Take a train to Neuschwanstein, Germany’s most fantastical fairytale castle.
A castle so beautiful it inspired the setting of Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and his theme park’s Magic Kingdom, Neuschwanstein is one of Germany’s most famous historic sites. Located in the Bavarian Alps in Schwangau, the castle's name, Neuschwanstein, means ‘New Swan Stone Castle’ and was built as a passion project by King Ludwig II who ruled Bavaria between 1864 and 1886.
King Ludwig II, often referred to as the ‘Mad King,’ built this fairytale castle as a private retreat from his childhood castle Hohenschwangau Castle, which today still stands in the shadow of Neuschwanstein. Inspired by the music of Richard Wagner and his own vivid imagination, King Ludwig II began construction on his medieval style castle in 1869.
Despite Ludwig’s grand plans for Neuschwanstein, only 14 rooms were completed by the time the King died in 1886.
Serving more of a creative than functional purpose, the castle’s interior is decorated with murals and pieces of art depicting Bavarian legends, folklore and Biblical scenes. Ludwig II’s love of Wagner’s operas is especially seen in the Singers’ Hall on the fourth floor, as well as the Throne Room, modelled on Byzantine domed architecture.
Aside from exploring the castle’s ornate interiors, one of the highlights to any Neuschwanstein visit is crossing the Marienbrücke, a bridge suspended over a waterfall offering panoramic views of the castle and its Alpine surroundings. There are also myriad walking and cycling trails around Neuschwanstein descending towards Alpsee and up towards the summit of Tegelberg.
How to get to Neuschwanstein castle from Munich
The closest train station to Neuschwanstein is Füssen, just 2 hrs from Munich by train. From Füssen, it’s a 10 mins bus ride to Schwangau where the castle is located. You can also walk from Füssen to Schwangau in just over 1 hr to enjoy the surrounding countryside. There is also the option of taking a 10 mins taxi ride from Füssen to the castle's ticketing office .
It is important to note that the walk from Neuschwanstein’s ticket office to the castle itself takes around 30 mins, so if you are unable to go by foot, there is also a shuttle bus that goes from the ticketing office by Schlosshotel Lisl to Marienbrücke which is a 5 mins walk to the scenic bridge and a 15 mins walk to the castle.
The best time to visit Neuschwanstein castle
Neuschwanstein is one of Germany’s most visited attractions, drawing over a million visitors to its grounds each year. Overcrowding is an issue during July andAugust, so the best time to visit Neuschwanstein is in spring or autumn when there are fewer tourists.
Neuschwanstein is open daily throughout the year, except 24, 25, 31 December and 1 January.
It is recommended to buy tickets for Neuschwanstein in advance online.
Image credits top to bottom: Neuschwanstein in the Bavarian Alps iStock ©SeanPavonePhoto, Throne Room in Neuschwanstein Flickr Commons ©Franklin Heijnen, Neuschwanstein in winter Flickr Commons ©Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar, view from Neuschwanstein Flickr Commons ©Sue Reynolds
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