I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures of the white castle rising between the mountains. Neuschwanstein Castle might be Germany’s most famous sight – so famous that it inspired Walt Disney when he designed the Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.
These days, the castle gets around 1,3 million visitors every day. And with good reason. It looks majestic from the outside and comes with a fascinating story. Plus, you can find a second castle within walking distance, so you can stay in the area for a whole day without getting bored.
But how do you visit Neuschwanstein Castle? How do you get there? Do you need to book your tickets in advance?
Like many travellers, we were wondering about these and other questions before our trip. Therefore, we have put together this guide which will provide you with all the answers. By the end, you will be fully prepared for your trip to Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau.
How to visit Neuschwanstein Castle
Brief history of the castle
Before we dive into details, let us give you a brief overview of the history of the castle. Neuschwanstein Castle looks old as if royal families had lived in there for centuries, right? But in reality, the castle is pretty young.
King Ludwig II of Bavaria commissioned its construction in 1869, but he never saw its completion. In 1886, after having lived in the half-finished castle for 172 days, he died. Neuschwanstein took until 1892 to be completed, and even today, many rooms inside remain unfinished.
Ludwig II got most of his inspiration from his favourite German composer, Richard Wagner. He wanted for Neuschwanstein to be a romantic interpretation of the Middle Ages, with lots of space inside where he could dream of better times and withdraw from the public.
In fact, although the castle is majestic and monumental, Ludwig II never intended to receive visitors here. It was his own private refuge at a time when kings lost more and more power. So it is kind of fitting that after less than half a year in the fairy tale castle, he got arrested under the accusation of having become mad.
He died under mysterious circumstances only shortly afterwards.
How to get to Hohenschwangau
To visit Neuschwanstein Castle, you first need to get to the town of Hohenschwangau. You have the choice between coming on a day trip from Munich or basing yourself in one of the villages in the area.
We highly recommend that you stay somewhere close by. The town of Füssen is an excellent choice, as you can easily take a bus from here to Hohenschwangau. Plus, Füssen is a charming town and worth a visit on its own.
We stayed in Marktoberdorf, which is just 35 minutes away by car. It proved to be an excellent base for doing lots of things in the area, not only for visiting Neuschwanstein Castle. We went hiking, saw cute villages and walked through a beautiful gorge past an ice-blue river.
If you come from Munich, you have the choice between coming by car and taking a train. Driving takes about one hour and a half, while the train takes a bit more than two hours.
If you decide to go by train, you need to go to Munich central station and take a regional train to Füssen. You can look up the schedule on the German train website. Note that it is not possible to book a seat on a regional train and that not all trains go directly to Füssen, so you might have to make a transfer.
If you want to save money on your train ticket, consider getting the Bayern Ticket. This ticket will allow you to take all regional trains within Bavaria for a day. You can choose to buy it as a group ticket for up to five people. The more, the cheaper it gets per person.
In Füssen, get off the train and hop onto bus number 78 to Hohenschwangau.
How to get to Neuschwanstein Castle
Once in Hohenschwangau, you still have to get to Neuschwanstein Castle. You have multiple options and can go either by bus, horse cart or by walking.
Buses will take you up to the Marienbrücke, Bridge of Mary, from where you have a great view of Neuschwanstein. Walking from here to the castle only takes about 20 minutes, but it’s an easy path with a gentle downhill slope.
If you go by horsecart, you will finish your trip a bit below the castle. This is as close as you can get to Neuschwanstein without walking.
The last option is walking. Depending on your walking speed, you should reserve about 40 minutes to go uphill.If you walk, s
Even though the walk takes about 40 minutes, it is usually the fastest option. With Neuschwanstein being the most famous castle in Germany, the queues for all other transport options can get so long in summer that you can expect to wait for an hour or longer.
That is also why we recommend arriving in Hohenschwangau early. First, you won’t have to queue as long as during mid-day. And second, you really don’t want to miss out on visiting inside just because you didn’t arrive early enough.
Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle
If you want to go inside Neuschwanstein Castle, you have to join a guided tour.
As of 2020, you can only purchase tickets online. This might change again in the future, but for now, you should buy them here. This link will take you to the official ticket centre. You’ll find a few other websites selling tickets, but they usually charge more, and since they’re not official websites, you’re not guaranteed to actually get inside the castle.
One thing to keep in mind is that the tickets sell out very quickly. If you want to see the inside of Neuschwanstein, you should reserve multiple days (ideally weeks) in advance. When we booked in June, for a random weekday in August, some tours were already full.
In the past, you used to have to pick up your tickets in Hohenschwangau, even if you reserved them online. Fortunately, that has changed, and you will now get an online ticket with a QR code that will enable you access to the castle.
Make sure to be at the castle entrance around 15 minutes in advance. If you are too late and you don’t enter at the designated time, your ticket will become invalid.
The tour of Neuschwanstein takes around 35 minutes. Even though Ludwig II’s family eventually finished construction of the castle’s exterior, they never decorated any of the rooms inside. Therefore, most of them remain unfinished.
The few rooms you can visit today are the ones that Ludwig II lived in until his sudden death.
So should you join a guided tour?
I will be honest with you. The tour felt short and rushed. But at the same time, it was also very informative. We didn’t know anything about Neuschwanstein and its history, so I enjoyed hearing some stories from Ludwig II.
Also, are you really going to come all the way here without going inside?
Best views of Neuschwanstein Castle
Now that you’ve seen the inside of Neuschwanstein Castle, you should find a viewpoint from where you can admire its exterior. You’ll get a first good glimpse from the platform just below the castle, but the best views are from higher up.
As we already mentioned, Marienbrücke (Bridge of Mary) is the perfect spot to take pictures of Neuschwanstein. You also have a great view while walking here from the castle if you turn around. The different angle is quite impressive.
If you cross the Marienbrücke and keep walking, you will come to a viewpoint that has gotten very popular on Instagram lately. Here, you can sit down on the forest floor and have your picture taken while gazing at Neuschwanstein Castle.
Last, some of the famous views can only be seen from a hot air balloon. But we never felt like we were missing out on much, as we already got to see the castle from many different angles.
Keep in mind that drones are prohibited near Neuschwanstein.
What else to do in Hohenschwangau
Don’t make the mistake of just visiting Neuschwanstein Castle. You can find many more fun things to do in Hohenschwangau that you should check out before leaving.
Walk through the town
Yes, we know that Hohenschwangau is very touristy. But at the same time, you can find some very old and pretty buildings here.
If you’re hungry, you can buy snacks down in the village. You can also find a few restaurants here. Keep in mind that they only cater to tourists. We didn’t try any of them, so we can’t tell you how good or bad they are. But from our experience, we recommend you to do like we did and go to Füssen to enjoy some excellent Bavarian food.
Visit Hohenschwangau Castle
Do you see that yellow castle, towering just above the town?
That’s Hohenschwangau Castle, and we highly recommend that you visit.
Ludwig II and his younger brother Otto used to spend their holidays here, together with their parents. This is where Ludwig got the inspiration to build his own castle higher up in the mountains.
As multiple generations of the family used to live in Hohenschwangau, the castle is much more interesting to visit. We loved our guided tour here, as it was much more exciting and informative than the Neuschwanstein one.
Even though Hohenschwangau is not as popular as Neuschwanstein, we recommend that you book your tickets in advance. That way, you will have peace of mind, and you already know at what time your tour will start.
The tour takes around 45 minutes.
Swim in Lake Alpsee
If you visit Neuschwanstein on a hot summer day, consider packing your swimsuit. Next to Hohenschwangau, you can find Lake Alpsee. If you walk for ten minutes along the shore of the crystal-clear lake, you can find a spot where it’s possible to go for a swim.
Be warned that the water in the lake is always cold, even in summer. But it’s also very refreshing, especially on a hot summer day.
Visit the Museum of Bavarian Kings
We didn’t visit this museum, but if you have enough time and want to learn more about the Bavarian Kings, you should come here. You can find the Museum of Bavarian Kings down in town, just next to Lake Alpsee.
When to visit Neuschwanstein Castle
You can visit Neuschwanstein Castle all year long. The hot summer months are great because you have the highest chances of having nice weather.
On the other hand, June until August are also busiest, so expect large crowds in and around the castles.
If you want to avoid the crowds, go in spring or autumn. You can expect mild temperatures and fewer people. Plus, with a bit of luck and the right timing, you might see Neuschwanstein before a backdrop of red and orange trees.
Or you could go in winter. Neuschwanstein Castle looks very special on snowy days. Just be careful not to slip on the paths! Also, keep in mind that the Bridge of Mary will be closed if it snows too much.
Make sure to book your ticket in advance, both for Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau.
Summer is the busiest time of the year. If you want to avoid crowds, come in winter or at least in spring or autumn.
You cannot take a train from Munich to Hohenschwangau. Instead, you have to go via Füssen and take a bus from here. If you’re travelling in a group, the Bayern Ticket will save you money.
Make sure to take enough sunscreen! It is very easy to burn on a sunny day.
We hope you enjoy Neuschwanstein Castle as much as we did. Yes, it’s very touristy, but it’s also very iconic and lots of fun to visit. Plus, if you get annoyed by the crowds, we have some useful advice on how to remove all those tourists from your photos.
If you’ve been to Neuschwanstein, please leave us a comment and let us know how you liked it!
Also, if you’re planning a trip to Germany, stay tuned. We have plenty of content already prepared that we’re going to publish over the next months. In the meantime, check out the following articles that you might find interesting:
- 1 Day in Bad Homburg – an amazing day trip from Frankfurt
- All you need to know about German Christmas Markets
- A complete guide to the Frankfurt Christmas Market
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