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Is Munich’s Famous Oktoberfest Overrated?

Advice for navigating Munich’s traditional Oktoberfest.

Munich Oktoberfest
Takashi Images/Shutterstock

After attending Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, some have claimed the event is overrated due to the crowds, lines, and expenses. Any of these elements alone can be a deterrent. However, Oktoberfest is still a bucket list item for many people, and the question remains, should it be?

As with any fair evaluation, we must examine the event’s history first. Oktoberfest began in 1810 as a wedding celebration between Prince Regent Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. People enjoyed the event so much that it continued annually, and the festival was eventually moved to September for nicer weather. 

Munich Oktoberfest
Credit: Takashi Images/Shutterstock

How Crowded is Oktoberfest?

Last weekend, Munich debuted its first Oktoberfest in two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, people are naturally worried about crowds. In the beer tents, patrons must often sit back to back and at the same table with strangers. People also have to wait in line if they want a table in a tent or beer garden, which is necessary for drinking. 

Other consequences of Munich’s overcrowding include the rising prices of hotels and plane tickets. Because of Oktoberfest’s popularity, people travel from all over the world, resulting in high hotel costs and expensive plane tickets. We chose to stay in a hotel a bit further away from the festival to save on cost. Travelers can also save money by flying into Frankfurt, Germany, and then taking a train instead of flying directly into Munich

5 Tips for Navigating Oktoberfest

  1. Arrive early. If you want to sit in a beer tent on a Saturday or Sunday, arrive at one of the entrances at least an hour before the park opens at 9:00 am. 
  2. Do your research. Know which beer tent you want to sit in before waiting in line. This way, you will enter the right gate and know precisely where you want to claim a table. 
  3. Pack a small bag or wear a coat with pockets. You will not be allowed to enter Oktoberfest with an average-sized backpack. So, pack light to avoid storing your belongings in a tent at the entrance to the grounds. 
  4. Withdraw cash. There are many ATMs on the festival grounds, so be sure to use them. Otherwise, you will be unable to purchase most of the available goods. 
  5. Dress the part. Almost everyone wears traditional lederhosen for men and dirndls for women when attending Oktoberfest. These outfits can be found all over the city, but they are also available on Amazon for much cheaper. 
Munich Oktoberfest
Credit: Lightix/Shutterstock

So, is Oktoberfest Worth the Journey?

In short, yes. It is worth it if you are willing to wake up early and make friends with strangers. The experience of drinking from liter-sized beer glasses, eating Bavarian food, listening to traditional live music, and singing old German drinking songs is unmatched. Even if you do not drink, Oktoberfest has attractions for all, like carnival rides, shopping, and full sit-down food service in the tents. Munich’s festival is the original that influenced so many Oktoberfests all over the world. Being a part of this history is worth the journey in itself. 

Written By

M.A. Beckley is a reader, writer, and traveler - an expat with a lot of opinions. She is interested in anything relating to culture such as music, art, and history. She has taught English for eight years and is earning an MA in British Literature and Professional Writing.

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