Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany can be stressful. It doesn’t need to be.
Neuschwanstein Castle is set high on a hilltop among incredible scenery, but it is a bit of a headache to get to if you don’t plan accordingly in advance.
If there is just one lone tip you listen to from this post, it’s this one: Get your ticket to Neuschwanstein Castle in advance and pay extra to reserve a specific time, which you can do up to two days before arriving.
And then don’t be late – which isn’t as easy as you might think. Here’s why.
The line to get tickets onsite is usually incredibly long, and even if you bought your ticket in advance you need to pick it up at the ticket center (though there is a separate, usually shorter line for this).
If you don’t already have a designated time, they will assign one when you get there, which could be longer than expected depending how many people arrive ahead of you.
That’s why if you’re short on time in Bavaria, it’s wise to upgrade to the online option of securing your time in advance. But then be sure to get there on time. “There” is important, though, as it’s not just to the ticket center, it’s to the actual castle entrance and that takes awhile.
You’ll be Arriving in Hohenschwangau…Not at Neuschwanstein Castle
Once you have your ticket in hand, you may think you’re all set to tour Neuschwanstein Castle, but not quite.
When you arrive to Neuschwanstein Castle, you’ll actually be arriving in Hohenschwangau, which is where you must park. Hohenschwangau is basically a little village wholly dedicated to tourists arriving to see the Neuschwanstein Castles and a couple other attractions, namely the Hohenschwangau Castle (skip touring this if short on time). There are also restaurants, shops, and the ticket counter I mentioned in the above paragraph.
Once you arrive in Hohenschwangau, focus on parking as fast as possible. There is only paid parking and I parked in P4, which is relatively close to where you’ll begin the journey to Neuschwanstein Castle…which is quite the journey.
Find a Parking Spot…Then Hurry Up and Wait
After you park, which can take a bit of time getting through the line of cars if it’s the height of busy season, it’s still at least another 20 minutes to get to the castle – and that’s only if you can get on one of the castle buses right away.
You can also walk or take a horse-drawn carriage up the hill to the castle, the former of which takes about 40 minutes unless you’re in great shape since it’s a steep hill. The carriage is faster, but still involves a 10-15 minute walk (as does the bus) since it can’t access any roads to drop you right in front of the entrance.
So in order to make sure you aren’t late and don’t miss out on your tour time, I’d recommend arriving in Hohenschwangau about an hour before your ticket time. It might seem like a waste of time if you’re limited in how long of a stay you have in Bavaria, but luckily the scenery around the castle is beautiful and helps make up for the length of time you need pre-tour.
Start that walk up the hill (or bus or carriage ride) straight away, and if you have spare time when you get to the top, while it away on Marienbrücke Bridge.
Marienbrücke Bridge: Cross it for the Views…if You Dare
Marienbrücke Bridge is just a few minutes walk down a sloping trail from the castle entrance and hangs magnificently between two cliffs, but I was a bit terrified to go onto it, for this reason:
But luckily the bridge didn’t collapse and I was able to get some incredible shots of Neuschwanstein Castle with Alpsee Lake glistening in the background.
If you’re there when the bridge has reopened and don’t think you’ll have time to make it to the Marienbrücke Bridge and back before your ticketed time to tour, go to the bridge after. Remember, you don’t want to miss your tour time!
Waiting to Enter Neuschwanstein Castle…No, You’re Not at Disneyland
About five to 10 minutes before the time on your ticket, head to the outdoor waiting area, where you’ll mill around until your slot is shown on the screen. Then you’ll be able to get in line to go in.
Neuschwanstein Castle is nicknamed the Sleeping Beauty castle for good reason.
Its majestic towers and turrets stretch up into the sky flanked by white and gray toned walls and elegant fortifications are reminiscent of the famous Sleeping Beauty castle at Disneyland.
Waiting to enter, it may start to feel as if you actually are at a Disney amusement park due to all the hoopla surrounding getting up to and inside the castle, but once inside, the atmosphere will immediately change as the varied play in light and mesmerizing architectural details of the castle envelope newcomers in a stately welcome.
Touring Neuschwanstein Castle…Which King Ludwig II Never Wanted
Neuschwanstein Castle was built by King Ludwig II in 1868 in order to be a place tucked away in the mountains where he could escape to and live a more private life.
Toward the end of his life, King Ludwig II was quite a recluse and Neuschwanstein Castle provided a haven for him until his death in 1886, after which the castle was swiftly opened up to the public, who have been touring the rooms of the former king ever since.
Because the castle was never intended to host other royals or guests, I thought it had more of an intimate feel in its setup and décor, despite still being a massive residence that is laid out with typical palace rooms: a hall, oratory, bedroom and dressing room, dining room, grotto and more – all of which are elaborate and intricately detailed.
Photos aren’t allowed inside Neuschwanstein Castle so you’ll have to visit it yourself to see the splendor of it.
The second floor of the castle was never completed during Ludwig’s time, though later was converted into a restaurant and gift shop where you can spend some time after your tour.
Back Down to Hohenschwangau…Through the Wilderness
It was a gorgeous day when I visited Neuschwanstein Castle so instead of waiting for the bus to go back down, I decided to walk. I was smack dab in the middle of the Bavarian Alps after all, and though the trail was a bit steep and unpaved, I had on sturdy sandals so it seemed a shame not to take some advantage of the wooded nature surrounding me.
I was glad I did.
Neuschwanstein Castle Quick Tips
Address: Alpseestraße 12, D-87645 Hohenschwangau
Phone: +49 (0) 83 62 – 9 30 83 – 0
Neuschwanstein Castle Open Hours: March 19 to October 15, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; October 16 to March 18, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Open daily except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Ticket Office opens and closes one hour earlier.
Neuschwanstein Castle Cost: Adults, €12; Children, Free with Adult; Students, €11
Online Reservations: Click here (€1.80 surcharge to reserve date and time — WORTH IT)
Bus Cost (to Neuschwanstein Castle): Uphill, €1.80; Downhill, €1; Roundtrip, €2.60
Horsedrawn Carriage Cost (to Neuschwanstein Castle): Uphill, €6; Downhill, €3
Parking Cost: €5
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Thanks for sharing your experience and suggestion!
I visited this castle using a tour company from Munich. They run daily bus trips and book your castle tickets so you just need to find your way up the hill in time for your tour. The bus tour was well organised and stopped at Linderhof Royal Castle and Oberammergau on the way.
Would recommend it if you have an extra day in Munich.
Debbie Richey says
I visted the castle in 1991. Things certainly have changed since then. At that time the second floor was off limits and parking was free. However the bus up the hill and the horse drawn carriage did cost. It was absolutely beautiful. Thank you for writing this update!
Hi Tess, that would be hard to do, unless you shorten the Munich itinerary and just do late afternoon/evening there.
Hi Sally, yes, that is correct. Though you’ll probably still have to pay for parking if not taking public transportation.
Beautiful views! So the ticket is just if I want to go inside the castle, right? I mean, can I do all the walk to the door and have this views, cross the bridge and take a close look to the outside of the castle without a ticket?
Excellent tips on visit..I have read your one day munich..can i combine this Neuschwanstein castle along with that..please suggest the possibility..I will be travelling from Frankfurt to Munich and back on the same day.
Yes, you can definitely go inside! You have to pay for a tour, though. I just don’t have any pictures of the inside on this post because you aren’t allowed to take pictures.
Hi Margaret, I’m not sure about this. You may want to try emailing the tourism board in Bavaria or seeing if there is a tour company that works with travelers with mobility restrictions.
I will not be able to walk up the numerous steps for the tour inside the castle. Is there a way to do only a portion of rooms, then exit before going up the steep steps?
I would Like to ask you didn’t go inside the caslte only outside or they let go inside ? I really want to see the caslt from inside
Great picture and very good advice thank you .
Thanks, Jessica! Enjoy your trip this summer!
A very complete guide! Thank you! We’ll be visiting this summer so Im glad I bumped into your blog 🙂
we went between Christmas and New Years and it was crazy. I read your blog after we went and you were spot on with all your advice.
Summer months — particularly July and August.
Hi Priya, I’ve heard that is a beautiful time to be in Bavaria! I don’t have specific tips for that timeframe, but I do know Neuschwanstein Castle can get snow around it and considering the roads are steep, I’d make sure you can get up to the castle the day you want to go before you make the journey there (check weather and call if concerned). Not sure how much of an issue that ever is, but as someone who grew up with snowy winters you never know when it can cause a road to be inaccessible so good to double check beforehand if there’s been snow in the area. Hope you enjoy your trip!
Do you happen to know when peak tourism season is?
Hi Gina, I came across your blog via Pinterest and appreciate all the tips you have given about visiting this place. I’m planning to go there this winter 2 weeks before Christmas. Any special tips on what to expect during this season? Travelling all the way from Malaysia and it’ll be my first time winter travel experience. Excited!
Thanks for your blog! We are headed there next month and it’s great to have some advice about the tickets as we were unsure whether to purchase them before we travel there. It looks fantastic.
Hi Amanda, it was pretty crowded when I was there as you can see from the picture, but there wasn’t a line — you just might have to wait for people to move before you can be right by the railing of the bridge. I would give yourself a little bit more than an hour if you want to visit the bridge beforehand just to make sure you’re not rushed. And remember you can always visit it afterward, too, if the process before your tour doesn’t go as planned. Hope you enjoy your trip there!
Thank you so much for this! I was wondering if we buy our tickets in advance and have to park and would love a photo on the bridge how much time should we give ourselves ? Is there a line to get on the bridge and take a photo? I know your article says 1 hour but does that include taking a photo on the bridge before your tour start time? Cannot wait to see it and appreciate any extra advice! Thank you
Hi Daniela, glad you found it helpful. Hope you enjoy your time there! It’s a beautiful place.
The lake behind the castle when viewing from Marienbrücke is actually Forggensee (lake Forggen). Alpsee is the lake behind the village of Hohenschwangau when viewing from the castle. Hope this helps!
Daniela Collier says
Thank you so much for this! This is at the top of the list for my husband and I when I visit in September. I love to be punctual and stream line experiences as well as be informed and this was incredibly helpful!
It is such a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing your experience!
I’ve been there and it’s amazing. Would go back again tomorrow. Just wonderful. I walked and climbed right up to the top of the hill looking over. Words can’t explain the wonders of it. Thanks for sharing with me.
Thanks Peggy! I’m sure you’ll have a great time at the castle!
Glad to hear you found it helpful! Hope you have an amazing trip!
Thanks Susan! That’s neat you know so much about Ludwig!
LOVED this and pinned it — Ludwig is one my favorite historical figures, and I have a biography of him that I wrote with visitors in mind (only about 150 pages, with all the “good stuff”). I’m pinning this link because I’ll use these tips when I visit Neuschwanstein again. Thanks!
Hi Gina. We are going in August with 3 teenagers and we cannot wait! Thank you for all of the excellent time saving tips. Cheers.
RobRob (@TravelLatte.net) says
Fantastic post. Not sure what part I like better, the great advice or the awesome pictures! 🙂
Peggy Gibbs says
We are visiting our granddaughter this summer and plan to visit the castle. Thanks for all the great tips. It will make it so much easier and less stressful.
Hi Amila! It is a pretty amazing setting for a castle. Very fairytale like. 🙂
Amila @ Leisure and Me says
wow!This is an amazing castle.Love the views and the bridge is really exciting.
Thanks Claire! Hope you get to visit it soon.
I am desperate to visit this castle, and your guide is brilliantly informative. When I get the chance to go, I’ll be sure to use this post and all its tips to help me plan the perfect visit. Thanks!