Oktoberfest Safety Tips for Women

Bell   |   30 September 23

Oktoberfest can be an incredibly fun time, however with harassment and violence on the rise, it is more important than ever to stay safe. Here are my top tried and tested safety tips for women!

Oktoberfest is THE event to be at in September. From rides to massive pretzels to the traditional Dirndl and Lederhosen, Oktoberfest has it all. On top of that, an unbelievable 6.9 million litres of beer are consumed every year. It’s definitely an experience you won’t want to miss.

Unfortunately, the huge crowds combined with the alcohol consumption makes for an ever-increasing numbers of harassment and violence cases. It is more important than ever to know how to keep yourself safe as a woman at Oktoberfest. 

This guide is from my personal experience as well as the long-running intiative Sichere Wiesn which translates to safe Oktoberfest. Since 2003, this project has been working hard to keep Oktoberfest safe for women, including the introduction of a safe space on the grounds as well as lots of information available for women prior to your Oktoberfest visit. 

How to Stay Safe and Have Fun at the World's Largest Beer Festival

Wear shorts under your Dirndl

Oktoberfest 23- Dirndl - traveloffscript

Likelihood will be that if you are attending Oktoberfest, you are wearing a Dirndl or at least some other kind of dress. My number one tip that I would recommend to anyone is wear bike shorts underneath! Waitresses in the beer tents get groped so much that they wear padded shorts under their Dirndl. 

This isn’t to scare you off but Oktoberfest serves insane amounts of alcohol and many men start getting touchy later in the night. Obviously immediately remove yourself from any situation like that, but the cycling shorts just provide an initial layer of protection for you.

Another more harmless reason is that you will likely start dancing on the benches and with shorts underneath, you won’t accidentally flash anyone.

Always go in a group, never alone

Go in groups Oktoberfest - traveloffscript

As a solo, female traveller, it is pretty rare that I recommend not going alone. Oktoberfest is one of those situations. Sexual harassment cases have been on the rise in recent years and there is a lot of alcohol going around – going in a group will mean you can protect one another and if anyone gets in trouble, there are enough people you know who can help you out. 

You also should never walk around Oktoberfest or home from it alone – it is simply not safe. If you have men in your group, even better as they are even more of a deterrent to creeps. That being said, I have gone in groups of only girls and been totally fine.

Plan out how you will get back home or back to your accommodation

Oktoberfest at night - traveloffscript

This is a continuation of the last point, but know how to get back home or to wherever you are staying. Print out directions if you need to and stuff it somewhere on your body. You NEED to know how to get back no matter how late/dark/drunk etc. Also always make sure that everyone in your group is with you when you go home – never leave anyone behind.

If your phone runs out of battery or you are worried about getting home, head to the dedicated Safe Space for women. It is located “in the Service Center, which is near to the Bavaria statue and behind the Schottenhamel tent by the “Erste Hilfe” (“first aid”) entrance, where the police are also stationed.” If you are unsure, ask any security guard or vendor, they will be able to point you in the right direction. The safe space even gives out taxi vouchers to ensure you get home safe. 

Know the relevant emergency numbers

In case something goes really wrong, you need to know the emergency numbers. That could be anything from having your drink spiked (which is sadly also happening more) to assault.

Numbers to know

Safe Space for women on the fest ground    +49 (0) 89 / 890 57 45 188
Women’s Line Munich   (089) 703048
Police   110
Any other emergency   112

Don’t accept drinks from strangers

Photo by Kimia on Unsplash

It’s not uncommon to have men buy drinks for you, Oktoberfest is no exception. From single bachelors to groups of colleagues on a company card, you will likely be offered free drinks.

Personally, I don’t accept any drink that I didn’t get directly handed by the waitress, unless I know the guy – and even then I’m super careful. Spiking happens so quickly, which is why it is so important you are with other people who can get you out of there if necessary. 

Carry valuables, directions and your phone on your person

It’s super easy to lose a handbag or phone in the hustle and bustle of Oktoberfest, especially when switching from the Biergarden to tables inside or dancing on the tables. On top of that, stealing is another issue commonly faced in this busy environment – it’s just too easy. 

Keep anything valuable on your person – whether that is a secret pocket, your bra or just in your hand. I usually hold onto my phone which has all my valuable in the case and I also have a phone chain which goes around my wrist. That way if my bag gets stolen, I can still get home and have a way of contacting friends. 

I’d also recommend adding a sheet of paper with all important numbers and your accommodation name and directions if you aren’t local. Stuff it somewhere on your person (bra, shorts, socks) so you have it in an emergency!

Top Tip

Remember to take anything important with you when leaving the tent. They fill up rapidly and sometimes you won’t be able to get back in, even if your friends are still inside. 

Bring a water bottle

beer at oktoberfest - traveloffscript
Snacks at Oktoberfest - traveloffscript

Beer at Oktoberfest is stronger than your average beer and served a liter at a time. It is pretty brutal, especially if you aren’t a frequent drinker. It also sneaks up on you – I felt fine one minute and really out of it the next.

I highly recommend eating something carbs heavy like pasta before heading to the festival as food is so expensive there and bringing a plastic water bottle. This year, water dispenser taps were added to the Oktoberfest grounds after complaints about water prices last year. Staying hydrated will ensure you are still aware of your surroundings and keep yourself safe. 

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Hi, I'm Bell

Bell from Travel Off Script

My blog is here to show you that there isn’t one correct way to travel the world. Together, we can figure out what that means for you. Learn more about me here!

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