In midsummer I visited the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany, and got some sweet drone footage of the stunning scenery (see my pics and video before you go!) If you’re up for a visit to the world’s most photogenic palace, here’s what you’ll need to know.
What’s Neuschwanstein Castle like?
Despite my misgivings about super super touristy places, it’s actually really cool. You’ll immediately recognise it as the influence for the Disney castle. Its location on the side of a beautiful valley high above the town of Hohenschwangau and the Alpsee lake is just utterly eye-popping.
Neuschwanstein Castle is a bit of a vanity project for the 19th century ruler Ludwig II, a Bavarian king who was close with Otto von Bismarck but who ran foul of his creditors and parliament with never-ending construction-sprees. Eventually he was deposed, and shortly thereafter was mysteriously found dead. Only 14 rooms of the planned 200 were ever completed, and following his death construction was immediately halted and the castle open to the public in order to recoup the debts. It worked- literally thousands of people visit the castle each day and that’s gone on for a bloody century!
Ludwig designed the castle as a tribute to the music of Richard Wagner. This is reflected in the Romantic fantasy of its exterior and the grandeur of those parts of the interior completed. The rooms have some of the most incredible wood carvings and paintings I’ve ever seen, and there’s even an indoor cave. Perhaps the first ever man-cave. You have to pay to take a tour of the castle’s interior, about €12, totes worth it.
Where is Neuschwanstein Castle? How do you get there?
Neuschwanstein is located above the small town of Hohenschwangau in Bavaria, Germany, close to the Austrian border. You can get there on the train from Munich or from Innsbruck in Austria. The drive from Innsbruck is about 1.5 hours; I wouldn’t bother with the train from Innsbruck as there are several changes and it’s a bit of a hassle.
If coming from Munich, you need to take a direct train to Füssen, a larger town in Bavaria. Hohenschwangau is very close to Füssen. A train from Munich to Füssen takes about two hours.
Once you’re in Füssen, right next to the (very small) train station are buses that can take you to Hohenschwangau for a few euro. Alternatively, you can jump in a taxi. The trip is about €15 and will take you about 10 – 15 minutes.
Once you are in Hohenschwangau, you need to walk up the hill to get to Neuschwanstein Castle. At the base of the hill is the castle’s ticket office, and once you have a ticket the walk to the top will take about 30 minutes. Alternatively you can take a taxi to the top, or (another) bus, or even a horse drawn carriage! The walk is very nice through lush green forest.
This all sounds a bit complicated, but it’s really pretty easy and remember there are literally thousands of other tourists doing the same thing each day. Read on for a hot tip that makes it even easier!
Where should I stay?
If staying overnight (which is not 100% necessary, but is worth it) you can stay anywhere in Hohenschwangau really, and have great views and be close to the base of the hill.
My hot tip though is to do yourself a favour and stay at the top of the hill in “Schlossrestaurant Neuschwanstein“. It is a comfortable-enough cheapish hotel above a restaurant that has good Bavarian food. There are two main advantages to staying here:
1. It’s at the top of the hill! That means you don’t have to wear yourself out walking all the way back down, but even better, when all the other schmucks have walked back down the hill for the day, you’ll still be at the top. That gives you unparalleled photo or drone opportunities and some much needed solitude!
2. Schlossrestaurant Neuschwanstein has a private carpark and an exclusive deal with the castle whereby you can get castle admission on site by showing your hotel card. You don’t need to line up down the bottom of the hill to buy your ticket!
Only issue is that the restaurant closes at 6pm, so have an early dinner or bring your own food to the hotel.
(Disclosure: I am not affiliated with this hotel but recommend it after staying there myself. If you found this guide useful, please book via the link above because I will then receive a small commission at no extra cost to yourself!)
What else can I do there apart from Neuschwanstein Castle?
At the bottom of the hill in Hohenschwangau is the turquoise Alpsee lake. It’s shockingly beautiful and in summer it’s great for a swim. You can also rent boats to go canoeing and such.
At the top of the hill is Marienbrucke, a bridge over a gully with a small waterfall below, and the best views of Neuschwanstein Castle. You can hike up the road to it from the castle, and I imagine there are other amazing hiking opportunities in the surrounding area. If you’re more into pretty fairytale villages then both Hohenschwangau and Füssen are worth a look.
Neuschwanstein Castle being heaps romantic and stuff would be a sweet place to take a cuddle-bunny. Unfortunately I was there with my mate Ed who snores. To make matters worse we had to share a double bed. Hello earplugs!
To see more pretty photos and drone video from Neuschwanstein Castle, check out my companion article, 32 Photos that Will Make You Want to Visit Neuschwanstein Castle!