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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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