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If you want to walk through a real-life fairytale, then you must visit Neuschwanstein Castle in Southern Germany. As the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Castle in Cinderella, Neuschwanstein is visited by over one million people each year. While crowded, it definitely deserves a spot on your Germany bucket list.
Getting to Neuschwanstein Castle
Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich
Neuschwanstein Castle makes a great day trip option from Munich. Trains leave hourly from Munich’s main train station. You’ll need to book your train ticket from Fussen, a charming town where I actually spent the night. Tickets for the train can be purchased on Omio.
Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle from Fussen
Another option would be to spend a night or two in Fussen. After a weekend at Oktoberfest, I was ready for something a bit calmer and headed South to the charming town of Füssen. Sitting almost at the border of Germany and Austria, Füssen is surrounded by nature and the perfect gateway to visit Neuschwanstein Castle.
Füssen is a 700-year old small fairy tale town with gorgeous brightly colored buildings. One of the first things you should do when you visit Fussen is to wander the streets of the old town. I spent my first night walking around the streets feeling as I had stepped back in time. The Bavarian-style architecture and quaint cobblestone streets give Fussen an old-world charm.
Although it’s old in age, Fussen still offers all the services you’d expect in a modern town.
Where to stay in Fussen
I stayed at Old Kings Design Hostel which is housed in a 500-year-old building in Fussen’s historic old town. It’s a lovely place but pretty quiet, which is exactly what I wanted after partying at Oktoberfest all weekend. A great thing about Old Kings Design Hostel is that you can rent bikes directly through them to explore the nearby areas and castle.
Biking from Fussen to Neuschwanstein Castle
The bike ride to Neuschwanstein Castle was magical. There is a bike path from town that goes through a beautiful forest. Along the way, you’ll pass by turquoise lake and mountains, and probably have to stop every two minutes for photos.
Taking the bus from Fussen
Outside of the train station exit in Fussen, you can take bus #78. The bus is clearly marked by ‘Hohenschwangau castles’, and it takes about ten minutes to reach.
Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle
Once you arrive at the castle grounds you will need to buy a ticket to actually enter the castle. There was a massive line at the main ticket counter when I arrived, so I walked further up to the museum. As it turns out, you can actually buy tickets for the castle at the museum and there was no line, so keep this in mind as a trick to beat the crowds.
You can also purchase tickets online beforehand, which will save you even more time. Booking your tickets in advance is a good idea anyway, especially during peak season, since the castle is so popular. The ticket for Neuschwanstein castle costs 13 Euros + 2.50 service fee. Children and people under 18 can enter for free.
There is also another castle named Hohenschwangau which you can also visit. A combination ticket that gets you admission to both castles is 25 Euros.
Going up to the Castle
From the ticket office, there is a mile-long trek up a hill to reach the castle. I knew this wasn’t going to be a fun bike ride, so I locked my bike up and started walking towards the castle.
Along the way, I realized there is also the option to take a horse-drawn carriage for 6 euros. Tight on time and still recovering from Oktoberfest, this was an easy choice. Plus, who doesn’t want to take a horse-drawn carriage up a mountain to a castle?! I truly felt like I was living in a fairytale. Alternatively, you can take a bus from the ticket office to the castle.
Each ticket to the castle is assigned a certain entrance time, so if you arrive earlier than your designated slot you can take the extra time walk along the castle grounds. The area surrounding the castle is absolutely stunning. The view from the top is impressive, as the castle sits in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps.
The inside of the castle is beautiful, but you are required to stay with the guide in a large group. This doesn’t leave much freedom to explore and personally, I found the tour a bit of a letdown. You also aren’t allowed to take pictures inside the castle.
Truthfully, if I had my time back I think I would just take the horse-drawn carriage up and explored the castle from the outside on my own, skipping the entrance fee. But if castle architecture is your thing, then the inside is definitely worth viewing.
There are some beautiful areas to explore along the castle grounds. Take the path outside the castle that leads to Marienbrücke (Queen Mary’s Bridge). The bridge has one of the best photo opportunities for the castle. There is also a not-so-secret lookout spot that has flooded Instagram in recent years.
How long to spend at Neuschwanstein Castle
One day is definitely enough time to visit both castles. The tour of inside the castle lasts about 35 minutes, but you can expect to spend 3-4 hours on the castle grounds between waiting for tickets, walking up, and taking photos. If you can bike from Fussen I recommend it – going through the beautiful forest was one of my favorite parts of the day.
Best Time of Year to Visit Neuschwanstein Castle
Honestly there is no bad time of year to visit Neuschwanstein Castle. It’s opened year round and each season has it’s own pros and cons. I went during fall and loved seeing the fall foliage. It’s also shoulder season then which meant fewer tourists. I didn’t have to buy my tickets in advance. The summer is the busiest (and hottest) season of the year so expect big crowds then. During the winter it’s going to be cold, but you also get the magic feeling of the castle being covered in snow.
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