festival before it opens in the morning, you’ll have no problem securing a table for you and your friends.

List of Oktoberfest 2019 Tents

Below is a list of the 17 main tents, as well as the type of beer served in the tent, types of food served, the number of indoor and outdoor seats, and the overall vibe or specialty of the tent.

  1. Schottenhamel-Festhalle
    • Beer: Spaten (5.8% ABV)
    • Food: From traditional cuisine to Bavarian burgers, Schottenhamel has it all. Vegetarian options available.
    • Seats: 9,030 (6,288 indoors; 2,742 outdoors)
    • Vibe: Where the first tapping takes place!

      First Timer's Guide To Oktoberfest 2019

      Schottenhamel – the perfect place to start or end your day!

  2. Augustiner Festhalle
    • Beer: Augustiner (6.4% ABV)
    • Food: Responsible and locally source ingredients from the Granerhof estate near Peißenberg. Vegetarian options available, as well as a children’s menu and affordable lunch options.
    • Seats: 8,500 (6,000 indoors; 2,500 outdoors)
    • Vibe: Small, local tent mostly filled with locals.
  3. Hacker Festzelt
    • Beer: Hacker-Pschorr (6.1% ABV)
    • Food: Top regional quality products made into classics like pork hock and roast chicken. Some vegetarian options available.
    • Seats: 9,378 (6,838 indoors; 2,540 outdoors)
    • Vibe: Many say this tent has the most beautiful interior design at Oktoberfest, with a 2,000 square meter painting of the sky on the ceiling. The traditional band turns into a rock-and-roll band at night and becomes a great place to party.
  4. Hofbräu-Festzelt
    • Beer: Hofbräu (6.3% ABV)
    • Food: Traditional Bavarian cuisine, such as pork knuckle, roast chicken, and Dampfnudel. Vegetarian options available. Some of the cheapest lunch options at Oktoberfest.
    • Seats: 9,051 (6,017 indoors; 3,034 outdoors)
    • Vibe: Very traditional Bavarian atmosphere.
  5. Löwenbräu-Festzelt
    • Beer: Löwenbräu (6.1% ABV)
    • Food: Lots of traditional meat dishes, such as lower Bavarian duck with potato dumplings, pork sausages, veal, ox bouillon, sweetbread sausage, and a roasting pan special for two that includes a variety of meat delicacies.
    • Seats: 8,500 (5,700 indoors; 2,800 outdoors)
    • Vibe: Lots of soccer fans and an older, local crowd. Look for a 15-foot lion that roars and drinks beer outside the tent.

      First Timer's Guide To Oktoberfest 2019

      We did not order nearly enough food that day…

  6. Ochsenbraterei
    • Beer: Spaten (5-5.2% ABV)
    • Food: Specialty here is the roast ox. Other Bavarian classics are also available, as well as a vegetarian noodle dish.
    • Seats: 7,546 (5,900 indoors; 1,646 outdoors)
    • Vibe: It’s more about the food (ox) than the beer here.
  7. Armbrustschützenzelt
    • Beer: Paulaner (6.0% ABV)
    • Food: Traditional Bavarian food, such as grilled chicken, pork hock, and fried sausage. Vegetarian options available.
    • Seats: 7,420 (5,820 indoors; 1,600 outdoors)
    • Vibe: known as the crossbow shooting tent; where the Germany Crossbow Championships is held
  8. Festzelt Tradition
    • Beer: Augustiner (6.4% ABV) and Franziskaner (5.0% ABV)
    • Food: Classic Bavarian delicacies, such as schnitzel, pork roast, plum bavesen (French toast), roast chicken, Rohrnudeln (yeast dumplings), and Steckerlfisch (fish on a stick).
    • Seats: 8,050 (5,000 indoors; 3,050 outdoors)
    • Vibe: Very traditional tent, mostly filled with locals. Family friendly.
  9. Fischer-Vroni
    • Beer: Augustiner (6.4% ABV)
    • Food: All types of Steckerlfisch (fish on a stick), including mackerel, whitefish, trout, and char. Children’s menu available as well.
    • Seats: 3,862 (3,162 indoors; 700 outdoors)
    • Vibe: Mostly famous for its fish on a stick, prepared with 15+ types of fish.
  10. Herzkasperl-Festzelt
    • Beer: Hacker-Pschorr (5.8% ABV)
    • Food: Classic dishes, such as roast chicken and pork hock. Vegetarian/vegan and children’s menus available. Wine available here for those who don’t drink beer.
    • Seats: 2,848 (1,748 indoors; 1,100 outdoors)
    • Vibe: Low key tent mostly filled with locals and artists.
  11. Käfer Wiesn-Schänke
    • Beer: Paulaner (5.9% ABV)
    • Food: Gourmet Bavarian delicacies, such as crispy duck and saddle of venison. Pricier than other Oktoberfest tents.
    • Seats: 3,413 (1,383 indoors; 2,030 outdoors)
    • Vibe: Smaller, less hectic, more of an old tavern set up than a tent set up. Open later than other tents.

      First Timer's Guide To Oktoberfest 2019

      The outdoor garden at Käfer, looking out onto the Paulaner tent

  12. Kufflers Weinzelt (the wine tent)
    • Beer: Paulaner (5.9% ABV)
    • Food: Diverse menu ranging from traditional Bavarian dishes to Asian dishes. Wine, prosecco, and champagne available for those who don’t drink beer.
    • Seats: 2,500 (1,920 indoors; 580 outdoors)
    • Vibe: Popular tent among local celebrities. Only wine, prosecco, and champagne are served after 9:00pm. Open later than other tents.
  13. Marstall Festzelt
    • Beer: Spaten (5.9% ABV)
    • Food: Traditional dishes, as well as special delicacies such as fawn’s back with chanterelles, giant black tiger prawns, and Kaiserschmarrn. Vegetarian and vegan dishes available.
    • Seats: 4,082 (3,200 indoors; 882 outdoors)
    • Vibe: One of the newer tents, known for its huge food menu and more civilized ambiance.
  14. Paulaner Festzelt
    • Beer: Paulaner (6.0% ABV)
    • Food: Local Bavarian and Munich dishes. Vegetarian options available, as well as a children’s menu.
    • Seats: 8,365 (6,385 indoors; 1,980 outdoors)
    • Vibe: Festive tent with a lot of locals and VIPs like the FC Bayern players and other celebrities.
  15. Pschorr-Festzelt Bräurosl
    • Beer: Hacker-Pschorr (5.7% ABV)
    • Food: Bavarian delicacies, such as duck, suckling pig, lamb shank, and roast chicken. Vegetarian options available.
    • Seats: 8,250 (6,490 indoors; 1,760 outdoors)
    • Vibe: Oompah bands and personal Bavarian yodeler; look for two 66-ft high maypoles outside tent.
  16. Schützen-Festzelt
    • Beer: Löwenbräu (6.1% ABV)
    • Food: The only Oktoberfest tent with suckling pig in malt beer prepared in the traditional ‘Franziskaner’ style, served with freshly grated potato dumplings, bacon, and cabbage salad.
    • Seats: 6,158 (4,923 indoors; 1,235 outdoors)
    • Vibe: Small beer tent off the main drag, full of locals; known for shooting hall with 100 shooting stands in the back.First Timer's Guide To Oktoberfest 2019
  17. Zur Schönheitskönigin
    • Beer: Hofbräu (6.3% ABV)
    • Food: Munich “kronfleisch” cuisine (traditional cuisine that is no longer eaten in modern times), such as calf lights, boiled pork belly, sweetbread milzwurst. The word “kronfleisch” means beef skirt steak.
    • Seats: 1,780 (1,380 indoors; 400 outdoors)
    • Vibe: A blast to the past with taverns from olden days, a traditional folk singing competition, and kronfleisch.

When I went to Oktoberfest in 2018, I spent a majority of my time at the Schottenhamel, which was the perfect mix of locals and foreigners, culture and partying, and local food options. I also went back to the Käfer Wiesn-Schänke several times, as I loved the old tavern set up with a unique combination of indoor and outdoor space. If you are looking for a tent to post up at for the entire day and night and have a good time, I would recommend one of the larger tents. However, if you are looking for a more intimate space or to experience more of the area’s authentic culture, I would recommend visiting one of the smaller, more traditional tents.

First Timer's Guide To Oktoberfest 2019

The outdoor biergarten at the Käfer tent

While all of the above tents serve food and beer, you can also find food and beer at smaller tents and stands at Oktoberfest. You can find a list of the smaller Oktoberfest “tents” here (many of these “tents” are street stands and not the kind of tent you’re probably picturing in your head).

First Timer’s Guide to What to Wear to Oktoberfest 2019

Most people at Oktoberfest will be wearing dirndls (for women) and lederhosen (for men), the traditional garb of Oktoberfest. As such, if you want to fit in, you’ll want to purchase a dirndl or lederhosen for yourself before the festival. You can purchase a dirndl or lederhosen on Amazon in advance, or purchase an authentic outfit when you arrive in Munich. I’ve looked through just about every dirndl on Amazon, and none look too authentic compared to what you’ll see the locals wearing at Oktoberfest. However, if you are on a budget, having a costume-y looking dirndl from Amazon is better than having none at all. If you do have the time and money, however, I would recommend getting to Munich a day early and buying an authentic dirndl there (expect to spend at least $100-200 USD).

First Timer's Guide To Oktoberfest 2019

My friend Lana’s dirndl was just stunning!

First Timer’s Guide to Where to Stay in Munich for Oktoberfest 2019

Oktoberfest is located at Thereisienwiese, so when looking at where to stay in Munich, try to find a hotel, hostel, or Airbnb (take $40 USD off your first stay here) located as closely to Thereisienwiese as possible. However, you should also expect to pay higher prices the closer you get to the site of Oktoberfest. Your best bet is to book your accommodation for Oktoberfest far in advance to ensure you get the best location at the best price.

If you haven’t booked your accommodation for Oktoberfest 2019 yet, check out the map below for properties that still have availability today:

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