Touring one of the world’s most infamous castles
Walt Disney built his empire around a beautiful castle, that castle was inspired by the magnificent Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany. Neuschwanstein Castle and the surrounding village of Schwangau are spectacular and quaint all at the same time. The splendour and grandeur of the castle paired with the rustic feel of the country-side with the distant sound of cow bells echoing through the valley – this truly is a place where fairy-tales are born.
Neuschwanstein Castle (pronounced: Noysh-vine-stine) is one of the most popular of all the palaces and castles in Europe, seeing more than 1.4 million visitors annually, with up to 6,000 per day in the summer, so depending on when you visit and try to book a tour, your wish may or may not be granted – so plan ahead!Like most, our excitement was to get up close and personal with the castle as quickly as possible. It wasn’t until we took the time to linger through the village roads around the castle that we truly appreciated how tiny the castle is, nestled snuggly into the Bavarian Alps. It’s not until you step back (or drive back) that you fully grasp how awesome the mountain range is!
While there’s plenty to do in the villages of Fussen and Schwangau let’s face it, people come here to see the castle, but did you realize there are two? While Neuschwanstein is the birthplace of fairy tales and children’s dreams, Hohenschwangau Castle (pronounced: Hoon-shven-gow) was the birthplace of King Ludwig II – the “Fairy-tale King” – the man who dreamt to existence this iconic marvel.
Hohenschwangau sits figuratively and literally in the shadows of Neuschwanstein castle, but is not to be overlooked. It’s a wonderful bonus to have two such magnificent castles within walking distance of each other.
Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castle can only be visited by guided tour, tickets are available for purchase the day of, the day before or on-line (if you don’t mind paying a ticket reservation fee of €1,80 per person (adults and children) per castle). If purchasing your tickets at the destination, you can find the Ticket-Center conveniently located at the centre of the village at the base of the mountain. Choosing your tour-time is important if you’re visiting both castles, so we’ve made a few suggestions below.
The BEST way to tour the area and not waste time or money:
- Purchase tickets for both castles, allowing 2 1/2 – 3 hours between tours.
- Walk to Hohenschwangau Castle and take the tour (it’s not a tough climb to this one)
- Take the bus that runs from Schlosshotel Lisl up to “Marienbruecke” (Mary’s Bridge). The trip up by bus is a 3-minute thrill ride akin to a roller coaster and well worth the €1,80 cost – especially when you consider the time and effort to hike it (we know – we’ve done both!).
- Spend some time at Mary’s Bridge and take advantage of some spectacular photo ops with Neuschwanstein Castle, stroll down to the castle for your tour, but be sure to stop and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Hohenschwangau, the beautiful lakes and panoramic mountain landscapes
- After your tour of Neuschwanstein return to the village by walking downhill (so much easier than walking up), or experience the old-world charm of a horse drawn carriage ride (Downhill- €3).
For more details and prices please see below to create your own tour plan.
** No smoking and no cameras inside the Castles
**Visits inside the castles are only possible with a guided tour – each tour is approximately 35 minutes and you are left to visit the shop and a few other exhibitions before exiting the castle (we spent just over an hour total). Tours are in German and English (Audio Guide tours are available in Czech, Dutch, French, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish).
PRICES & DETAILS (2013): €1= $1.35 U.S./Cdn approx.
Parking at the Ticket-Center: €5 for the entire day
Individual Tickets – Neuschwanstein Castle or Hohenschwangau Castle [open daily except: January 1, December 24 & 25, 31]
Price: €12/adult per castle. Children under 18 years: Free (if accompanied by parent), Students, Senior 65+, disabled with valid identification €11 per castle.
“King’s Ticket” – If you visit Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein Castle on the same day, then purchase a “King’s Ticket” – you will first visit Hohenschwangau Castle, then Neuschwanstein Castle.
Price: €23/adult. Children under 18 years: Free (if accompanied by parent) €21/Students, Senior 65+, disabled with valid identification
“Swan Ticket” – If you visit of Hohenschwangau, Neuschwanstein Castle and The Museum of the Bavarian Kings on the same day, then purchase a “Swan Ticket” – you will first visit Hohenschwangau Castle, then Neuschwanstein Castle.
Price: €29.50/adult. Children under 5 years: Free (if accompanied by parent), €8/Students 6-17 years (if accompanied by parent), €28/Students, Senior 65+, disabled with valid identification
The tickets for the museum are not time-restrictive.
HORSE DRAWN CARRIAGE
Carriage rides are available for both castles – the roads are VERY steep and this should be considered (we took our time and walked up the path to Hohenschwangau – approx. 15 minutes).
You can pay the driver directly – you do not need a ticket for the castles to ride them.
Price per person:
From the Ticket-Center to Hohenschwangau Castle: Uphill- €4, Downhill- €2
(Approximate walking time from the Ticket-Center to the Hohenschwangau Castle is 15 minutes)
From the Ticket-Center to Neuschwanstein Castle: Uphill- €6, Downhill- €3
(Approximate walking time from the Ticket-Center to the Neuschwanstein castle is at least 60 minutes)
To/from Mary’s Bridge and Schlosshotel Lisl – Price per person: Uphill: €1,80, Downhill: €1, Round Trip: €2,60
You can pay the driver directly – you do not need a ticket for the castles to ride them.
Planning a Trip to Neuschwanstein?
How to get there: There are several routes that lead to Neuschwanstein Castle. We recommend Google Maps to find the best directions to your destination:When to go: If you’re looking for a quieter visit, our recommendation is that you visit in spring or fall so you can spend some quality time without the frustrations of wall-to-wall sightseers. If you want to experience the true German culture, be sure to travel in late September/early October and visit Munich or Stuttgart for Oktoberfest!
Neuschwanstein Castle – Neuschwansteinstr. 20. 87645 Schwangau, Germany
* There are plenty of daily excursions/tours available from Munich by rail or bus (approximately 9 hours round-trip) and reasonably priced too, if you wanted to avoid driving and take in the scenery for the day.
Where to stay: There are many quaint hotels and guest houses throughout the surrounding villages of Schwangau and Fussen, be sure to do a bit of advance research to find the style of accommodation that’s right for you. Don’t forget to check out what’s included (breakfast and parking can add up for longer stays) and book well in advance if possible. We have booked our stays in this area of Germany through Booking.com and had great success finding hidden gems.
*** EXCLUSIVE TravelBloggers.ca Special Tip***
When planning your trip to Neuschwanstein Castle book a night or two at this hidden gem – the Schlossrestaurant Neuschwanstein Hotel – it sits at the base of the castle wall and is the highest point you can travel by car (it’s also the pick-up/drop off point for the horse-drawn carriages). Staying at the hotel grants you some special privileges – you get to drive all the way up, past the hikers and horse-drawn carriages. Parking at the hotel is free and is only for guests, so there are never parking issues since there are only 9 rooms at the hotel. Not only do you get a free primo parking spot, save on parking in the village, but you save a LOT of energy climbing the very steep road. By parking at the top and walking down to the village (surprisingly a 20 minute walk downhill!), you can then grab the bus that runs from Schlosshotel Lisl up to Mary’s Bridge and then walk down to the hotel. We were pleasantly surprised that the hotel is very budget-friendly especially considering the location, and it’s probably a 3 Star hotel.
Schlossrestaurant Neuschwanstein Hotel
Address: Neuschwansteinstraße 17. 87645 Hohenschwangau (Schwangau), Germany
Web Site: www.schlossrestaurant-neuschwanstein.de/
What to eat and drink: Looking for gastronomical authenticity? Try the white sausage – often called Bavarian sausage, sausage salad (surprisingly tasty!), schnitzels, beers and wines of the region and so much more! Not feeling adventurous? There are many ethnic foods on offer throughout Germany – just keep your eyes peeled for Italian, Greek, American and Middle-Eastern foods … the variety is endless.
How to get around: Within the village at the foot of the castle, hop aboard the horse-drawn carriage or grab the bus to the top of the mountain. Taxis are available if you’re venturing out and about throughout the villages but our preference is to use your own car – there’s so much more freedom to explore.
What is spoken: German is the obvious language of the area, however, with the tourism in this area most people are able to converse in English. We found that some of the smaller shops in town were a little trickier, but don’t let that stop you from venturing out with a smile and a few key phrases!
Do you understand English: “Verstehen Sie Englisch” [pronounced: Ver-stee-in Zee English] / I do not speak German: “Ich spreche kein Deutsch”
How to pay: Cash is king in Germany. Some venues, attractions and larger restaurants accept credit or debit cards, but many do not. Most hotels will accept credit cards. Expect to settle most bills in cash.
What to tip: Service and VAT are included in the menu price in restaurants, bars, etc. all over Germany. Still, it is typical to “round up” the amount to some more-or-less round figure. A rule of thumb is to add 5-10%, generally ending with a full Euro amount.
Note: It is not typical to be given a check, then leave your money on the table. You have to tell the amount including tip you want to pay before you pay (via cash or credit card). Typically, the waiter/waitress always comes to you and tells you your total. You then tell him/her how much you will pay, i.e. the amount you owe plus any “rounding up” — for example, the waiter/waitress might say “€7.60;” you hand him/her a €10 note and say “9 Euros.” They then will give you €1 in change.
Copyright © 2013 Iain & Gail Shankland / TravelBloggers.ca (at) Gmail.com
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Iain Shankland & Gail Shankland started blogging in order to inspire and motivate people to travel the world from their perspective – specializing in having the most fun while using the least amount of money, travelling on the cheap without sacrificing comfort.
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