One of the highlights of my recent trip to Munich, Bavaria’s capital, was visiting Neuschwanstein Castle – a place that needs no introduction. Even if you’ve never been to Germany, if you regularly use Pinterest or Instagram, chances are you’ve already heard about it before. It seems to be by far one of the most often photographed (and “Instagrammed”) castles in Europe and, having seen it with my own eyes, all I can say is: rightly so. Neuschwanstein is GORGEOUS, you guys.
So if you’re planning a trip to Germany or you’ve always dreamed of visiting Neuschwanstein, the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, I can’t recommend it enough – go for it! Although we only spent 2 days in Munich and 1 here at the castle, it was probably my favourite trip in 2016 – and I can’t wait to go back again.
To help you prepare for your own trip and help you get the most out of your visit, here’s everything you need to know about visiting Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich!
The easiest and fastest way to get your tickets to the castle is to reserve them online (you can do so here). Although there’s a reservation fee of €1,80 per person, buying your tickets from the website means you’ll have a guaranteed entry to the castle, and you will save tons of time and frustration once you get to Hohenschwangau.
Regardless of when you’re visiting, though, my first advice would be to get your tickets as soon as possible. Literally. Unfortunately, we kept putting it off and when we tried reserving them 8 days before our trip, all their tickets were already sold out. Which is a bit surprising, seeing as we were visiting in early December – I can’t even imagine what it must be like in the summer!
So if you already know you’re going, make sure to get your tickets as soon as you can – especially if you’re visiting in summer, at weekends, or during holidays.
Buying tickets on the spot
If, like us, you’ve run out of time and all the online tickets are sold out, don’t worry. Firstly, you’ll still be able to climb up to the castle and Marienbrücke (the bridge where all these Instagram-worthy photos are taken), and see the castle from the outside. Even if you don’t get to go in, it’s still worth going, and I can guarantee you’ll still have an amazing time.
But more importantly (and lucky for us), you can still get tickets on the spot, from the ticket office in Hohenschwangau. It’s a bit more time consuming than just picking up your reserved tickets, but it’s not impossible. If you’re determined to get in, I’d say get the earliest possible train, and get to the ticket centre as soon as you can.
We visited in winter so the queuing time was probably not as bad as it is in summer, but I honestly thought it would a) either be much worse and we’d spend the rest of our lives in that queue or b) we wouldn’t be able to get tickets at all. Luckily, neither of these happened: we were pretty much the first ones to get off the bus that takes you from the train station to the ticket office, and made our way straight to the ticket centre, while everyone else took their time.
Result: roughly 30 minutes in the queue, and two shiny tickets to the 15:45 castle tour. A bit later than we’ve anticipated, but at least we got in. It’s not impossible, folks!
Before we move on, here are a few essential facts about how the tickets work:
Although the area can be visited independently and you don’t need to join an organised tour to see the Hohenschwangau area and the castle itself, the tickets you get online or on the spot are timed. Which means that, unfortunately, both Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castle can only be visited within a guided tour, you can’t just walk in and roam around to your heart’s content.
Once you get to the ticket centre, you’ll see the next couple of available English tours on the board. Make sure to check which one your ticket is valid for, and make your way to the castle’s courtyard a couple of minutes before your tour start date.
As of December 2016, tickets are €12 for adults if you buy them on the spot, and €13,80 if you reserve them online. Children under 18 go free if they’re accompanied by at least one adult.
Neuschwanstein Castle is about 120 km (75 miles) south of Munich, and – unless you’re travelling with a tour group – the easiest and cheapest way to get there is by train. The nearest train station is in Füssen, where local buses operate and take visitors to the ticket centre in the nearby Hohenschwangau.
If you’re taking the train there, make your way to Munich Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) and find a ticket machine – there are literally dozens scattered around the station, so you can’t miss them.
Select the English menu on the screen, and click on “All offers”. Here, select the Bayern-Ticket option – this is basically a regional day ticket for exploring Bavaria, which gives you unlimited access to trains and other forms of transportation – like local buses – in this area.
Bayern tickets are valid from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. on the following day on weekdays, and all day on weekends. When we went in late 2016, second class tickets cost €20 per person, and an additional €8 for every other person travelling with you, if you buy and pay for your tickets together. Although these prices might have changed since then, so make sure to double-check the Deutsche Bahn website for the latest prices (and current timetables) before you go.
So, with this offer, we essentially paid €28 in total – only €14 each! This will cover your return train tickets from Munich Hauptbahnhof to Füssen, as well as the bus that takes you from the train station in Füssen to the ticket centre in Hohenschwangau.
Once you’ve got the tickets, you’ll probably notice that there are a couple of blank lines at the bottom. Make sure to write your name (and everyone else’s, if you’re travelling with others) here before or after boarding the train. We didn’t realise we were supposed to do this, but neither did most other tourists, so the conductor just gave us a pen and we filled in our details on the train.
The train journey takes roughly two hours, and offers lovely scenic views of the Bavarian Alps and tiny little traditional German villages on the way (definitely one of the highlights of our trip)!
Once you get to Füssen, just follow the crowd to the number 78 buses outside the station. There were two buses waiting outside when we went, but because every single person who was on the train with us was headed towards them, it was easy to spot them. If you bought a Bayern ticket back in Munich, you won’t need a separate ticket for the bus, as this is included in the price – just show your train ticket to the driver and you’re good to go.
A quick tip to help you save a bit of time: it’s going to sound weird, but if you were planning to go to the toilet before getting on the bus, I’d say use the one on the train before you arrive. Once the train pulls into Füssen station, there’s a mad dash towards the buses – and you have a much better chance of beating the crowds and getting to the ticket centre early if you’re not the 500th person in line who has to wait for the next bus.
The bus ride itself takes about 5-10 minutes, and the ticket centre is roughly 2-3 minutes on foot from there. If you’ve reserved a ticket online, join the queue for reserved ticket holders on the right. If not, there’s another, longer queue on the left for everyone else.
Once you have your tickets, start walking uphill towards the castle (again, everyone’s going in the same direction, so you can’t miss it). It’s not as steep as I thought it was supposed to be, and it definitely doesn’t take 40 minutes to get there, so I’d definitely suggest walking rather than taking the bus or hopping on a horse carriage!
About the guided castle tour
About 10 minutes before your allocated time slot, make your way to the castle courtyard and wait for your number to appear on the screen. (Basically each time slot has a different number, and these numbers will show up above the gates when it’s time for the next group to go in.) There will be an English speaking tour guide waiting for you inside, who guides you through the castle and talks a bit more about its history and inhabitants.
Since the castle was never finished, the tour is relatively short (ours was just over 30 minutes) – but if you can get tickets, I’d say it’s definitely worth it. Although Neuschwanstein doesn’t have as many completed rooms as places like Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace, those ones that are finished are gorgeous. There’s even a cave inside the castle!
Getting back to Munich
Getting back to Munich is basically the same process – make your way down the hill, and back to the place where the bus dropped you off in the morning (a local tourist information office, I think). The bus will take you back to Füssen station, where you can catch a train back to Munich Hauptbahnhof.
Again, make sure to double-check the Deutsche Bahn website before you go, because not all of these trains are direct. When we went, the last direct train (which we missed) was the 18:06 one, and we had to change at Kaufbeuren station halfway through our journey. Luckily we only had to wait about 10 minutes for the second train, so even if you miss the 18:06 one, it’s not the end of the world.
All in all, I absolutely loved the castle and the whole area – it was everything I though it would be, and SO much more. But even though it was an amazing day with a perfect, sunny weather, I wish we could have stayed a bit longer! So I made a promise to myself to come back here another time, in another season, and explore Hohenschwangau a bit more – those mountains are calling my name!
Have you been to Neuschwanstein Castle before? Do you have any other tips you would add to this list? Let me know!