Many people’s Germany trip is incomplete if they don’t visit Neuschwanstein Castle. I now can understand why! It’s like stepping into a fairytale, except you’re surrounded by majestic mountains and pristine lakes instead of a forest.
This post is your complete guide to visit Neuschwanstein Castle on your own to save money yet enjoy Germany’s famous castle.
- Why is the castle famous?
- History, Mystery and Stories
- How to visit the castle on your own.
- Getting there by Public transport.
- Accommodations near the castle
- Best time to visit the castle.
- Tips to avoid crowd at Neuschwanstein Castle
- Saga of Ticket Purchasing
- The best viewpoints
- Things to nearby other than going to castles
Why is the Neuschwanstein Castle so famous?
Strted by the “Mad King” Ludwig II in late 1860s, Neuschwanstein castle is a true masterpiece. It’s like the George Clooney of buildings – Got the looks, the charm, and the history to back it up. It’s like the superstar of castles, with a bit of mystery and a lot of magic. To amplify the magic further, the Bavarian hills with green stand quietly, hugging the Castle in all directions. So it is a castle in the forest touching the clouds.
Though I hate the idea of most fairytales where a princess needs a prince to rescue her, I have always dreamt of walking into a real castle. From the King’s mysterious death to the rumours of hidden treasure, something about Neuschwanstein captures this fantasy. I say fantasy because the Castle is actually a palace. And there is hardly any romance related to it.
What does Neuschwanstein mean in German?
The word Neuschwanstein translates to “New Swan Stone.” King Ludwig 2 of Bavaria, who built the palace, was known as the “Swan King ” His obsession with Swan after he witnessed an Opera that featured a Knight and Swan legend led to the rise of the palace to be called “Neuschwanstein.”
Additionally, Ludwig was a solitary individual who struggled to connect with others, and he saw the Swan’s graceful and serene nature as something he could relate to. The Swan was also a symbol of Bavaria, appearing on the coat of arms. Ludwig saw himself as a sort of “Swan King” ruling over his kingdom.
Is Neuschwanstein Castle the Disney castle?
The Neuschwanstein Castle is rumoured to have sparked Disney’s idea for the iconic “Cinderella” palace. Its striking resemblance to Disneyland’s “Sleeping Beauty” castle is hard to miss! Walt Disney did visit this Castle with his wife during his Europe trip before making a castle for Cinderella. Walt Disney may not have said, “Hey, I made Cinderalla’s castle after Neuschwanstein.” But they definitely have similarities!
What are the special features of the Neuschwanstein Castle?
As an architect and a history teacher paying a visit to the Neuschwanstein Castle, I can’t help but talk about its architectural features. The Castle is like a Gudbud ice cream with a mixture of cream, fresh fruits, nuts, dry fruits and syrups. Because the castle also has elements from multiple styles of architecture.
Typical of the Romanesque era, it features bi- and triforia window openings and semi-circular arches. Byzantine and Gothic flair is added to the palace with sleek towers and skyward lines. The building has quite an elongated beauty, boasting towers, gables, balconies, and turrets.
Is visiting Neuschwanstein Castle worth it?
Yes. The words unique, crazy and beautiful explain why a visit to Neuschwanstein Castle is worth it despite being crowded. And there is always a way to avoid the crowd.
But the best part? The rumours. Stories of secret passages, hidden treasure, and even a ghost or two exist. What’s a castle without a good ghost story? And who knows, you’ll be lucky enough to glimpse King Ludwig’s spirit wandering the halls.
Who built the Neuschwanstein Castle and why?
It was built as a private retreat for King Ludwig 2 in the 1860s, who had a serious wanderlust and loved escaping the hustle and bustle of royal life. And who can blame him? Have you seen the view from this Castle? It’s like something out of a postcard.
“I wish to remain an eternal enigma to myself and others.”Ludwig II.
And the man has stuck to his words! He remains engmatic and mysterious even today. A strange fact that, he was related to the Hofburg emperess Elizabeth AKA Sisi wife of Frans Joseph whose life is full of twisting tragic stories.
But what story makes the palace a castle and mysterious?
Honestly, it is tough to be a ruler – I realised it after visiting palaces and learning history worldwide. So Ludwig also struggled as a ruler. He loved spending time in mythic operas (where he was fascinated with the Swan) and romanticism. Though he had his Castle at Hohenschwangau, he felt he deserved a better one. So he didn’t hesitate to build 3 extravagant castles across Bavaria.
However, the historical records say that he was loved by people and was despised by his ministers – Bearing Ludwig’s fantasy castle’s construction was too much for their state court.
Despite his ministers’ opposition, Ludwig continued the grand lifestyle – You will understand this when you see the kitchen at Neuschwanstein Castle – It is super equipped, and those swan-themed interior decors are everywhere.
Hearing so much about grandeur, you will be curious to know how his throne room was. So were we. There is a hall of thrones without a throne.
Why is there no throne in Neuschwanstein Castle?
King Ludwig II had big plans for Neuschwanstein Castle, thinking he could wrap it up in three years and the Castle would have 200 rooms. But as fate would have it, it ended up being a sixteen-year-long project which never even reached the finish line.
Then, to add insult to injury, poor King Ludwig didn’t even get to see his dream castle completed as he shuffled off this mortal coil under mysterious circumstances in 1886.
Of the 200, only 14 are completed. Out of which is the throne hall, which was never finished with a throne.
The Throne hall of Neuschwanstein Castle is as crazy as the king’s ideas.
Visit Neuschwanstein castle to realize what grandeur meant to king Ludwig 2
Our beloved King Ludwig 2, with great architectural taste, also believed in something celestial- He thought he wasn’t just a king but also a mediator between god and the whole world.
So the throne room feels like the Byzantine church you would see elsewhere in Europe. In the apse area of the hall, you can feast your eyes on images of Jesus, the Twelve Apostles, and six divine kings while the walls showcase the glorious feats of kings and saints. So the throne room here is a church-like court.
Why Neuschwanstein castle is a tragic place?
Well, after seeing those gorgeous pictures, it feels weird to call this place tragic. The historical records say that his own people conspired against him.
Ludwig’s audacious moves on extravagance left his ministers buzzing angrily, fearing that the kingdom’s coffers would be left high and dry. This led to a dramatic event – Just after 6 months of Ludwig’s stay here at the palace, he was arrested in his own bedroom that got alluring bright blue decor (Blue was his favourite colour).
A group of psychiatrists claimed he was insane and was taken to the prison at Berg Palace immediately.
24 hrs later, he was found dead drowned in the lake near Berg palace along with one of the psychiatrists who claimed the King was psychic! As if this juicy story isn’t enough, the historical records prove that his death wasn’t caused by drowning. But by bullet shots!
Was Ludwig 2 really a mad king?
As an architect, I would have been delighted to have a client like Ludwig 2of Wittelsbach family – Such great taste and enthusiasm to create art and architecture is divine. Forget how the palace looks from the inside. He even thought of building a bridge to gaze at his own abode in admiration. Marienbrucke, the famous hanging bridge built in 1845, exemplifies his vision. But all these came at the cost of his kingdom going bankrupt.
I have no right to declare him mad and insane. But many historians call him so! The three lavish palaces he built – Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee are now considered as “Dreams in Stone.” What was once considered a burden to the Bavarian kingdom has now become a major source of income for Germany Tourism now! Ludwig’s grandiose production has truly mastered the art of turning lemons into lemonade!
Like mother said – “He may have been a menace to the state and welfare of people. But I wish he lived longer to finish the Castle and build many more.” – (Those would blame us for being insensitive – this was a joke)
Who owns Neuschwanstein Castle now?
As Bavaria donned the robes of republicanism in 1918, the government put the civil list under state ownership, sending shockwaves through the royal realm. The House of Wittelsbach took one look at this and went into a dispute that led to an epic split of the castles in 1923. The King’s swanky palace Neuschwanstein, went to the state, while the nearby Hohenschwangau Castle became the apple of the Wittelsbacher house.
Is Hohenschwangau worth a visit?
Yes – If you are fascinated with King Ludwig’s 2 stories, Hohenschwangau castle is worth a visit. And it is easy to hike to this castle. Or there is always a horse carriage to make you feel you belong to the Monarch’s era.
Honestly, Mom and I were super curious to know what was so crappy about Hohenschwangau castle that led him to build Neuschwanstein. This palace is overshadowed by Neuschwanstein, so many tourists tend to skip this making it a less crowded place.
If you compare the size of Hohenschwangau to Neuschwanstein, the latter is a giant, and the first is a miniature, humble mansion. The mustard-coloured, traditionally designed walls are pale compared to Luwdig’s swan-inspired Castle. But Hohenschwangau palace is complete. The royal family has preserved it well; you can see many artefacts. Some of the views from their bedrooms are beyond dreamy.
After seeing this palace, we both realised, Hohenschwangau isn’t crappy- it is beautiful. But it just didn’t fit our King’s fantasies and dreams.
Can I go to Neuschwanstein Castle on my own?
Yes! To get to the Castle, you don’t need any organised tour. But you can only go on a guided tour with castle staff inside the Castle. No individual or group are allowed to explore the 14 rooms of the Castle on their own. So get there yourself and explore the Castle with the castle staff.
When you look at the castle ticketing system, it may discourage you from going on your own. Or some even may opt to drive instead of using public transport. Trust me, with some homework you can easily get to the castle hiking starting point easily with public transport.
Is it worth entering Neuschwanstein Castle?
Yes! When you look at the price, some may think seeing the Castle from the outside is enough. The truth is the Castle’s interior is as impressive as the exterior. The castle staff, which takes you on a quick 30-minute tour to 14 rooms, narrate some crazy yet real stories of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who commissioned the Castle’s construction.
Are photos allowed in Neuschwanstein Castle?
Fancy cutlery of a fancy king
As for capturing the castle’s beauty on camera, you’ll need a permit for professional shots. But don’t worry, snapping pics for personal use is OK, just stick to the exterior and rooms you are allowed to visit after the guided tour.. Sorry, animal lovers, no furry friends allowed inside. And please, no airborne drones in this nature-reserve-adjacent area.
Are backpacks allowed in Neuschwanstein?
Rucksacks, strollers, and carriers aren’t allowed inside. But you can take your backpack and purses inside.
How much time needed for Neuschwanstein Castle?
The castle tour with the staff is a bit rushed and ends in 35 minutes. Once this tour ends, you can explore other parts of the Castle independently.Other parts of the castle like kitchen and the balconies from where you gaze at Ludwig’s first Castle, Hohenschwangau, with the backdrop of glittering green lake and lush green mountains will need at least an hour more of time.
There is even a souvenir shop and a cafe that sells world’s worst cheese cake and cold Cappuccino inside the castle.
Then wandering in the mountains around the castle will easily take an hour. So keep minimum 3 hours for Neuschwanstein Castle.
Why must you not visit Neuschwanstein Castle on an organized tour?
Many who opt for an organised tour find the tour rushed. These tours don’t let you wander around the hills for viewpoints. In addition, the ticket itself is expensive. To top it, the organised tours will make your visit to Neuschwanstein Castle further expensive.
When you look at the castle ticketing system, it may discourage you from going on your own. Or some even may opt to drive instead of using public transport. But, trust me, with some homework, you can easily get to the castle easily with public transport.
How do you get to Neuschwanstein Castle?
Many people opt to drive to the Castle. But I am a “Use Public Transport” as much as a possible person. Some may say it is tough to get there by public transportation. But it isn’t. You ain’t need a fairy godmother to take you to Neuschwanstein Castle.
How to get to Neuschwanstein Castle by train?
To reach Neuschwanstein, you catch a train to Fussen, the nearest station, about 2 hours away from Munich. Then walk for 5 minutes to the bus station behind the train station.
Take Bus number 73 towards Feuerwehrhaus to get to Hohenschwangau, where the magnificent Castle sits quietly on the hill, looking over the town of Hohenschwangau.
Once you arrive at Hohenschwangau, you’ll have to hoof it up a hill to reach the Castle’s entrance.
How hard is it to walk to Neuschwanstein Castle?
The walk to the Castle from the ticket centre is about 1.5km. It is a steep uphill road and may take up to 45 minutes. This is a moderately difficult trail. However, the stunning views of the surrounding countryside should distract you from any fatigue.
Horse Carriage ride to Neuschwanstein Castle.
Taking a Horse Carriage isn’t expensive and is easier. An uphill ride of 8€ and 4€ for a downhill ride for each person. You must wait at the place designated place to take the horse carriage ride. No reservation is required as there is no fixed timing for the carriage departures. Plan to be there early, because many use this get to the castle top.
Heads Up: From the horse carriage stop, you need to walk for 15 more minutes to the castle courtyard.
How to get to Neuschwanstein by train from Munich?
Though Munich to Neuschwanstein distance is less than 130km, there are hardly any direct trains. So your train journey from Munich to Fussen involves a transfer to Buchloe. As Deutsche Bahn is infamous for delays and cancellations, it is best to stay at Hohenschwangau the previous day of your visit and book trains that don’t mandate you to reserve the seat.
Where to stay near Neuschwanstein castle?
You can enter the Castle only at the time printed on your ticket – Not a minute early or late. Staying near Neuschwanstein Castle is the best way to avoid the stress of getting delayed by a minute though these hotels are expensive. Trust me, it can get stressful when travelling to Germany’s most beautiful Castle on your own. The closest town to the Castle is Hohenschwangau at the foot of the Castle.
Places to stay in Hohenschwangau near Neuschwanstein castle.
Luxury resort : Ameron Neuschwanstein Alpsee Resort & Spa
Most hotel rooms at Hohenschwangau get booked super fast. So, booking at least 1.5 months in advance is a must. I stayed at Hotel Alpenstuben – (Approx 130€ /room). The room was comfortable, but I would have chosen one of the below two if it were available for my dates.
What is the best month to visit Neuschwanstein Castle?
Summer is the ideal month to visit Neuschwanstein Castle as the skies are clearer and hiking trails devoid of mud and snow are fun. So expect a crowd. Autumn (September, October, and November) is the best month to visit Neuschwanstein Castle – Great weather and lesser crowd.
The Castle may feel literally like a fairytale book during December. But anything beyond December in winter will make it tough for visitors to hike around the Castle.
Tips to Avoid Crowds at Neuschwanstein Castle
- Stay at Hohenschwangau for at least a night.
- No matter what you do, you can’t avoid crowd at the most famous viewpoint Marienbrücke.
- Book the earliest possible visit or the latest hour. Avoid buying entry tickets for the time between 11 AM to 3 PM. This is the peak hour.
Do you need a ticket to see Neuschwanstein Castle?
You won’t need a ticket to see the Castle from the outside and various viewpoints on the hill. But to go inside the Castle, you must buy a ticket.
Don’t buy tickets at Hohenschwangau centre on the day of your visit – You waste time waiting in line for at least an hour.
Don’t want to feel like you’re stuck in a zoo at Neuschwanstein? Get ahead of the crowd and purchase your tickets online in advance! Sure, there’s a fee of €2.50 per ticket, but consider it your VIP pass to skip the lines and avoid the waits. Trust me, your sanity (and feet) will thank you, especially during peak season.
Guide to buying tickets to Neuschwanstein Castle.
- The ticket was sold in combo in 2022 – I bought a Kings ticket valid for Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau. Now, you need to buy tickets separately for each castle.
- You must carry a printout of the tickets that got QR codes.
- You can enter the Castle only at the time printed on your ticket – Not a minute early or late.
- If you have booked the ticket for 9 AM entry, be at the entrance by 8.30 to join the waiting line.
- If you’re feeling ambitious and want to conquer both Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein castles in one day like we did, listen up! We suggest spacing out your guided tour admission times by at least 4 hours. That way, you’ll have enough time to strut from one Castle to the other without feeling like you’re in a frantic game of royal hopscotch. Think of all the extra steps you’ll rack up on your Fitbit!
Heads up fellow Indians
To buy tickets to Hohenschwangau Castle online, you must fill in your personal details, including your full name, address and country in their portal. If you don’t find “India” listed under country slot, look for “Bharat”
How do you get the best view of Neuschwanstein Castle?
Any tourist who visits Neuschwanstein Castle wants to see various faces of the Castle. Even I wanted to! So I read some blogs and figured out which tree branch I must climb and which dangerous cliff edge I should stand at to get the best shot.
But once Mom and I started wandering in the hills, this fuss over the best viewpoint seemed insignificant. So don’t stress over too much about the right spot. But make sure you hike around enough to see the Castle from many viewpoints. Because it that different from different points.
Other Things to do near Schloss Neuschwanstein.
Hohenschwangau is a pretty town surrounded by a lake and mountains. If you are here for a day with an overnight stay, spend some time at beautiful Alpsee – This lake reminds you that you are close to the Alpine range, and the swans quaking in the lake show you why Ludwig was obsessed with them!
We found this lake to be the best place to get away from tourists to have some quiet time during the gap between our Castle’s visit.
Is Schwangau town worth visitng?
If you are here for two days, consider a visit to Schwangau. The church of St Coloman in the middle of a field surrounded by mountains is too perfect to exist. This small town is all about green fields and farms. So you totally get a break from castles to cattle here.
There are many cafes and a beer garden. I must have tried 3 different restaurants, and nothing tasted great. So I can’t say taste local delicacies
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