I'll be in Munich for Oktoberfest this year and want to know what the best beer tent is.
Each tent has it's own type of crowd depending on which tent it is, and which week it is. One tent is Yuppie. One tent is very young. One week is "Italian" or "Australian." My experience at the Shutzen tent was a great mix of young and old, and very traditional. I would highly recommend it as your first choice. The things I learned while attending Oktoberfest:
Try to get nearby hotel, so you can walk.
Pre-buy tickets if possible. If not, be prepared to pay $$$ to "scalper."
Do not try to stand at the exit and hope to get in.
Definitely buy Lederhosen if you're a guy, and Dirndl if you're a girl. If you don't have traditional costume it is OK, but you will be in the 5% without a "costume." Don't buy it in the states. Wait until you get to Munich and spend the $100+ for a decent outfit (dresses are less expensive).
It's encouraged to stand on benches during sing along songs. Maybe even learn the chorus for a couple of the main German songs.
Do not stand on tables. Do not attempt to share your beer by pouring it in somebody else's beer (I did this and felt like Chevy Chase in European vacation - I was almost hanged).
The beer is strong and has less carbonation (specially brewed for Oktoberfest to be easier to drink). I had two "mas" (liters) and probably didn't need the third.
Make new best friends. I did.
Have fun! Definitely a bucket list item that should be checked.
I went to the Löwenbräu AG tent and had a blast - we liked it so much the first day we came back the second! We didn't have tickets so made sure we got there early to grab a table. The beer wenches were awesome, as were the brass band!
I lived in Munich for almost three years and visited the Oktoberfest several times. I went with reservations but also without any reservation and my friends and I were always able to get into a tent even on weekends.
It is quite difficult to say which tent is the best as each tent has different audiences and therefore has a somewhat different atmosphere and sometimes even offers different food and drinks.
Hippodrom and Käfer-Zelt (tent) are famous for its celebrities visitors and especially the Käfer-Zelt for good quality of food and they also serve wine (in case you get sick of all the beer).
Bräurosl is liked by the older generation which can be fun as well because they play these really traditional German songs in there and you might be lucky getting in on a Saturday afternoon without reservation (as I was once).
I heard that many foreigners go to the Hofbräu tent but I have never been. It is the second largest tent.
If you can't eat roasted chicken anymore or would like to have a cocktail instead of beer I can highly recommend the Café Kaiserschmarrn. They serve all kinds of typical German desserts and cakes. Super yummy.
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I'd go with Augustiner simply because that is the best beer (plus lots of locals). :) But you can't go wrong with the Paulaner or Hofbrau tents. If you haven't booked a table, you may have trouble getting into the tents. Go early in the day and you probably will get in. You'll have a better chance during the week than on the weekends as well.
We went to Oktoberfest a few years ago and purchased tickets in advance for Hippodromand Hofbräu-Festzelt. Depending on the tent you may only be able to get reservations if you have a table of eight or ten. While you can find your way into a tent without a pre-reservation, I would highly recommend getting reservations. Otherwise try to make friends quick as you will not be served unless you are sitting or standing on a table.