Neuschwanstein Castle in a Day: How to Make the Most of Visiting Germany’s Fairy Tale Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle is one of Germany’s most famous tourist attractions. Built by a former King of Bavaria, this magnificent building is also said to have been the inspiration behind the Disney fairy tale castles. So, if you are planning to visit Germany on an ancestry-inspired trip, don’t miss the opportunity to see this enchanting place near Munich with your own eyes. Here is all you need to know for visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in 2024.

Disclosure: This blog post includes affiliate links to GetYourGuide.com. If you click on any of these links and make a booking through this link, I will receive a small affiliate fee.

About Neuschwanstein Castle: The Mad King, Disney & co.

For many people, taking a souvenir photo with the famous German castle Neuschwanstein in the background is a must-do item on their Germany bucket list.

Personally, I was also very intrigued to learn more about the history of why this unique castle was built.

For example, the fact that although it looks old, the castle is actually relatively “new”. After all, “Schloss Neuschwanstein” (as it’s called in German) was only built in the late 19th century (construction began in 1869).

Tour guide Sonja Irani at Neuschwanstein Castle
Me at Neuschwanstein Castle

The other thing I was curious to learn more about were the many myths and stories about the castle’s creator: Ludwig II (1845–1886), who is sometimes referred to as “The Mad King”. Ludwig was a former King of Bavaria at a time when there was no unified Germany yet, but many smaller and larger kingdoms, duchies, principalities and so on.

During his reign, he commissioned the construction of his three personal fairy tale castles in Germany: Linderhof Palace, Herrenchiemsee and Neuschwanstein Castle. By the way: You can visit Linderhof on the guided Neuschwanstein tour as well. Read on further below.

To finance the construction of his extravagant abodes, he borrowed large sums of money and spent it on his own pleasure. This didn’t exactly make him a popular king.

Remember that this was at a time (mid- to late 19th century) when dozens of Germans decided to emigrate to America because they had a very hard time making ends meet in Germany.

Neuschwanstein Castle up close
Neuschwanstein Castle up close

Seeing Neuschwanstein Castle in person is certainly impressive. And I wasn’t the only one who was super impressed by this view…

In 1935, the American film producer Walter “Walt” Disney (1901-1966), visited Neuschwanstein Castle on an extended Europe trip. Disney, by the way, also had partly German ancestry.

Legend has it that the famous film producer was so impressed by the magical Neuschwanstein Castle that he used it as the inspiration for his own fictional castles in his films “Cinderella” and “Sleeping Beauty”. He also based the design of his castles in his Disney parks on Neuschwanstein Castle.

But, back to the present day, and how you can visit Germany’s fairy tale castle No. 1 yourself.

How do I get there?

Neuschwanstein Castle is easily accessible on a day trip from Munich. If you want to visit Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich independently, you can either drive (takes about 2 hours) or catch a train (1.5 – 2 hours) from Munich to Füssen and then a bus to Neuschwanstein Castle.

By the way, if you would like to know more about how you can make the most of your time in Munich, check out my blog post 10 Things to do in Munich, Germany for ancestry-inspired travelers.

Bavarian countryside as seen from the train
Bavarian countryside as seen from the train

If you have more time, you can even spend a few days in the nearby picturesque town of Füssen. You can get your Neuschwanstein Castle tickets as well as combination tickets with other castles, such as nearby Hohenschwangau, from the castle’s official ticket center website.

Hohenschwangau Castle is located close to Neuschwanstein Castle
Hohenschwangau Castle is located close to Neuschwanstein Castle

Alternatively, you can join one of the many guided group tours from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle. I did the same on two guided tours to Neuschwanstein Castle: One was a guided tour to Neuschwanstein Castle by train in October 2017 and the other one a guided bus tour to Neuschwanstein Castle in early January 2024.

In my opinion, the best way to visit Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich is on a guided tour. This is because things like all transport, skip-the-line entry tickets etc. will already be organized for you. You also don’t have to worry about looking for a parking space etc.

Plus, your tour guide will give you the full scope of the fascinating history that surrounds the construction of Neuschwanstein Castle (and more).

Book your Neuschwanstein Castle tour now

What’s there to see?

On the Neuschwanstein guided tour by train, I met my tour group and the guide at Munich’s main train station (Hauptbahnhof). We then boarded the regional train from Munich to Füssen (takes about 2 hours) together.

Signs at Neuschwanstein Castle
Signs at Neuschwanstein Castle

After we arrived at the train station in Füssen, we took a public bus up to the hill foot and the village, then walked up the hill to Neuschwanstein Castle together.

A house in the valley near Neuschwanstein Castle
A house in the valley near Neuschwanstein Castle

The Marienbrücke

Our first photo stop was at the “Marienbrücke” – a bridge that hangs between two mountains. But fear not, even if you can feel the bridge shaking a bit, everything is safe and you will get one of the best views of Neuschwanstein Castle from here.

The Marienbrücke near Neuschwanstein Castle
The Marienbrücke can be crowded, but offers the best views of Neuschwanstein Castle

On the Marienbrücke
On the Marienbrücke

We then had some free time. This is when you can visit the inside of Neuschwanstein castle on a guided tour for an extra charge. The tours do not include this on purpose because some people might just want to skip visiting the inside and rather spend the time walking around the area and taking more pictures.

The Marienbrücke as seen from Neuschwanstein Castle
The Marienbrücke as seen from Neuschwanstein Castle

The inside of Neuschwanstein Castle

I can highly recommend going inside the castle though. Mainly because this is not your typical royal palace tour, which usually all look the same. Although the castle was built as recently as the late 19th century, the inside looks like a really cool version of a medieval royal palace blended together with many other inspirations that Ludwig II gathered for his “dream castle”.

There are 13 beautiful rooms, including the throne room, which looks like a Byzantine Church, and a private room for the king, which was designed to look like a cave. Of course, our tour guide jokingly called it “the original man cave”.

The countryside as seen from Neuschwanstein Castle
The countryside as seen from Neuschwanstein Castle

It’s important to mention that inside the castle, no photography or filming is allowed. However, you can take pictures of the outside scenery from the windows or balcony of the castle. I can really recommend this because the view from the balcony is actually pretty stunning!

Tour guide Sonja Irani on the balcony of Neuschwanstein Castle
Me on the balcony of Neuschwanstein Castle

On my second visit in early January 2024, I took a guided bus tour to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich. This bus tour included:

Linderhof Palace

  • A restroom stop at a café near Schloss Linderhof, where you could also buy something to drink and eat and some souvenirs if you wanted to.
  • A short guided tour through the interiors of Schloss Linderhof (extra charge) – one of the other magnificent castles that King Ludwig II. had built for himself.

Linderhof Palace
Linderhof Palace

Oberammergau

Tour guide Sonja Irani in the village of Oberammergau
Me in the village of Oberammergau

Oberammergau is also famous for woodcarving, which the village inhabitants engaged in during the long winter nights. And if you always wanted a typical South German Cuckoo Clock this might be the place to get your hands on one! 😉

Cuckoo Clocks in Oberammergau
Cuckoo Clocks in Oberammergau

There are also many beautiful decorations and paintings on the houses in the village.

Painted houses in Oberammergau, Bavaria
Painted houses in Oberammergau, Bavaria

  • After our visit to Oberammergau, we arrived at Neuschwanstein Castle. Our bus parked on the parking lot just below the hill that leads up to Neuschwanstein Castle. We had some free time here, which many of us used for a lunch break. There are several restaurants to choose from.
Wood carvings in Oberammergau, Bavaria
Wood carvings in Oberammergau, Bavaria

2 Castles in 1 day

For the guided tours of the inside at Schloss Linderhof and Schloss Neuschwanstein you had to get an extra castle entry ticket. This currently costs 37 Euros.

I bought this on the bus from the tour guide and was able to pay for it with my credit card (Mastercard).

You can also choose to include the castle entry ticket at the time you book your guided bus tour to Neuschwanstein Castle.

Tour Guide Sonja Irani at the viewing platform close to Neuschwanstein Castle
Me at the viewing platform close to Neuschwanstein Castle

How demanding is the hike up the hill to Neuschwanstein Castle?

You should know that Neuschwanstein Castle is located quite high up on a steep mountain. From the town, where your bus is parked, it is about a 30-to-40-minute walk, or rather hike, up the hill. The distance is around 1.5 kilometers or 1 mile.

The hike to the castle as well as from the castle to the Marienbrücke viewpoint requires somewhat of a moderate fitness level. I was often out of breath. I do recommend taking plenty of water to keep hydrated, even in the fall and winter months.

Neuschwanstein Castle as seen from the valley
Neuschwanstein Castle as seen from the valley

Alternatively, you can take a bus or a horse-drawn carriage to make it to the top. However, you need to calculate in some waiting time for both of these options. So even in the low season January, it can get quite busy and there will usually be lots of people waiting for a bus or carriage.

If you want to see everything including a visit inside Neuschwanstein Castle, but you don’t want to be rushed, you might have to skip lunch / your free time down in the valley in order to make it up and down the hill in time.

If in doubt, ask your tour guide on the day how much time you have and how long it will take to wait for a bus or horse-drawn carriage.

Horse-drawn carriage at Neuschwanstein Castle
Horse-drawn carriage at Neuschwanstein Castle

When to go to Neuschwanstein Castle?

The busiest times

Bear in mind that the busiest periods for Neuschwanstein Castle are the main travel times for Munich and surroundings. These are the summer months (June to “Oktoberfest” in September) as well as December due to the Christmas Markets.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

January – the quieter month

January and February are probably among the quieter times to go to Neuschwanstein Castle. However, there are lots of (international) tourists all year round here.

At this time of the year, there is often snow up here in the mountains. But, unfortunately, there was no snow when I was there on my second guided tour on 4th of January 2024.

Neuschwanstein Castle in twilight in January
Neuschwanstein Castle in twilight in January

But even without the snow, I still enjoyed magnificent views of the castle. Just remember that in winter, the sun sets early in Germany. So on my second visit in early January, we made it to the “Marienbrücke” just before sunset at around 4.30 pm.

Tour guide Sonja Irani looking at Neuschwanstein Castle from the Marienbrücke in January
Me looking at Neuschwanstein Castle from the Marienbrücke in January

October – the shoulder season

In October, the sun will set later. So this was a good time to visit. However, if you can, I would wait until “Oktoberfest” is over (which is usually in early October since Octoberfest mostly takes place during September). Towards the end of October, it will be more beautiful anyway because of the changing leaves and fall colors.

In 2017, I went in mid-October and had gorgeous summer weather. There were around 20 degrees Celsius (about 68 Fahrenheit), sunshine and blue skies. Although such high temperatures are a bit unusual for this time of year and not a given.

Neuschwanstein Castle with fall colors in October
Neuschwanstein Castle with fall colors in October

Final recommendations for visiting Neuschwanstein Castle

I would recommend booking your guided tour to Neuschwanstein Castle as early as possible, if you can several months in advance. The tours, especially the day tours from Munich, are very popular and fill up fast.

In my opinion, one of the easiest ways to book a Neuschwanstein guided tour is through the tour booking website GetYourGuide.com.

Usually, the return policy is quite generous here, too. Sometimes, they allow you to cancel the tour up to 24 hours before departure for a full refund. But make sure to read the fine print.

Ready to step into a fairy tale world?

Book your guided tour to Neuschwanstein Castle now!

Tour guide Sonja Irani looking at Neuschwanstein Castle from the Marienbrücke in October
Me looking at Neuschwanstein Castle from the Marienbrücke in October

Unless otherwise credited, all photos by © Sonja Irani | MyAncestorsJourney.com

Tour guide Sonja Irani in front of the Roland statue in Bremen, northern Germany

This blog post was written by: Sonja

Hallo! My name is Sonja. I am a tour guide for ancestry-inspired tours based in Bremen, northern Germany and the founder of the tour operator business "My Ancestor's Journey". In addition, I help American ancestral travelers to plan their dream trip to Germany in my upcoming online course called “Germany Trip Planning Masterclass”.

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