If you are visiting the breathtaking state of Bavaria in Southern Germany then you simply have to visit the world famous Fairy-Tale Neuchwanstein Castle. This Disney inspiring 19th Century Romanesque castle overlooking the small village of Hohenschwangau, near Füssen, and truly is an remarkable instagrammable location.
What is it?
Neuchwanstein Castle is the dazzling and eccentric 19th Century palace commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria in 19th Century. The palace was dedicated in honour of Richard Wagner (German composer and dramatist) whom the King was a great admirer. The palace also remained the home of the king until his rather untimely and mysterious death in 1886. The king had been detained in his bedroom for a period of time after having “gone mad”. He was found dead alongside his Psychiatrist near the river after having gone for a stroll there one morning. To this day no one knows what happened and the castle interior remained unfinished at the time of his death.
The king ensured that the castle was built and designed under the inspiration of the middle ages, embodying both Romanticism and Richard Wagner’s operas. The design inside the castle shows the kings keen interest in decoration. There is the beautiful Throne room is constructed and designed in a Byzantine style, The Singer’s hall with medieval frescos and huge ceilings, and representations of swans throughout, and a rather eccentric room designed to look like a real cave with red lighting.
How do I get there?
The best way to get to Neuchwanstein Castle is from Munich and by train. You should get up early as otherwise you may need to rush and lose most of the day. In addition to the train journey, you will need to take a bus and a walk up the hills/cliffs in order to arrive at the castle. There will also be an additional queue for the tour if you wish to see the inside of the castle. The journey to Neuchwanstein from Munich is about 2.5 – 3 hours to get there.
Step 1: Train
Get the train from Munich or Ausburg to Füssen. Trains run pretty regularly every hour and it’s likely to cost you between 50-60 euros for a return trip. Check with the train provider for any details for offers on group travel through their websites (timetables can be found on Deustche Bahn website).
Step 2: Bus Journey
The next thing you will need to do once arriving in Füssen is to find the bus stop. This isn’t immediately obvious but after a little searching around you should be able to find it. The bus stop is a very short walk away (1 minute) and is found on the opposite side of the road to the train station. The buses run very regularly and the journey is only 10 minutes. You can catch the number 73 (Steingaden/Garmisch-Partenkirchen) or the number 78 (Schwangau), until you reach the stop in Hohenschwangau. They tend to run the buses close to the arrival of the train times – however be aware that the buses can be very busy, especially during the height of the tourist season.
Step 3: Guided Tour
If you wish to see have a tour of the castle then you will need to buy a ticket for a guided tour. It is possible to see the outside of the castle for free and you can get right up to the main doors if you don’t wish to pay the entrance fee. You can also take some great distance views of the castle if you travel to Marienbrocke (see step 4).
If you do wish to have the tour, be aware that tourists are no longer allowed to take photos of the inside of the castle (I don’t understand why not). So you will be able to see the stunning interior (it is worth doing) but you won’t be permitted to take photos. You must also be very aware that the tickets are for specific times and so you must show up for the time of your tour. Guided tours are offered in German and English but there are audio guides provided for a number of other languages too. In addition, you can also buy a ticket which covers the Hohenschwangau Castle and the Museum of the Bavarian Kings as well.
A really important point for you to remember for planning your journey – Neuschwanstein is extremely popular and therefore you can expect to wait up to a couple of hours to purchase your ticket. I would strongly recommend reserving the tickets online through the official website which allows you to skip most of the queue. If you want to reserve a ticket – you need to do at least 2 days in advance and before 3pm. A bit of advance planning is well worth it.
Step 4: Getting to the Castle
Once you have arrived in the village of Hohenschwangau, and having purchased a ticket if you wish, then you have the choice of walking to the castle on foot (about 40 minutes), by bus, or by taking a horse drawn cart.
On foot – paths are clearly labelled and you should be able to pick up one of the free maps in the village. If you have mobility issues, you need to be aware that it is a steep journey (although well paved) and the path is quite winding. During the winter months you may have more difficulty. If you want to take one of the impressive views of the outside of the castle, then you can follow the signs that point to Marienbrocke which is a bridge a further 15 minutes away. It’s well worth doing as there you will find the impressive view of the castle high up on the hill – the Disney appearance which the castle is so famous for. Expect the bridge to be busy, but that shouldn’t stop you getting a great picture.
By bus – there are some specially organised private buses which can take you up to the castle. These are different to the bus tickets you bought at the station which will not be valid. This is a good option if you have any mobility issues or are in a hurry.
Horse drawn cart – a really romantic way of travelling up to the castle, these privately organised trips can be paid for near the buses.
Adam: This is a really worthwhile instagrammable location, as well as a beautiful experience of viewing the castle.
Rod: I agree with you but my suggestion would be that before going there you do need to do a bit of research to make sure you get the most from it e.g. how to get the best shot of the castle
Adam: Yeah, I think that’s a good point.