The following guest post has been submitted by Edna Zhou.
Each fall, over six million people from around the world gather in Munich, Germany to take on 16 days of beer and revelry at Oktoberfest. These Oktoberfest tips are what you need to know to make the most of your time at the world’s most famous beer festival.
1. Get there early.
On the weekends, the lines start forming outside the tents at 7 am. You can only be served if you’re seated, so if you don’t have a table reservation, you’ll need to get there early or wait in a sizeable line. Once you get a table, prepare to camp there for a while and only leave the tent when you’re absolutely sure you want to give up your spot.
2. Leave the purse at home.
You won’t want to have to keep an eye on it all day while drinking and dancing in the crowded tents – and no matter where you put it, there will be beer spillage. (For this same reason, closed toed shoes are highly recommended!)
For photos, your smartphone or a small point and shoot will be fine. If you’re wearing an outfit without pockets, consider using the Bra Stash or a travel scarf with pockets for your cash, cards, and ID.
3. Bring plenty of cash.
Oktoberfest is a cash-based party, so make sure to bring plenty of smaller bills. There are ATMs on the grounds, but it’s probably best to stock up beforehand to avoid waiting in those lines. As liter prices have now crossed the €10 mark, bring coins as well to make it easier for your waitress to give you change — or better yet, to give as a tip. With so many demands on their attention, a tip on each beer can go a long way in getting better service.
4. Too much beer?
Try a radler. A couple steins in and you may forget that you are consuming a full LITER of beer with each drink. If you’d like to pace yourself, or you want to keep up with your friends but have a lighter headache the next day, you can ask for a radler, which is half beer, half lemonade.
5. Go during the week.
If you visit outside of the hectic weekend, you have a far better shot at getting a free table. The atmosphere feels more relaxed, the steins arrive quicker, and you also get to hang out with more locals!
6. Don’t forget to eat.
With that much beer flowing, make sure to put in a few orders for pretzels — and do not miss out on the roasted chicken and German potato salad! However, it’s a long day and the food bill can rack up, so a hearty breakfast is a good idea too.
7. Try to get a dirndl, but know how to tie it.
The festival is more fun if you dress the part, and when you see the Germans in their beautiful dirndl you’ll want one too. But watch where you tie the bow, if you’re single and plan to mingle: wearing it on the left means you’re available, and on the right means you’re taken. You may get looks if you tie it in the middle as it means you’re a virgin, and tying it on the back means widow or waitress.
Caroline’s packing list post has a bit more information on what to wear to Oktoberfest.
8. Learn Ein Prosit.
It won’t be long before you start singing along with the oompah bands. While you’ll probably know the English favorites (Country Roads, Sweet Caroline, etc), the most popular by far is Ein Prosit, which means “I Salute You”. It’s relatively short and all you need to know is “Ein Prosit Der Gemütlichkeit” — and that at the end of the song, you take a drink!
9. Decide the right tent and weekend to visit.
Each tent has a different personality; some are known for being more fun and youthful than others so choose wisely. As for which weekend you want to go, there are three: the first is the opening, when there’s a parade through town and the mayor taps the keg announcing the opening of Oktoberfest. The second is known as “Italian weekend” as many visitors from nearby Italy tend to visit then, and the final weekend is the hectic final call.
10. Explore Munich.
Don’t forget that there’s an entire city outside of Oktoberfest! Carve out some time to spend away from the tents and explore more of München and its Bavarian culture — it’s beautiful in the fall. Head to the English Garden and watch surfers tackle the river, or Olympic fans can visit Olympiapark, home of the 1972 Summer Olympics.
About the Author: Edna is a serial expat addicted to life abroad. She left Pennsylvania at 18 and has spent seven years working in China, Singapore, Paris, and Italy. She writes about travel, food, and building a career abroad at Expat Edna and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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