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I have a secret that most people don’t know about me, I’m a hardcore introvert. Munich is the perfect city for me, as it is a city and culture that supports the independent introvert, which is how I classify myself. I travel the world, I’m not shy, I go hiking alone, I don’t care what other people think about me, I’m bold and outspoken, 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. 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 out there like me, as I’ve had a lot of 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 you just hate people, but you don’t want to miss out on one of the best events in the world – then this introverts 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 a bit, and go into it mentally prepared. If you really 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 to visit, 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, Sunday evenings are the quietest evenings as most locals tend to get ready for work on Monday and many people do fly out on Monday. Plan to be there Tuesday-Thursday to avoid the most people at Oktoberfest.
Best Time of Day to Avoid Crowds
If there is one thing that is predictable about the general human population, is they typically aren’t early risers. If you visit Oktoberfest when it first opens there is going to 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. A lot of 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. If it is a quiet Tuesday, you can use that first hour to explore the various tents. The music doesn’t start until 10-11am, 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 from year to yeat. This year, 2019, the dates will be from September 21-October 6. 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 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, and by that time it is so crowded. The last weekend is similar as well, as many people are trying to get one last drink in before they say goodbye for the year. So, I recommend you go right in the middle of the fest.
Keep in mind that October 3rd is a public Holiday.
You must use the tri-force
All of these suggestions on their own are going to mean fewer people at the event, but when you combine them, you might even have a decent 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 lines for rides, and the servers are friendly and happy to see you. Now that is not to say going you’re going to be on your own. Oktoberfest is one of the world’s most popular events, and there is always going to be people there, but planning and doing these three things is going to 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.
If being surrounded by a bunch of annoying drunk tourists who are spilling beer and elbowing you is NOT your jam, then there are specific tents you should avoid. Most tents are going to be pretty empty on weekday mornings, so feel free to wander if you get in early, but the tents below are either large enough to space people out, a more traditional crowd, or 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 in the 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 foreigners tend to avoid this tent, and you’ll usually be able to find a place to sit among more refined people. If you do end up at Oktoberfest on the weekend, try this tent you might even find a table.
As a vegetarian I dislike this tent, as an introvert I love it. The name of this tent means Oxen grill, which means it focuses more on food than party, making it a generally calm place for families during the day. They do have vegetarian food, so don’t worry it is not all meat. Because this tent focuses on food, it can get quite busy around lunch. Your best bet is to come in the morning or check it out after lunch and before after work hours on a weekday.
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! It can be full at other times as they host LBGT parties on certain Mondays.
Me and the employees at Marstall…
I once walked Marstall on a Wednesday morning and I legit think I was the only person there – the employees were so confused. This tent is usually a family friendly tent, so it can get busy on family day and in the 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 known as the tent to be seen, with many celebrity sightings. That being said, the crowd isn’t great, 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 snob locals. 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 to it, but the crowd is there to appreciate the excellent beer, and that 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 high tail out of there before things get too crazy in the afternoon.
If you generally dislike closed spaces then I suggest trying to sit outside. 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 make sure you have a nice spot in the beer garden before afternoon huts.
Tents for Introverts to Avoid
The tents that are known for partying are the Hofbräu, Hacker, and Löwenbräu. They are typically going to be full of drunk international tourists, and I generally try and avoid them at all costs. However as always if you get in early enough on a weekday, go 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 is naturally going to be popular with foreigners. Which isn’t the worst thing, but the type of people that tend to celebrate here is the over the top drunk annoying Aussies, Americans, Brits, and you get where I am going with this. 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 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 in the crack of dawn, but as the tables start to fill up, the quality of your experience is going to decrease.
This place is most often occupied by older locals during the day and evenings and partying internationals on the weekend.
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 who are in it for the party. However, because most of the people that are there are German, they maintain a more calm demeanor compared to Hofbräu for example. So, I find that it has a great combination of crowd and atmosphere. If I get here early enough on a weekday, I’ll stay as I can handle it. If you are feeling adventurous, this is a good stepping stone to enjoy a lively atmosphere.
If you have PTSD, 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.
The Oide Wiesn is one of my favorite places at Oktoberfest. This magical little section exists to keep old traditions of Oktoberfest alive. There is a 2 Euro entry to get into the Oide Wiesn, and it is fenced off, which naturally prevents a lot of the drunk idiots from going on. 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 getting crazy and dancing on tables. The beer comes in traditional ceramic mugs, and the vibe here is generally chill and welcoming. The Herzkasperl – Festzelt is a place for live local music. Because of the focus on music, it might not be a great place to go to avoid crowds. Zur Schönheitskönigin is a small intimate tent that focuses on folk singers. This tent might be hard to get into, but if you find a spot, you’ll be surrounded by merrymaking locals.
Aside from the traditional tents, there is also lots to do and see in the Oide Wiesn. There are old rides, a museum to Oktoberfests pasts, farming equipment, and an old-timey carnival feel. A lot of families come here, and sometimes it is best to duck into the Festzelt Tradition tent to avoid screaming kids trying to ride rides.
Don’t Use the Main Entrance
Most people are going to come to Oktoberfest via the U-Bahn, so the U4 and U5 Theresienwiese entrance are going to be the most crowded. Try to walk and enter through Mozartstrasse. It is still crowded, especially on Saturday’s when you have to get in line and run for it, but typically there are going to 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 let, head past the Bavaria statue into Bavaria park. Here you will find some peace and quiet and can take in a bit of nature before heading back down to the fest.
Take a Day Trip
There are dozens of day trips from Munich that allow you to take a break from Oktoberfest. If you want to enjoy a cultural beer experience, then I suggest heading to Andechs Monastery, where you can hike through nature and enjoy a beer at an old Monastery. Like everything else, it can be crowded on the weekend, but during the week, you should have a nice little escape. 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 the massive crowds. Avoid Hostels at all costs as they are going to 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, then don’t stress and leave the grounds to go explore Munich’s plentiful beer gardens and outdoor spaces. If you want some live Music, often times the Chinese Tower Beer Garden in the Englischer Garten 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 and find a spot tucked away and enjoy some peace and quiet.
Share for Your Introverted Friends
Oktoberfest is a dream destination for many people, even us 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 ahead and visit on the right days and times.
Susanna grew up in small-town Alaska where the changing climate was always on her mind. Through traveling, she gained an interest in the power of sustainable and regenerative travel. She now attends a Master's program for environmental sustainability and bridges sustainable travel with environmental science. When she's not outside playing, you'll find her drinking whiskey with her cat and partner while trying to get to level 99 in life.