Imagine this: You wake up to the first snowfall of the season, everything is quiet and white. The rooftops are covered with fresh snow. It is the perfect day to visit the castle outside of town that inspired Disney. You bundle up to keep warm and head out on the day’s adventure. As you are walking up the windy path, horse carriages pass you and you truly feel like you are drifting into a fairytale dream. The trees are covered in a layer of fresh snow and although there are other people walking up the path too, it is somehow peaceful. And all of a sudden you see it – the stone-coloured walls of the most beautiful castle you’ve ever seen. Neuschwanstein Castle has a way of making you lose track of time, or even forget that we are in fact living in the 21st century.
This was my first trip to Germany and I honestly just wanted to have a quiet weekend away with my boyfriend. And really… what better place to take my Prince Charming then a castle in the hills of Bavaria!
Neuschwanstein is actually a “newer” castle and was built for the Bavarain King Ludwig II. Work began in 1869 but the castle was never completed. King Ludwig II built the castle as a monument to the Middle Ages but equipped with what at the time was the latest technology, including running water. Sadly, Ludwig II did not live long enough to see his castle without scaffolding. In 1884 he moved into the castle and lived there for a short 172 days. Although heavily in debit, Ludwig II always wanted to go on builing. When the banks threatened to seize his propery, the government had him certified insane and interned him in the Berg Palace. On June 13, 1886 he mysteriously died in Lake Starnberg while out on a walk.
One unique aspect of the castle is that it was designed by a painter, rather than an architect. The main rooms of Neuschwanstein are decorated primarily with mural of scenes from Germanic and Nordic sagas. My favourite room of the castle was the Throne Hall which occupies the third and fourth floors and the entire west section of the castle. It has a stunning 4 meter high chandelier that weighs 2,000 pounds. The mosaic floor below the chandelier is made up of over 2 billion stones.
Want to go see it? This post will help you plan!
How To Get There
The two castles are nestled in the hills of Hohenschwangau and the easiest way to get there is by car. There is plenty of parking (6 Euro per day) at the bottom of the pathway.
You can also take a train to Füssen (the nearest town) and then pick up the bus to Hohenschwangau.
Visiting the Castles
We didn’t have time to visit both castles but if you do, I suggest doing so and maybe even visit the Museum of Bavarian Kings, also located in Hohenschwangau. I had planned to book a tour online in advance, but when I tried to do this 2 days before arrival it was already full. This had me worried of course but when we arrived at the Ticket Center on Sunday at 9 am I only had to wait 20 min to get tickets to Neuschwanstein. I got super lucky! Since we visited in the off season (November) we did not have the 2 hour line ups that occur in the summer months.
So while you can buy tickets on the day of, I would highly suggest ordering them online WELL in advance.
Once you arrive at the foot of the path you have two options for getting to Neuschwanstein: walking the lengthy path up to the castle or taking a horse-drawn carriage. I highly suggest walking as it will give you many photo opportunities. It’s a BEAUTIFUL 30 min journey through the woods.
Florian kept rolling his eyes at all the photos I was taking.. but can you blame me?!
It must be the travel blogger in me.
The fresh snowfall made the scenery and Neuschwanstein Castle all that more magical. There is just something so serene about a snow covered forest.
Side Note: This walk totally made me want to watch The Chronicles of Narnia again.
From the top you had stunning views of the white-washed valley and lakes below. GORGEOUS.
The earlier you get there, the better. As one of the most famous castles in the world, people show up and get in the way of your picture perfect shots. So, try to get there when it opens.
Before you head inside for the tour, make sure to walk around the castle and marvel in all the little details. There are many different levels to it and the architecture is true breathtaking.
Can you imagine having this view of the Bavarian Alps and Hohenschwangau below from your bedroom? INCREDIBLE.
Looking out, notice the bridge (Marienbrücke Bridge) not far away. THIS is where you go to get the iconic shot of the castle. Unfortunately Marienbrücke was closed during our visit, probably due to the fresh snowfall.
The smaller, often overlooked Hohenschwangau Castle next door is just as cool, without the long line of tourists:
We only visited Hohenschwangau Castle from the outside but if you have the time, you should definitely go inside too! As a child, King Ludwig II spent his holdiays here. It was the family’s vacation home.
Lastly, go take a stroll and enjoy the wintery landscape and Alpsee, the lake located in the town of Hohenschwangau.
Have you visited Neuschwanstein Castle? What time of the year did you go? I hope to make it back one day in the summer months to see the castle from the iconic spot, Marienbrücke, and take in the views of the lush green forests surrounding the castle.
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