My Mom always tells me the story that all the nurses called me Sleeping Beauty when I was born because I almost slept through the entire day. (Guilty as charged, I still love sleeping!) Being a princess is every little girl’s dream: wearing beautiful dresses, finding your Prince Charming and living happily ever after in a fairytale castle. I was always obsessed with castles and visiting Neuschwanstein Castle was on my travel bucket list for so long!
Therefore when I heard I have to travel to Bavaria, South-Germany for work I immediately know: my time has finally come! Seeing the castle with my own eyes was a dream come true. If you also dream about visiting this real-life fairytale castle, you’ve come to the right place! In this travel guide I will share everything you need to know before visiting Neuschwanstein Castle.
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History of Neuschwanstein Castle
Neuschwanstein Castle was build on the request of King Ludwig II who was the king of Bavaria from 1864 until his death at 1886. He spent his entire childhood in the Hohenschwangau castle (which was rebuilt by his father) and he was always obsessed with fairytales. Therefore the people of Bavaria often called him as Swan King, Fairytale King or even Mad King.
Once he became king he decided to build himself a true fairytale castle. The construction of Neuschwanstein Castle began at 1868 and it was originally designed to have more than 200 rooms. Unfortunately the construction of the castle was never finished.
King Ludwig was found dead a few weeks after he moved in to his new castle in 1886. By this time only 15 of the room were finished and the funds of the project has been immediately cut. His death remained a mystery until this day – many people think he committed suicide and others think it was murder. Guess we will never know the truth.
Two months after his death Neuschwanstein Castle was opened up to the public and it quickly became one of the world’s most famous castles. Neuschwanstein Castle usually features on the top of everyone’s Germany bucket list and as a consequence, it’s the most visited tourist attraction in the country that usually receives 1.3 million visitors every year.
The fairytale design and the breathtaking surroundings inspired many talented artists, including Walt Disney. Both Cinderella’s castle in the 1950 movie and the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland were modelled after Neuschwanstein Castle. After seeing some pictures of this beautiful castle you can’t blame him for that, can you? If you’re interested in visiting more fairytale castles in Germany read this article about the most impressive castles in Thuringia!
Best time to visit Neuschwanstein Castle
As Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most beautiful fairytale castles in Europe no matter when you visit it, it will be an unforgettable experience. I’ve seen many different photos of this fairytale castle and it looks gorgeous in every season!
Late spring and summer are a great time for visiting if you wanna see the castle with a lush green backdrop. Spring can be a bit rainy but it’s less crowded than the summer months. As I’ve said before, Neuschwanstein castle is the most visited spot in Germany and summer is the absolute peak season in tourism.
Autumn is one of the best times for visiting Neuschwanstein castle. The surrounding area looks breathtaking in autumn colors! September and October are one of the driest months and the temperature is still mild. As the summer crowds are already gone, autumn months also tend to be more quiet.
I know Neuschwanstein Castle looks incredible when it’s covered with bright white snow but visiting in winter can be really tricky. First of all, the temperature is really cold, it gets below freezing from late November to mid-April. Most of the hiking trails are closed due to the snow and ice and since the castle sits on top of a hill it’s not so easy to reach either. However if you are mostly interested in seeing the interior of Neuschwanstein Castle, winter can be still a great time for visiting without the crowds.
How to get to Neuschwanstein Castle
Neuschwanstein Castle is located near a little town called Hohenschwangau in the Bavaria region (South-Germany), close to the Austrian border. The castle itself is nested in the foot of the Bavarian Alps so a drop-dead gorgeous view is guaranteed.
Step 1: Getting to Hohenschwangau
Unfortunately there are no direct flights to the area. If you plan to arrive by plane you need to fly to Munich (Germany) or Innsbruck (Austria).
The easiest way to reach Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich is by driving. You can rent a car at the Munich Airport and you need to drive 150 km (93 miles) which takes around 1h 45min. If you are not comfortable with driving then public transportation and organized tours are also available. For more information check out my detailed guide about how to get to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich!
Innsbruck is actually closer to Neuschwanstein Castle than Munich. Although there is no public transportation available so your only option is to rent a car. You have to drive 115 km (71 miles, around 1h 35min) to reach Neuschwanstein Castle from Innsbruck. Keep in mind that you need to cross the Austrian-German border during your trip! Therefore you need to notify your rental company in advance that you will leave the country.
Step 2: Getting up to the Neuschwanstein Castle
After you arrived to Hohenschwangau you need to find the path that leads up to Neuschwanstein Castle. Actually there are more starting points, you can see the official map right below. It takes around 30-40 minutes to reach the castle from Hohenschwangau on foot. You need to walk up on a steep uphill road for like 1.5 km (0.9 miles) so be prepared with comfy shoes!
Cars and bicycles are not allowed on the road to the castle, however you can take a shuttle bus which departs from the Hohenschwangau Palace. The bus can’t go directly to the castle so it will drop you off around the Marienbrücke (Mary’s Bridge) from where you still need to walk 10-15 minutes downhill. Prices for the shuttle: 2.5 EUR (2.7 USD) for the uphill trip and 1.5 EUR (1.6 USD) for the downhill trip, or 3 EUR (3.2 USD) for a return trip.
You can also choose to go up with a horse-drawn carriage. It won’t take you to the castle either, you need to walk 5-10 minutes uphill from the ending point of the ride. Tickets can be bought at the horse carriage driver, the uphill ride cost 7 EUR (7.5 USD) and the downhill ride is 3.5 EUR (3.8 USD).
As I don’t support this kind of animal tourism I would politely ask you not to use this service! Walking up there is not that bad and the views you get along the way will definitely make you up for your burning thighs. If you can’t walk for some reasons it’s still cheaper (and a lot more ethical) to take the shuttle bus. So please choose wisely!
Where to stay near Neuschwanstein Castle
You can easily visit Neuschwanstein Castle in a day trip from either Munich or Innsbruck. Munich is a really great base to explore the nearby area so if you have to choose between the two I would definitely recommend Munich! If you choose to stay in Munich you might be interested to read a post about how to spend one day in Munich or the 5 best day trips from Munich!
Although the castle can be easily reached from the two above mentioned cities, I would still suggest to stay near Neuschwansten Castle for 1 or 2 nights. This way you can spend more time in the area which I highly recommend! If you don’t want to spend a lot of time with searching for accommodations just check out my recommendations below!
If you wish to stay as close to Neuschwanstein Castle as possible then Hohenschwangau is your best option. No matter which accommodation you choose, you can reach the path that leads up to the castle within a few minutes. Check out all the hotels in Hohenschwangau here!
This 4-star hotel is set directly beneath Neuschwanstein Castle. The hotel was newly opened in December 2012 and all rooms have free WiFi, wired internet, a flat-screen satellite TV and a balcony, while some have a view of Neuschwanstein Castle.
With some rooms offering wonderful views of the Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles, this traditional hotel is just a 5-minute drive from Füssen and the Austrian border.
The second closest town to Neuschwanstein Castle is Schwangau. The distance between the two is 2.5 km (1.5 miles) so even if you don’t have a car you can easily walk or bike. You can find more options here but don’t expect hundreds of hotels. Check out all the hotels in Schwangau here!
This 4-star-superior hotel in Schwangau offers great views of the Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles, a modern spa and beauty area, and a gourmet restaurant serving regional food.
Hotel Weinbauer is a traditional hotel peacefully and central located in Schwangau, 1.5 km (0.9 miles) from Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles. Built in 1865, the cozy hotel is decorated with frescoes. Breakfast is served on-site.
These spacious and modern apartments lie between Füssen and Schwangau in the Bavarian Alps. All apartments at Casa Patrizia feature a fully-equipped kitchen, living room, large bedroom and bathroom.
Füssen is the third option to stay close to Neuschwanstein Castle. The distance is 5 km (3.1 miles) so technically you can still walk but having a car or a bike is much better. You can also call a taxi if you don’t have your own car and it will take you to Hohenschwangau within a few minutes. Check out all the hotels in Füssen here!
Located on the shores of Forggensee Lake, this 4-star spa hotel offers regional cuisine and great views of Neuschwanstein Castle and the Alps. An extensive spa area with various saunas, steam rooms and indoor/outdoor swimming pools are available.
Tickets for visiting Neuschwanstein Castle
Visiting the hiking trails and the surrounding area of Neuschwanstein Castle is completely free. However if you wish to see the castle from inside you will need to buy an entrance ticket for that.
Neuschwanstein Castle can only be visited within a guided tour that lasts for like 35 minutes. The adult tickets cost 13 EUR (14 USD) and you will receive them with a fixed entrance time. Make sure to allow yourself enough time to get up to the castle otherwise your ticket will lose its validity and it can’t be refunded.
The tickets can be only bought at the Ticketcenter in Hohenschwangau. Yes, that means that you can’t buy them at the entrance of the castle! So don’t try to show up without a ticket because you won’t be allowed to enter the castle at all. And since you need to walk around 30-40 minutes from the Ticketcenter to the castle on an uphill road, it can be a really unpleasant surprise if you are not prepared for it.
However you can reserve the tickets in advance and if you plan to visit in high season I really recommend to do so! You can reserve the tickets up to 2 days before visiting and you can collect them on the day of your visit. Keep in mind that you can’t print them at home so you must collect them at the Ticketcenter!
Best things to do around Neuschwanstein Castle
Marienbrücke (Mary's Bridge)
As I said before, walking up to the castle takes like 30-40 minutes from the town of Hohenschwangau. But the hiking trails don’t stop at the castle, you can venture further up on the hill to find some unique viewpoints of the castle. If you are looking for that iconic castle view, you have to visit Marienbrücke for that. But there are many other, not-so-known viewpoints around the castle. If you are curious about them, check out the list I’ve put together about the best viewpoints at Neuschwanstein Castle!
Remember the stories about the childhood home of King Ludwig II? If you are already in the area it’s worth checking out the Hohenschwangau Castle as well! The adult tickets cost 13 EUR (14 USD) and the same conditions apply to them as for the tickets to Neuschwanstein Castle. If you plan to visit both castles you can purchase a combine ticket as well which is a bit cheaper than buying them individually.
Bavaria is full of fairytale castles and palaces and Linderhof Palace is also one of the most famous places in the area. It is located 60 km (37 miles) from Neuschwanstein Castle so you can easily reach it within an hour by car. The visit of the palace is only possible with a guided tour, the adult ticket costs 8.5 EUR (9.2 USD).
All the alpine towns in the Bavaria region have their own charm but Garmisch-Partenkirchen was one of my favourites! The town lies near the Zugspitze and the breaktaking views combined with the cute cobblestoned streets make this town a must-visit place on your Bavaria trip. It takes around 35 minutes to reach from the Linderhof Palace or a little more than an hour if you start from Hohenschwangau.
With its 2,962 metres (9,700 ft) height Zugspitze is the highest peak in Germany. It lies south of Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the Austrian-German border runs through its western summit. You can take a cable car or a cogwheel train to go up to the top, although be prepared for the prices – the tickets cost 58 EUR (63 USD) per person!
Eibsee is one of the most beautiful lakes in the whole Bavaria region! It lies in the foot of the Zugspitze so the scenery is just simply breathtaking. Eibsee is a true paradise for nature lovers – you can walk around the lake, hire a boat or just simply admire the stunning landscape. You can reach the lake in 1.5 hours from Hohenschwangau but you can easily organize a day trip from Munich to Eibsee as well.
Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle was really a dream come true. The whole Bavaria region of Germany looks like a fairytale place packed with snow-covered mountains, shimmering alpine lakes and gorgeous castles. We only had a long weekend to spend there but we could have easily stayed there for weeks.
If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email, I always love helping you out! Have you ever been to Bavaria or you still dreaming of visiting the beautiful area of Neuschwanstein Castle? Let me know in the comments below!