Neuschwanstein Castle, located in the Bavarian region of southeastern Germany, needs no introduction. This iconic castle, nestled between the Alps and idyllic pastoral plains attracts millions of admirers every year and its design has been used as a blueprint for numerous recreations of castles.
The historical and cultural draw of Neuschwanstein Castle is only magnified by its fairy-tale-like structure, fascinating history, and association with pop culture.
If you’re planning on visiting the castle and need help planning the trip and itinerary, allow us to share our experience. From how to see the castle, should you drive or can you take a bus to it? Where to stay near Neuschwanstein Castle and what else is there to do around the area?
Hopefully, we can answer all your questions about Neuschwanstein Castle, share our experience and photos, and prepare you for a trip of a lifetime!
Brief History Neuschwanstein Castle
Neuschwanstein Castle boasts a rich history that dates back to the 19th century.
Commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, this fairytale-like castle was designed as a grand retreat for the king, inspired by the romanticism of medieval castles and as a grand recreation of Hohenschwangau Castle, where Ludwig II spent his childhood. Hohenschwangau Castle is located at the foot of the hill on which Neuschwanstein Castle sits.
Construction of Neuschwanstein Castle began in 1869, with architect Eduard Riedel overseeing the project. Nestled in the breathtaking Alpine foothills near the village of Hohenschwangau, the castle’s construction was met with several challenges, which led to significant delays. Unfortunately, Ludwig II passed away in 1886, leaving the castle unfinished.
Initially named “New Hohenschwangau Castle”, it was renamed Neuschwanstein, meaning “New Swan Stone”, as a tribute to Wagner’s opera “Lohengrin”, where the main character arrives in a swan-drawn carriage. Despite its unfinished state, the castle opened to the public just weeks after Ludwig’s death, becoming a popular tourist attraction.
Neuschwanstein Castle – One of the most popular castles in the world
Over the years, Neuschwanstein Castle has welcomed millions of visitors and captivated them with its enchanting beauty.
The castle’s iconic profile and picturesque setting have also earned it a prominent place in popular culture and its influence on Disney is undeniable.
Serving as an inspiration for the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland, Neuschwanstein Castle captures the imagination with its fairytale-like design. The castle’s majestic beauty, enchanting surroundings, and connection to the romanticism of the past have made it a treasured symbol in the world of entertainment.
Today, Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Germany, attracting visitors who are eager to explore its opulent interiors and marvel at its stunning views. Its historical significance, timeless beauty, and connection to King Ludwig II’s legacy make it a must-visit destination for everyone!
Our experience visiting Neuschwanstein Castle
I think at this point it’s worth mentioning our magical experience and a few things that stood out for us.
We drove to Füssen (the town closest to Neuschwanstein Castle) from Rothenburg ob der Tauber as part of our Romantic Road itinerary. The last 30 mins of the drive, as we approached the Alps was breathtaking!
To make the most of your visit to Neuschwanstein Castle and the surrounding attractions, we suggest renting a car. This way, you’ll have the freedom and flexibility to explore at your own pace.Discover best car rental deals in Germany
To fully enjoy your experience, we recommend spending at least one to two nights nearby. By doing so, you won’t feel rushed and can fully immerse yourself in all the activities and attractions, including the breathtaking Lechfall and even a visit to the German-Austrian border.
Another thing that took me by surprise is the sheer beauty surrounding Neuschwanstein Castle! Nestled at the base of the Alps, the castle is accompanied by vast, serene fields that stretch for miles in the opposite direction. The magnificent snow-capped mountains provide a breathtaking contrast to the lush, green pastures.
Yet, the icing on the cake was the unexpected snowfall that became the highlight of our trip. Despite arriving at a spring day, with blossoming flowers everywhere, we woke up the next morning to a winter wonderland! Overnight, a blanket of snow transformed the landscape into a true fairytale scene.
Witnessing Neuschwanstein Castle adorned in a layer of glistening snow was truly enchanting. The snowfall was an astonishing and delightful surprise, making it feel like we had stepped into a magical storybook.
We tried to capture all our highlights in this video. Hope you enjoy it!Subscribe to my YouTube channel
How to get to Neuschwanstein Castle?
As mentioned earlier, Neuschwanstein Castle is located near the village of Hohenschwangau in Bavaria, Germany, just north of Austria. The closest town to the castle is Füssen and there are a few small villages in the Schwangau area.
Start your journey to the castle at the Ticket Center Hohenschwangau, which is conveniently accessible by train, bus, or car.
Day trips to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich are very popular. During our visit, we saw numerous buses arrive every morning from Munich and depart by the evening.
If you haven’t found one yet, here is a bus tour from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle that we can recommend. The day tour also includes Linderhof Royal Castle and Oberammergau.
Driving to Neuschwanstein Castle is admittedly the best way to visit the castle. It allows you to not be reliant on any public transport (as it’s limited in the area) and opens up a world of possibilities around the castle that you can explore.Discover best car rental deals in Germany
If you’re planning a trip down the Romantic Road, we advise making Neuschwanstein Castle the last stop.
Ticket Center Hohenschwangau – No Vehicles Beyond This Point
Whether you arrive by car or bus, no form of private transportation is allowed beyond the Ticket Center Hohenschwangau.
Cars can be parked at one of the paid parking areas in Hohenschwangau (which are expensive) and buses will drop you off around the Ticket Center Hohenschwangau.
How to get to Neuschwanstein Castle from Ticket Center Hohenschwangau?
From here, you have three options to reach the castle.
If you prefer walking up to the castle, it’s a short uphill walk (1.5 km) from the Ticket Center Hohenschwangau on Neuschwansteinstraße.
You can also be more adventurous and take one of the hiking trails up to Marienbrücke and then walk down from there to the castle.
However, what we recommend is that you:
- Walk to Neuschwanstein Castle on the main road
- After the tour, walk to Marienbrücke for the views
- Finally, hike down through the woods
By shuttle bus
If you’re someone who prefers not to walk, then you can take the shuttle bus from parking P4. The shuttle bus also drops you off at Marienbrücke and from there, it’s a short (500 metre) walk downhill to the castle.
Just note that the shuttle bus is a paid service. Please check the current rate on the official Neuschwanstein Castle website.
By horse-drawn carriage
If you want to indulge yourself in the romantic fantasy of Neuschwanstein Castle, then perhaps a horse-drawn carriage might be more to your taste!
The carriage departs from opposite the Ticket Center Hohenschwangau but does not go to the castle entrance either. It drops you off at the foot of the castle, from where it’s still a 450-metre uphill walk.
To check the current price of the horse-drawn carriage, please check the official Neuschwanstein Castle website too.
Please note that both the shuttle bus nor the horse-drawn carriage are available if there is snow or ice on the road. You can still hike or walk up, but you may not be able to access Marienbrücke or Neuschwanstein Castle.
We learned this the hard way by hiking up and then being denied entry.
But you probably can avoid this as there are screens at the visitor centre to inform visitors if the castle’s tours and entry to the bridge are closed because of snow.
The Neuschwanstein Castle Tour
You can only enter Neuschwanstein Castle as part of an official tour. Tours are offered in English and German and last about 30 minutes.
Because King Ludwig II died before the castle was completed, most of the rooms were never built. The tour takes visitors to the apartments and staterooms that are on the third and fourth floors. The rooms on the second floor were never finished and today house a shop, a cafeteria, and a multimedia room.
As the castle was supposed to be a place of retreat for King Ludwig II, the interiors pay homage to the operas of Richard Wagner, to whom the king dedicated the castle. The king also envisioned that the castle would immerse him in the mythology and romanticism of the past.
The castle’s grand halls are adorned with ornate paintings and lavish furnishings, creating a truly opulent atmosphere. One particular motif that stands out is the swan.
The swan holds a special meaning at Neuschwanstein Castle. It was the heraldic animal of the Counts of Schwangau, whom the king saw himself as the heir. In addition to this historical connection, the swan also symbolizes the “purity” that King Ludwig II sought to embody, aligning with Christian symbolism.
Be sure to book your tour tickets well in advance (I suggest at least a month before you arrive) otherwise you may be denied entry into the castle. Tickets can be purchased at the Ticket Center Hohenschwangau or online.
Head to Marienbrücke for Incredible Views of Neuschwanstein Castle
After Neuschwanstein Castle Tour, we recommend heading to Marienbrücke (Mary’s Bridge, aka Pöllat Bridge).
The bridge has a fascinating history. Built-in 1845, it was originally a wooden bridge but was later reconstructed with steel cables. Named after Queen Marie of Prussia, the bridge offers exceptional views of Neuschwanstein Castle.
As you exit Neuschwanstein Castle, follow the signs for Marienbrücke that lead you on a trail behind the castle.
At just around 700 metres, it’s a short walk on a gentle incline. Along the way, there is a beautiful viewing point for the Hohenschwangau Castle against the backdrop of the Alps and the lakes! Make sure you get some great photos from here.
And then once you reach the bridge, depending on the time of day and season, be ready to jostle your way through the crowds to get a good viewing spot.
Spanning a deep gorge, this pedestrian bridge provides visitors with a stunning vantage point to capture the beauty of Neuschwanstein and its idyllic surroundings.
Quick Tip: There’s A More Secluded Viewing Point
If you find Marienbrücke too overwhelming and don’t mind a short hike up the hill, there are better, more secluded viewing points ahead.
The closest viewing point is only 250 metres short uphill walk. But make sure that you’re wearing hiking-friendly shoes as it’s a fairly steep climb and can be slippery.
To reach the viewing point, cross the Marienbrücke and get onto the hiking trail on the other side. Walk straight for about 80 metres and then take the uphill trail on the left.
Follow the trail as it zigzags uphill and reaches a viewing platform above Marienbrücke.
I honestly felt that this was a better viewing point because it’s perched up higher and hardly had any visitors.
For those seeking more adventure, you have the option to keep hiking uphill on the same trail to discover additional awe-inspiring viewpoints.
Options to end your visit to the Neuschwanstein Castle
To return to the Ticket Center Hohenschwangau from Marienbrücke, you have a few options.
- First, there is a shuttle bus stop conveniently located near the bridge entrance. Hop onto the shuttle and it will take you back.
- Alternatively, you can retrace your steps and walk down the same way you came up.
- But if you’re feeling adventurous, hike to the Ticket Center Hohenschwangau.
For option 3, find the trails behind the shuttle bus stop, make a left turn, and venture into the woods.
Once on the trail, you can stick to the main path, which is recommended for beginners. For a more immersive experience, you can explore the smaller trails. These trails will lead you through secluded sections of the hill, offering glimpses of charming cascades and waterfalls.
However, do note that these narrower trails require you to be comfortable using maps. For navigation, I suggest using OpenStreetMap rather than Google Maps.
Things To Do Around Neuschwanstein Castle
If you’ve taken our advice and are spending a night or two near Neuschwanstein Castle, then you’re going to be pleasantly surprised by the list of activities, attractions, and things to do in the area.
Visit Hohenschwangau Castle
Situated opposite Neuschwanstein Castle is Hohenschwangau Castle.
The castle too has a fascinating history. Its ruins were discovered by Crown Prince Maximilian of Bavaria on a hike. Inspired by the scenic beauty, he purchased and rebuilt it, resulting in a romantic masterpiece between 1833 and 1837. The construction showcased exquisite coordination between the interior and exterior designs, furnishings, and over 90 wall paintings.
Upon marrying Princess Marie of Prussia in 1842, Hohenschwangau Castle became a beloved retreat for the Bavarian royal family. The castle chronicle highlights princely guests, festivities, hunting excursions, and Queen Marie’s fondness for mountain hiking and fishing.
Hohenschwangau serves as a glimpse into the early influences on Maximilian’s son, King Ludwig II, who spent a few weeks each summer in the castle. And it is what inspired him to build the Neuschwanstein Castle, right opposite Hohenschwangau Castle.
Similar to the Neuschwanstein Castle Tour, visits to Hohenschwangau Castle are only possible with a guided tour with limited capacity. We recommend reserving your tickets in advance using the official website.
Visit St. Coloman Church
Situated on the idyllic plains is St. Coloman Church and it’s hard to miss. You can either walk to it from the Tourist Information Schwangau or park your car in the church’s parking lot (free).
St. Coloman Church is a captivating religious site with a rich history and a picturesque setting. The church is dedicated to St. Coloman, an Irish pilgrim who is believed to have travelled through the region in the 11th century.
Its distinctive façade, adorned with trimmings, adds to its charm and makes it a notable landmark amidst the surrounding natural beauty.
The interior of St. Coloman’s Church is adorned with beautiful frescoes, intricate wood carvings, and a high altar. The architecture reflects the Bavarian Baroque style, characterized by elaborate decorations and a sense of grandeur.
Its unique location, set against a backdrop of rolling hills and the distant Alpine peaks, adds to the church’s serene and spiritual ambience.
Today, St. Coloman’s Church remains an active place of worship. You should definitely visit the church to admire it whilst soaking in the tranquillity and beauty of its surroundings.
Enjoy a Peaceful Walk in the Idyllic Plains
Once you’re done visiting St. Coloman Church, we highly recommend taking a walk through the idyllic plains at the foothills of the Alps.
Not only do the plains offer stunning views of the Alps, but you can walk towards Neuschwanstein Castle and admire it from a different vantage point.
We found walking in the plains very therapeutic.
If you’re looking for centrally located (and free) parking for your car, check the parking area next to the Tourist Information Schwangau.
Visit Füssen Old Town
Füssen is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Bavaria as it serves as the gateway for Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles. It is also the last town on the southern end of the Romantic Road and happens to be surrounded by beautiful lakes and the Allgäu Alps.
Whether you’re staying at Füssen or in one of the neighbouring villages, a visit to the Füssen Altstadt (Old Town) should be on your agenda.
The town’s historical Old Town, with its colourful buildings, stands gracefully along the banks of the River Lech. A prominent landmark in Füssen’s maze of medieval lanes is the High Castle (Hohes Schloss), a magnificent late-Gothic castle complex that was once the summer residence of the Lord Bishops of Augsburg. Today, it houses a branch of the State Collection of Paintings, showcasing impressive works from the Allgäu-Swabian and Franconian regions.
Füssen Altstadt has a distinctive feel of an Alpine town, seamlessly blended with different historical periods.
The Lechfall is a man-made waterfall located on the outskirts of Füssen that that captivates visitors who come to admire the powerful cascades, the colour of the Lech River, and the surrounding beauty. The waterfall has also been generating electricity in Füssen since 1903.
Lechfall is situated adjacent to road B17 between Füssen (Germany) and Reutte (Austria). Parking is available on the roadside and the best views of the river can be accessed from Maxsteg, the footbridge over the Lech River.
From the footbridge, you can admire the mighty roar of the waterfall on one side, the Lech Gorge on the other.
There are also a few hiking trails on the other side of the bridge, in case you’re interested.
Visit the Austrian Border and Walderlebniszentrum
From Lechfall, the Austrian border is a mere 700 metres! However, we don’t recommend walking on foot as B17 is a relatively busy road.
I find international borders fascinating as I can have one foot in one country and the other in a different country! But there’s a lot more to this international border than my childlike fantasy.
Drive up to the German-Austrian border, and you’ll be greeted by the Walderlebniszentrum (literally Forest Experience Centre). Here, you’ll find the Auwaldpfad (Floodplain Forest Path) and Bergwaldpfad (Mountain Forest Path), two forest paths, on opposite sides of the road.
In the vicinity of these forest paths are numerous playgrounds, hiking and cycling trails, and adventure parks for kids. The highlight however is the Treetop Walkway.
Perched up at 21 metres, the Treetop Walkway offers panoramic views of the Lech River and the Allgäu Alps from above the tree line. Unfortunately, we arrived at the border when the visitors centre had closed and couldn’t access the Treetop Walkway.
More information, along with a map, can be found on the official Walderlebniszentrum website.
Plan a Hike
By now it should be fairly obvious that there is no shortage of hiking trails around Neuschwanstein Castle. You can choose whether to hike in the Alps or even around the lakes.
I can recommend one of the hiking trails behind the Neuschwanstein Castle simply because of the possibility of incredible views not only of the castle but also of the surrounding fields and villages. Also, there are quite a few waterfalls hidden amongst the mountains.
But for a much simpler option, you can always hike up and down to Marienbrücke.
We had planned a hike on our last day but unfortunately, it snowed, making the trails treacherous. But we still decided to be adventurous and plan a short hike on the snowy trails. Needless to say, it was a lot of fun!
Here is a good website to explore all the hiking options in and around Schwangau, along with maps and other helpful information.
Visit One of the Many Lakes
There are four lakes in Schwangau – Alpsee, Schwansee, Forggensee and Bannwaldsee.
Of the four, Alpsee is perhaps the most popular given its proximity to Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles, wild swans, and boating activities.
Forggensee (an artificial lake) is the biggest of the Alpine lakes and is looped by a hiking and biking trail. Boating and other water sports are popular on the lake.
On our drive to Munich, we drove past and briefly stopped to admire Bannwaldsee, a lake popular with many campers. Needless to say, it was beautiful!
Enjoy Panoramic Views from Panoramarestaurant Tegelberg
If you’re looking for an unforgettable dining experience on your trip to Neuschwanstein Castle, then perhaps the Panoramarestaurant Tegelberg might be of interest to you.
Sitting on top of a hill at an altitude of 1730 metres above sea level, Panoramarestaurant Tegelberg offers diners panoramic views of Füssen and the Allgäu Alps. And to visit the restaurant, you get to take the scenic Alpine cable car!
Dine at Amazing Restuarants near Neuschwanstein Castle
And finally, if you’re looking for some more amazing restaurant recommendations to serve up some local dishes, then these are our top recommendations.
This rustic and cosy restaurant, part of the hotel in Schwangau, offers local delicacies along with gorgeous views of the Alps and Neuschwanstein Castle.
We had a wonderful experience dining at Helmerhof during our stay at the hotel.
Address: Frauenbergstraße 9, 87645 Schwangau, Germany
Phone: +49 8362 98350
Situated next to the Ticket Center Hohenschwangau, Alpenstuben Restaurant offers a range of freshly prepared specialities from the region.
We dined at the restaurant after our hike down from Marienbrücke and found the food quite delicious.
Address: Hotel Alpenstuben, Alpseestr. 8, D-87645 Hohenschwangau
Phone: +49 8362 98240
Steakhaus Füssen & Tapas Bar
If you’re craving a steak and fries in the cold Alpine weather, then head on over to Steakhaus Füssen & Tapas Bar.
Situated opposite Lechfall, this restaurant offers fantastic views, great food, and warm service.
Address: Tiroler Str. 31, 87629 Füssen, Germany
Phone: +49 8362 8838767
Hotels near Neuschwanstein Castle
If you’re driving yourself to see the Neuschwanstein Castle, we highly recommend that you spend a night close by to appreciate the beauty of the castle and its surrounding areas. And also to explore other nearby attractions.
Unfortunately, you cannot stay at the Neuschwanstein Castle. But as far as hotels and accommodation near the castle are concerned, you can stay at one of the nearby villages or towns.
Hotels at Füssen
Füssen is the most obvious choice for hotels and accommodations around Neuschwanstein Castle. It’s the biggest town next to the castle, with plenty of options for both accommodation and dining.
Here are some of the best hotel options in Füssen.
- Hotel Christine – This family-run hotel offers rooms with balconies that overlook the Allgäu Alps and is located in a quiet residential area of Füssen, a short drive to the Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles.
- Hotel Hirsch – Another family-run hotel in the heart of Füssen that has a Wes Anderson vibe. The hotel is a 3-minute walk from Füssen Train Station.
- Gästehaus Forggensee – A charming and beautiful guest house located close to the Forggensee Lake, a quieter part of Füssen.
Hotels at Hohenschwangau
Hohenschwangau is the next most popular location for accommodation around Neuschwanstein Castle. Most of the hotels in Hohenschwangau are a short walk away from Hohenschwangau Castle and Neuschwanstein Castle, making them very popular with visitors.
Here are some of the best hotel options in Hohenschwangau.
- Hotel Villa Ludwig (Highly Recommended⭐) – A boutique and luxurious hotel located beneath Neuschwanstein Castle! All rooms have a balcony and some have a direct view of the Neuschwanstein Castle.
- AMERON Neuschwanstein Alpsee Resort & Spa – Located next to the Hohenschwangau Castle, AMERON Neuschwanstein Alpsee Resort & Spa offers accommodation with a fitness centre, private parking, a terrace and a restaurant.
- Hotel Müller – The hotel is located between Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau Castle and offers a Bavarian-style restaurant. The horse-drawn carriage departs from in front of the hotel.
Hotels at Schwangau and Horn
Schwangau village is 4 km from Füssen and just 1.5 km from Hohenschwangau. We chose to spend our nights at Horn (adjacent to Schwangau village) while visiting Neuschwanstein Castle and honestly think that this area is the best location of all three.
- Helmerhof (Highly Recommended⭐) – This family-run hotel is set in an idyllic location and has large spacious rooms. Our room had a view of the Neuschwanstein Castle. The hotel also has one of the best restaurants in the area (as mentioned above)
- Das König Ludwig Inspiration SPA – A luxurious property that’s a 5-minute walk from the Forggensee Lake.
- Hotel Das Rübezahl – Another luxury hotel in Schwangau that offers great views of the Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles. The hotel can also provide tickets for the Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles on request.
Neuschwanstein Castle – A No Drone Zone
Before I forget, it’s important to note that Neuschwanstein Castle is designated as a strict “no-drone zone.” As tempting as it might be to capture aerial shots of this stunning landmark, it is crucial not to risk flying a drone in the area.
The no-drone policy is in place to safeguard the privacy and safety of visitors, preserve the tranquil atmosphere, and protect the historical integrity of the castle and its surroundings. Violating this policy can result in fines and legal consequences.
It is best to admire and capture the beauty of Neuschwanstein Castle from ground level, respecting the rules.
Neuschwanstein Castle – A Fairy Tale Come Alive
Years ago when I lived in Germany, I had the pleasure of visiting the Hohenzollern Castle and immediately fell in love with it! After all, it is a beautiful castle perched on top of a hill, with breathtaking panoramic views from every side.
But despite the charm of Hohenzollern Castle, it falls short of the stunning beauty of Neuschwanstein Castle! And I think it’s because of the surrounding natural beauty – the Alps, the lakes, the pastoral fields – and association with pop culture that makes it one of the most recognisable and visited castles in the world!
We hope this guide to visiting the Neuschwanstein Castle has been able to help you plan your trip to the castle and about other attractions in the area. Remember to make your bookings and reservations if you’re travelling during peak season.
For more inspiration, feel free to check out our Neuschwanstein Castle photo gallery and Füssen photo gallery. And if you found this post helpful, please feel free to share it on the social media channel of your choice.