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How to Navigate Oktoberfest | 12 Tips for First-Time Visitors

First time visitors to Oktoberfest festival

Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany attracts more than 6 million people every year, making it one of the biggest festivals in the world. With such a huge crowd and an endless supply of beer, navigating Oktoberfest for first-time visitors can be challenging if they are not fully prepared.

Don’t miss out on the fun and prepare beforehand to make the most by navigating the Oktoberfest like a native Bavarian.

To make sure that everyone has fun, there are certain Oktoberfest tips and rules that you should know. This includes how to get there, entrance details, beer consumption precautions, the best time and days to visit Oktoberfest, closing times, and more. 

12 Oktoberfest Tips for First-Time Visitors Navigating the Beer Festival

Started in 1810 as a royal wedding celebration in Munich Germany, this festival has now become a worldwide sensation. The event is held every year from mid-September to the first week of October.

To make the most out of the trip and avoid issues, first-time visitors must gather important tips and information to plan their visit accordingly. 

1. Drink Responsibly: Oktoberfest Beer is Stronger with 6.3% Alcohol

At Oktoberfest, it’s important to drink carefully as Oktoberfest beers contain 6.3% alcohol content. This increases the risk of dehydration, hangovers, and other serious health issues like alcohol poisoning and liver damage.

Every year, Oktoberfest has 450 paramedics and 50+ doctors on-site daily due to these risks. 

Excessive drinking can also weaken the immune system and cause public health concerns. Socially, heavy beer consumption can lead to disturbances and an increased crime rate. In Oktoberfest 2022, there were 967 criminal offenses reported. To stay safe, set a drinking limit, stay hydrated, and stay with your group.

2. Be Mindful: Stay hydrated and Pair Eating With Drinking 

When attending Munich Oktoberfest, make sure to manage your drinking wisely. Drink a glass of water with every glass of beer to avoid dehydration.

Water not only prevents the dehydrating effects of alcohol but also helps you space out the beer consumption. Also, it helps to manage your intoxication level. 

tips for first time visitors to Oktoberfest

Eating is equally important as drinking alcohol on an empty stomach causes it to be absorbed quickly, which can cause various issues. However, eating a substantial meal beforehand can slow down alcohol absorption, helping you manage your intoxication levels better.

3. Prohibited Items: Don’t Bring These Things with You 

When attending Oktoberfest for the first time, know the restrictions on items to carry and ensure a smooth entry. Avoid carrying backpacks or large bags, as these are generally not allowed within the festival grounds.

If you must bring a bag, ensure it does not exceed dimensions of 20 cm x 15 cm x 10 cm and a holding capacity of three liters. 

Prohibited items include aerosol spray cans with hazardous contents, substances that could irritate or stain, and any items that could be used as weapons, including glass bottles.

Buggies, strollers, and prams are not allowed on Saturdays, public holidays, and every day after 6 pm. Similarly, bicycles, scooters, skateboards, and other similar vehicles are banned on-site.

You also cannot take animals inside the Oktoberfest grounds except the service dogs. 

4. Wear Tracht: But Don’t Spend Too Much on These Clothes 

For first-time Oktoberfest visitors, wearing the local tradition through German clothing is important but doesn’t have to break the bank.

Avoid tourist traps like silly hats or other Halloween accessories; instead, go for traditional Bavarian costumes like lederhosen, which surprisingly mark you as an enthusiast rather than a tourist. 

If you’re budget-conscious, shop smart and look for an affordable Women’s dirndl and  Lederhosen men online. There are also second-hand and renting-out options for tracht in Munich that can help you save a considerable amount of money.

When selecting the Bavarian attire, ensure that it is of good quality and authentically crafted. 

5. Oktoberfest is Free to Enter: Don’t Let them Fool You

Entry into the Munich Oktoberfest, including all beer tents, is free, and there’s no admission fee.

Be aware of anyone trying to sell tickets online, as these offers are scams. Unlike some commercial Oktoberfest-style events outside Bavaria that require ticket purchases, the original festival in Munich does not.

Although entering the festival is free, you will need to pay for any food, drinks, rides, or souvenirs.

When it comes to tent reservations, which are crucial on busy days like Fridays and Saturdays, these are also free of cost.

Make sure to reserve the spots only from the official website of every tent. Keep in mind that while reservations guarantee a spot inside, they aren’t necessary to enjoy Oktoberfest. Most of the large beer tents reserve plenty of space for walk-in guests.

6. Bring Cash: Credit Cards are Not Acceptable Everywhere 

Most beer tents only accept cash, so having enough on hand is key to enjoying your beer and other festival offerings.

Make sure to withdraw cash before you leave your hotel or upon arrival at the airport, as relying on the ATMs at the festival grounds can be costly. 

Be aware that Oktoberfest can be an expensive outing. Not only are there ATM fees to consider, but the cost of food, drinks, and entertainment at the festival can add up quickly.

Historically, prices at Oktoberfest have been known to rise annually, with a typical liter of beer costing around €11 to €12, a substantial increase from previous years.

Plan your budget accordingly to enjoy the festivities without financial surprises fully.

7. Plan Beforehand: Choose Good Dates and & Hours 

Planning your trip to Oktoberfest requires prior planning to enhance your experience. The key to a pleasant visit is selecting the right dates.

To avoid the overwhelming crowds, it’s best to skip Saturdays and opt for slower days. 

Sundays are particularly recommended, with the first Sunday being especially popular due to the Trachten- und Schützenzug, a traditional costume and riflemen’s parade.

Additionally, family days offer discounts on rides, making them ideal for those attending with children.

8. Munich Hotels: Stay Close to the Theresienwiese

Choosing a hotel close to Theresienwiese grounds is highly recommended for a hassle-free experience.

While Munich offers an efficient public transportation system that facilitates morning arrivals, navigating your way back to a distant hotel can be challenging after indulging in several liters of beer. 

This becomes even more difficult if it involves multiple train transfers and navigating streets with signs in a foreign language.

That is why, book hotels near Oktoberfest grounds to ensure a quick and safe return after a day of celebration. 

9. Avoid Long Queues: Arrive in time to get a table

Arriving early at Oktoberfest helps you get a good table, as tents open at 9 am and quickly fill up due to large crowds. 

If you arrive later than 10:30 AM, finding a free seat can be quite challenging. Without a seat, you’ll likely end up standing and possibly entertaining the seated crowd with songs. 

While it’s smart to get there a bit early, arriving excessively early is unnecessary and can lead to a lengthy, chilly wait. It is good to be punctual but avoid overzealousness to make your experience more enjoyable without the discomfort of waiting in the cold for hours.

To avoid the hassle of finding a seat on the day, consider pre-booking your spot in a tent. It’s important to act fast, as seats can sell out months before the festival begins.

10. Oktoberfest Beer Tents: Visit the Right Ones 

Choosing the right beer tent at Oktoberfest can be daunting, with 17 large and 21 small tents, each offering a unique experience. For instance, the Hippodrom, smaller in size with a capacity of 4,000, is favored by singles and features a Sekt bar serving a sparkling wine.

The Lowenbrau-Festhelle, easily recognizable by its 4.5-meter lion statue at the entrance, is particularly popular among Australians, New Zealanders, and South Africans.

The Hofbrau-Festzelt, affiliated with the famous Hofbrauhaus, offers standing room and is a hit for those who prefer a more lively experience.

The Hacker-Festzelt stands out with its ceiling painted like a blue sky with clouds, and with seating for 9,300, it is among the largest.

For those seeking the best beer according to locals, the Augustiner-Festhelle is the place to be. It’s known for its friendly vibe and is run by the Augustiner Brewery.

Alternatively, the Armbrustschützen-Festhalle offers a unique twist with its legendary crossbow shooting competition, combining beer with some archaic sport.

Each tent has its own charm, so picking one often depends on what kind of experience you want to have.

11. Be Careful: When You’re Out, You’re Out

At Oktoberfest, once you exit a tent, re-entry is not guaranteed due to the high crowd levels inside.

The tents often reach full capacity, and security personnel are strict about admissions to avoid any safety hazards. It’s a good idea to be courteous to the security staff when entering and leaving the tent. 

If you plan to step out, it’s wise to discuss your return with the security guards beforehand.

While a charming approach may work for some, it’s generally not advisable to attempt flirting, especially given the imposing stature of the security staff. Being straightforward and respectful is your best bet for smoothly navigating the entry policies.

12. Security Point: Oktoberfest Assistance is Available 

For anyone needing information or feeling unsafe at Oktoberfest, the Sichere Wiesn security point is there to assist you.

Located under the Bavaria statue in the Service Center, it operates from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily and extends its hours on Saturdays from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. 

Emergency phones are also placed on the light poles throughout the Oktoberfest grounds, providing direct access to a police officer when picked up.

Police, who may be in uniform or plain clothes, have the authority to request ID at any time, so it’s crucial to carry a copy of your passport. 

Other Oktoberfest Tips to Consider 

  • As Oktoberfest is attended by huge crowds every year, it’s common to get lost on the grounds. It’s better to agree on a meeting point in advance. 
  • Handbags and backpacks get stolen at the event so carry the money, cell phones, address, keys, and other essentials carefully. 
  • Be careful of knockout drops as they incapacitate and render you unconscious – even at the Oktoberfest, suspected cases are reported every year.
  • In an emergency, seek help immediately. If you feel threatened, you can always call the police on 110.
  • For transportation, consider avoiding the 4/5 underground lines to Theresienwiese station. Instead, walk from Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) or use the 3/6 underground lines to get off at Goetheplatz or Poccistraße. 


And that’s it for this guide for first-time visitors to Oktoberfest!

I hope this guide helped you to enjoy Oktoberfest for the first time.

Are you looking for some more great events in Europe? Read my guide on the best events in Copenhagen!

As usual, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to include them below.

All the very best,


The article may include affiliate links, meaning that I may receive affiliate compensation at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. Read more in my Affiliate Disclosure.


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