The beautiful Bavarian castle that is rumored to be the inspiration for Cinderella’s castle has exploded in popularity over the past couple of years thanks to Instagram and our world becoming more “connected”. Because of this increase in popularity, there are a few things you should know before visiting Neuschwanstein Castle.
Like all popular photo spots, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of arriving early. We visited Neuschwanstein Castle the first week in October. The weather was lovely and the leaves were just starting to change colors. We had all intentions of waking up early and catching the first train at 5:45 from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle, but we didn’t get a great night’s sleep, so we hit the snooze button. We caught the third train of the day at about 7:45 AM and got to Fussen just before 10. With a Eurail global pass, you can board almost any train in Germany without booking an advance reservation. From Fussen, it’s about a 10-minute bus ride to the Neuschwanstein Castle visitors center, so we were in line for tickets to see the inside of the castle by 10:15, but it was already very busy. If you’d prefer to take a private car instead of the train, I’d recommend booking through Blacklane.
I wish I would have taken a photo of the line to get Neuschwanstein Castle tickets because it really didn’t seem that long, but after more than two hours we were still in line and the earliest we could get into the castle had been pushed back all the way to 5:30 PM. The train we chose that morning departed at 5:20 PM, so we had just wasted 2 hours of our day waiting in a line for nothing. If you know you are planning on visiting Neuschwanstein Castle during your trip to Germany, I would highly recommend reserving your tickets in advance, which must be done at least two days prior to your visit if you book directly with the castle, or go with a tour group.
The town below Neuschwanstein Castle is actually a very charming little place, and the grounds are huge. If you purchase the Swan package you’ll have access to Neuschwanstein Castle, Hohenschwangau Castle, and the Museum of Bavarian Kings. You could easily spend half of a day inside these incredible castles and the museum, but there is also a lot to see outside! From May to October, you can rent paddleboats and rowboats to get a different view of the castles and village of Hohenschwangau as long as the weather is good. There are also several miles of trails with stunning views of Neuschwanstein Castle and hidden waterfalls along the way too.
We had lunch and a beer at Alpseestube-Gasthaus in Hohenschwangau before trekking up to Marienbrucke, and it was fantastic. This is exactly the kind of restaurant you are hoping to find if you’re seeking authentic German Cuisine. Mallory and I both had the venison sausage and shared an apple pastry for dessert. You obviously can’t go wrong with a good German beer.
The most famous view of Neuschwanstein Castle also happens to be the easiest to get to. A fairly steep 35-minute walk uphill will lead you to Marienbrucke (Mary’s Bridge). All of the paths are well maintained and well marked. You will definitely have to be assertive with your personal space because this bridge gets PACKED. If you arrive early enough you may have a chance to get a little more creative but after 10 AM you are most likely going to be packed on to the bridge like sardines. The hike and the crowds are worth it though because this is the most classic view everyone wants to see when visiting Neuschwanstein Castle.
If you continue across Marienbrucke you’ll find over 120km of hiking trails through the surrounding hills and mountains connecting Hohenschwangau to the nearby towns and villages. You’ll also give your self a chance to find a more unique point of view than most people visiting Neuschwanstein Castle.
Believe it or not, most of the beautiful images you see on Instagram of the front of Neuschwanstein Castle are taken from the air. You can book a helicopter tour from Munich that takes you over several of the amazing castles and sights of Bavaria. Neuschwanstein Castle’s website says that drones are prohibited due to the neighboring Ammergebirge nature reserve, but you could probably launch from one of the small towns in the valley and get a great view of the castle.
If I were to visit Neuschwanstein Castle again, I would first book my tickets in advance, but second, I would arrive mid-afternoon the night before my Neuschwanstein Castle tour and spend a night in the charming little town of Hohenschwangau, so that I could get a very early start up to Marienbrucke before all of the people arrive. There are several small hotels in Hohenschwangau and the neighboring towns of Fussen and Schwangau. Some of the best places to stay near Neuschwanstein Castle include Villa Ludwig Suite Hotel, Hotel Alpenstuben, and Hotel Fantasia.