The Ultimate Guide to Oktoberfest in Germany

Kira Lister | Live the World

August 28, 2023

Experience Bavarian Tradition at The World’s Biggest Beer Festival

Are you ready to experience one of the world's largest and most exciting festivals? Oktoberfest in Germany is a 16-day celebration that attracts millions of people from around the globe. But before you pack your bags, there are a few things you should know to make the most out of this epic event. In this ultimate guide to Oktoberfest, we’ll take you through every aspect of the festival. From its historical significance to its unique traditions, we’ll help you dress for the occasion and encourage you to enjoy all the food and drinks on offer!

Oktoberfest is a cultural extravaganza, featuring massive beer tents, thrilling amusement rides, and colourful parades. It's a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in German culture, make new friends and create special memories. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned attendee, this guide has everything you need to know for an unforgettable time in Germany.

The Origins of Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival and has been a part of German culture for over 200 years. Alcohol flows in large quantities during this celebration- around 7.7 million litres each year! Originating in Munich in 1810, the festival was first held to celebrate the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. Since then, it has evolved into a huge celebration of German culture, attracting millions of celebrants from all over the world every year.

Key elements of the festival include: Dressing up in traditional German attire (Get your dirndls and lederhosen at the ready!) tasting traditional local/ national dishes and beers, listening to live music, participating in carnival games and rides- and simply just enjoying the vibrant atmosphere of Oktoberfest, and the warm company of your fellow festival-goers.

Quick Overview

Oktoberfest does not actually start in October, as the name might suggest. The majority of the festivities begin during the third week of September and end the first Sunday in October- unless that happens to be October 1, then it will end on the following Monday or Tuesday. The whole celebration therefore typically lasts 16-18 days overall.

Remember to bring cash (Euros) as most vendors only accept this method of payment. Handle your alcohol responsibly, and stay safe by keeping your belongings close and being alert in crowded areas. In case of emergency, the number for services across Germany is 112 for the fire brigade and 110 for the police; you can speak in either German or English.

What’s the weather like in Germany during Oktoberfest?

Autumn in Germany is an ideal time to visit! After the often intense heat of summer, typically the weather at this time is pleasantly warm and the days are long. Visitors can expect average highs of 19 degrees (Celsius) and average lows of 9 degrees. Be prepared however as conditions in Germany are often quick to change and you don’t want to be left out in the cold! Fortunately, the majority of Oktoberfest celebrations usually take place within tents, so there should be plenty of cover if the weather takes a turn.

What are the best cities to celebrate Oktoberfest in?

1. Munich

During Oktoberfest, the city of Munich comes alive with a festive, high-spirited atmosphere. At the first celebration back in 1810, the citizens of the city were invited to join in the festivities of the royal wedding, which included horse races, parades, and dancing. The event was such a success that it became an annual tradition, growing rapidly in size and popularity over the years. Munich’s celebrations are often referred to as the ‘real Oktoberfest’, as it’s the city of origin, and also arguably parties the hardest during this time! The main drawback of this, however, is that it is always very busy as a result. We therefore recommend arriving early or booking a tour to secure a spot in one of the beer tents. With this Oktoberfest Tour with Reserved Beer-Tent Table, forget worrying about finding a place to rest or eat! Eliminating this challenge is a huge advantage and will enable you to simply enjoy the day stress-free. Alternatively, let a local show you around with this unique guided tour.

How to Celebrate:

Theresienwiese

There are numerous beer tents set up in the Theresienwiese, a large open space in the city centre. Each tent is run by a different brewery and offers a unique experience. People gather here to enjoy traditional Bavarian music, to dance, and of course, to drink beer.

Apart from the tents, there are also various amusement rides, games, and food stalls throughout the festival grounds. You can indulge in delicious Bavarian cuisine such as pretzels, sausages, and roasted chicken. The atmosphere is lively and filled with laughter, music, and the clinking of steins.

Marienplatz

Munich Marienplatz is the central square in Munich and is a bustling, lively area- especially during Oktoberfest celebrations. The square is surrounded by many beautiful, historic buildings, including the New Town Hall with its famous Glockenspiel- a mechanical clock that puts on a show with figurines reenacting historical events.

Marienplatz is also a popular meeting point and a hub for shopping, dining, and entertainment. So, there’s plenty to do but it’s also equally perfect for a leisurely stroll around, soaking up the sights, smells and sounds around you.

Hofbräuhaus

Hofbräuhaus is a popular choice for both tourists and locals, as it’s one of the most famous, and oldest, beer halls in Munich. It was founded in 1589 by Duke Wilhelm V of Bavaria and is known for its traditional Bavarian atmosphere, drink and lively music. The beer served at Hofbräuhaus is brewed on-site and follows the Bavarian Purity Law, ensuring high quality and authentic taste. The beer hall also offers a variety of traditional Bavarian dishes, such as pretzels, sausages, and sauerkraut, making it a great place to experience the local cuisine.

We see visiting the Hofbräuhaus as a must, even if you only have one day in Munich. It’s especially popular with foreign tourists, so you’re likely to hear a lot of English inside, and might be able to befriend some interesting new people!

Photo by Ken Wang

Where to Stay

Budget - B&B Hotel München Hbf

Well situated in the centre of Munich, B&B Hotel München-Hbf offers air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi and private parking. Featuring a bar, the hotel is close to several noted attractions and around less than 1 km from Central Station Munich. All rooms include a desk, a flat-screen TV, a private bathroom, bed linen and towels. Languages spoken at the reception include German and English.

Mid Range - Hotel Mirabell by Maier Privathotels

Hotel Mirabell by Maier Privathotels is within comfortable walking distance of Munich's main train station and the Oktoberfest grounds. It offers free WiFi and air-conditioning in all the rooms. These feature a flat-screen satellite TV, free Smart TVs channels and a tablet computer. Guests can enjoy a rich buffet breakfast every morning and the 24-hour bar serves coffee, tea, non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks.

Luxury - AWA Hotel

This hotel offers free WiFi and soundproofed rooms with air conditioning near Munich's main train station and just 1.3 km from the Marienplatz square. Guests are allowed to bring their pets. Rooms feature a flat-screen TV and international television channels. A complimentary bottle of mineral water is provided on arrival. The main train station is just a 1 minute walk from the hotel. The Theresienwiese Oktoberfest grounds are about a 10 minute walk away.

2. Berlin

Berlin doesn’t have an official Oktoberfest celebration like Munich does, but there are several events and festivals in the capital city during this time that offer a similar atmosphere and experience! One of the most popular events is the ‘Berlin Oktoberfest’, which takes place at Alexanderplatz. It features traditional Bavarian music, food, and beer. Additionally, many beer gardens and breweries in Berlin also hold their own Oktoberfest-themed events during this time. It's a great opportunity to enjoy German culture and festivities in the capital city.

How to Celebrate:

Alexanderplatz

For over two weeks, Berlin's Alexanderplatz turns into a large Oktoberfest with original beers, traditional delicacies and live performances. The centre of the celebration is a large festival tent with authentic live music. There’s also an open-air beer garden and lots of Bavarian specialities such as pork knuckles, pretzels, and sweet treats.

Be sure you dress to impress! Every evening, there’s a competition which awards one special festival-goer the honour of ‘most beautiful dirndl’.

Paulaner Bräuhaus

This popular brewery and restaurant, located in the heart of the city, is known for its traditional beverages and cuisine. The brewery follows the German Purity Law, ensuring that only the highest quality ingredients are used in their beer production. The restaurant offers a cosy and authentic atmosphere, and serves a variety of classic German dishes such as sausages, pretzels, and schnitzel- all made with locally sourced ingredients!

The alcohol selection is extensive, with a range of Paulaner beers on tap, including their famous Hefeweizen and Munich Lager. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, always ready to recommend the perfect thirst-quenching pairing for your meal. Overall, Paulaner Bräuhaus is a great place to experience the taste of Bavaria in the heart of Berlin.

Hofbräu Berlin

Part of the famous Hofbräuhaus brand, this alternative brewery and restaurant offers a fantastic experience, with traditional cuisine and a wide selection of alcoholic beverages available. The restaurant is known for its welcoming atmosphere and staff, as well as its interior which is designed in a rustic style and features wooden furniture and traditional Bavarian decor.

Hofbräu Berlin also hosts regular events and performances. Inside its large outdoor festival tent, guests can enjoy live music and traditional German dance. It’s truly a great choice for a delicious meal or a fun night out.

Where to Stay

Budget - Arte Luise Kunsthotel

Offering stylish rooms designed by renowned artists, this unique hotel in the heart of Berlin is just a 10 minute walk from the Brandenburg Gate. Each individually furnished room at Arte Luise Kunsthotel includes modern, artistic décor and features its own original concept. Rooms have either a private or shared bathroom and free wifi is available in the lobby. German and Mediterranean cuisine is served in the hotel restaurant, and guests can relax on the spacious courtyard terrace.

Mid Range - H2 Hotel Berlin-Alexanderplatz

This modern hotel is perfectly situated in the heart of Berlin, just a 3 minute walk from Alexanderplatz and the iconic TV tower. It offers soundproofed rooms with free WiFi and an innovative design, a flat-screen TV and air conditioning. The private bathrooms come with heated floors and a rainforest shower. There’s also a bistro, a shop and a lounge area.

Luxury - Motel One Berlin-Spittelmarkt

Just 150 metres from Spittelmarkt Underground Station, this hotel in the Mitte district of Berlin offers air-conditioned rooms, a 24-hour bar, underground parking and free Wi-Fi. All rooms include a flat-screen TV. The bathrooms feature a rain shower and stylish mosaics. Free Wi-Fi is provided in the lounge. Varied breakfast buffets are also available.

3. Frankfurt

Frankfurt has its own version of celebrations called ‘Frankfurter Oktoberfest.’ It’s a smaller-scale event compared to the one in Munich but still offers traditional food, beer and entertainment. The city itself is the largest financial centre in Europe and is known for its modern skyline which is dominated by high-rise buildings. Frankfurt is home to the European Central Bank, the German Stock Exchange, and numerous other financial institutions. It’s also a cultural hub, with a diverse culinary scene and a variety of museums, theatres, and art galleries. Additionally, Frankfurt is well-connected with an extensive public transportation system, including an international airport. One last tidbit: It’s a great choice to enjoy the German Christmas markets if you want to come back in December!

How to Celebrate:

Commerzbank Arena

If you’re celebrating Oktoberfest in Frankfurt, Commerzbank Arena is definitely one of the top, must-see spots to go to. It’s just a short train ride from the city centre and when you arrive you’ll see a huge tent bustling with hundreds of fellow festival-goers. Inside, traditional German beers and food are in abundance, including pretzels, meatloaf and roasted ham.

The highlight is the music, as many German singers have taken to the stage in previous years. Past performers include Mickie Krause and Jürgen Drews.

The Romerberg

The Römerberg is a historic square located in the Altstadt (Old Town) and is known for its picturesque medieval buildings. The square has been the heart of Frankfurt's city life for centuries and is a popular tourist attraction at any time of the year. The Römer, a medieval building complex that serves as Frankfurt's city hall, is located on the eastern side of the square.

The Römerberg is also home to the Frankfurt Christmas Market, one of the oldest and largest Christmas markets in Germany. We definitely recommend coming back at this time to embrace the festive atmosphere and sweet treats it has in store for visitors every December.

Where to Stay

Budget - Paulaner am Dom Hotel

Ideally located in the Zentrum-Altstadt of Frankfurt/Main, Paulaner am Dom Hotel provides continental breakfast and free WiFi. The property is close to several well-known attractions, 400 metres from Cathedral of St. Bartholomew, less than 1 km from Römerberg and a 17 minute walk from Museumsufer. German cuisine is served at the restaurant. All rooms in the hotel are equipped with a flat-screen TV and a desk.

Mid Range - Flemings Selection Hotel Frankfurt-City

Fleming’s Selection Hotel Frankfurt-City offers a roof terrace with great views of the Frankfurt skyline, a restaurant and free WiFi. The Zeil shopping street is just 400 metres away. The hotel boasts elegant, soundproofed rooms with a flat-screen TV and a laptop safe. Eschenheimer Tor Underground Station is directly outside.

Luxury - Sofitel Frankfurt Opera

This 5-Star accommodation is in a prime location at the landmark Opera Square. Goethestrasse, the famous shopping and entertainment area, is a short walk away. The spacious rooms feature designer furnishings and free Wi-Fi, a shower/ bathtub, luxury brand toiletries, an espresso machine and a kettle. Guests can also enjoy air-conditioning, a mini bar, Bose sound system and private safe. The luxurious suites feature exclusive designer furnishings and scenic views of Frankfurt city centre. There’s also a spa, fitness and gym facilities, an indoor swimming pool, restaurant, terrace and bar.

4. Stuttgart

Stuttgart’s version of Oktoberfest, Cannstatter Volksfest, is the second largest beer festival in not only Germany- but the world! It takes place annually in late September and early October and features beer tents, amusement rides, and traditional German food. The festival lasts for about three weeks and is held on the Cannstatter Wasen, a large fairground area. It also features traditional parades, such as the Volksfestumzug, which showcases colourful floats and costumes. Cannstatter Volksfest has a long history, dating back to 1818, and is a beloved event in this region of Germany.

How to Celebrate:

Large festival parade

The large festival parade is a real highlight of the event. It usually occurs on the first Sunday of the festival and features colourful floats, marching bands, traditional costumes and various groups representing different regions and organisations. The parade attracts a large crowd and adds to the festive atmosphere of the Volksfest.

Some of the most impressive sights within the parade are the magnificently decorated horse-drawn brewery wagons, the agricultural displays and the various historical vehicles and militia.

Family Day

Family Day during Cannstatter Volksfest is a special day dedicated to families and children and offers various activities and entertainment suitable for all ages. Visitors can enjoy rides, games, live performances, and special discounts on food and beverages. It's a great opportunity for families to come together and have a fun-filled day at the fair.

Every Wednesday, the fairground ride and stall owners, festival tent landlords and market traders offer concessions all through the day on many of their attractions. The cost of parking is also halved. There are also lots of surprises in store for younger visitors including clowns, a fairy tale carousel and a children’s railway.

Frühlingsfest

Frühlingsfest is a spring festival that is similar to Oktoberfest, but is a celebration on a smaller scale. The festival features a variety of attractions, including amusement rides, beer tents, food stalls and live music. Frühlingsfest is known for its vibrant atmosphere and is Europe's largest Spring beer festival, being held over the course of three weeks from late April to early May.

So, if you can’t make it to Stuttgart in September/ October- or if you just can’t wait a whole year to party again- Frühlingsfest is the perfect opportunity to get a similar Oktoberfest experience at a different time of the year.

Photo by Ralf Κλενγελ

Where to Stay

Budget - Hotel Spahr

Located in the heart of Stuttgart’s Bad Cannstatt district, the family-run Hotel Spahr offers 24-hour reception and is just 6 km to the Schloßplatz square in the city centre. All rooms are designed using furnishings made in the hotel carpentry, featuring a TV and an en suite bathroom with a hairdryer. Some rooms also have a balcony.

Mid Range - Hotel Unger

Just a 2 minute walk from Stuttgart Main Station, this 4-star hotel offers a 24-hour bar, spacious units and a breakfast room which offers a large breakfast buffet until 11:00 each day. Rental bicycles are available for exploring the city and various restaurants and bars are just a 2 minute walk away. All rooms at the Unger are air-conditioned and equipped with cable TV and a minibar. The marble bathrooms include toiletries. Basic WiFi is free for guests throughout the hotel, with high-speed internet also available for a surcharge.

Luxury - Kronenhotel

Set in a quiet road near Stuttgart’s pedestrian area and railway station, this 4-star hotel offers a sauna, steam bath and a gourmet breakfast buffet. The privately run Kronenhotel provides spacious and soundproofed rooms with free WiFi. Guests are also invited to relax on the attractive garden terrace or in the lobby bar. The Kronenhotel lies just 400 metres from Stuttgart Main Station and is a 5 minute walk from Königstraße.

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