Neuschwanstein Castle, Hohenschwangau, Germany
Nestled on a hill just above two scenic lakes lies a fairytale palace named Neuschwanstein Castle. Being the castle that inspired the Disney princess Sleeping Beauty’s castle, it’s no surprise that Neuschwanstein is a popular spot for tourists to swing by when visiting southern Germany. The entire estate that the castle is located on is nothing short of breathtaking and it seems like no matter where you look it is stunningly beautiful.
I visited Neuschwanstein Castle in June of 2016 with a group of friends I’d met during a business studies program in London. We’d decided to visit Munich, which is a little over 1.5 hours north of the castle, when we saw an ad on TripAdvisor for a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle. None of us had heard of the castle before, but just by looking at the pictures on the website we were sold. We all hurriedly booked our spots on the guided tour.
The tour we were on included travel, which involved a train ride from Munich to Füssen and then a short 15 minute bus ride up to Hohenschwangau. Once we hopped off the bus, we had about a 30 minute tour of Hohenschwangau where we got to see the village, walk by Lake Alpsee, and catch a glimpse of the Hohenschwangau Castle. After a quick restroom break, we began the long, steep hike up the hill to finally see the Neuschwanstein Castle. The walk up wasn’t bad because the paths went through the surrounding forest, making for some pretty scenery and there was even a small ice cream cart about half way up that served delicious sorbet. Some tourists did not find the walk to be as inviting as we did so there was an option to pay and ride a horse drawn wagon up the hill.
When we reached the top we were treated to our first “clear view” of the castle and let’s just say: it was amazing. The weather was warm with clear blue skies that made the castle somehow look even more spectacular. With time to spare before our 12:30 castle tour, we wandered around and took some pictures with the castle in the background. Fair warning, if you plan to take pictures from the observation deck be prepared to wait your turn and be assertive enough to not let others cut you in line. It literally took us 15 minutes to get our pictures, but they were well worth it.
Opposite of the observation deck near the waiting area is a break in the tree line that has the most scenic view of the farm land and houses below. I remember walking over and being taken aback by the simple beauty of it. We had just enough time to snap a few quick shots before our tour guide rounded us up to head into the castle.
After walking up a slight slope and into the entrance of the castle, we waited anxiously to go through the security check to enter the main halls of the castle. Once through security the tour began, and it was nothing short of amazing. The Hall of Singers and Throne Room (the 2 largest rooms in the castle) were extravagantly decorated with paintings of Middle Age scenes and adorned with large chandeliers. The bedroom, study room, and drawing room were just as beautiful with dark wood furniture, carved with intricate details. Unfortunately photography was strictly forbidden inside the castle walls, but luckily we were allowed to take pictures from one of the balconies facing Lake Alpsee.
It was quite crowded on the balcony, but we wiggled our way to the edge and got some incredible pictures with the most breathtaking view. You could literally see everything around and below us. Plus, we got to catch a glimpse of the Marienbrücke bridge that is hidden in the mountain next to the castle. Sadly, the bridge was under construction so we didn’t get the chance to walk to it and see the view of the castle from it.
The tour itself throughout the castle was very insightful and anyone who loves history would definitely enjoy hearing the story behind Neuschwanstein. Some of the history highlights of the tour included:
- Neuschwanstein was built by Ludwig II of Barvaria and he funded the construction of the castle with his personal fortune.
- Ludwig was reclusive and a lover of the arts, especially Richard Wagner’s work.
- Construction of the castle began in 1868 and ended in 1886 when Ludwig died.
- Ludwig’s death is a great mystery…it was declared a suicide by drowning but when an autopsy was preformed they found no water in his lungs! Theories on how he died range from murder to accidental death.
- The castle was never completed, with only 15 of 200 rooms actually being finished.
- Ludwig only got to live in the castle for 172 days.
- Neuschwanstein was never suppose to be open to the public, but 6 weeks after Ludwig’s death the castle was opened to paying visitors.
After we finished our tour of Neuschwanstein, we headed straight to the gift shop to browse for souvenirs. I ended up buying a cute little sticker of the castle, a boot shot glass that said “Deutschland”, and a cameo necklace for my mother. Once we finished with our shopping we began the decent down the hill, which was a lot more pleasant than walking up! With time to spare until our train left for Munich, we wandered back to the lake to snap a few more pictures and just relax after spending the whole day walking.
As departure time neared, we all ventured back towards where the bus stop was and stopped for a quick bite to eat. I ended up having my first bratwurst ever at a little restaurant called Königlicher Imbiss Hohenschwangau and it was absolutely delicious. The prices where reasonable for such a “touristy” area and they had a nice deck area where you could eat outside. After we finished eating, we caught the bus back to the train station where we boarded our train to head back to Munich.
Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle was one of my favorite memories from my summer travels in 2016. I would recommend that anyone who goes to Munich, southern Germany, or Northern Austria (since Austria is literally right there) stop by Neuschwanstein. I promise you won’t regret it!!