Neuschwanstein - Germany's Fairytale Castle

The German Palace that Inspired Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria
••• Brian Lawrence/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Neuschwanstein, nestled in the Bavarian Alps above the city of near Füssen, is the most famous German castle and part of our list Top Ten Sights and Attractions in Germany.

But compared to other castles in the country, Neuschwanstein is neither old, nor was it ever built for defense. Ludwig II of Bavaria constructed this fairy tale castle in 1869 for pure pleasure. Ludwig, who was allegedly mad and draining the public coffers for his pet project, never enjoyed his dream castle – before Neuschwanstein was completely finished he mysteriously drowned in a nearby lake.

Whether this was an accident, suicide or a deliberate act by one of his subjects may never be known.

Design of Neuschwanstein

Ludwig II built it as a fantastic summer retreat with the help of a stage designer. He admired Richard Wagner, and Neuschwanstein is a homage to the German composer. Many scenes of Wagner's operas are depicted in the interior of the castle. In fact, Neuschwanstein shares the same name as the castle in Wagner's opera Lohengrin.

And despite the castle's medieval appearance, Ludwig built in modern technologies of the day, such as flush toilets, running hot and cold water and heating. But what set people's imagination truly on fire is the elegant spires jutting up from the spectacular setting and the decadent interior design. Neuschwanstein was Walt Disney's inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland and its image has come to symbolize the quintessential castle.

Tours take crowds of visitors through the apartments and state rooms of the king on the third and fourth floors. The second floor were never finished and houses a shop, cafeteria and a multimedia room.

Visitor Information for Neuschwanstein Castle

  • Address: Alpseestrasse 12, 87645 Hohenschwangau, 73 miles southwest of Munich

Transportation

  • By Car:
    Take the Autobahn A7 towards Ulm-Füssen-Kempten; when the Autobahn ends, just follow the signs to Füssen. From Füssen, drive the B17 into the direction of Schwangau, and then continue to Hohenschwangau.
  • By Train:
    Take the train to Füssen, then hop on the bus Nr. RVA/OVG 78 into the direction of Schwangau. Get off at the Hohenschwangau/ Alpseestraße stop and walk up the hill to the castle.
  • There is a horse-drawn carriage available for €5 per person to avoid the climb.

Opening Hours

  • April - October 15th: 8:00 - 17:00
  • October 16 - March: 9:00 - 13:00 

Tours of Neuschwanstein

  • You can only visit the lavish interior of the castle as part of a guided tour. Tours last approximately 30 minutes.
  • German and English tours are available. For visitors who speak another language, there is an audio tour available in Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian, Czech, Slovenian, Russian, Polish, Chinese (Mandarin), Portuguese, Hungarian, Greek, Dutch, Korean, Thai and Arabic.
  • Tours for wheelchairs are available every Wednesday.

Neuschwanstein Admission/Tickets

  • Cost: €13 for adults, €12 reduced; kids under 18 free
  • Combination tickets to all of King Ludwig II's palaces (Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee) cost 24 euros. They are valid for six months and you can visit each of the palaces once.

Tips for Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle

  • No photographing or filming is allowed inside the castle.
  • For the best panoramic pictures, take a walk up to the recently restored Marienbrücke which crosses a spectacular waterfall (Pollät Gorge) and gives you a breathtaking view of Neuschwanstein and the plains beyond. Note that this walk may be closed in icy conditions.
  • Neuschwanstein is a very popular attraction most crowded in summer (around 6,000 visitors a day or more than 1.4 million people annually). The best time to visit is spring or fall mid-week.
  • This popularity also means that entrance tickets may sell out. To ensure entrance, reserve tickets in advance
  • Large backpacks, strollers and other bulky objects may not be taken into the palace.
  • The façade of the Gateway Building is currently under scaffolding due to renovation. The work is scheduled for completion in autumn 2017. Also, The hiking trail through the Pöllat Gorge is inaccessible due to a rockfall.
  • Combine Neuschwanstein with a visit of the Castle Hohenschwangau, where Ludwig spent most of his life. It is lesser known, but no less spectacular
  • Neuschwanstein is the highlight of the scenic drive Romantic Road