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How to visit Neuschwanstein Castle + the best photo spots

by Mandy
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With its dreamy white towers and turrets, nestled amongst lush green mountains, visiting Neuschwanstein Castle is a dream come true for obvious reasons! If coming here is one of your dreams, and you’d like to know how to visit Neuschwanstein Castle, then you have come to the right place!

Perched high on a rugged hilltop, overlooking the Pöllat Gorge and set against the backdrop of the Bavarian Alps, Neuschwanstein Castle is truly a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, plucked straight from the pages of a fairy tale that would inspire the thrill of travel and adventure in even the biggest of homebodies. In fact, it was this very castle that inspired our entire road trip around Southern Germany! For this reason, Neuschwanstein Castle will always have a special meaning for us, as it really did inspire our love of travel. Our hope is that this guide of how to visit Neuschwanstein Castle evokes that same inspiration in you.

About Neuschwanstein Castle

This incredible castle was the imaginative creation of “Mad King Ludwig”. He was the King of Bavaria from 1864 until his mysterious death in 1886. Described as a “reclusive narcissist”, the castle was designed to be the King’s extravagant refuge from a world that failed to meet his grandiose ideals. Construction of the castle began in 1868 and was designed to have more than 200 rooms! Unfortunately, King Ludwig never lived to see the castle’s completion, and to this day the castle is still incomplete, with only 15 finished rooms – but don’t let that stop you from visiting!

In more modern times, rumour has it that Neuschwanstein Castle was behind the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. The Castle is also one of Germany’s most popular tourist attractions, with people travelling far and wide to see this magnificent castle for themselves – including you if you’re on this page! So what do you need to know about how visit Neuschwanstein Castle?

How to travel to Neuschwanstein Castle

The castle is located in the small town of Hohenschwangau, close to the German / Austrian border, just under 2 hours from Innsbruck or Munich. These locations are also your nearest international airports should you be flying into the area. From there, you can get a train to Füssen, but you will need to take a taxi or bus from Füssen to Hohenschwangau (about an 8 – 10 minute drive).

Your best, and most flexible option, is to drive, where you can park up in Hohenschwangau, or the small town of Schwangau, just a short 7 minute drive away.

How to visit Neuschwanstein Castle

By car

There are 4 car parks available in Hohenschwangau – check the map above, or you can find it directly on the Hohenschwangau website. Parking costs €3 for motorbikes, €10 for cars and up to €13 for campers. Spaces cannot be reserved, and this is understandably a very popular and busy attraction in the area so it’s worth arriving early to ensure you can definitely get a parking space.

By foot

Whether you’ve used one of the car parks highlighted above, travelled from Füssen or Schwangau, or if you’re staying in Hohenschwangau itself, you will still have to walk up a short but steep hill to reach the castle. There is no public access for cars up to the castle (this is only for the shuttlebuses or horse carriages), or any parking at the castle directly.

The route to the castle is well sign-posted and should take you about 30-40 minutes to complete (marked in red on the map above). There are also stunning views over Hohenschwangau and the surrounding mountains, out to Hohenschwangau Castle and Alpsee. 

By shuttlebus

Alternatively, can always hop on the shuttlebus. These run every 20 minutes from Hohenschwangau (close to the P4 parking area). However, even the shuttlebus cannot take you directly to the gates of Neuschwanstein, and will actually park up by Marienbrücke (Mary’s Bridge) about 15 minutes walk from the castle.

The shuttlebus is fairly priced charging €3 uphill, €2 downhill, or €3,50 for a return-trip. This must be paid in cash, and you’ll need to either pay the driver directly, or at the bus station. The bus runs all year round (except if there is snow or ice on the roads). You can’t reserve a seat, but with services every 20 minutes that shouldn’t be a problem.

By horse-drawn carriage

The other alternative is to ride a horse-drawn carriage up towards the castle. Much like the buses, the carriages can’t take you directly to the castle gates and will drop you off further downhill, about 15 minutes walk away.

Personally, we don’t like to support animal “attractions” or tourism like this, and we’d politely request you consider whether going up by carriage is also something you want to support.

The view from the hills of Neuschwanstein Castle, looking across to Hohenschwangau Castle and Alpsee
The view when walking to the castle

When should I visit Neuschwanstein Castle?

It sounds cliché, but there is never a bad time to visit Neuschwanstein Castle! The castle looks magnificent whatever time of year you’re there.

In the spring / summer Neuschwanstein is surrounded by lush green landscapes and flowers in full bloom. While in the autumn / winter, the trees transition to red and orange glows. You may even be lucky enough to witness the castle blanketed in snow! Even in rain or fog, the castle appears more dramatic and eerie, sat amongst the surrounding mountains and low clouds.

A side note should you wish to travel during winter:
If the weather has been particularly bad, not only do the shuttlebuses not run, but many of the hiking trails will likely be closed too, making the castle particularly difficult to reach.

When is the castle open?

Tours for the castle take place all year round, with the exception of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. But you can explore the grounds and surrounding area of Neuschwanstein at any day or time of the year. Guided tours take place 9am – 6pm in the summer and 10am – 4pm during the winter.

What time of day should I visit?

Neuschwanstein Castle is one of Germany’s most popular sites, and can be visited by up to 6,000 tourists in one day! (That’s a huge number for a town which has an estimated population of 1,000). With that in mind it’s worth planning your time at the castle carefully, because it gets busy. Very busy!

Weekdays, first-thing in the morning (like, pre-8am) is your best time for getting to Hohenschwangau. It will likely still be busy on weekdays (particularly if you’re there during the summer months), but it will be much quieter compared to the weekends.

Whichever day you visit, generally speaking, visiting the castle around late-morning to midday is the worst time to visit. This is the peak time of day when most visitors will be in the area and it’s also the time when tour buses start arriving. But if you’re not an early riser, then visiting the castle after 3:30pm/4pm might be better. We came to Neuschwanstein at the end of June and stayed at Hotel Alpenstuben in Hohenschwangau. We sat outside late-afternoon with some drinks and noticed how deserted the place felt after 4pm.

How to get tickets to Neuschwanstein Castle?

You can only enter Neuschwanstein Castle with a guided tour, which lasts 30 minutes. You can buy your tickets in advance online, or from the Hohenschwangau Ticket Centre on the day. However, the latter is on a first-come-first-served basis and the queue can be insanely long! Tickets regularly sell out by midday, especially during the peak season. If you’re buying your tickets on the day, you need to get there (you guessed it) before 8am, when the Ticket Centre opens. You’ll be given a time slot for your tour, but this is still dependent on availability.

If you’d rather skip the queues and get your tickets online, then you can order them from the Hohenschwangau website directly (definitely recommended!). Tickets cost €17,50 per adult and €2,50 for children.

The view of Neuschwanstein Castle from Mary's Bridge

Where is the Neuschwanstein Castle viewpoint?

For those iconic views of Neuschwanstein, head to Marienbrücke (Mary’s Bridge), a short 15 minute walk uphill from the castle. This is the pick-up / drop-off point for the shuttlebuses, and is well sign-posted so you can’t miss it. The view from the bridge is stunning, with an uninterrupted view of the castle. Depending on the time of day however, expect the bridge to be busy with lots of other visitors all looking to capture the photo of the castle.

The bridge overhangs a waterfall, plunging into the gorge below it. It’s worth noting that after a period of bad weather, such as ice or heavy snowfall the bridge can be closed, so plan your visit carefully.

There are lots of other “off-the-beaten-path” options for capturing even more stunning photos of the castle. If you walk over the bridge and onto the hiking trails on the other side, you’ll find some of the most stunning views overlooking the castle. You’ll likely have the views mostly all to yourself, with maybe just a few other stray tourists who have also wandered over the bridge. Most tourists visit Mary’s Bridge, snap a photo and then head back the way they came.

Germany Road Trip Itinerary - view of Neuschwanstein Castle

Wherever you are in Hohenschwangau, you can be sure to see stunning views of the white castle, glistening above you, including from Alpsee, the large lake in Hohenshwangau. For quieter, more private views however, we loved the views from Schwansee. After visiting the castle and exploring Alpsee, we accidentally came across Schwansee and had the most beautiful views of the castle looking down on us from across the lake. There are also a couple of small pontoons, where you can enjoy the peaceful surroundings. We spent the afternoon here and didn’t see another person the whole time – bliss!

For another opportunity for iconic shots of the castle, ride the Tegelberg Cable Car up into the mountains. The cable car is roughly a 30 minute walk from Hohenschwangau, but you will get some stunning views as you travel up into the mountains. From here, you also get the added benefit of exploring the hiking trails in the gorgeous Bavarian Alps.

We hope you found this guide for how to visit Neuschwanstein Castle helpful! Or maybe you’ve been before and this has helped to re-live some nice memories? Please feel free to pop a comment below or share your experiences. We’d love to hear them!

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For more Germany travel inspiration check out our other guides and Trip Reports below:

How to Visit Neuschwanstein Castle

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