Did you know that the Disney castles, were inspired by a castle in Germany called Neuschwanstein? These include Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disney Land! Ever since learning this a few years ago — I’ve been wanting to get up close and see this beauty for myself.
Background Info About Neuschwanstein
Before I set out to explain my take on the experience, let’s start with some historical background. I promise to be brief.
Neuschwanstein Castle, essentially meaning “new swan stone”, sits high above the village of Hohenschwangua near Fussen, in Germany. This 1800s Romanesque revival was once the home of introverted King Ludwig II of Bavaria (also called “the mad king”, and no — that’s not a Game of Thrones reference). But after his suspicious death (1886) it opened for public tours. Six years later the castle was completed.
With flat lands on the north side of the castle and the Alps in the south, the vistas that surround the castle are as impressive as the castle itself. This is what dreams, and Disney movies, are made of.
King Ludwig may not have gotten to live happily ever after here, but he left such beautiful architectural design that has certainly has!
Should you merely want to know the essentials to travel there yourself, then skip to the bottom part of this blog post.
Neuschwanstein Castle | Wikipedia
Neuschwanstein (official website) | Bayerische Schlosserverwaltung
Why Neuschwanstein is On My Bucket List
Neuschwanstein Castle is on my bucket list because I love great architecture and I’m a big fan of Disney. Thus, I absolutely had to witness such a unique combination before I “hit the bucket”.
More than 60 million people have visited the castle. Finally I became one of them!
Visiting the Castle
Located in Southern Germany near the Austrian border, it did fit well with me and my girlfriend’s spontaneously planned road trip. We were driving through Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany and Czech Republic (in that order). And if she wouldn’t agree about visiting Neuschwanstein then I would have been difficult to deal with for the rest of the trip! Spoiled.
We arrived late at night and checked in at Hotel Mueller. We conveniently used their car park for free and the friendly staff at the reception sold us the tickets for tomorrow’s castle tour. Both the price of the hotel room and facilities were decent. The hotel itself is quite old but charming, and it has a wonderful view of the castle. The hotel’s location is also extremely convenient — basically just a few meters away from the Neuschwanstein transport options. But, the village is very small anyways, so all the hotels are essentially very close.
Just after we checked in, at around 10 pm, I decided we simply had to check if we could reach the castle by car at night — and, rightfully so — we could! Hehe…
I can’t speak for the legality of that nor endorse similar practices, but there were no roadblocks in place at least! We drove up in almost pitch darkness and parked about 20 meters away from the castle entrance. It was a great sight as the castle is decently exposed and lit up during night, but my iPhone didn’t really capture it well. I can only imagine that during full moon it must be freaking awesome.
During the day on the other hand you can only reach the castle by foot, by horse or bus. We opted for the horse ride the day after, which would take around 15 minutes, as opposed to 30-40 minutes by walking.
Big takeaway here: be sure to get to the horse or bus queue earlier than what you may expect. We saw tons of people stressing and many missing their tour time slots due to not lining up well in advance. If you arrive too late at the entrance of the castle, then you simply have to buy a new ticket to enter. And there’s a chance it’s fully booked for the rest of the day. I’m sure they could build a new castle for all the money wasted by people missing their tours!
Enough about that. The horse-draw carriage ride. I had imagined it to be a unique and cozy experience. However, unfortunately, it was heavily commercialized and all about cramming as many people together as possible (15+ people). I was even surprised that the two horses were able to pull us up the hill, especially as one of them seemed to be struggling. Shortly put, while it’s a more fairy tale-like method of transport — if I come back for another visit I’ll rather walk.
Another minor letdown was that Mariebrucke was still closed for maintenance. I had high hopes to get that bridge to take those most iconic photos of the castle (such as the photo at the top of this post). But who am I fooling, I’m not much of a photographer anyways.. Still, you might want to check for updates on the re-opening, especially if you are a photo-enthusiast or want the “full” experience. Maintenance is scheduled to be completed in July 2016.
But such minor issues were not gonna ruin such a beautiful day, with breathtaking views both outside and inside the castle.
The interior of the castle is a monument to the courtly love found in fairy tales, featuring lofted ceilings dripping with chandeliers, colorful walls depicting tapestries of dragons and damsels in distress, and rich furnishings making the castle a true work of art. Simply spectacular. You’re not allowed to take photos of the inside though, and for once I followed the rules — that’s got to be the first time… Hehe, and I regret it already…
All in all, I have traveled quite a lot in recent years and seen an ubiquitous amount of beautiful natural and man-made creations. Among those, Neschwanstein Castle got to be one of the most astonishing ones. Suffice to say, should I ever be remotely close to Neuschwanstein again, I’ll definitely come back for a second visit – this time with the Mariebrucke bridge open and with a bad-ass camera.
Now, let’s talk about the essentials you ought to know if you want to go there yourself.
Neuschwanstein Castle | TripAdvisor
Hotel Mueller | TripAdvisor
All You Need to Know to Visit Neuschwanstein
- Delays. Expect some delays and plan ahead so that you won’t miss your tour.
- Prices. Horse ride (€6 up and €3 down), shuttle bus (€1.80 up and €1 down), tour the inside of the castle (€12, and free for anyone under 18). Walking up to the castle and see the outside of it — FREE!
- Horse-drawn carriage. You can only buy tickets from the carriage driver. Departures from Mueller Hotel and arrives just below the castle, takes about 10-15 minutes and involves an extra 300 meters of walking. Reservations are not possible and there are no fixed time tables. But it operates all year round, except if snow or ice on the roads.
- Shuttle Bus. You can buy tickets at the bus. Departures from Schosshotel Lisl and arrives at Jugend lookout point above the castle. There’s a 600 meters steep downhill walk to the castle, which is not suitable for anyone with impaired mobility. Reservations are not possible and there are no fixed time tables. But it operates all year round, except if snow or ice on the roads.
- Walking. It takes about 30-40 minutes to walk from the ticket centre to the castle. Around 1.5 km on a steep uphill road.
- Entrance ticket. It’s stated many places that “entrance tickets can only be bought at the Ticketcenter in the village of Hohenschwangau” — but we bought ours through our hotel. Anyways, please buy your ticket before you set off to the castle! You may also reserve a ticket in advance, here (only possible two days in advance until 3 p.m., local time).
- Mariebrucke. Check ahead whether the bridge is open. It’s expected to remain closed until July 2016.
- When to visit. As many as 6,000 people per day visit in the summer. If you want to avoid long lines you might want to schedule outside of peak season.
- Inside the castle. You can only visit the rooms at the castle as part of a guided tour. And, no smoking, photographing or filming is allowed inside of it.
- More castles. Should you want to visit other castles in the area, you should get a combination ticket. Königsticket (€23) for both Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau Castle. And/or “Königsschlösser” (€24) which includes Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee.
- Extra. Live panorama webcam from the castle. Could become useful if you have to check the weather conditions etc.
Have fun & enjoy this enchanting experience!