Straight out a fairy tale, Neuschwanstein castle located in Bavaria, Germany, and is one of the most stunning castles in the world.
Neuschwanstein Castle was commissioned by King Ludwig II in 1868, though he tragically died before ever staying a night in the castle. The plans showed that the castle was supposed to have over 200 rooms, but only about a dozen were complete prior to running out of funding.
The overall plans that King Ludwig II had for the castle were beyond grand. The castle was to feature technological advancements that the era had never seen before, including indoor plumbing and a table elevator that would lower an empty table to the kitchen and raise it back up fully set for dinner. The rooms that were actually finished were spectacular and one can easily understand how they ran out of money so fast. Most accents and furnitures pieces in the rooms are made of solid gold.
If this castle seems fairly recognizable it’s because it was the inspiration for Walt Disney World’s Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom and the Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disneyland!
Quick backstory on how I came to visit it. I was on Instagram in October and I kept seeing pictures of the castle in fall. After seeing multiple pictures over the span of a few weeks, I decided I had to see it in person that fall and booked a last minute trip to Germany. I flew out two weeks later and was only in Germany for 4 days. Unfortunately it was more like winter while I was there than fall, but the castle was still magnificent. Being that this was a super last minute trip, I decided to go solo and really made no other travel arrangements ahead of time. After checking into JFK I booked my rental car that I would pick up 6 hours later and waited until the end of each day to make my hotel arrangements, as I wasn’t sure ahead of time what city I would end up in each night.
While the trip was only 4 days long, I packed so many sights into it! I was able to see the Herrenchiemsee Palace, Neuschwanstein Castle, Hohenschwangau Castle, Zugspitze Mountain Peak, Innsbruck Old Town (Austria), Swarovski Museum (Austria) and Lake Eibsee.
What To Know Before You Go:
A few things you may want to keep in mind prior to visiting:
- Village vs. Castle Entrance – When you first get to the area both cars and bus tours all have to park in the village of Hohenschwangau, located below the castle. The ticket center is about a 5-10 minute walk into the village and the Castle is actually about a 30-minute walk up the hill. Note that there is nowhere to park directly at the castle, the parking lot in Hohenschwangau is the closest you can get.
- Tours – Tours are offered in several languages, though not always as often as the English or German tours, so just keep that in mind, as you may have to wait a little longer for a preferred language. Also, the inside of the castle is only viewable by a guided tour. Guests are not allowed to roam freely inside (you can roam for free outside the castle though), so save yourself a trip back down to the ticket center and pick a ticket prior to heading up.
- Tickets – Tickets are bought at the village center below. The lines can be really long, so I recommend going earlier, rather than mid-day.
- Opening Hours:
- April-October – 9 AM-6 PM
- November-March – 10 AM-4 PM
- Pricing – $13 euros/pp for Neuschwanstein Castle only and $25 euros/pp for Hohenschwangau & Neuschwanstein Castle combined (pricing as of 2019)
- Photography – There is no photography or videos of any type allowed to be taken inside. It’s really sad because the inside is gorgeous, but it allows you to just focus on the tour and appreciate the information.
Journey to the Castle:
The walk to the castle is definitely on a steep incline and takes about 30 minutes to walk there, even at a quick pace. For a few euros (around $6/pp) there is an option to ride in a horse drawn carriage with about 4-5 other people up most of this journey. If you are winded easily with walking or just want a little break, then this is a great option. Note that this carriage will not take you to the very top, as there is not enough space. Once the carriage drops you off you will have at least a 5-10 minute walk to reach the entrance of the castle.
I’m in pretty good shape, but the incline is pretty steep at times. Make sure you leave enough time to hike up to the top without rushing, otherwise you will be drenched in sweat by the time you reach the entrance.
Around the Castle:
After you’re done touring the castle there are still a few things you can do in the area. First and foremost, I recommend going to the bridge behind the castle, about a 10-15 minute walk away. This wooden bridge will allow you to see the back of the castle from afar and makes for a great picture, as you’ll see mine below.
Just note that if you’re visiting it in winter as I did, then it may be closed if it’s been snowing. The bridge was actually closed when I went, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for this once in a lifetime picture. I jumped the fence, as others did as well and still went out on it. The bridge was wooden, wet from the snow, super slippery and suspended over a 200 ft. drop. Looking back I’m terrified that I actually went out on it considering, but the view was beautiful.
Also down the hill from the main castle is the Hohenschwangau Castle. This castle is where King Ludwig II spent most of his childhood. The castle is about a 15 minute walk from the main town center and about 45 minutes from Neuschwanstein. Make sure when buying your tickets to both, that you leave enough time in between to see it all. Once you’ve seen both castles and the bridge I would head back to the center of town where you can grab some food & drink at one of the local restaurants.
Note that there are also shops to buy things in as well. I bought a beautiful handmade German stein in one of the shops right before the castle, as well as some old coins from Bavaria.
Even more beautiful in the summertime or early fall, this castle welcomes over 1.5 million visitors a year and is a must-see if visiting Germany.