How to Visit Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany: What to Know Before You Go

You’ve probably seen Neuschwanstein Castle before without realizing it—Schloss Neuschwanstein is the real-life castle in Germany that inspired Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World, and the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland. Of course, needing to fulfill my Disney princess dreams, I set out to figure out how to visit Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich.

Overlooking the Alpsee, a stunning lake in Ostallgäu, Neuschwanstein Castle truly looks like something out of a fairytale. Unlike a true fairytale, this one is actually attainable—Neuschwanstein is just a 1.5 hour drive from Munich. This area of Bavaria is rich in charming, painted towns such as Oberammergau and Mittenwald, along with other beautiful castles like Schloss Hohenschwangau and Linderhof Palace.

Of course, I couldn’t resist visiting Neuschwanstein Castle to live out my princess dreams. When visiting Munich for Oktoberfest, I finally got the chance to! Here’s what you should know before visiting:

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How to Visit Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany: What to Know Before Visiting

How to Get to Hohenschwangau from Munich

To get to Neuschwanstein Castle, you’ll first need to get to Hohenschwangau. From Munich, you’ll be able to reach Hohenschwangau by driving, taking a train, or booking a tour.

hohenschwangau castle alpsee lake germany schwangau

Driving and Rental Car

Renting a car and driving is the best option for travelers looking to explore Bavaria freely, and save time.

Driving to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich takes around 1.5 hours (faster if you like to floor it on the Autobahn). For most of the drive, you’ll be on the autobahn, Germany’s freeway. From Munich, you’ll take the A95 or A96, before exiting onto the the B17, Germany’s famous Romantische Straße (romantic road).

Driving on the Autobahn is not for the faint of heart—in many areas, there is no speed limit. If the Autobahn isn’t your speed (literally), you do have the option to stay on the Bundestrasse, the regional roads in Germany, the whole drive, taking the B2 from Munich, then exiting to the B17.

We were on a time crunch, so we chose to rent a car and take the Autobahn.

schloss neuschwanstein cinderella sleeping beauty castle autumn leaves

While navigating Munich’s streets and traffic can be confusing to a foreign driver, once you’re out of the city and on the Autobahn, the drive becomes much more straightforward (unless you’re like us, and your phone’s GPS can’t figure out where you are). The drive passes through Bavaria’s beautiful countryside, filled with lots of hop farms (because you are in Germany, after all) and quaint cottage homes.

When you reach Neuschwanstein Castle, you’ll be able to park in lots P1 and P4. We made the mistake of parking in P1 immediately because it was the first one we saw, when in reality, P4 is a lot closer to where the ticket office and walking trail to the castle are.

If you’re planning on driving to Neuschwanstein Castle and are going as a day trip from Munich, be sure to leave early, around 7-7:30am. If you’re opting to book a hotel in Füssen or another surrounding town for a few days, I recommend visiting Neuschwanstein in the morning after waking up, rather than on your drive in. The castle is a hotspot for tourists and large tour groups, getting busy very quickly.

Keep in mind that while rental cars in Munich are not very expensive, Germany has some of the most expensive gas in the world. We paid over $7 a gallon at some gas stations, which adds up quickly!

Public Transportation

Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle via public transportation is doable and relatively easy, but it’s not for the traveler stressed for time. There’s no direct train to Hohenschwangau. You’ll need to take a train to Füssen, then transfer to a bus. It takes about an hour longer to reach Neuschwanstein from Munich by train, rather than by driving.

You’ll catch the train to Füssen at München Hauptbahnhof, Munich’s central station. On arrival, you’ll take a right at the end of the train platform, then hop on Bus 73 or 78 from Füssen to Hohenschwangau. While the trip is just 10-15 minutes, busses only come once every 30 or so minutes.

The train costs about €25 each direction if booking tickets separately, but luckily, there’s a much more affordable solution. The Bayern Ticket is a day pass you can purchase for unlimited train trips throughout Bavaria. The ticket is €27 for one person, making it much more cost effective than booking separate tickets! Additional travelers don’t need to purchase their own Bayern Ticket—you can add them for just €9 per person (up to five people).

Of course, there’s a catch. On weekdays, the Bayern Ticket is only valid from 9am onwards, meaning that you’ll end up visiting Neuschwanstein Castle during peak tourist hours.

Click here to check train schedules to Neuschwanstein from Munich.

Neuschwanstein Castle Tour from Munich

If the idea of navigating the hectic autobahn or trying to figure out Bavaria’s train system is overwhelming, there’s tons of day trip tours to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich available.

Tours to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich will run you anywhere from $50-$200 USD per person, depending on if castle admission is included, and the other attractions on the itinerary. Typically, Neuschwanstein Castle day tours include stops at Linderhof Palace, Oberammergau, Bavarian cheese farms, and more.

Neuschwanstein Castle day tours from Munich typically last 9-10.5 hours, depending on the tour you take.

While tours are not the most inexpensive option for visiting the castle, and I’m anti-tour generally speaking (it’s just not my speed), I have to admit that this $58 round trip tour to Neuschwanstein Castle, Linderof Palace, and Oberammergau is still a great solution for the solo traveler looking to do it all without the hassle of self-navigation.

Click here to discover Neuschwanstein Castle tours including transportation from Munich.

How to Get to Neuschwanstein Castle

You’ve reached Hohenschwangau. Now what? Neuschwanstein Castle is located high above the village, and you’ll need to find a way to get up there!

The journey to actually reach the castle from Hohenschwangau took much more time than I was expecting. Depending on if you walk, take the bus, or hire a horse and carriage, expect to spend up to 1.5-2 hours round trip, getting up and down from the castle.

Although there is a shuttle bus and horse and carriage available to reach the castle, both of those methods require at least 20-30 minutes of additional walking, roundtrip. Some of the walking is uphill, which I’d take into consideration if yourself, or anyone you’re traveling with, has accessibility challenges.

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Walking

Bring your tennis shoes, because there’s nothing princess-y about this walk! Once reaching Hohenschwangau, follow the road to the ticket office. From there, keep going. Eventually, you’ll see a trailhead on the left side of the road (there will likely be several tourists on it already).

You can decide whether you want to walk to Marienbrucke, the most popular viewpoint of Neuschwanstein Castle, or if you want to walk to the castle directly. We chose to walk to the castle first, then walk around the castle to Marienbrucke before coming back down.

Walking from the parking lot to the ticket office will take 10-20 minutes. From there, it’s about 40 minutes from the ticket office to get up to the castle. Walking to Marienbrucke from Neuschwanstein Castle will take another 10-15 minutes.  Although a 40 minute walk may sound long, when factoring in wait times for buses during peak tourist times in the summer, it is usually the quickest option.

As mentioned above, wear good walking shoes. The walk is steep, and you’ll definitely feel the incline. The path is dirt, and tends to get muddy and slippery after rain.

Shuttle Bus

Take the shuttle bus to Neuschwanstein Castle if walking 40 minutes uphill isn’t appealing to you, or you’re not physically able to. The bus runs between P4 and Marienbrucke. It gets busy, so I’d plan on arriving to the castle early if this is your plan!

The Neuschwanstein Castle shuttle bus costs €2.50 for uphill trips, €1.50 for downhill trips, and €3 for a roundtrip ticket. You’ll need to pay your bus driver directly, and you will need exact change.

The bus drops off right at Marienbrucke (you’ll probably be able to see the line for it from the stop). From Marienbrucke, you can walk 10-15 minutes to the castle, as described above.

Schloss Neuschwanstein cinderella castle view marienbrucke fall autumn leaves germany

Horse-drawn Carriage

If you really want to embrace the fairytale, you can hire a horse and carriage to take you up to the castle. To do this, you’ll need to find Hotel Müller, just past the ticket office.

Horse-drawn carriage trips are surprisingly affordable for a tourist attraction of this magnitude. Expect to pay €8 for uphill trips, and €4 for downhill trips. Tickets need to be purchased from your carriage drive, so have exact change.

It’s worth noting that like the bus, your horse-drawn carriage can’t go all the way up to the castle. You’ll go on a 20 minute ride up to the castle, and be dropped off a 10-15 minute walk away. If accessibility is an issue, the walk from the bus drop-off point is much flatter.

I know that animal rights for experiences such as these can be a touchy subject. In full disclosure, like the shuttle bus, horse-drawn carriages are not operated by the Bavarian Palace Administration, but instead by individual companies. When I was there, I was concerned about how tired some of the horses looked, which is part of why we opted not to do this. Of course, I’m no animal expert and have no insight into how these horses are actually treated—that’s just my quick observation.

When to Visit Neuschwanstein Castle

Autumn is the best season to visit Neuschwanstein Castle. The first week of October is the best time to visit the castle, as all of the leaves will be changing around it. The shoulder season months of May, June, and October are all great times to visit, as you’ll likely have decent weather, and lowered crowds.

Avoid visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in the summer. The castle grounds will be packed, and you’ll likely experience long lines.

If avoiding tourists entirely is your goal, visit during the low season of November through April. Although I wouldn’t recommend climbing up to the castle in the winter months, you can take the bus, or admire the castle in the snow from afar.

We visited when we were in Munich for Oktoberfest, at the end of September. Due to the wiesn, there were a ton of tourists, but we still avoided the crowds of summer tourism, and we got to see the castle when the leaves were just starting to change color. If we would’ve waited one, maybe two weeks to visit in October, the leaves likely would’ve been perfect.

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Neuschwanstein Castle Hours and Admission Times

Pay close attention to the dates that you’ll be visiting Neuschwanstein Castle on—the castle’s hours change seasonally.

In the winter, from October 16th-March 31st, Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau Castle are open from 10am to 4pm.

In the summer, from April 1st-October 15th, Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau Castle are open from 9am to 6pm.

Both castles are closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.

Neuschwanstein Castle Entrance Ticket Price

Neuschwanstein Castle guided tour tickets prices are as follows:

  • Adults: €15
  • Children under 18: Free (if accompanied by an adult)
  • Seniors over 65, students, handicapped individuals, and guests from qualifying hotels: €14
  • Companions of disabled individuals: Free

You will need to add on a €2.50 processing fee if booking in advance online, which I highly, highly recommend that you do.

Neuschwanstein Castle is so busy that tickets sell out days, weeks, sometimes months in advance. When we were there, we arrived around 10am, only to find out that the next available entrance wasn’t until 3:30pm.

Buy your tickets in advance, and only buy them through this link. If you purchase them from a 3rd-party vendor, you’ll likely show up to find that they’re invalid.

Neuschwanstein Castle Guided Tours: How to See the Inside

Do I need to buy a ticket to visit the inside of Neuschwanstein Castle?

You need a ticket to visit the inside of Neuschwanstein Castle. Unfortunately, there’s no way to view the inside of Neuschwanstein Castle without being on a ticketed, guided tour. 

A ticket is not needed to walk around the exterior of the castle—that’s completely free.

Guided tours last about 30 minutes, and cover the 14 finished rooms that King Ludwig II lived in before he died (there were over 200 planned rooms in the castle).

To be honest, the inside of Neuschwanstein Castle might feel underwhelming if you’re already visited other palaces in or near Munich, such as Residenz and Nymphenburg Palace. That’s because the palace was never actually finished.

Neuschwanstein Castle’s castle was commissioned by King Ludwig II, but he died before the castle could actually be completed. After his death, his family did finish constructing the exterior of the castle, but didn’t pay attention to finishing the rooms inside.

On top of that, the castle is also currently under construction for restoration efforts.

The cost of Neuschwanstein Castle feels a little steep for the actual tour duration, especially when considering that entrance to the inside of Neuschwanstein Castle is much more expensive than entrance to other popular palaces in Bavaria, such as Nymphenburg Palace and Residenz in Munich, where an €8 tickets grants you untimed, open access.

Is it worth visiting the inside of Neuschwanstein Castle?

That’s for you to decide. For us, after reading so many disappointing reviews of the tour, we decided that if tickets were available when we arrived, that it was, but if we had to wait for entrance, it wasn’t.

Best Neuschwanstein Castle Views

Marienbrücke

The Marienbrucke is a bridge suspended across from Neuschwanstein, with a dramatic view of the castle. Marienbrucke is by far the most well-known Neuschwanstein Castle viewpoint. It’s also the easiest to access.

To reach Marienbrucke, you’ll follow the main path to the castle (in red), then walk another 10-15 minutes past the castle (purple trail). This is the official way to to reach both the castle, and Marienbrucke in one go, but it’s also the longest.

neuschwanstein castle walking trails germany

There’s two walking shortcuts to Marienbrucke you can take:

The first option is similar to the full trail, but instead of starting at the main trailhead, you’ll start by walking up the concrete stairway behind P3 on Alpseestraße. From there, you’ll connect into the red trail, then follow the same path around the castle.

The second method is by taking the red trail, then immediately following the sign on the right side that says “Marienbrücke.” You’ll reach Marienbrücke in about 35 minutes rather than an hour, but won’t pass by the castle at all.

Of course, if you don’t want to bother with walking at all, the bus drops off right at Marienbrucke. Easy.

If you think you’ll get the bridge to yourself, think again. Even if you arrive at 9am, expect to have at least a few people up there with you (although, a little morning sprint would definitely help your chances here).

When we visited, we waited in line for 15-20 minutes to get on the bridge. When we did, the bridge was absolutely packed. Staff was yelling at people to move, people were forcing their way through the crowd, and it was all around chaotic. I noticed that bridge traffic was definitely dependent on bus and tour group timing—as tour groups left, it got somewhat more breathable, but was still very crowded. Trying to get a nice photo was a bit of a struggle, as fellow tourists weren’t necessarily the most considerate bunch.

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Up-close Observation Decks

When you reach Neuschwanstein Castle, you’ll notice that there’s a glass observation deck right in front of the castle itself! Although this deck doesn’t have the dramatic view that the castle is known for, it does have the best view of the front of Neuschwanstein Castle.

The observation deck in front of the castle is nowhere near as busy as Marienbrucke. With a little patience, it’s easy to get a good photo here.

The deck is also a great spot to admire the landscape around Neuschwanstein—it’s not talked about enough, but there’s some really beautiful forest around the castle!

View of Neuschwanstein Castle from Above

So you saw Marienbrucke and were over the crowds of tourists that made the view less-than-relaxing. I get it. Luckily, there’s a view to view the castle from above, that’s much quieter.

To reach this birds-eye viewpoint, you’ll cross Marienbrucke and continue the trail uphill. You’ll find yourself on a long dirt road that’s not in quite the same condition as the main paths, but eventually, you’ll reach a fenced in overlook of the castle.

If that isn’t enough for you, you can continue hiking up the hill further, where you’ll reach a view from above. It’ll be marked by a log with a cross on it. The view will be a little obstructed by tress.

Hidden Neuschwanstein Castle Viewpoint

The Neuschwanstein Castle view taking Instagram by storm isn’t an official viewpoint (and technically, requires trespassing), but isn’t far away from Marienbrucke.

To reach it, you’ll get on the trail that leads between Marienbrucke and the castle. Where the path curves towards the river, near Marienbrucke (but before the angle), you’ll have to dodge under the fence, then walk for another couple minutes down the road, turn, and climb up a small dirt hill. 

The hill is not marked, but after getting up it and turning left, you’ll be back on an abandoned hiking trail. If you follow that trail, it will lead you to the best view of the castle.

I really wanted to find this spot, but unfortunately because it was raining, cold, and slippery when we visited, we decided it wasn’t safe to attempt. If you do try it, be careful. The viewpoint is on a steep cliff with no gate, and it is considered trespassing to go up there.

Dramatic View of Neuschwanstein Castle from the Valley

I stumbled upon this Neuschwanstein Castle by complete accident. After coming down from the castle, we got back to the car and started leaving to head to Oberammergau. On the way, we drove past this wide open field with a fairytale-like view of the castle above.

If you’re driving, you’ll likely pass by this view regardless (it’s on Schwangauer Straße, which is the only road you can take to exist the castle parking lots).

The field is across from Restaurant-Cafe Allgäu (früher Restaurant Meier). Just past the restaurant, there’s no buildings on either side, so you can easily pull over and park.

We almost didn’t pull over in my usual “no, it’s okay” approach, but luckily my boyfriend knew I’d regret it if we didn’t. I’m so glad we did! I love how romantic this view of the castle is.

neuschwanstein castle hidden photo location viewpoint valley germany bavaria

Where to Go Near Neuschwanstein Castle

Oberammergau

Pairing Oberammergau with Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the best day trips from Munich. This is the trip we chose to take, and I’m so glad that we chose to stop at this charming, painted town.

Oberammergau is best known for its beautiful painted buildings, woodcarvers, and the Passion Play that it puts on once every 10 years, as part of an agreement with God that they made all the way back in 1633, when the bubonic plague was raging through the town.

painted church Lueftlmalerei oberammergau bavaria germany

When we visited, Oberammergau was performing the play for the first time since it was put on hold for the pandemic. It was so interesting to see how the play really affected the town! The play lasts 6 hours, is performed five nights a week, and basically closes down the town while the curtain is up. Despite being entirely in German, it’s a huge tourist attraction that sells out every show.

I recommend stopping at Oberammergau after Neuschwanstein Castle for a bite and a calm stroll around town to see all the buildings, and visit the cute woodcraft souvenir and Christmas shops.

Alpsee

Alpsee is a beautiful lake near Hohenschwangau Castle and Neuschwanstein Castle. On your way to Neuschwanstein Castle, you’ll actually be able to catch a glimpse from the trail between the castle and Marienbrucke.

Alpsee was King Ludwig II’s favorite lake. From it, you’ll be able to see both Schloss Neuschwanstein and Schloss Hohenschwangau. For €10, you can rent a paddleboat or rowboat for 30 minutes.

Keep in mind that the boathouse is only open from May until September or October, and is only open when the weather is good. Hours are 10am to 7pm. Had we visited with good weather, this would have been such a pretty place to go!

hohenschwangau castle alpsee lake germany schwangau

Mittenwald

Mittenwald is a true Bavarian alpine town, with lovely painted buildings, and a view of the mountains from the cobbled streets. The town repeatedly makes lists for the best towns in Bavaria to visit, and I can see why.

Mittenwald is best known for its history of violin craftsmanship—there’s a museum dedicated to it. It also acts as a base for exploring and skiing the stunning Karwendel Alps.

I really wanted to visit Mittenwald, but unfortunately, we just didn’t have the time (squeezing Neuschwanstein Castle, Oberammergau, and Mittenwald would’ve been way too much in one day).

Linderhof Palace

Linderhof Palace is the most common attraction you’ll visit on a Neuschwanstein Castle tour. Most tours from Munich include Linderhof Palace, if they’re stopping at an additional destination.

Linderhof Palace, located in Ettal, is the smallest of the three castles built by King Ludwig II. Although it sounds funny to call a palace “small,” by Bavarian standards, it is. Linderhof Palace wasn’t built to be an all-out royal palace, it was meant to be a hunting lodge. For a hunting lodge, it’s definitely posh.

Like Neuschwanstein, you can only visit with a guided tour, which lasts 25 minutes. You have the option to visit just the palace and park buildings, just the park buildings, or only the royal lodge. I recommend against visiting Linderhof Palace in the winter, as you can only visit the palace.

Linderhof Palace was on my list, but due to time restraints, we couldn’t make it (getting to Neuschwanstein took longer than expected due to GPS issues). I wish we could’ve—while Linderof Palace is similar to many of the royal hunting lodges around Munich, the park, including the Moroccan House and Music Pavilion, make it noteworthy.

Click here for Linderhof Palace tours from Munich.

Hohenschwangau Castle

You’ll spot Hohenschwangau Castle before even making it to Neuschwanstein Castle. Hohenschwangau Castle is the yellow castle overlooking Alpsee lake. 

Hohenschwangau was the childhood home of King Ludwig II, built by his father, King Maximillian II. The castle is lesser known that Neuschwanstein Castle, for reasons that I can only attribute to Disney. Despite being not quite as well known, it’s just as beautiful. When I first saw it, my first thought was that it looked exactly like what I’d expect Belle’s castle to look like.

Like Neuschwanstein Castle and Linderhof Palace, you’ll need to be on a guided tour to visit. Tours last 35 minutes and are €21 for adults.

Visiting from Neuschwanstein is easy. If you parked in P4, the castle is just a 20-minute walk away. Most Neuschwanstein Castle tours from Munich skip Hohenschwangau Castle, so if you’re looking to visit, your best option is to drive to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich or take the train to Füssen.

We didn’t visit the interior of Hohenschwangau Castle, but it was absolutely picturesque from afar.

schloss hohenschwangau castle yellow schwangau germany eva phan bavaria

FAQs

Which Disney castle did Neuschwanstein Castle inspire?

Neuschwanstein Castle inspired both Cinderella’s Castle in Disney World, and the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland.

Can you visit the inside of Neuschwanstein Castle?

You can visit the inside of Neuschwanstein Castle, as long as you’re on a guided tour. Tours last about 30 minutes, and photos are not allowed.

How much time do you need at Neuschwanstein Castle?

You need more time at Neuschwanstein Castle than you think. Expect to spend 3-4 hours here. The amount of time you need to visit the castle is dependent on whether you’re walking to it, taking a horse and carriage, or are hopping on the shuttle bus.

If you think Neuschwanstein Castle can be done as a half day trip from Munich, think again. Even if you’re driving, between the round trip drive and time spent at the castle, you’ll need at least 6-7 hours to visit.

How much is parking at Neuschwanstein Castle?

All parking at Neuschwanstein Castle is private, and costs €10 for cars, €13 for RVs and campers, €3 motorbikes, and €30 for buses for up to eight hours. Each additional hour is €1, with a max of €15 per day.

Where is Neuschwanstein Castle?

Neuschwanstein Castle is located in Germany’s Bavaria region, overlooking the village of Hohenschwangau. The towns of Füssen and Schwangau are nearby.

How far away is Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich?

Neuschwanstein Castle is 1.5 hours away from Munich driving, and 2.5 hours away via train and bus.

Looking for more Germany travel guides? Click here for more of the best day trips from Munich, Oktoberfest guides, and what Munich solo travel is like.

One Day in Oberammergau: Your Guide to Exploring Bavaria’s Most Charming Town from Munich

A Single Girl’s Guide to Munich, Germany: Unique Things to Do, Eat, and Shop for Solo Travelers

Oktoberfest Tents: Complete Guide to the BEST and WORST Beer Tents

xx,
E

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