Picture this: You're walking up a winding path. A horse and carriage stroll by. The snow slowly falls and even though other people are also on the path, it's somehow quiet and serene as you meander up. And then you see it — the stone-colored castle on the hill. You have to remind yourself that this is, in fact, the 21st century. Time disappears at the Neuschwanstein Castle, one of the most picturesque castles I've ever seen. But don't forget about the other STUNNING, often forgotten castle just next door — the Schloss Hohenschwangau.
I knew Germany was cool and known for its many castles. But honestly, the castles here are incredible. With Beauty and the Beast coming out soon, these castles make me feel like I'm living in a fairy tale.
The smaller, often overlooked Hohenschwangau Castle next door is just as cool, without the ubiquitous line of tourists:
Interestingly, Neuschwanstein is a “newer” castle. Built for the Bavarian King Ludwig II (1845-1886), construction began in 1868 but was never completed. The king saw his castle as a monument to the culture and the concept of the monarchy prevailing in the Middle Ages, which he wanted to recreate. Built and furnished in medieval styles but equipped with the latest technology of the day, it is among the most famous historical buildings in the world. One unique aspect of the castle is that it was designed by a painter, rather than an architect. He envisioned a grand castle on the hill and made it come to life.
Want to come see it?! This post will help you plan.
Both castles are nestled in the hills of the small, quaint town of Hohenschwangau (is that not a mouthful?!) and are open year round. If you go during winter, it is so lovely to watch the snow fall. [bctt tweet=”You will feel like a princess, waltzing around the castle in a snow globe. ” username=”heleneinbetween”] Let's be honest, we all want to feel like we're in a Disney movie. This place will do the trick for sure.
I suggest going by car. You'll find ample parking at the foot of the pathway. Plus, the surrounding town is charming.
You can also take a train to Füssen (the nearest town) and then pick up the bus to Hohenschwangau.
Touring the Castles
During my recent visit, the Hohenschwangau castle was practically empty compared to the Neuschwanstein castle. I suggest visiting both. For a tour of the Neuschwanstein castle, you need to book a tour guide. They have limited spots and you can't go after 3 p.m. (especially in the winter). Be aware, the bridge across from the castle (where everyone takes epic pictures), is often closed in the winter, due to ice.
PRO TIP: Buy your tickets at least two days before your visit. I cannot stress this enough! The line can be around two hours long! Buy them here on the official site.
Once you've arrived at the foot of the path, you have two options for getting up to the Neuschwanstein castle: walking the lengthy path or riding in a horse-drawn carriage. While you might think the optimal option is the carriage ride, I highly suggest walking. It's a GORGEOUS journey and only takes about 30 minutes. Unless like me, you stop to take pictures every five minutes. Then it takes roughly an hour. But, can you blame me?
Michael kept asking me to please stop snapping photos. But I don't know the meaning of those words.
Blogger vibes going strong…
We brought some hiking poles which were AWESOME, especially since it was so slick outside. These are only $20 and we use them for hikes all the time. Also, wear comfy shoes. I was grateful I had these snow boots.
How cute is my Mom?!
The earlier you get there, the better. As one of the most famous castles in the world, and people show up. And get in the way of your picture perfect shots. So, try to get there when it opens.
Plan to spend a good bit of your day touring the castles and walking around. Don't worry if you get hungry, there are a few restaurants, some selling quarkballs or in German, quarkballchen, delicious fried dough. And they are heavenly, especially when served hot while you're ankle-deep in snow.
Once you get to the top of the hill, you'll see the lovely castle made even more lovely with the dramatic backdrop of the Bavarian alps. We marveled at the scenery surrounding the castle and the white-washed town below.
Before you walk inside the castle, be sure to walk around the outside. It is so beautiful with many different levels to it.
Looking out, notice the bridge (Marienbrücke Bridge) not far away. THIS is where you go to get the iconic shot of the castle. Again, this bridge can close in the winter due to ice.
Feel free to just pause here.
The castle is nicknamed the “Sleeping Beauty Castle” because it inspired Walt Disney himself to create the Magic Kingdom. I hope to go back when it's warm and in a lush green setting. And really, because I can't get enough.
If you have enough time (you should!) go see the Hohenschwangau and then explore the picturesque town.
Have you been to one or both of these castles? Or is there another castle you LOVE? I'm working on a post highlighting the best castles in the WORLD and I want to include your pick! I'll feature you and a link to your website (or Instagram) in my best of Castles post!
I'll share this on all social media platforms as well. I'd love your input.