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The ultimate guide to visiting Neuschwanstein Castle
Everyone should have visited Neuschwanstein Castle at least once, after all the fairytale castle is one of the most famous and popular sights in Germany. By visiting I don’t mean the vantage points and region around it, but the interior. But once is enough.
Since, apart from Corona times, the castle is mainly visited by Asians and Americans, you now have the chance to visit without being hit by a selfie stick. That’s no joke. In 2020, Germans in particular will be flocking to Ludwig II’s fairytale castle, because it will never be this empty again.
That’s why I’ve really summarized everything you need to know about the visit. I also reveal alternatives, worth seeing places around, and also have tips for one or the other hike. Because I wouldn’t go to Füssen and Schwangau just to visit the castle. The region is far too beautiful for that!
Important information for wheelchair users according to the website of the royal palaces: Due to the restrictions and protective measures, people who are dependent on a wheelchair cannot visit the royal palaces at the moment ( source ).
The story of the fairytale castle
… and what Walt Disney has to do with it
The castle, built in 1869, was actually intended to serve as a retreat for the then-Bavarian King Ludwig II. It is located in Hohenschwangau near Füssen in the Allgäu. But the construction ended up being so expensive that in 1886 he was declared unfit to govern.
As the castle looks magnificent and luxurious from afar, it is no wonder that it took so long to build (17 years). To be honest, it would have been many more years if the king hadn’t drowned in July 1886. However, he died before his fairytale castle was completed. To this day, nothing is known about King Ludwig’s death. The rumors range from suicide to murder.
After his death, work stopped immediately. The castle was even opened to visitors in the same year. The facility is unique for that time. What the carpenters carved for years and the painters already had for techniques and patience, for that you have to take your hat off. The level of detail is extremely high and is hardly noticeable at first glance.
Neuschwanstein tickets and guided tour
One thing you need to know: the castle is extremely popular. You should definitely reserve tickets before your trip. Guided tours are offered in German and English. You cannot visit the castle without a guide.
An accompanying audio guide is available for the following languages: Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian, Czech, Slovenian, Russian, Polish, Chinese (Mandarin), Portuguese, Hungarian, Greek, Dutch, Korean, Thai, and Arabic.
The visit is only possible as part of a guided tour (German or English). Please note that the group sizes have been significantly reduced due to hygiene regulations. This means that only about 10% of the previously permitted visitors are allowed to visit the castle per day!
During Covid-19, the tours in German are logically very popular. Outside of the pandemic, you can even dare to spontaneously book a ticket for a guided tour in German on-site with little waiting time.
English, French, Italian and Spanish tours are particularly popular then. We only had to queue for a ticket for 10 minutes. There were still contingents for a German tour. Everything looked different in 2020.
The Ticket Center Hohenschwangau, located below the castle in the town of the same name, is the only way to buy tickets on-site. Queues are always very long and tickets for the same day often sell out.
Online before the visit
You should reserve your tickets for the castle online in advance. So you already have a fixed time for the tour on a certain day. Please note that this is only a reservation. You have to pick up the ticket on-site.
How much do Neuschwanstein Castle tickets cost?
- Standard tickets for adults: € 13
- Reduced: €12
- Children under 18 are free
- Online reservations are €2.50 more expensive each time, as the presale fee is added
That’s how it’s done:
- The tickets contain the tour number (for example #448) and the admission time. Watch the scoreboard and don’t miss your time, because you cannot exchange the ticket if you miss it.
- Booked tickets must be picked up at the ticket center no later than 1 hour before the admission time. Also factor in the 30 minutes it takes you to get to the castle entrance.
- A guided tour lasts about 35 – 40 minutes.
- There is a strict ban on photography in the castle itself.
- According to the official site, you climb 165 steps up and 181 steps down during the tour – which isn’t much in my opinion. For people with walking difficulties, there is a special passenger elevator that allows you to take part in the normal castle tour.
Admission and opening hours
- Ticket sales times in the Ticket Center: April to October 15: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; 16 October to March: 9 am to 3 pm
- Neuschwanstein Castle: April to October 15: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; 16 October to March: 10am to 4pm. Open every day except January 1st, December 24th, 25th, and 31st.
To buy a ticket:
- Reserve your ticket here in advance at the Hohenschwangau Ticket Center
- Book tickets for excursions from Munich with transfer and guided tours for Neuschwanstein Castle.
- Combination ticket “Königsschlösser” for 26 euros: The ticket is valid for 6 months and entitles you to a single visit to the castles of Neuschwanstein, Linderhof, and Herrenchiemsee
Guided tours in the castle
The tours are led by the staff of the Bavarian Palace Administration (languages German and English). For all other visitors, there are accompanied audio guide tours in the languages offered.
Tour to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich by carriage or bus
If you want to see the castle and don’t want to wait in line for tickets, you can book tickets for a tour of the castle at Get Your Guide.
Via Hohenschwangau and the famous Maria Bridge, it goes to Neuschwanstein Castle. On the way up the mountain to the castle, your guide will tell you the story of King Ludwig II and his fairytale castle. The train also takes you through the beautiful nature of the Bavarian Alps. On hot days you can take a refreshing bath in the Alpsee.
Tickets cost 55 euros and can be booked here.
Arrival and parking at the castle
Sufficient parking spaces are available in the immediate vicinity of the castle. Parking costs 5 euros for the whole day. Many visitors also park next to the access road. I suspect, however, that fines are distributed here.
Arriving by car or bus:
Via the A7 motorway (Ulm – Kempten – Füssen) to the end of the motorway. From Füssen via the B17 federal road in the direction of Schwangau; after leaving the town, turn right in the direction of Hohenschwangau. Alternatively via the A7 motorway: exit Kempten – on the federal road B12 to Marktoberdorf. Via the B16 to Roßhaupten – OAL I to Buching – then B17 to Schwangau and Hohenschwangau.
The address to enter into the navigation system: Neuschwanstein Straße 20, 87645 Schwangau
From Füssen you can get to Hohenschwangau very quickly. You can already see the castle from afar. The “Schlosser Alt” is of course more than sufficient, after all, everyone can see where it is going.
You have to take that into account
Leave your backpack or stroller in the car. These items are not allowed in the castle on the guided tour.
The way from the Hohenschwangau car park to the entrance of the castle
The specified 30-minute walk (we needed much less) is doable for everyone. Goes just a little up, but everything is paved. We even overtook the horse-drawn carriages.
Alternative: Up with the horse-drawn carriage
If you don’t feel like walking to the entrance, you can take a horse-drawn carriage. I really felt sorry for the poor animals. The carriages are anything but romantic. Cost 6 euros up and 3 euros per person down.
Once at the top, there’s a gift shop that welcomes visitors. Kitschy cups, posters, … plus coffee and cake. Everything for the thirsty, hungry, and shopaholic tourists. Everything is overpriced, but Japanese and Americans totally love it. Especially the cake and the printed coffee mugs. Wonderful to eavesdrop on these conversations.
The last few meters were worth the walk, because the castle looks breathtaking even from afar and casts a mystical spell on every visitor.
- On foot: hike to the castle takes about 30 minutes
- With the horse-drawn carriage: Departure at the Hotel Müller, Alpseestraße in Hohenschwangau (after the ticket center). It is approx. 300 meters or approx. 5 minutes walk to the entrance of the castle.
– Costs: ascent 6 euros/descent 3 euros
- By bus: Departure: Schlosshotel Lisl
The bus goes over to the Jugend viewpoint (Maria Bridge). From there it is about 600 meters (approx. 10 minutes on foot) downhill with a gradient of approx. 12% to the entrance of the castle. This path is not recommended or suitable for people with walking difficulties.
– Costs: ascent 1.80 euros/descent 1.00 euros/ascent and descent 2.60 euros
This is what awaits you inside
Now you’re probably wondering what awaits you inside. Yes, well, to be honest, it’s quite impressive how delicately everything is carved and designed. But: It would definitely be too dark and gloomy for me. Apparently, it was a trend back then, I would have gotten depressed if I had had to live here.
Neuschwanstein Castle was Ludwig’s pride and joy. He dedicated the magnificent building to the composer Richard Wagner. That’s why you can admire paintings and illustrations from operas by Wagner in almost every room
You will visit these places as part of the tour:
- The lower room with marble portals.
- Throne Room: Mixture of church and throne room. The 4-meter-high chandelier, which occupies the 3rd and 4th floors and the western part of the palace, is particularly impressive.
- Dining room: Seems quite gloomy to me because of the oak wood. Anteroom to the king’s bedroom. His desire for a bell system allowed him to call his servants in this room from any other room.
- Bedroom with an ornate bed in neo-Gothic style. Based on the Bavarian coat of arms, covered with blue silk. Lions, swans, crowns, and lilies are also embroidered on it. Pretty pretentious and somber.
- changing room
- grotto and conservatory
- study room
- upper hall
- singer hall
Best time to visit
More than 1.5 million visitors come to see Neuschwanstein Castle every year. Summer (July and August) is always the busiest.
You have to reckon with 6,000 tourists per day who want to see this attraction. Although the tours are short, that’s quite a lot. The way up is blocked. So make sure you book your ticket as early as possible and in advance. Don’t forget that this is just a reservation. You have to exchange the ticket for a real one.
Weekdays are much less busy than weekends. Often less in winter than in spring or autumn.
For Neuschwanstein, I still recommend: coming as early as possible. The light for photos is better, you get the ticket faster and you hardly lose any time. Because then most tourists are still having breakfast in the hotel.
What time of year for Neuschwanstein Castle?
I love autumn with all its colors. Then the hiking trails are not so overcrowded and the sun doesn’t bang so hard from the sky.
Even in winter, I find Neuschwanstein very romantic. When there is snow, the typical panorama photo from the Tegelberg looks a lot nicer (and kitschy).
Hiking around the Allgäu royal castles
In Schwangau and Füssen you can hike in the footsteps of King Ludwig. Do you love the Allgäu as much as I do? Then you are probably looking for the best vantage points for photos of the royal castles Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau Castle.
Since I’ve been in the Allgäu since my childhood, I know the hiking trails around the royal castles like the back of my hand.
Here are the hikes I recommend:
Via the Pöllat Gorge to the Marienbrücke
This hike through the realm of the fairytale king Ludwig II of Bavaria starts at the parking lot of the Tegelbergbahn. A well-signposted footpath takes about 20 minutes along the small mountain stream Pöllat past the former Roman baths and the old gypsum mill. Then you reach the roaring Pöllat Gorge.
This section along cow pastures is only for warming up.
Now you have it in view: Neuschwanstein Castle is enthroned imposingly above on a vertically sloping rock. At the latest when you look at the smaller and larger waterfalls up close, you will see why King Ludwig II was so fascinated by this place.
An iron footbridge and many stone steps awaken the spirit of adventure. They lead through the gorge directly up to the castle and the Marienbrücke – the next destination.
Arrival At Marienbrücke
Neuschwanstein Castle and the Allgäu around Schwangau are at your feet
The walk over the 90-meter-high bridge over the Pöllatfall is worthwhile. The railing of the Marienbrücke is still there in the original. Unfortunately, since Instagram, a visit to the Marienbrücke is only worthwhile in the early morning. Best on a weekday. When I first visited several years ago, it was exactly the opposite. Neuschwanstein was overcrowded, and the Marienbrücke is empty, as Asians didn’t take the time to enjoy the view from higher up. Times change (unfortunately).
If you are a sightseeing tourist and only interested in Neuschwanstein Castle, the hike ends here. You don’t have to read on
Do you have another 2 hours? Then follow the route toward King Ludwig II’s former hunting lodge to see a glimpse of Hohenschwangau’s second royal palace. Start the ascent towards Bleckenau.
The former hunting lodge of King Ludwig II is located about 45 minutes above Neuschwanstein Castle, in the middle of a green plateau.
The hut is definitely beautiful and idyllic, but unfortunately very touristy and expensive. On a walk, it probably hits rather than hikes. But I still like the route, because you can get a nice overview of the region and the history of Schwangau here.
By the way: As an alternative, you can choose a paved road. Both paths lead back directly to the castle and the parking lot. If you don’t feel like it anymore, you can take the hourly shuttle bus back to the castle.
More information about the hike
- Starting point: valley station Tegelbergbahn
- Parking ticket: €4 / day
- Duration of the tour: approx. 2 hours
The most beautiful photo spots for Neuschwanstein Castle
- From the terrace of the Rieth-Alpe, you have a great view of Neuschwanstein Castle. Ideal for a meal overlooking the fairytale castle. Also, the alp is on the Tegelberg.
- Another point is the country road from Hohenschwangau in the direction of Tegelberg to the valley station. But there are a few parking bays on the road to stop.
Frequently asked questions about Neuschwanstein Castle
It takes you around 30 minutes to get to the top. 30 minutes for the guided tour and an additional hour if you want to visit the Marienbrücke (recommended).
Yes, there is Hohenschwangau Castle (a very charming location), Linderhof Castle, and the royal family at Schachen.
The best way is via the nearby car park P4 below Hohenschwangau Castle (near the Alpsee). It then goes uphill to the bridge in 45 minutes. Alternatively, there is a shuttle bus.
The distance is 122 km. Depending on traffic, the journey usually takes 1.5 hours.
In any case. You must have visited Neuschwanstein Castle with a guide at least once in your life. Entry into the castle without a guided tour is not possible. Therefore, You can only enter the castle with a ticket.