In the month of March, when winter was almost coming to an end, me and my husband traveled to Munich which is in the state of Bavaria. It is known for it’s romantic road scenic route, medieval villages and towns.
Almost two hours from Munich, set in the beautiful picturesque hills, is Germany’s most famous castle, Neuschwanstein Castle. Located in the small village of Hohenschwangau, near a town called Füssen, it is not only famous in Germany, but through out the world ! It has almost over a million visitors every year. This beautiful castle is said to be the inspiration for Disney’s iconic Sleeping beauty castle.
It was a rainy, misty cold day with temperatures around 2°C to 3°C when we visited. Snow capped, mist covered mountain peaks that looked like someone dusted huge amounts of icing sugar over the pine trees. It was absolutely beautiful !! But as the day passed, so did the mist and the snow. We had reserved our tickets online. This is advised in order to avoid long queues. You get an email confirmation once you reserve your tickets. In the email, the time to collect our tickets was mentioned. Make sure to be there before your allotted time. If not, you may end up losing your tickets. On the ticket, the tour number and time is mentioned.
Once you receive your tickets, make your way up the hill to the Neuschwanstein Castle. It takes about 30 minutes to walk up the hill. If you don’t wish to walk, there are horse carriage facilities. Two majestic looking horses will take you up the hill to the castle. Prices: 6€ for the ascent and 3€ for descent. There are buses available too.
We decided to walk as we had 1.30 hours till our castle tour began. Once you make your way into the castle, you enter the courtyard from where you can see the Marienbrücke or Mary’s Bridge at a distance. At the courtyard, the tour numbers are displayed. Once your number is displayed, just simply scan the bar code present on your ticket at the gates to enter.
We chose an English tour and we had a lovely English speaking lady guide. Guides are available in other languages as well. We were around 20 people in the tour and were handed small speakers so as to hear the tour guide clearly. As we made our way inside the castle, we were transported into a completely different era. The castle was built by King Ludwig II in the 19th century and this was his summer residence. The castle includes lavish rooms along with a cave like grotto, chapel, throne room and a singer’s hall. Every room has beautiful wall paintings with wooden furniture which are still intact. King Ludwig’s room was the most beautiful and opulent of all. Extravagant bed with intricate Gothic inspired wooden carvings, marvelous murals that reveal the King’s obsession with composer Richard Wagner’s operas.
The name Neuschwanstein literally means ‘New Swan Stone’ which comes from one of Wagner’s operas ‘The Swan Knight‘. The castle is built on the remains of two medieval castles. It apparently took 14 long years to build this castle which was paid completely by the King’s personal fortune. But, he spent only 172 days until he died in the year 1886.
The 35 minute tour of the Neuschwanstein Castle was wonderful. Just when it was getting interesting, the tour came to an end. Time went by real quick. As we exited from the castle and were making our descent, we encountered a small pub/restaurant. We decided to have a quick snack. They were selling fresh Quark gebäck or Deep fried cheese with powdered sugar for 3€. These ‘not too sweet treats’ were golden and crunchy on the outside, soft and pillowy on the inside. They were hot, fresh out of the deep fryer and were perfect for the cold weather.
We moved on to Marienbrücke or Mary’s Bridge, which is a 10 minute walk from Neuschwanstein. The bridge is where you get the best view of the entire castle with the beautiful lush green landscape in the background. This bridge was built by King Maxmilian II (Ludgwig II’s father). This bridge can be a little scary for people who are afraid of heights. It is narrow with a slightly creaking wooden floor. Only few people are allowed at a time on this bridge, as it can get pretty crowded.
Make sure to be very careful with your cameras and phones as there have been many reports of people dropping them while clicking pictures. It was extremely windy when we stood on the bridge. We managed to get a few clean shots of the castle and headed back.
Not a lot of people realize that there is another castle apart from Neuschwanstein. Overlooking it, is Hohenschwangau. This castle has a very rich history. This was the childhood residence of King Ludwig II and his younger brother Otto.
Once you reach the valley carriage station, it takes about 20 minutes to walk up to Hohenschwangau Castle. You can also take the carriage ride. This castle also has guided tours. The rooms in this castle are again filled with exquisite murals, with extreme detailing and each one of them has a story to tell. Unfortunately, photography is prohibited to public in both castles. I kind of enjoyed Hohenschwangau castle tour more than Neuschwanstein. May be this was because, of how well our tour guide explained to us in such great detail about the stories that took place in every room. But overall, both were enjoyable.
We then exited our way from Hohenschwangau castle and walked for another 20 minutes to the Bavarian Museum. This museum has exhibits and artifacts pertaining to the royal families of Bavaria. Some of the items present in the museum date back to as early as 1806. If you are not too keen to learn about the Bavarian history in detail, this museum can be skipped. Opposite to the museum is the river, Alpsee.
RESERVATION OF TICKETS :
I would highly recommend reserving tickets in advance, in order to avoid long queues. Once reservations are made, the tickets can only be purchased and collected from ticket counters on the day of your visit.
The reservations can be made online using the link given below:
When in Hohenschwangau village, do not miss :
- Hohenschwangau Castle – 20 minute walk from the ticket center. (Can also take the carriage ridge)
- Neuschwanstein Castle – 30 minute walk from the ticket center. (Can also take the carriage ridge)
- Mary’s Bridge / Marienbrücke – 10 minute walk from Neuschwanstein.
- Museum of Bavaria Kings – 10 minute walk from the ticket center.
- Alpsee – Opposite to the Museum of Bavarian Kings.
HOW TO GET THERE ?
If traveling by yourself without an agency tour, the easiest way to get to Hohenschwangau village is to first reach a small town called Füssen.
There are FLIXBUSES to Füssen, which work out cheaper than trains. But, there might be only one flixbus for the entire day and may not match your schedule. DB Bahn trains from Munich to Füssen take about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Once you reach Füssen, there is a bus stop right next to the train station. Many buses take you to the Castle stop. You can check the schedule (Bus timings) at the stop. It is a 10 minute bus ride from Füssen Bahnhof (Bus/Train station) to the castle stop.
- Lockers are available at Füssen train station. Drop in your suitcases or bags. Keep 50 cents, 1€, 2€ coins in handy.
- Travel light to Hohenschwangau. You may have to end up walking in case there are long lines at the carriage station.
- Get there as early as possible : We collected our swan tickets at 8:30 am. We were all done at 4 pm (including guided tour of both castles, Bavarian Museum and Alpsee)
- Make sure to always check the weather. Weather can be quite unpredictable. Always carry a jacket, umbrella or a raincoat depending on the weather.
- There are a lot of eat outs present, just before the ticket center. Make sure to have a good look, because some of the restaurants can be quite cheaper than the others.
When in Germany, if your schedule permits, please do visit these castles. It is definitely a sight you do not want to miss !