If you only go to Germany once (upon a time), Schloss Neuschwanstein is a must-see. Get lost in the beauty of the real-life inspiration behind Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle.
Are you humming the “When you wish upon a star” tune yet? You will be once you see this place in real life!
Deutsch for castle, schloss estates are sprinkled throughout Germany and nearby countries. Its no wonder the Grimm Brothers (of Grimm fairy tale fame) were German; their imaginations were enriched with the rich historical architecture of their environment. As a kid, I remember finding a Grimm’s Fairy Tales book (that was my mom’s when she was a kid herself) and thinking that the stories on each page were darker than the Disney white-washed versions I’d been raised on. After touring Neuschwanstein, I see that real life fairy tales sometimes are a little dark and mad! And that only adds to their mysticism and intrigue.
The Neuschwanstein castle is perched in the Alps among the Bavarian villages and country-side. When Trip Advisor named their 10 real places that look like they belong in fairy tales, Neuschwanstein ranked at the top of the list. Check that one off my bucket list. Now it’s your turn!
If you’re coming from Munich, the drive is a little under two hours (see Google Maps). Along the scenic drive, you’ll see small villages, where homes are often attached to their cattle barns. Schloss Neuschwanstein grandly reveals itself at the end of the windy drive.
Work began on this extraordinary castle in 1868 for the King Ludwig II (the Fairytale King), and it was never completed by Ludwig’s death in 1886. The reclusive king’s estate is now one of the most visited sites in all of Europe.
You’ll notice the nearby Hohenschwangau Castle, the childhood home of King Ludwig II. While it’s also grand and beautiful, it’s shadowed by the King Ludwig’s mountain-top masterpiece. Once you arrive to the area, anticipate parking and purchasing your tour ticket at the bottom of the hill, and then climbing up a very steep hill to the castle. Carriage rides are also available if you are unable to make the climb. About half way up the hill, both my fiance and I were tempted.
Unless you’re very familiar with the rich history of this site, I would recommend an English-speaking tour. You are not permitted to enter the castle interior without a tour ticket. We were asked to not take photos of the interior on our tour. If you can’t wait to see the interior til you’re there, images are available on the Wikipedia page devoted to the castle. Many of the rooms are designed in honor of Ludwig’s close friend, composer Richard Wagner.
After your tour, hike to the Marienbrücke iron bridge. It wasn’t open when we went due to snow, but we noticed other rebels going beyond the fence, and we quickly followed suit. Sometimes being a little bad pays off; the view from the bridge to the castle was our favorite part of the trip.
After your tour and hike, take your time getting back to the city (if you’re staying in Munich). Unless you’re on a tour bus, visit any of the many Gasthaus’ along the way back to enjoy schnitzel, apfelkraut and, of course, a German brew (responsibly, of course).
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See more German castles straight out of a fairytale dream.