Schloss Neuschwanstein- The Ultimate Bucket List Destination

Schloss Neuschwanstein. The Swan Stone Castle. The Fairytale Castle. However you may know it, Schloss Neuschwanstein is perhaps one of the most iconic castles in the world. Therefore, the castle often sits high on people’s bucket lists and fully deserves this honour. But, there is so much more to see in this area than just Schloss Neuschwanstein! Ready to explore the land of breathtaking beauty?

In this article, we are going to go on an epic journey! Firstly, starting with visiting Schloss Neuschwanstein! Then, I will take you through the other delights in the area to explore including Schloss Hohenschwangau, the jaw-dropping Lake Alpsee and a few other treats. So, let’s go!

Schloss Neuschwanstein, Lake Alpsee and Schloss Hohenschwangau sitting in the mountains
Neuschwanstein, Hohenschwangau and Lake Alpsee

Getting to Schloss Neuschwanstein

First things first- how do we actually get there? In order to visit the castles, depends on how we are travelling. Situated in southern Bavaria, the nearest town is Füssen (more on this place later). However, most people will visit from a day trip from Munich or as a final destination if driving the Romantic Road in Germany.

From Munich

If travelling from Munich, you can easily reach the castles via train or driving. If you hire a car, you will take the A96 out of the city centre and head down towards the castles, taking approximately 2 hours. Once at the site, there are a couple of car parks which are easily sign posted. Just stick in Parkplatz P2 Königsschlösser into your Sat Nav and you’re there!

The other alternative is by train, which is super easy! You will catch a 2 hour train from Munich’s Hauptbahnhof (main train station) to Füssen. The train is direct and runs hourly, and Füssen is the last stop. Once in Füssen, simply get off the train and outside the station are several bus stops marked with Schloss Neuschwanstein. Also, it will be the bus stop with the biggest amount of tourists! From here, the bus will take you directly into the castle entrance. These buses are typically scheduled to leave about 10 minutes after the train arrives in. A return ticket to and from Munich cost us approximately €50 each.

You can book a tour, but personally, I wanted to spend time here without being on a schedule. Plus, the only way you can see inside both castles is via a guided tour by the staff at the castle complex. So, you’re really just paying for transport to and from the sites anyway.

Munich’s main train station is very easy to navigate and you can get trains to any city in Germany as well as Austria from here.

Schloss Neuschwanstein

there will be several cosy, habitable guest rooms with a splendid view of the noble Säuling, the mountains of Tyrol and far across the plain; the location is one of the most beautiful to be found, holy and unapproachable, a worthy temple for the divine friend who has brought salvation and true blessing to the world.

King Ludwig II of Bavaria

History of Nesuchwanstein

The iconic images of Neuschwanstein will immediately take you to thoughts of Germany. Despite being one of the most recognisable castles in the world, very few know the story behind Neuschwanstein. The castle was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, born in 1845. The King was known for being eccentric, as well as a lover of the arts. In addition to this, Ludwig was very good friends with the composer Richard Wagner, whom he dedicated Neuschwanstein to.

However, there is a darker, sadder side to this story. Ludwig became the King of Bavaria at the age of 18, and two years later, Bavaria and Austria had been defeated by Prussia in the ‘German War’. Despite remaining as the King, he essentially lost all power and authority and began to isolate himself in Hohenschwangau Castle. His childhood home and the older, smaller sister castle situated next to the future Neuschwanstein Castle.

Ludwig decided to the turn the former ruins of a medieval castle into his fantasy Kingdom. Thus, the blueprint for Schloss Neuschwanstein was born! He funded the project privately, however his elaborate designs soon ran over budget and he began to borrow more money from the banks. Eventually, Ludwig lost favour in the Kingdom and was removed as King in 1886, being declared insane. Sadly, he died the following day after suspicious circumstances.

Ludwig only slept 11 nights in his fantasy castle, and only 14 of the planned 200 rooms were actually completed upon his death. It was believed that his true motivation behind the build was due to him losing power to Prussia, but here in Neuschwanstein he could be a true royal.

The castle stops everyone in their tracks

Visiting Neuschwanstein

As already mentioned, regardless as to how you travel to the site, your journey will begin in the same place, the small village of Hohenschwangau. Hohenschwangau is all about the castles, and so there will be clear signage directing you to the castles and ticket offices.

You can purchase tickets in advance, and I would 100% recommend this. Neuschwanstein is one of the most popular attractions in Germany, and it has been known to have up to 6,000 visitors a DAY during July and August. As a result, long queues and wait times mean that you will get less time exploring the other awesome places Hohenschwangau has to offer.

The only way to see inside Neuschwanstein is via a guided tour, which is included when you purchase your tickets. The tours run at designated times, normally every half hour or hour. So, make sure to get to the entrance of the castle at least 15 minutes beforehand, with your tickets ready! You can buy them here for €13 per adult (under 18’s go free).

However, it is worth bearing in mind that getting up to the castle can take a while depending on the pace you want to walk. It is a fairly steep walk up the road to Neuschwanstein. You cannot drive up there. For us, the walk took about 20 minutes at a leisurely pace. Alternatively, you can get a horse and carriage up to the castle. Although personally I do not support animal tourism like this. I will say the horses did look well looked after and not over-worked, but the exercise will do you good!

Entrance to Schloss Neuschwanstein
Eagerly waiting to enter the castle!

Inside Neuschwanstein

The rooms inside Neuschwanstein are lavishly decorated. Trust me, you will have never seen anything like it. Unfortunately, photography is not permitted inside the Castle unless you have a permit.

Guided tours are offered in either German or English, and last approximately 30 minutes. Audioguides are handed out in a variety of other languages, but you will still be escorted for the entirety of the visit.

Guided tours take place in the winter from October 16, 2020 to March 26, 2021 daily between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and in the summer from March 27, 2021 to October 15, 2021 daily between 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Marienbrücke- The Castle Viewpoint

For those wanting to take the ultimate tourist photo to say, “Hey, I’ve been to Neuschwanstein”, then you need to head to Marienbrücke!

Marienbrücke is a bridge suspended over the Pöllat Gorge. The bridge affords visitors incredible views of Neuschwanstein and the lakes of Bannwallsee and Forggensee. In order to get here, you will take a very scenic walk from the castle that will take about 15 minutes.

However, as wonderful as this bridge is, it get’s incredibly crowded. I was fortunate enough to visit during COVID-19, and so the crowds were virtually non-existent. But, for most you may have to wait a while to get that all important photo. In order to avoid crowds, I recommend going early in the morning or in the afternoon after about 3pm. Also, visiting outside of the summer months is preferable.

Personally, I enjoyed my visit during the autumn because the trees begin turning beautiful colours and it was so stunning!

View from Neuschwanstein towards Marienbrucke- you can see the Alps, Lake Alpsee and Schloss HOhenschwangau.

The walk to Marienbrücke will probably take longer than 15 minutes because you are spoiled with views like the above! Here you can see the village of Hohenschwangau, Lake Alpsee and Schloss Hohenschwangau. We will discuss these next!

Schloss Hohenschwangau

Next up, let’s head to Schloss Hohenschwangau. This pretty yellow castle was the childhood home of King Ludwig II. After the invasion of Prussia, Ludwig would spend much of his time here. Here he would often gaze out the windows and watch the construction of his fairy tale castle.

Stunning yellow Hohenschwangau castle

Like Neuschwanstein, you can only visit Hohenschwangau as part of a guided tour. On the tour, you will see more lavishly decorated rooms. King Ludwig’s parents, Maximillian II of Bavaria and Marie of Prussia, had a floor each. During the tour, you will learn about the history of Hohenschwangau as well as more about Ludwig and his family.

I was overcome with jealousy walking through this stunning castle. From every single window, I would look out at the jaw-dropping views and wished I woke up to such a backdrop every day! You are not allowed to take photos in Hohenschwangau, except for out of one window…

Room with a view. THe reading room inside Hohenschwangau looking out over Alpsee

You can book your tickets online here for €18 per adult. It is a lovely 25 minute stroll down from Neuschwanstein, through the village and past Lake Alpsee. The entire route to Hohenschwangau is clearly marked with signage.

Yellow beautiful facades of Hohenschwangau castle

Other Places to Visit

I recommend staying overnight in one of the hotels in Hohenschwangau or neighbouring Füssen in order to enjoy all the sights on offer here.

Lake Alpsee

First up, the serene Lake Alpsee. If you want to escape the crowds, then Lake Alpsee if the answer. Here, you can hire boats for €10 and swim in the crystal clear water. This option is only available between May and October. However, you can still enjoy the lake outside of these times. There is a lovely 5km hiking trial along the perimeter of the Lake which I highly recommend taking!

Museum of Bavarian Kings

For those interested in history, don’t miss this next stop. The Museum of Bavarian Kings is located just opposite Lake Alpsee in Hohenschwangau. I recommend spending some time here if you want to learn more about the history of Bavaria and the Royal families over the years!

Tegelberg Cable Car

If you’re looking for the ultimate view of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau, then jump on the Tegelberg Cable Car! Here, you will be get a birds eye shot of the area. I didn’t do this on my visit due to it being closed (thanks COVID), but will return one day and definitely do this! For more information follow the link here.

Where to Eat

All this exploring creates quite the appetite! There is a selection of bars and restaurants in Hohenschwangau to choose from. Most will serve traditional Bavarian dishes, such as pork knuckle. We ate at Mueller, because it had a nice big beer garden! I ate the most delicious beef goulash soup, which cost €6,50, and washed it down with a litre of beer for €8,50. The restaurants around here will be pricier for obvious reasons, so be prepared for that.

Top Tips

Here’s my top tips for visiting Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau:

  • Visit in the spring or autumn. The crowds will be less, and it’s still gorgeous!
  • Get there early! The earlier the better- less crowds!
  • Wear good walking shoes! I mean it, there will be a lot of walking and you want to be comfy.
  • Check the weather- it can get chilly. Be prepared. We had 4 seasons in one day!
  • Book your tickets in advance. Don’t waste precious time queuing at the ticket office.
  • Don’t just visit Neuschwanstein. Honestly, Schloss Hohenschwangau took my breath away.
  • Allow at least 2 hours between visiting the two castles. This will give you time to walk down and take photos.
  • Bring your camera. You’ll be taking a lot of photos!
  • Don’t just come for the day. I recommend staying in Füssen (read more here) and enjoy this incredible area.

Final Thoughts

For me, Schloss Neuschwanstein was the ultimate bucket list destination. Was it busy? Yes. Was it a bit overpriced? Yes. Was it worth it? 10000%. As we approached the final road leading to Hohenschwangau, I caught my first glimpse of Neuschwanstein and it was seriously magical. It was a place I had longed to visit, and that first sighting really gave me a lump in my throat. I couldn’t stop staring at the Swan Stone Castle.

Some people believe it is a bit overrated, and that’s okay. But for me, it was 10 x more magical in person. I had a smile on my face the entire day and remember it as if it was only yesterday. Make sure you visit Schloss Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau next time you’re in Germany! You won’t regret it. I recommend a visit to Bavaria, including Munich and Nuremberg, at least once in your lifetime!

Thanks for testing Gutenberg Editor!


32 thoughts

  1. Such a comprehensive post on visiting Neuschwanstein. We loved visiting it several years back and look forward to returning here with our children on a future visit. I will surely add a stop along Lake Alpsee to our next visit as well to enjoy some boating – how relaxing and the views are incredible! Great guide.

    1. Yes definitely stay over. I’m putting together a post on the local town of Fussen which also deserves a day spent there too. A really lovely area with so much to do. Hope you get there soon x

  2. I will definitely stay overnight . I always wanted to go to a castle . Thanks for the detailed information.

  3. I’ve been meaning to visit that castle, but I didn’t know the area was so beautiful as well! Lovely photos!

  4. I love Neuschwanstein! It is such a gorgeous castle. I visited in winter so it was a completely different but still so fascinating.

  5. Castles are a fairy tale travel dream for us! we would opt to spend a night so that we could enjoy the towns nearby and really absorb as much as possible. Bummer that they dont allow indoor photography, but for us, that just adds more motivation for us to see it firsthand

    1. Definitely go overnight! Fuessen is a wonderful town, with it’s own castle and medieval history which is really interesting. Keep your eyes peeled for a post on Fuessen hopefully very soon! Yes, honestly, I could not do justice in describing how beautiful it was inside the castles. Worth every penny. The views were also spectacular

  6. I would love to stay in a castle. Been on my bucket list before I even knew what a bucket list was lol Feel like a princess! Good read and good information! Thanks for sharing!

  7. I can’t believe it’s been 6 years since I’ve visited both Neuschwanstein and Schloss Hohenschwangau. They were pretty crowded then so I can only imagine how crowded they must be these days. Although I know they are popular as ever, I really want to return and see them both again (especially Neuschwanstein).

    1. Yes! I was very lucky (?) to visit during COVID-19, and we literally had NOBODY there, a few dog walkers around the complex. Didn’t have to wait to go on the bridge or anything. A once in a lifetime chance to visit the castle with no crowds, although I’m sure I would enjoy again regardless!

  8. I was here so long ago it was really nice to re-read some of the history. I still remember the cool castle and the long climb to get there.

  9. I love visiting castles and this one has been on my list for so long! Can’t wait to plan my own trip here – hopefully this year!

  10. Castle Neuschwanstein is on my bucket list! Such a great post! Lots of beautiful photos and useful informations.Thanks for sharing.

  11. Yes, Germany boasts some of the most wonderful castles in the world and Schloss Neuschwanstein is no exception. Looking at your aerial pictures, I bet the castle is stunning in winter surrounding by white snow. I will keep your tips in mind when I get a chance to visit Germany once again.

  12. I loved your post on Neuschwanstein! I went there is the early 70’s on my first trip to Europe. I had a poster of the castle hanging in my apartment for a while.

    1. Thank you! Yes, it was a childhood dream for me too. I welled up with emotion when I first saw the castle, having wanted to go for such a long time. It was a dream come true. A place I already can’t wait to return to.

  13. What a fantastic article. I loved learning of the history of the castle, as I was unfamiliar with the history despite having seen so many pics of it. I particularly would love to visit the smaller castle that he grew up in. The 5k hike around the lake would also DEFINITELY be on my ‘to do’ list for when I make it to the area. It is already in my list. Thank you

    1. Thank you Ildiko, I am glad you enjoyed it! Yes the hike around Alpsee is a must, it really is beautiful, and you get to enjoy a view of the castles too. It’s a truly magical place. I hope you get there soon!

  14. Growing up in Germany, I’ve seen so many of its castles. However, I’ve yet to go and visit Neuschwanstein. But it is such an iconic castle, I really need to manage and go. Good to know it is actually easy to visit from Munich, will keep that in time next time.

    1. Thank you Sarah! I hope you get to visit soon! I recommend staying in Fussen too for a night. I am hoping to put a post out on it soon, but there’s a lovely hotel just outside with mountain views. Looks like a scene out of the Sound of Music. It’s beautiful .

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