One day last year I was scrolling through Pinterest, when I came across an image of the most breathtakingly beautiful castle I had ever seen.
After clicking on the pin and doing a bit of research, I discovered that the castle was called Neuschwanstein Castle, and was situated on a hill next to the village of Hohenschwangau in Bavaria, Germany. I showed my friend Vicky (backpackfullofadventures) and she was just as enthusiastic about the castle as I was, so we looked into it some more, and found that the castle is only a couple of hours away from Munich.
I’d been wanting a Christmas getaway anyway, so we thought, hey – why not kill two birds with one stone, and go for a long weekend in Munich. This way we get to see the Christmas markets, explore a new city, AND visit the castle! If you want to read more about our Munich adventures, check out my 3 Days in Munich post. 🙂
However, today I want to focus specifically on visiting the castle, as it’s not as simple as you might think. So I’ve put together a fool-proof guide that could come in handy if you’re heading to Munich and fancy checking out the beautiful Neuschwanstein Castle.
Buying tickets for the castle
Although you can visit the castle and view it from the outside without a ticket, in order to go inside, you need a ticket. There are two ways to do this: buy a ticket online in advance, or buy one from the ticket office on the day.
To buy a ticket online, go to the official website and reserve your tickets. This comes with a small booking fee, but it guarantees you a place on a castle tour and allows you to skip the queue on the day. This is what we initially wanted to do, but unfortunately we left it too late, and by the time we came to booking it, all of the online tickets were sold out!
The other option is to buy your tickets on the day, which can be a bit of a risk but it worked out fine for us! You just turn up, walk up to the ticket office in Hohenschwangau, and join the long line of people. The wait wasn’t too bad though – around half an hour. And don’t worry non-German speakers, there are English guided tours too!
Tip: if you’re buying the tickets on the day, try to get there as early as possible as the tours can and will sell out!
Getting to Hohenschwangau from München Hbf (Munich’s central station)
Step 1: Buy the train ticket
Use the ticket machines at the station to buy the Bayern ticket. This ticket is essentially a day travel card and is valid on almost all regional trains and bus services in Bavaria. Basically, it will get you where you need to go! Keep in mind, the ticket is only valid after 9am, so I suggest getting on the first train possible after 9am.
Tip: if you buy more than one ticket together, you get a good discount- we only paid €14 each!
Step 2: Get the train from München Hbf to Füssen
To get to the castle, first you need to get a train to the town of Füssen. Use a website such as this one to find the train departure times. Enter München Hbf (Munich Main station) as your departure station, and Füssen as your arrival station. Some websites will tell you the train platform, or you can just look at the departure boards in the station to find the right platform. The train journey takes around 2 hours and takes you through some picturesque German countryside, so bring a pair of headphones and some snacks and you’re good to go!
Step 3: Take the bus from Füssen to Hohenschwangau
Once you get to Füssen station, simply follow the crowds of tourists. There will be a couple of buses waiting to take you all to Hohenschwangau, but don’t panic if you don’t manage to get on the first two buses, they will come back for you!
Hohenschwangau is the village that sits below the castle, this is where you pick up your tickets (again just follow the tourists). There are also a couple of restaurants and gift shops, as well as some hiking trails that take you off into the mountains, which would be amazing in the summer months (I definitely want to go back and do that).
Tip: Do not take photos inside the gift shops – they will tell you off!!
Going on the Guided Tour
Once you have your allocated time slot, make sure you get to the castle courtyard around 15 minutes before your tour starts. The walk up to the courtyard takes around half an hour, so make sure you leave enough time!
There are screens in the courtyard that tell you when to enter onto the tour. It’s a great system and makes things extremely easy, so don’t worry about a thing. 🙂
I read a few blog posts before I visited the castle from people who were dissatisfied with the guided tour – saying that it wasn’t long enough etc. Yes, the tour only lasts half an hour, but that is because half of the castle was never finished, and what’s the point in touring empty rooms? But in my humble opinion, the fact that the castle is unfinished makes you appreciate it’s history and back story (which you learn about on the tour) so much more, and makes the completed rooms all the more special.
Getting back to Munich
Once you’ve explored the castle and surrounding areas to your heart’s content, you’ll need to think about getting back to Munich (we honestly could have stayed there all night it was so beautiful). You just have to do the exact same journey as you did to get there, but in reverse.
So first you need to catch a bus back to Füssen, which leaves from the same place that it dropped you off, and they run very regularly. Then get the train from Füssen back to München Hbf. Be aware that not all of the trains back to Munich are direct! We didn’t check beforehand and ended up missing the last direct train (18.06), so we had to change half way through, which wasn’t a big deal, but just made our journey home longer and more tiring than it needed to be. Again you can use this website to check the trains.
Tip: If you have time, I would highly recommend exploring Füssen before heading back to Munich. It is a quaint little town with some cute shops, bakeries and restaurants – it even had it’s own Christmas market when we went!
So, I hope this has been somewhat helpful! If anyone has visited Neuschwanstein and has any more tips they’d like to share, then please be my guest! Or if you’re planning to go and would like to know more, just leave me a comment and I’ll help you out as best I can. 🙂