Visiting a castle, especially for Americans, make us think of the fairytales we grew up with. When you see Neuschwanstein in Germany, you’ll be delighted to learn this feeling is justified. The rumor is Sleeping Beauty was modeled after the castle here, and it’s easy to see why.
Neuschwanstein is located in southwest Bavaria high up in the mountains. The castle is from the Middle Ages, where it was left unkept and turned into ruins. King Maximillian II of Bavaria bought it in 1832 to replace it with a new castle. The old castle was demolished, and by 1884 the new castle was ready to live in. The family went there for their summer getaways (pretty nice vacation house, right?). Unfortunately, him and his son Ludwig II died before the castle was completed. While it was not intended to open up to the public, the government ended up allowing paid visitors to come take a peek at the castle.
How to Get There
Located in Bavaria, the castle is in southeast Germany about 2 hours south of Munich. If you’re staying in Munich and would like to visit for just a day, I’d recommend taking a bus tour straight from the city. Tours cost around 60 Euros (~$66 USD) and will take out the hassle of trying to rent a car to drive there. The entrance fee is also included in the price, and your ticket will be purchased ahead of time so no need to worry about it selling out.
If you’re already driving a car, it’s easy enough drive to the area yourself. This is what I ended up doing, as we already had a car and were staying at a hotel in Munich. There’s plenty of parking available during the day for 6 Euros. What I didn’t realize is the area is a tiny village in itself, so you can rent a hotel for the night and spend a day or two to take your time enjoying the beautiful region.
If you’re going during a popular time like the summer season, buy tickets in advance. I made this mistake and thought I could just show up. When I saw the massive line, a friend went to the front to ask and they told us everything was sold out for the next five hours. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to wait for that because we were on a road trip back to the other side of Germany.
How to Get to the Top
The castle is on a hill high above the village, and there’s a few ways to get to the top. Walking is a possibility, as there’s a clear path that goes up the hill. I’d guess it’d take around 30 minutes depending on your fitness level to walk up there.
Another way is to pay for a horse carriage to take you to the top. I did this since my friends had a baby with them, and it was 6 Euros for the way up. If you take it back down, it’s 3 Euros. Once you get to the drop off point, there’s still about 5 minutes of walking up the hill before you’re at the castle, so wear sensible shoes and clothing.
The castle entrance fee is 16 Euros, but if you don’t want to pay that or it ends up being sold out, there’s still plenty to see from the outside. A snack and souvenir shop are conveniently available once you get to the top. There’s so many opportunities for pictures as you walk up. You’ll see views of the entire valley the castle overlooks and imagine how life used to be back in the day. Once you get in the castle, look for a waterfall from the courtyard.
There’s a famous bridge across from the castle that’s most likely where you’ve seen pictures of the castle taken from. When I went, it was closed for renovation unfortunately. If it’s open when you go, I highly recommend taking the journey over there so you can get a stunning view of the entire property.
Traveling With Small Children
If your kids are still in strollers, I would recommend paying for the horse ride up and skip walking. The hill makes it much more challenging to push your child in the stroller, and going downhill is especially hard. The horses also are free to “do their business” as they walk up to the top, so you don’t want to be dodging piles of that every 50 feet or so.
I would allow a full day for seeing the area, especially if you’re coming from Munich. This is one of the top tourist attractions in the area, so allow time for waiting in line and getting around the crowds. You could easily spend a few hours in the castle wandering around. The village is pretty cute too, so you’ll want to allow time to stop for lunch at one of the restaurants and go shopping in the stores.
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