Neuschwanstein: what you need to know about Germany’s most famous castle
Fussen is a cute little town 2 hours by train from Munich, full of cafes, restaurants, and tourist shops. It’s touristy but hasn’t lost its charm. The town is dominated by a castle which has some nice views of the Alps. Fussen is right in the foothills of the Alps, the mountains looming right behind it.
Fussen is the jump off point to King Ludwig’s castles in nearby Hohenschwangau. By far the most popular (and probably the most famous castle in the world) is Neuschwanstein. It is the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Buses for Neuschwanstein leave the Fussen Bahnhof every 30 minutes, arriving 15 minutes and 5 km later at the ticket center located just below the castles.
You can get tickets for one, or both castles (the other is Hohenschwangau, his childhood castle), at the ticket center (or online here). With the tickets you get a tour (which is mandatory, you can’t wander around on your own) at a specified time no less than an hour ahead. If you tour both castles you require 2 hours between tours. It’s a good idea to book your ticket online, Neuschwanstein is a very popular destination.
Want to visit from Munich? See this daytrip which includes both Neushwanstein and Linderhof castles
We walked up to Neuschwanstein from the ticket center (20 min) and waited for our tour number outside the front game of the castle. The number shows up at a electronic sign at the entrance. It’s like waiting in line at the bank. When your number gets called you go through an electric turnstile and proceed to the 2nd floor of the castle where you are greeted by your tour guide. What followed was a very scripted, uninspiring tour through the servant’s quarters, Ludwig’s bedroom, and a few extravagant halls. The setting is beautiful, you have great views through the windows. No photography is allowed (which explains the few photos on this post).
You realize that King Ludwig was crazy when touring the interior of the castle. Much of the design is outlandish and fantastical. Ludwig had a cave room (‘The Grotto’) built which honestly looks like a batcave at a zoo. Another hall is painted as a forest scene. Furnishings and paintings are almost amateurish. It wasn’t so much impressive as weird, one of the weirdest castle tours we’ve ever been on. What few know (I didn’t) is that only 15 of more than 200 rooms were ever completed.
Was the tour worth it? I don’t think so. It lasted 20 minutes, the guide didn’t seem interested, no photos allowed…after all that lining up it was honestly a disappointment. We were happy to seen Neuschwanstein but honestly thought the tour was just too commercial. In my opinion you can skip it.
After the tour we walked 10 minutes further to Marienbrucke (Mary’s Bridge) where we had beautiful views of the castle and the countryside behind it. I think this is actually the highlight. Neuschwanstein is more spectacular for it’s exterior and geographical setting than anything inside. I think this is why everyone is awed by this castle. I can understand this having seen some incredible photo posts on Neuschwanstein from other bloggers (Look at this one if you don’t believe me).
TIP: If in Fussen, take the bus to Reutte in Austria. You can make it a day trip but staying the night is an even better idea. Reutte actually impressed us more than Neuschwanstein castle and there was barely another tourist in sight.
We stayed in Altstadt-Hotel Zum Hechten in Fussen. Very nice, modern, clean, with a balcony for about 90 Euros. Well situated, close to everything. No breakfast included. They also have a nice Bavarian restaurant downstairs with several fish specialties from the region. It was Lissette’s birthday and we celebrated with the Pike for her, pork roast and dumplings for me, lots of beer, apple strudel, and another dessert of dumpling stuffed with cherry served in a custard-like sauce. Was all great. 4.8 of 5 – we would stay here again anytime.
Related: Why Nuremberg is worth a Visit
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