Set in the heart of the Bavarian countryside, Neuschwanstein Castle is the picture-perfect real-life Disneyland castle that inspired Walt Disney’s magical creation. All those childhood dreams of becoming a princess will soon come true when visiting. If it’s not already on your bucket-list, it 100% needs to be added. It will simply take your breath away!
The History Of Neuschwanstein Castle
Neuschwanstein Castle was designed and created by the King Ludwig II, with the purpose of becoming the king’s private retreat. High in the Alpine foothills of Germany,
“The location is one of the most beautiful to be found”
… And King Ludwig had big plans! It’s believed that he built his new castle as the centrepiece for his imagined kingdom, with a mind not quite like anyone else’s yet creativity that was quite simply inspiring! Neuschwanstein Castle became a real-life fantasy world modelled after medieval legends; with a design that has a lasting impression. Unforgettable for sure! Construction began in 1869 but -as you can imagine- put the King millions of pounds in debt, finally reaching a controversial completion by 1886. Today is draws millions of people to it’s feet, and it’s not surprising!
Walt Disney and his wife Lillian visited Neuschwanstein Castle when they were on a tour of Europe before Disneyland was built. They loved it so much that they used elements in their own Disneyland castle which you’ll see in movies, through their theme-parks and has become pretty iconic! Almost a perfect match, I’m sure you will agree? Neuschwanstein Castle really is the real-life Disney castle and I promise you’ll quickly fall in love with it as much as Walt did himself!
So how do you get to Neuschwanstein Castle?
Munich is the perfect base for visiting Neuschwanstein, as it can be reached by a train or through a tour; whilst also giving you that traditional German city break. Now my partner and I are always the first for finding things we can do on our own and heading over their ourselves. We’re certainly not afraid to use over-seas public transport and create our own travel itineraries all over the world. BUT, with the case of Neuschwanstein Castle: we vouched for a Guided Tour. For ease, no hassle and so that we could fully make the most of our time once we get there. Like I mentioned, you can reach Neuschwanstein Castle via train, but this in itself will cost you approx 26 euros for a round trip; take you 2 hours 36 minutes there, 2 hours 36 minutes back; PLUS once you arrive- you then need to catch another bus before you can even reach the small town of Hohenschwangau which – from there- you will then do a 30-40 minute walk up to the castle. If you’ve never been before, that can become quite confusing and with limited time, in my opinion, it’s best to have it all sorted for you by a tour. The other advantages of going with a tour are you get that background insight and they keep you well on track time wise. Please note: if you’re looking to explore inside the castle, you’ll need to either pre-book tickets online, or get them from your tour guide at the start of the day. Entrance is for a 35-40 mins whistle-stop tour of the interior, but at an affordable €13 per person. Tickets are limited and do sell out fast, plus they’re now super strict on time. Once you have your time-slot your ticket is literally only valid 2 minutes before and 2 minutes after that time. If you miss this, you’ll miss your chance to go inside … which is another reason why I recommend visiting with a tour- it means there’s absolutely no chance of anything going wrong and potentially ruining this once-in-a-lifetime trip! A tour allows you to properly enjoy your visit so on this one- I really wouldn’t do it any other way!
This is the tour we took. If the fairytale castle is all that’s on your mind, I couldn’t recommend the tour more. The other alternative is this one, which also takes you to the neighbouring castle of Linderhof, so it depends on whether you’d rather have more time at Neuschwanstein Castle, or venture out to see another one whilst you’re in a relatively close proximity.
Our Day In The Real-Life Disneyland
Heading out in the morning, our tour took us on a scenic drive directly to the starting point of your walk to the castle. Getting there just before lunch, we had time to grab some food / fuel for our adventure, before then starting our journey! Our tour guide shared sections of Lugwigs life as a story, starting at the XX Lake with Chapter 1, so that bit by bit, we learnt a brief background and history of how this magical castle was created.
From there, we then started our walk up to the castle (WARNING: the first few minutes of the walk are kind of tough: pretty steep, but trust me, that’s the worst out the way because it’s easy from there!), stopping half way for Chapter 2 and then hearing Chapter 3 at the top, before the final Chapter 4 which was back down the bottom, looking at “how did Ludwig really die?” – There’s a few different conspiracy stories!
When you first catch sight of the castle, you’ll literally feel like a little kid again. The excitement is unreal! (Well it was for me anyway!)
Deigned and created with pure skill. It looks even better in person. Standing right at it’s feet looking up! We decided to opt out off seeing the castle’s interiors to allow us more time to get to the different viewpoints, and if scenery is more your thing, I highly highly recommend. There’s so many beautiful sights, not only seeing the castle from different angles, but also taking in the surrounding views.
You then follow on up to Mary’s Bridge. This was created for pedestrians in 1845 (uh, huh, it’s an old one!) But the beauty of it is it’s situated right behind and in clear line of sight of the castle, making it a perfect viewing spot!
Now if you’re scared of heights, you might find Mary’s a little bit scary- the wooden boards kind of move underneath your feet, but don’t worry- I’m such a wimp and I found it fine, so I’m sure you will too! I think it’s the adrenaline you get rushing through you once you’re standing there and getting this spectacular castle view right before your eyes- it pushes any fear aside that’s for sure! This is the waterfall and river that runs right below you… Which I’m sure you’re agree, is also very pretty in itself!
This is the view you then get from the bridge… You ready for it?!
Absolutely breathtaking. We were pretty pleased with ourselves for making it there that’s for sure! It’s here that most tourists stop, but with our extra time from deciding not to go inside the castle itself, we then crossed this bridge and hiked a little further for our best view of the castle yet! Elevated almost directly in-line with it, we had panoramic shots that we got all to ourselves!
I took so many photos from there, from all different angles- zoomed in, zoomed out. (All photos in this post are my own which I must admit- I’m super proud of. Aren’t they dreamy?!) I just wanted to capture it all, and never forget it! Although it’s definitely one that’s firmly stuck in my mind now and probably will be for a very long time! We loved it so much, when we saw this artist drawing the castle later in the day, we even bought a sketch to take with us back home! But honestly, it was just amazing. To see these pictures online and then actually be there in real life, well – words can’t explain! Brilliant experience and another great one off the bucket-list.
The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.
– Walt Disney