I have a secret that most people don’t know about me, I’m an independent and bold introvert. I travel the world, I’m not shy, I go hiking alone, I’m bold, and I’ll even get in front of a crowd a speak, but nothing beats avoiding crowds and curling up on the couch on a Friday with a good book. I also have a bit of social anxiety and tend to struggle with crowds. After living in Munich for 7 years, I always found it to be the perfect city for me, as it is a city and culture that supports the independent introvert.
And while I might try everything at least once, there is one thing I don’t like doing over and over again, and that is being in the middle of Oktoberfest on its busiest day, surrounded by drunk people pushing me over for a seat at a table and spilling their beer on me. Oktoberfest is amazing, but it is full of people who don’t give a damn about your personal space. I know there are others like me, as I’ve had many people mention they don’t want to come to Oktoberfest because of the crowds, and they are worried about how they might handle it. So, whether you’re an introvert who likes to party, you have anxiety, PTSD, a personal bubble the size of a zorb, or just like cats more than people – but you don’t want to miss out on one of the best cultural events in the world – then this introvert’s guide to Oktoberfest is for you. I’ll tell you the best times and days to go to Oktoberfest to avoid crowds, the best tents to go to and the ones to avoid, and places to recharge.
Look, no people! You, too, can experience this!
I’ll be perfectly honest. Regardless of how much you try to avoid people at Oktoberfest, 6 million people still visit this place every year. Set your expectations to be out of your comfort zone, and go into it mentally prepared. If you can’t handle people, then maybe try booking a fancy Air BnB near the fest, playing Schlager Music, and drinking alone while wrapped in a blanket like a burrito. It will save you money and stress, but I promise Oktoberfest is worth it!
When is the Best Time to Visit Oktoberfest to Avoid Crowds?
Best Days of the Week to Visit to Avoid Crowds
Naturally, weekdays are ideal for visiting, but not all weekdays are equal. People who come to Oktoberfest tend to book long weekend trips, making the long weekend from Friday to Monday quite busy. However, if you need to visit over the weekend, Sunday evenings are the quietest evenings as most locals tend to get ready for work on Monday, and many people fly out on Monday. If you can, plan to be there Tuesday-Thursday to avoid the most people at Oktoberfest.
Best Time of Day to Avoid Crowds
One predictable thing about the general human population is that they typically aren’t early risers. If you visit Oktoberfest when it first opens, there will be significantly fewer people than later in the afternoon. Most local Munichites have to work, and many will come to Oktoberfest after working, making anything after 5 pm the danger zone for introverts. Many tourists visiting might lollygag, sleep in, or nurse a hangover before going to the fest. So, the earlier you get there, the better. Oktoberfest opens at 9 am, and beer starts pouring at 10 am. I always get there at 9 am, get a seat, and have breakfast before I order the first beer. On a quiet Tuesday, you can use that first hour to explore the various tents. The music doesn’t start until 10-11 am, so it will be tranquil on a weekday morning.
Best Time to Visit to Avoid Crowds
Oktoberfest lasts about two weeks, and the dates vary yearly. This year, 2022, the dates will be from September 17-October 3, 2022. You want to avoid the first weekend and the last. When Oktoberfest first opens, people are excited about the event, and everyone comes out to celebrate. The first tap or “O’zapft is!” is always the first Saturday of Oktoberfest at noon. People usually arrive at 9 am to get a seat – if they are lucky. The beer doesn’t start flowing until about 1 pm; it is so crowded by that time. The last weekend is also similar, as many people try to get one last drink before they say goodbye for the year. So, I recommend you go right in the middle of the fest.
You’ll also want to pay attention to Bavarian public holidays there is usually one on the first weekend of Oktober, and many locals will have the day off and head to the festival.
You Must use The Tri-force
All of these suggestions will mean fewer people at the event, but when you combine them, you might even have breathing room. When I show up, as Oktoberfest opens on a Tuesday or Wednesday in the middle of the week, I don’t have any stress or anxiety. I can walk into the grounds, meandering at my own pace, choosing the table I desire in the tent I want. There are no ride lines, and the servers are friendly and happy to see you. Now that is not to say going you’re going on your own. Oktoberfest is one of the world’s most popular events, and there will always be people there, but planning and doing these three things will reduce the number of people at the event.
To compare: When I go to Oktoberfest on a Saturday morning, I am one of the thousands of people waiting for them to open the gate; as soon as they open it, I have to RUN – not jog – to the exact tent I want to go to and sit down while fending off people to save my friends, who decided to jog, seats. You must know the layout of the grounds, and you can’t even think about where to sit, or the seats will be taken out from under you. You also need to know what is reserved and what is not. It’s stressful and chaotic, and many people don’t get seats, and they have to spend their day waiting for groups to leave or invading other’s people space.
READ MORE: Explore the hipster side of Munich with my in-depth hipster guide!
What are the Best Tents For Introverts?
If being surrounded by a bunch of annoying drunk tourists spilling beer and elbowing you is NOT your jam, then there are specific tents you should avoid. Most tents will be pretty empty on weekday mornings, so feel free to wander and get a feel for the experience you want, but the tents listed below are either large enough to space people out, are less popular, or are located a bit off the beaten path, making them perfect for introverts.
Best Tents at Oktoberfest for Introverts
The Paulaner with the beer tower is one of the larger tents seating more than 11k people. That can be a good thing on a weekday morning when you might have a lot of the place to yourself, or it might be a bad thing at peak capacity. The crowd tends to be younger and international, so it can turn into a party tent late at night, but it’s a nice place on a weekday morning, and there is plenty of outdoor seating for fresh air.
Generally, people don’t want too much wine at Oktoberfest, making this tent a great escape from the crowds. Its spacious and open floor plan makes it great for people who struggle with claustrophobia. Obnoxious drunk beer guzzlers tend to avoid this tent, and you’ll usually be able to find a place to sit among the wine appreciators. If you end up at Oktoberfest on the weekend and have difficulty finding a seat, you might even find a table at Weinzelt.
The name of this tent means Oxen grill, which focuses more on food than fostering a party atmosphere, making it a generally calm place for families during the day. They have vegetarian food, so don’t worry if you’re a vegetarian like me; it is not all meat on the menu. Because this tent focuses on food, it can get busy around lunch, so your best bet is to come in the morning or check it out after lunch and before the after-work crowd arrives.
This tent is hit or miss. It is either empty or a full-on party. It is usually empty because who wants to drink at a relatively unknown tent that smells like fish (there are a bunch of seafood stalls outside Fischer – fish), has a pirate ship in the middle of it, and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the tents? Us introverts, that’s who! The tent hosts special events like queer-friendly parties on certain Mondays, which can turn into a wild time on those days.
This is the tent where the first tap happens on Saturday, so you should avoid it on opening day at all costs. After that, it tends to be full of young German student groups for the party. However, because most of the people there are German, they maintain a more calm demeanor than Hofbräu. So, I find it has a great combination of crowd and atmosphere. Honestly, this is usually where I start my day, and I’ll stay as I can handle it. If you are feeling adventurous, this is a good stepping stone to enjoying a lively atmosphere.
Me and the employees at Marstall…
I once walked Marstall on a Wednesday morning, and I think I was the only person there – the employees were so confused. This tent is usually family-friendly, so it can get busy on family days and afternoons. But if you want to awkwardly sit by yourself and have employees stare at you, try coming here on a Wednesday morning. This is also the tent to be seen, with many celebrity sightings. That being said, when full, the crowd can be a bit posh, so once it starts to fill up, you’ll be surrounded by Munich’s elite.
Augustiner tent is known to be the place for beer appreciators. The beer here is still served from wooden barrels and, therefore, the best tasting according to Munich’s hip and local scene. It can have a bit of a pretentious vibe, but the crowd is there to appreciate the excellent beer, which means that it is a more refined party experience rather than a sloppy one. This tent is popular on weekends, and with the local after-work crowd, so you might want to hightail out of there before things get too crazy in the afternoon.
Pro tip: If you dislike closed spaces, I suggest trying to sit outside at any of the beer tents. Most of the tents at Oktoberfest have outdoor seating under the open sky. I struggle with most tents after 4-5 pm as I have bad claustrophobia, but sitting outside can help. Even the outside areas tend to fill up, so ensure you have a nice spot in the beer garden before afternoon huts.
Visit the Oide Wiesn
The Oide Wiesn is one of my favorite places at Oktoberfest. This magical little section exists to keep old traditions of Oktoberfest alive. A 4 Euro entry to the Oide Wiesn is fenced off, naturally preventing many chaotic patrons from visiting. The focus here is on wholesome family fun. There are only three tents here: Festzelt Tradition is going to be the best tent option for us introverts. It is large with plenty of seats and room to dance on the central dance floor, which means that people aren’t going to get crazy and dance on tables. The beer comes in traditional ceramic mugs, and the vibe here is generally chill and welcoming.
Aside from the traditional tents, there is also lots to do and see in the Oide Wiesn. There are old rides, an Oktoberfest museum, farming equipment, and an old-timey carnival feel. Many families come here, and sometimes it is best to duck into the Festzelt Tradition tent to avoid screaming kids trying to ride rides.
Tents for Introverts to Avoid
The tents known for partying are the Hofbräu, Hacker, and Löwenbräu. They will typically be full of drunk international tourists, and I generally try to avoid them at all costs. However, if you get in early enough on a weekday, check them out to see the inside before staking your claim elsewhere.
I’m going to burst your bubble, but if you had high hopes for Munich’s most famous beer, Hofbrau, to have the best tent, be prepared to be disappointed. Housing the most well-known beer, this tent will naturally be popular with foreigners. This isn’t the worst thing, but the type of people that tend to celebrate here are the drunk annoying Aussies, Americans, and Brits. HB is notorious as the reckless party tent, it is guaranteed you will get jostled and have your personal space violated. It is a lovely tent, though, and one of the only places with standing bar service, so I suggest stopping by to check it out on a weekday morning before hightailing it out of there.
Another generally sloppy party experience as Hacker is typically visited by a young local and international crowd. It might be pleasant at the crack of dawn, but as the tables start to fill up, the quality of your experience will decrease.
Older locals often occupy this place during the day and evenings and party internationals on weekends.
If you have PTSD, hunting anxiety, or fear of dead animals, you might want to avoid this tent as there is a literal shooting range in the back of the tent. Sure, it is mostly for crossbows, but if you don’t want to be around objects that shoot, you might want to skip out on this traditional tent that emphasizes local hunting traditions and partying.
READ MORE: Take a day trip from Munich to escape the crowds.
Other Tips to Avoid Crowds
Don’t Use the Main Entrance
Most people will come to Oktoberfest via the U-Bahn, so the U4 and U5 Theresienwiese entrances will be the most crowded. Try to walk and enter through Mozartstrasse. It is still crowded, especially on Saturdays when you have to get in line and run for it, but typically there will be fewer people than at the main entrance.
Go Where the Employees Go
Last Oktoberfest, I was showing two seriously introverted engineers around Oktoberfest. In our attempt to find peace and quiet we actually stumbled on a small outdoor seating area that served cheap beer in a quiet location. We realized this is where many employees hung out – though not a strict employee location. I won’t give away the exact location to keep it somewhat quiet, but if you need a space to escape and still want a beer, wander around the backside of Oktoberfest near the Oide Wiesn, and you might find your hidden escape.
Escape to Nature
If you feel the panic start to set in, but you’re not quite ready to leave, head past the Bavaria statue into Bavaria park. Here you will find a lovely park and can take in a bit of nature before heading back to the fest.
Take a Day Trip
Dozens of day trips from Munich allow you to take a break from Oktoberfest. If you want to enjoy a cultural beer experience, I suggest heading to Andechs Monastery, where you can hike through nature and enjoy a beer at old Monastery. Like everything else, it can be crowded on the weekend, but you should have a nice little escape during the week. Check out more of these awesome day trips from Munich to find something right up your alley.
Book A Comfortable Hotel
Don’t skimp on the cost of a comfortable hotel or BnB where you can make yourself feel at home. Having a comfortable, clean, and calm space to return to is essential for dealing with massive crowds. Avoid Hostels at all costs as they will be the biggest shit show with disrespectful roommates and drunk people coming and going at all hours. If you want a nice central hotel, try the 25Hours Hotel, or if you want to get away from the city center, stay on the U4 U5 near Max-Weber-Platz or Rosenheimerplatz.
Try A Local Beer Garden
If you explored Oktoberfest in the morning and it is starting to get crowded – don’t stress! Leave the grounds and explore Munich’s plentiful beer gardens and outdoor spaces. If you want some live music, the Chinese Tower Beer Garden in the Englischer Garten often has live German bands playing. Or you can head to the Paulaner near Oktoberfest, which has a lovely outdoor beer garden. I also enjoy the Augustiner-Keller on Arnulfstrasse, which is large and spacious. You can also head down to the Isar River, grab some cheap beers at one of the many kiosks along the river, find a spot tucked away, and enjoy a relaxing time along the river banks.
Share for Your Introverted Friends
Oktoberfest is a dream destination for many people, even introverts, who want to experience it, but the thought of being around all those people makes us anxious. you can come to Oktoberfest and have a day of limited interaction with people when you plan and visit on the right days and times.