Beer, Bratwurst and Bavarians…oh, and more beer!

I have always dreamed about going to Oktoberfest ever since I saw the scene from European Vacation starring Chevy Chase.  He was dressed in the traditional lederhosen outfit, dancing and singing with the locals enjoying the local brews.

Now, 21 years later, I experienced this one of a kind annual tradition that began all the way back in 1810.  Sharing authentic food, drinks and german camaraderie was an experience that will last a lifetime.

Here are 10 Tips to help make the best of your visit:

  1. Go on week days.  If you haven’t reserved a table it is much easier to find a place to sit on the weekdays.  The weekends are super fun but just don’t plan on having any elbow room. Plus there are more locals in attendance during the week.
  2. Bring cash.  Having cash is a must here, bring your Euros because credit cards were not accepted for food and beer.  The entrance is free but 1 litre of beer cost 10 Euro. The ATM lines were very long so it is best to plan ahead.
  3. Arrive early!  The festival opens at 10 AM and most tents close by 10:30 PM so if you have traveled a long way then show up before noon, grab a table and make the most of you time.
  4. Book your lodging far in advance. Whether you plan to stay in a hotel, hostel Airbnb, Couchsurfing or any other form of accommodation I highly recommend that you book at least 3-6 months in advance.  Not only will you save money but you will also find a location that is closer to the city center.
  5. Sit down for beer. The only way to order beer from inside the tents is if you are sitting down at a table. If there is no room then make friends and you join any group.
  6. Tip your server.  They are working hard carrying multiple steins of beer in each hand through a bustling crowd of people.  You are more likely to get your food and drink faster if you tip too!
  7. Dress in the traditional outfits. Dirndls for the girls and Lederhosen for the guys. You will fit right in as most people are dressed up and looking the part. You can buy the outfits around the festival but if you want to save money I suggest ordering it ahead of time.

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    Most people dress in local attire for the festivities – don’t be the odd man out!

  8. Don’t put your foot on the table.   If you put your foot on the table and someone calls you out then be ready for the entire tent of 6000-8000 people to watch and chant until your stein is empty. If you are prepared for this then it is great but if you are one sip away from hurling then I’d watch where you step because refusing to drink is not an option!
  9. Bring only the essentials. Girls, leave your big purse at home and guys, don’t bring it unless you will definitely use it. The #1 item found in lost and found among the 5000+ items reported is clothing. If you have a favorite hat, scarf, jewelry, sunglasses or hand bag that you don’t want to lose then leave it at the hotel. In addition to accidentally losing your personal items be careful of pick pocketing, the less you have on you the less you chance losing. Carry cash in a safe pocket and bring your cell phone because it is very easy to get separated from your friends.
  10. Learn some German! Below are some words that will definitely help you communicate to the locals. Most people there speak English but they don’t have time to translate everything on the menu for you. Being prepared will make everything easier, service moves fast inside the tents so knowing these simple phrases will help you, a lot!

Brezeln: Pretzel.
Hendl: Roasted chicken.
Schweinshaxe: Pork knuckle.
Weisswurst: White sausage, typically enjoyed in the morning.
Kartoffeln: Potatoes.
Spätzle: Egg noodles typically served with cheese (käse).

A stein of beer: eine Maß (ß is a double ‘s’ so the word is pronounced maas.)
Thank you: Danke
Please: Bitte
You’re welcome: Bitte schön
Cheers: Prost! (By far the most common word used at Oktoberfest)

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Here we are enjoying some cold beers our first night inside the Hofbräu tent at Oktoberfest 2015.

5 Fun Facts about Oktoberfest:

  1. More than 6 million people from around the world attend each year.
  2. Only local beer from Munich is allowed at Oktoberfest.
  3. Paris Hilton is banned from Oktoberfest for wearing a gold and shiny Bavarian Drindl at the 2006 event promoting a brand of canned wine. The locals were extremely offended.
  4. In 2011 a record was set for most beer consumed, more than 7.5 million litres!
  5. Nobody raises their mug until the mayor taps the keg at noon and shouts O’zapft is! (“It’s tapped!”)

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Everyone is your friend at Oktoberfest!

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