Taking a day trip from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle is a must when visiting Bavaria in southern Germany. This is the castle that inspired Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle. Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany will be a memory that will last a lifetime.
Near the southwest border of Bavaria lies the picturesque region of Schwangau, home to the towns of Füssen and Hohenschwangau (Hohen means high or height). Driving down the B17, the scenery alone is worth it.
Here you are driving along the Alpine foothills or Pre-Alps near the Austrian border. Turning onto Colomanstrasse towards the town of Füssen, you will be heading to one of the most iconic places in Germany. To your left you will see the spires of a castle peer over the countryside as you approach it.
The view of the Schloss Neuschwanstein from the road or from the Marienbrüke (Marie's Bridge) behind the castle are breathtaking. The views from the castle overlooking the surrounding area are just as breathtaking.
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How to Pronounce Neuschwanstein in German
The German language loves mashing many words together. Neuschwanstein can be broken down into three words. Neu schwan stein. "Neu" means new, "schwan" means swan, and "stein" means stone. So it really means the New Swan Stone Castle. There are many swan themes throughout the castle. It's a great activity for kids to spot the swans.
History of Schloss Neuschwanstein
If you are interested in reading a little bit about some fascinating Neuschwanstein castle facts, just click to expand the sections below.
The (Mad) Man Behind the Castle
Ludwig II was an interesting character in Bavarian history. Some of his nicknames say it all. The Swan King, Mad King Ludwig, and der Märchenkönig (Fairy Tale King).
He was a bit of a dreamer. He succeeded to the throne at the age of 18 in 1864. In 1866 Bavaria fought in a war against Austria and lost.
This meant Ludwig II was not longer a sovereign ruler. After siding with Prussia in the Franco-Prussia war, Bavaria became part of the new German Empire.
Ludwig slowly withdrew from duties as the ruler of Bavaria and his extravagant architectural projects began.
Ludwig II wanted to be a real king, so in 1867 he began planning his own kingdom, in the form of castles and palaces.
Ludwig II spent summers as a child in Hohenschwangau, a ruined castle that his father had rebuilt from 1832 in the Gothic style. It was decorated in scenes from medieval legends, in particular the legend of the swan knight, Lohengrin.
Swan in German is Schwan. (are we seeing a connection now?) He identified with the swan knight and the medieval times.
Richard Wagner dedicated an opera based on these themes of the swan knight Lohengrin.
It was a big influence on young Ludwig and his love for the swan knight and the medieval times. It was first performed in 1850 when he was 5 years old.
Design and Construction
Originally the idea drew inspiration from the Nuremburg Castle, but eventually was modelled after the medieval Wartburg Castle.
Ironically in 1868, the ruins of two medieval castles, the Vorder and Hinterhohenschwangau, were completed demolished in order to make room for Ludwig II's "New Hohenschwangau Castle". It was to be a better recreation of a medieval castle than Hohenschwangau.
Neu meaning "New", Schwan meaning "Swan", Stein, meaning "Stone".
The first stones were laid on September 5, 1869. Ludwig II was "looking forward to living there one day (in three years)." Unfortunately building on a mountain presented many difficulties, coupled with Ludwig II's extravagant details he wanted in his fairytale castle.
Sometimes the Mad King would have such near impossible deadlines and design changes, that up to 300 workers per day were working on it, and often through the night by oil lamps.
15 years after the first stones were laid in 1884 Ludwig II was able to move into the unfinished "Palas".
Ludwig II's Death
On June 13th 1886 Ludwig died in Lake Starnberg in an alleged "suicide" by drowning. He was found in waist deep water, yet no water was found in his lungs. He only lived in Neuschwanstein for total of 172 days.
Many of the interior rooms of Neuschwanstein remained undecorated with only 14 rooms finished at the time of his death. Had it been completed, the palace would have had more than 200 interior rooms.
Near loss in World War 2
Due to its remote location, the palace thankfully survived both World Wars without any damage.
Until 1944 it was a place where the Nazi's kept works of art stolen from France. 39 photo albums were found in the palace, documenting the extent of the stolen artwork.
In 1945 the SS considered blowing up the castle to prevent the building and the artwork failing into enemy hands.
Can you imagine losing such a beautiful place?
Where is Neuschwanstein Castle?
Neuschwanstein Castle is 128 km from Munich in the Schwangau Region in the town of Hohenschwangau, near the towns of Schwangau and Füssen.
The trip here is a beautiful. Whether you drive, train or bus to the castle, you will be slowly rising into the northern Alps close to the Austrian border. This not only makes it about the destination, but the scenic route to get there is just as rewarding.
Check for trains and buses here!
Accommodations Near Neuschwanstein Castle
A day tour to the Schwangau area around Neuschwanstein will definitely take a full day. If you want to explore more in the area and are looking for overnight accommodations, you'll want to look for hotels in Schwangau or Füssen.
There are actually a lot of places in the area so you should be able to find something close by. That being said, if you do plan on staying overnight, you would want to book a hotel well in advance due to the popularity of this region.
The weather in the region is pretty mild. July and August being the warmest, but even the winter months are very nice. Check the weather before you go and dress appropriately.
If you are enjoying the Christmas markets of Munich in the winter or skiing in the Alps, take a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle in the winter. It is such a beautiful sight in the winter and worth visiting.
Organized Tours from Munich to Neuschwanstein
Not everyone wants to plan their whole day trip to Neuschwanstein from Munich on their own. If the thought of booking your own transportation, and navigating the German rail or Autobahn scares you, that's okay! Take a guided tour to Neuschwanstein.
These tours will cost more than planning a trip to Neuschwanstein yourself. With these tours to Neuschwanstein, you will experience something you might not have if you were planning your own trip.
All these tours have experienced tour guides that will provide you with a fun experience and fill you with knowledge only a local can give you.
The tours generally take about 9-10 hours and leave from different locations in Munich. Just note that most of these tours don't include the Neuschwanstein castle tour tickets or the other castles. There are some stops for lunch, but lunch is also not included.
Some of these tours can book up fast so make sure you book them now if you can!
Things to do Near Neuschwanstein
There are many things to see and do in this area. You may have to pick and choose if you are just planning on spending one day in the region. Of course most people come for Schloss Neuschwanstein, the iconic castle that inspired the famous Disney Castle.
There are plenty of other things to do like paragliding high above the castle, if you are the adventurous type, to horse-drawn carriage rides to and from the castle itself.
Neuschwanstein Castle - Hohenschwangau Castle - Museum of Bavarian Kings
Once you have arrived in the town of Hohenschwangau you will want to get tickets to the castle(s). There is only one place to get tickets, at the Hohenschwangau Ticket Centre. Here is what you can buy tickets for:
You are not allowed to take pictures or videos once you are inside these sites. This is why these are some of the must see places in Germany. You have to experience it in person.
You can only see Schloss Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau with a guided tour. The tours take about 35 minutes. What that means is that you will be given a tour time with your ticket.
This also means they only sell so many tickets a day. On a busy day in summer it can be a three hour wait in the ticket line alone.
I went in May and there was hardly a line. Going in the shoulder travel seasons (May-June, Sept-Oct) will give you a good balance of less people and still nice weather.
While you wait for your assigned tour time you can visit the Museum of Bavarian Kings. There aren't any set tours of the Museum, you can just go when you please.
As you can see there are lots of parking lots if you are driving here from Munich. Many people come start or end their trip here from the Romantic Road.
Neuschwanstein / Hohenschwangau Ticket Prices 2023
Getting tickets at the Hohenschwangau Ticket Office is pretty much a first come, first serve system. There are lines for buying your tickets and picking up your reserved tickets (more on that below).
You can get your tickets online now. Although you may only be able to purchase so far in advance.
Official Online Ticket Shop Here
Know what you are getting!
You can get "Skip the Ticket Line" tickets online at Viator. Just be warned, these are from a tour company out of Füssen. You have to pick up the tickets at their office in Füssen by 9:00 am. You don't get a choice at what time your tour is. Also, these tickets are 3X the price and only get you into Neuschwanstein Castle.
Getting up to Schloss Newschwanstein
Once you have your tickets and your tour time, you will have to get up to the castle. You have a few different ways to get up to it. Cars and bikes are not allowed up the main path.
If mobility is an issue, then take the shuttle. If you are just lazy, it's really not that bad. You can have a beer after. I did the uphill walk with a two and a half year old on my shoulders if that tells you anything. After we took the horse carriage down because, well, kids like horses.
Getting up to Schloss Hohenschwangau
To learn more, head to the official site of Hohenschwangau.
You know all those amazing pictures of Neuschwanstein you see with the countryside in the background? You too can take those. All those shots are taken from Marienbrücke.
This is definitely worth the view. You'll have time to kill while you wait for your tour time of Neuschwanstein Castle. From there it's a 15-minute walk down to the castle.
You can walk there in about 45-60 mins or take the shuttle bus up to it. Take a shuttle bus from parking lot P4 to Marienbrücke. €3 uphill / €2 downhill or €3.50 return trip. Tickets are available from the driver (bring cash).
Paraglide Above Neuschwanstein Castle
One the things I was most surprised of once I reached the castle, was the crazy amount of paragliders circling above Neuschwanstein castle. Are you the adventurous type? Then this is for you.
There is a company, Fly Royal, based out of the town of Füssen that will take you for a variety of paragliding adventures. This includes getting one of the the best view of Neuschwanstein Castle, from above.
You get a tandem paragliding flight with experienced certified pilots. Flight times are 15-30 minutes for the Classic Flight, to 30-45 minutes for the Royal Flight. The meeting place is at the Tegelbergbahn (cable car).
Prices start at €145. See all the packages here.
Tegelbergbahn and Rodelbahn (Summer Luge)
A five minute drive from Hohenschwangau is the Tegelbergbahn. As mentioned before, this is also the meeting spot for a paragliding adventure.
If you aren't quite up to paragliding but still want the view, this is your ticket. Here you can take a cable car up to the top of Tegelberg for stunning panoramic views of the valley below and Neuschwanstein Castle in the distance. The cable car climbs up 2928 ft, travelling along a 7041 ft of line. 44 people are able to fit into one cable car.
If you have kids or are a kid at heart then you HAVE TO go on the summer luge/toboggan track. Often called Rodelbahn or Alpine coaster, these are fun for all. Even my 73-year-old mother enjoyed one of these.
Kids have to be at least 3 years old to go on it. If they are between 3-8 years old they are free if taken by someone older.
For more info about the Tegelbergbahn times, costs and area in general, go to their website here. Make sure to have google translate the page for you.
Planning Your Own Trip to Neuschwanstein
You don't have to be intimidated about planning your own trip to this fairytale castle. It's a popular destination, so it's easy to get to with public transportation or with a rental car.
It's also a heck of of a lot cheaper. Once you are in Hohenchwangau just find the ticket window and get your tickets. Don't forget with it being a popular tourist destination, the lines can be long. So the earlier you can get there, the better.
Are you a last minute planner? That's okay, you don't have to plan months in advance (but you can). You can plan a trip to Neuschwanstein a couple days before you go if you want to.
- 1Decide on how you want to get there. You can take the train, bus or rent a car.
- 2Prepare for the weather and bring some good shoes!
- 3Choose what you want to see and buy your tickets.
How to Get to Neuschwanstein Castle
If you looking on how to get from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle, you will have a few options. With the Munich to Neuschwanstein distance only being 128 km, all three modes of transportation run very close to the same times.
Let's first look at the travel times of each the train, bus or car.
Time wise, taking a car will be the quickest but really only by 25 minutes. What a car does allow you to do is stop along the way to check out other things like Oberammergau, a beautiful town near Schloss Linderhof, and the Wieskirche.
The train will be quick and convenient. You will also have more options of times to leave Munich. They run almost every hour from Munich Hbf. Trains will end up in Füssen.
The bus is a great option if you are travelling on a budget, but is often limited the number of buses from Munich ZOB leaving everyday. They leave in the morning, so that will give you plenty of time to check out Neuschwanstein and area. They also take you directly to Hohenschwangau which is a nice bonus.
Those are your three options, let's look a little more in-depth into those so you can make an informed decision on what's best for you.
Travel Times to Neuschwanstein Castle
2 h 10 mins
2 h 04 mins
1 h 39 mins
Starting at €10
Starting at €23
So as you can see the travel times are pretty close. Just keep in mind that the buses go directly to Hohenschwangau which is where Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles are.
The trains will go to the Füssen train station. Now you have to get from Füssen to Neuschwanstein. From here you will have to take a bus to Hohenschwangau.
They have buses running every hour and are generally timed with the arriving trains. You can get tickets from the driver, just keep in mind in high season it can get very busy.
Driving to Neuschwanstein Castle
The drive to Neuschwanstein is beautiful, especially when you get onto the B17. The quickest route is to get on the B2 and switch onto the B17.
Depending on traffic, and where you are staying, it can be as quick as 1 h 9 mins. On average you are looking at 1 h 40 mins.
Secret Side Trip...Shhhh!
About 10-15 before reaching Hohenschwangau, you should divert off the B17 in the town Steingaden onto Ammergauer Str (St.2059). Then a right onto St.2559 and 2.5 km from there you will find the Wieskirsche (Pilgrimage Church of Wies).
I remember thinking why was this beautiful church built here? It is literally in the middle of farmers fields at the foothills of the Alps.
Pilgrimages began here when an old wooden figure was seen with tears in 1738. Word travelled quick (272 years before Instagram), and people started coming to see the statue. A small chapel was built to keep the statue in, in 1740.
The amount of people coming increased, so they built the church you see there today between 1745 and 1754.
It is absolutely stunning inside. I'd show you the pictures I took, but I think it's better if you experience it yourself. It's well worth the small detour. You'll thank me.
Renting a Car
I wouldn't recommend renting a car just for a day trip from Munich. The cost to take a tour, bus or train is just so much cheaper.
If you do plan on renting a car for a week or so, then there are other great day trips you can do from Munich. Then you will get your money's worth.
If you are looking at renting a car, I always found my best car rental deals for Europe here.
Taking the Train to Neuschwanstein Castle
Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle by train is probably one of the easier ways to get there. There is a variety of options depending on how you plan your trip. The trip takes about 2 h 4 mins one way.
Trains leave Munich Hbf for Fuessen Hbf (Füssen) almost every hour. This adds to the convenience and gives you more options than the bus.
Keep in mind, once you get to Füssen, you will have to take a short 7 minute bus ride to Hohenschwangau. The buses are scheduled around the train's arrival times. Look for buses 73 or 78.
If you plan on staying overnight in a hotel or apartment near Neuschwanstein then you may want to look into getting individual train tickets.
The best place to book individual train tickets I've found is Omio. The reason I love it (besides the best prices), is it even shows you buses and flights within Europe and compares all three. Such a time saver. I always search it first.
Using Your Eurail or Interrail Pass
If you are travelling on a Eurail Pass (non-European resident) or Interrail Pass (European resident) you can just hop on at Munich Hbf and get off at Füssen Hbf (Fuessen).
Just remember high-speed or overnight trains may require a reservation.
On the Rail Planner App you can select "Trains without compulsory reservations" and then it will show you those trains. On Eurail's desktop site, make sure to go under "Show More Options" and check off "All trains except high-speed".
You can find the Eurail Timeables here.
Related Post: Don't know much about a Eurail Pass/Interrail Pass and how it works? Learn how to select one and how to use it in the post below.
Taking a day trip from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle is a must when visiting Bavaria in southern Germany. This is the castle that inspired [...]
Now You Know!
What does Hbf mean? It's a German abbreviation for Hauptbahnhof, which means Main Train Station.
What does ZOB mean? It stands for Zentraler Omnibus Bahnhof, which means Central Bus Station.
Taking the Bus to Neuschwanstein Castle
Taking bus to Neuschwanstein is quite easy. Flixbus is one of the largest bus companies in Europe. They run buses that depart ZOB Munich at 8:15 am and arrive in Schwangau Neuschwanstein at 10:25 am.
On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays they add a second bus leaving ZOB Munich at 9:30 am and arriving in Schwangau Neuschwanstein at 11:40 am.
Prices vary depending on the day. A bus ticket from Munich to Schwangau Neuschwanstein runs between €9.99-€13.99 one way. You can get your tickets at the bus station, but if you are travelling during the busy summer months. With only one bus during the week and two on weekends, they can book up before you get there.
If you want peace of mind you can book a bus ticket online in advance to ensure you get a spot. You can get bus tickets here directly on Flixbus here.
You can also check prices on Omio here , which may have other bus services since it searches and compares buses, trains and flights throughout Europe.
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