Famous for inspiring the fairytale castle of Disney’s magical kingdom, Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most visited sights in Germany! Perched on a lush hill overlooking the Hohenschwangau Valley, visiting Neuschwanstein is like stepping into Once Upon A Time…
In fact, Neuschwanstein is known as the Castle of the Fairytale King, and much of its charm is tied up with the tale of King Ludwig II.
When Ludwig came to the throne in the mid 19th century, he was already known as a reclusive and fanciful figure. He adored music, and myth, and playing make believe. And when Prussia won the German War and took control of Bavaria, he withdrew to the fantasy world of the fairytale castles he had built.
The most famous of these is Neuschwanstein, and it’s easy to see why! From the idyllic setting to the Romantic architecture, Neuschwanstein is every bit the Once Upon a Time castle its visitors hope to find.
It’s free to visit the area surrounding the castle, and you can get some beautiful views of Neuschwanstein and the neighbouring castle of Hohenschwangau. The most well known place to view the castle from is Mary’s Bridge, and with good reason! The bridge crosses a deep gorge, so your view of the castle is completely clear (and your photos completely wonderful!)
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous though, and fancy some truly uninterrupted views, you can cross the bridge and find a way up to the edge of the gorge. Luckily (or unluckily!) for me, I don’t speak German, so happily ignored the sign and took the direct route up a steep dirt track. Alternatively, you can just follow the path round for a while… Probably the better option!
Either way, it’s worth the effort. Because the view is spectacular.
If you don’t fancy a climb up a staircase of tree roots, and a photoshoot on the edge of a cliff though, you can always spend your time visiting the castles themselves! I was more interested in the views, so didn’t bother, but they are meant to be well worth a visit.
Tickets cost €12 to visit Neuschwanstein, or €23 to visit Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. During peak season, tickets can sell out, so make sure you book online a few days in advance. Also be aware that Neuschwanstein was never actually completed, so a lot of the rooms are unfinished, and closed to the public.
In fact, none of the castle was ever supposed to be accessible to the public at all. It was built as a private retreat; as Ludwig’s shrine to music and myth and solitude. But mounting debts meant that just 7 weeks after his death, the castle was opened to the public. And so his fanciful retreat became one of the biggest tourist attractions in Germany.
Have you visited Neuschwanstein? What do you make of the tale of the Fairytale King?