Visiting Neuschwanstein: A Fairytale Castle In The Bavarian Alps
Like most Disney-nerds, visiting Neuschwanstein Castle had been on my once-upon-a-dream bucket list. Anybody who has ever seen photos of this fairytale castle will no doubt have been blown away by it’s beauty just like I was. When booking my Christmas market trip to Munich, I knew I had to dedicate a day to visiting Neuschwanstein Castle. So I booked a day trip from Munich!
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History Of Neuschwanstein Castle
The construction of Neuschwanstein Castle first began in 1868 and was commissioned by King Ludwig II aka Mad King Ludwig who grew up in the neighbouring castle Hohenshwangau. Neuschwanstein sits on the site where two former castles once stood and was a tribute to composer Richard Wagner.
Neuschwanstein was the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s famous Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland. If you inspect the two castles side by side you can see that the turret and main segment are incredibly similar to that of Neuschwanstein.
Although Neuschwanstein is seen as the fairytale castle in the alps, it’s history hasn’t always been so romantic. During WWII Neuschwanstein was used as a place to store artwork looted by the nazis. It was considered the perfect location because it was so far away from Berlin.
Most of Neuschwanstein is unfinished and King Ludwig only spent eleven nights in total in the castle.
Where Is Neuschwanstein Castle?
Neuschwanstein Castle sits atop a hill in the Bavarian alps in the town on Hohenshwangau. It is a total of 110km and approximately a 2-hour drive from the city of Munich.
The castle is situated in Bavaria in Southern Germany, quite close to the German-Austrian border.
Tips For Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle
– No Photography is allowed in the castle. I did try to sneak a few as some places that say “no photography” are quite relaxed and don’t enforce it – however here they do enforce it and they will not be happy if you are taking pics!
– You cannot tour the castle by yourself. If you want to see inside the castle it has to be on a guided tour.
– Tickets are issued for a specific time slot only. If you miss your time-slot you cannot enter the castle so ensure you are at the entrance with plenty of time.
– Reserving tickets online is the easiest way to buy tickets. Tickets often sell out on the day so I wouldn’t rick chancing it.
– Tours of the castle are only available in German and English.
– Check ahead of time for any closures or planned refurbishments. I missed out on walking across the Marienbrücke because it was closed for a refurb. The bridge is also closed during the winter months.
– Depending on the time of year you visit, be prepared for snow and cold weather.
– Wear good walking shoes and be prepared for a steady incline when walking up to the castle.
– The line for the horse drawn carriages can get long, so if you really want to do this make sure you are in line at least an hour before your tour time, especially on weekends!
Neuschwanstein Castle From Munich Day Trip
When booking my day trip to Neuschwanstein I looked at several different websites including Viator and Gray Line. I eventually booked with Gray Line as they had good info on what the tour includes and the itinerary.
Gray Line customer service is also really good – the day before the trip I realised I’d never downloaded my tickets and the link had expired. Being in a different country where my phone wasn’t working wasn’t ideal, but their online chat were fantastic and within minutes I had access to my e-tickets.
Our tour picked up outside the Karstadt Department Store, just opposite the Munich Haupftbahnauf so an easy central location. This was clearly a very popular tour as there were three tour buses from Gray Line, one dedicated just to Chinese speaking visitors and the other English.
Our tour guide Ana was amazing, she really made this tour for me as she gave us enough tons of background and history not just on Neuschwanstein Castle, but all the areas we passed through.
Öberammergau – Traditional Bavarian Town
Our first stop of the day was the Bavarian Village of Obberammergau. Pronounced “Uber-ammer-gow” This quaint German town is surrounded by the Ammergau Alps and is famous for it’s passion play and traditional bavarian architecture.
If you decide to take this particular tour and itinerary, I would suggest picking up souvenirs here as they are substantially cheaper than the stores in Munich centre.
One of Oberammergau’s most famous souvenirs is the “Holy Schnapps” – the nearby Ettal Monastery houses an onsite brewery and distillery and has been brewing beer for more than 400 years. The famous “Holy Schnapps” is a yellow liqueur known as Klosterlikör and can be found in many of the gift shops in Oberammergau.
Some people may want to by-pass doing things like this, but visiting this town was actually a highlight of my trip to Munich. It is quintessentially Bavarian. Everything you would expect from a little traditional town in the Bavarian Alps – small houses adorned with bright colourful paintings and that dark brown gingerbread trim.
After wandering through the town of Oberammergau, it’s time to explore Linderhorf Palace. Linderhorf Palace is the smallest of King Ludwig’s Castle’s and also the only one he got to see completed.
Kind Ludwig was obsessed with French Culture and the architecture that when designing Linderhorf he took inspiration from France’s very own Palace of Versailles. One of the design elements featured throughout this palace was Peacock feathers, which our tour guide mentioned was prominent in the design of Versailles.
If you’ve decided to take a guided tour to Neuschwanstein, make sure you sit on the left of the bus! As our bus was reach the town of Hohenschwangau it was possible to see the castle sitting on the hill in the distance.
The first thing I noticed about the castle, was how low in the mountains it sat. The photos always made Neuschwanstein Castle look like it was above the clouds and really high up the mountain. In reality it’s not that high. You can literally climb a steep hill to it! It is however, beautifully situated on the mountain. There are amazing views in every direction.
You’ll no doubt want to take tons of photos during your walk up to the castle and in the castle courtyards. Ensure you have plenty of time before your guided tour time slot to do so.
The tour only takes you through the rooms that are actually finished. In total there are over 200 rooms, of which 14 are completed.
The inside of the castle is beautiful and just as jaw-dropping as the outside. You’ll find almost zero photos of the inside of Neuschwanstein Castle online and that’s because photography is strictly prohibited.
I couldn’t wait to finally find out what the inside looked like. I won’t give much away as it’s nice to experience it first hand for yourself, but, there are rooms that truly look like something from Sleeping Beauty. Rooms with blue ceilings adorned with stars while another “secret” room looked very much like an underground cavern.
At the bottom of Neuschwanstein Castle lies Alpsee Lake. In the summer months you can fish and take out paddles boats on this lake.
After your tour you’ll have a little bit of time to wander through the town. It was approaching sunset and the light over the Alpsee Lake was beautiful.
Where To Eat At Neuschwanstein Castle
There are lots of little cafés and restaurants at the foot on Neuschwanstein Castle. Depending on your tour time you may want to grab lunch or dinner before or after your tour.
The Hotel Müller offers a quintessential German dining experience. If you’re wanting to experience German cuisine this is the place to do so. Their menu features German favourites such as Weinerschnitzel and spatzl. Their menu also includes the Ludwig II Dunkel beer – if there were ever a place to try this it would be here!
After your tour to Neuschwanstein Caslte, stop as the quaint café that you passed on the way up and treat yourself to some deep fried goodness!
Quarkbällchen are small deep fried balls of quark which is a type of cream cheese – they are amazing!
How To Get To Neuschwanstein Castle
Driving to Neuschwanstein will probably involve renting a car for most people visiting which means this is likely the most expensive option. However if you are doing Neuschwanstein as part of a larger road trip through Germany than this option will be best.
The total journey time to drive from Munich to Neuschwanstein is approximately 2 hours and I’d recommend a GPS system to make the drive as smooth as possible.
Take The Train
If you want to get to Neuschwanstein via public transport you’ll have to take the train from Munich Haupftbahnof to the town of Füsson. Once you reach Füsson you’ll need to take a bus for the final leg of the journey.
Quick reference guide for taking public transport:
– Purchase a Bayern Ticket in advance. This will cover you for both the train journey from Munch to Füsson and the final bus journey to Neuschwanstein.
– The Bayern Ticket is only valid after 9am or midnight onwards on weekends
– There is one direct train from Munich to Füsson every 2-hours. Otherwise you’ll need to make a connection. To make your journey as easy as possible I’d recommend planning for a direct train journey to Füsson.
– Direct train times are 9:52 am and then every 2 hours after this
– Train timetable can be found at the DB Website – check this ahead of time to make sure there are no changes to schedule.
– Once you arrive at Füsson you’ll need to take bus 73 or 78 to reach the castle. The bus journey is approximately 10-minutes.
– Purchase tickets to Neuschwanstein Castle in advance online here
Book A Tour
Booking a guided tour takes all the stress out of planning a trip to Neuschwanstein and guarantees entry. A day tour is also a great option if you are short on time during your trip to Munich.
There are many tour options and itineraries out there offered by many tour companies.
Below is a breakdown and comparison of some of the tours I recommend.
|Neuschwanstein & Linderhorf Castles|
Tour from Munich
|Full day tour – admission,|
gratuities and food not included
|VIP Tour to the Royal Castles|
Neuschwanstein & Linderhof from Munich
|Parking fees, snacks/sodas & |
entry to both castles included
|Neuschwanstein Castle Tour from |
Munich with Option to Explore
|Optional visit to Hohenschwangau |
castle or bike ride – entry fees not included
Best Views Of Neuschwanstein
There are no bad views of Neuschwanstein in my opinion, it is beautiful inside and out. However, there are certain angles and areas that will give you the best views of the castle.
Ever wondered where the famous shots of Neuschwanstein Castle are taken from? The Marienbrücke Bridge is where!
The Marienbrücke is closed in winter due to the icy conditions. It also gets closed for refurbishment so if you’re set on getting the perfect shot from this angle, do your research ahead of time and visit outside of the winter season.
Throughout the vicinity of Neuschwanstein there are lookout points. The particular lookout point in the photo below features views of the side and front of the castle overlooking the canyon below. This angle is nice because you can get a good shot with very few people in the background. The other side of this lookout point features views of the valley and alps in the background.
Benefits Of Taking A Day Trip Guided Tour
The benefits of taking a day trip to Neuschwanstein is that you can be lazy when it comes to planning. You simply click book, pay and then someone else does the planning for you. It takes the stress out of planning and knowing when to get there, how to get there and how and when to purchase tickets. A day trip can be good for last minute planning too, trips can be booked as far as 24-hours before hand. And it’s just a case of showing up to the bus on time!
I also like that a tour bus is comfy and cosy, so when visiting in the winter you can relax on the bus. Especially on the journey back to the city. It’s a long day and after a 12 hour day I didn’t want to be navigating buses and trains.
When you have limited time day tours are awesome. I was in Munich primarily for the Christmas markets so spending longer at Neuschwanstein wasn’t an option.
Benefits Of Taking a Self-Guided Trip
Organising your own tour/trip to Neuschwanstein Castle also has it pros and cons. Taking public transport is far cheaper but does add time to your journey to and from Munich. It also means having to do all the planning yourself. Some people really enjoy the planning stage of a trip and some don’t.
The biggest attraction to planning a self-guided trip is that you can do and go where ever your want and you’re not tied to doing what’s on the specific itinerary. This is where hiring a car becomes desirable. See something cool on the drive to the castle? You can stop and check it out!
A self-guided trip also means you can stay a night or two in either Hohenshwangau or the nearby town of Füssen. Staying local or nearby means you can easily beat the crowds and make it to the castle hassle-free in the mornings – even watch the sunset!
If I were to return to Neuschwanstein (which hopefully one day I will) this is how I would do it. I would definitely stay at least one night to really enjoy and appreciate the beautiful surroundings without having a specified time frame in which to do so.
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