Nestled within the rolling hillside of the Bavarian Alps, Neuschwanstein and the somewhat lesser-known Hohenschwangau, sits above a pristine lake. As you drive up into the hills, you are quickly embraced by an other-worldly-dream-like feeling.
This castle is one of the most known and recognizable buildings around the world, and it’s easy to see why. It’s something straight of a fairy-tale… literally – it’s the inspiration for the castle from Beauty and the Beast.
Not only is a trip to Neuschwanstein absolutely stunning (both naturally and architecturally), but you also get the opportunity to learn about the history of the Bavarian royal family, and the story of King Ludwig II (the guy who built the famous Neuschwanstein castle).
King Ludwig II was rumoured to be infatuated with fantasy, and eventaully hid himself away from the real world and became somewhat of a recluse. He then mysteriously died, the causes of which are still not known.
There is a lot of interesting history behind the beauty.
What you need to know before going:
- There are actually two castles here. The famous Neuschwanstein and the smaller, but older, Hohenschwangau. Hohenschwangau was a summer home for the Bavarian Royals, a place frequented by Ludwig II, who would later go on to build his fantasy castle: Neuschwanstein.
- If you want to go inside either of the castles you have to have a ticket. There are different packages you can select: one castle, both castles, the castles and the museum, etc. We did tours of both the castles, which actually proved to be worth it, in my opinion.
- PRE-BOOK your tickets online. You can purchase tickets at the ticket office the day of, but pre-booking ensures that you get tickets to get in (it can get busy), and helps you get the time slot for the tour that fits your schedule best. In addition, it helps you to avoid long lines at the ticket office. Make sure you arrive in time to pick up your ticket (at least an hour before your tour).
- You will need spare change to use most of the washrooms.
There are a few different ways you can get to Neuschwanstein Castle, train, public transportation, car (if you have one), or do what we did: use Flixbus. This is by for the most straightforward and cheapest option (around 18 Euros/person).
We took Flixbus from Munich, which is a quick day-trip out of the city. Our bus left from the central bus station at 8:30, and we arrived in Hohenschwangau, near the ticket office at 10:35.
Once you are There:
Walk to the ticket office immediately and pick up your tickets. After that, depending on your tour schedule decide what to do. If you don’t have tickets, decide what you want your first stop to be and head there.
Wayde and I walked to the lake and looked around. Then we climbed the short walk up to Hohenschwangau, and enjoyed the exterior of the castle. We packed a picnic lunch and enjoyed it while we waited for our tour time slot.
The tour for Hohenschwangau was longer, and in my opinion, more interesting that the tour of Neuschwanstein. Which, isn’t a huge surprise, given that Hohenschwangau is older, more lived-in, and has more history.
To get to Neuschwanstein you have to go up a fairly steep hill. To do this, you a few different options: walk up, take a horse drawn buggy, or hop on the bus.
The quickest option is the bus (it costs around 3 euros). It’s probably around a 10-15 minute drive up. The bus will drop you off at the top, but you are still not at the castle quiet yet!
From the drop off you have two different paths you can take. You can either go to you right and head to Marienbrucke, which is a bridge that offers stunning views of the castle. Or, you can head to the left and trek to the castle immediately. Where you go first totally depends on your schedule.
We had some time to kill before our tour of Neuschwantstein, so we headed right and went to the bridge.
When we were there the first half of the bridge was ridiculously crowded, it didn’t help that everyone was stopping to take pictures and blocking everyone from walking (not that I blame them, get that shot!).
However, my tip is to make your way through the crowd and get to the other side of the bridge. It was wayyyyy less crowded on this side. Snap a few shots here, and then (depending on time) follow the path up the hill.
It’s a short walk up the hill from the bridge to the first look-out point. There was no-one there when Wayde and I went up, which was so nice! There are some stunning views from here, and it’s a lot less hectic than the madness of the bridge below.
You can follow the path from that lookout to another look-out farther up, it’s probably better, but a bit of a walk. Wayde and I decided to just head back down.
From there we went to the actual Castle!
We had some time before our tour, so we just walked around the outside of it.
Then we went into the castle for our audio guide tour. It was interesting, and it’s grandeur was absolutely mind-blowing. Even though the majority of the castle was never finished, due to Ludwig II’s early and mysterious death, the part of it that was finished was incredible.
Learning about the history, and the kind of unfathomable backstory, of Neuschwanstein Castle is 100% worth it.
After our tour, we hopped back on a bus down to the bottom. We had some time before our bus back to Munich came to pick us up, so we stopped at Restaurant Kainz for some soup after a cold day in the rain. It was really delicious and fairly inexpensive.
Pro-tip: stop at a bakery the morning before you leave on your trip, pick up breakfast to go and some sandwiches for later in the day. This will save you a lot of money, and you can have a beautiful picnic at a castle!
We thoroughly enjoyed our day trip to Neuschwanstein, and highly recommend a trip here if you every find your self in Bavaria.