I totally get why each and every person who visits Germany wants to visit the Neuschwanstein Castle. It is the most popular and yes also an overrated castle in Germany. The “fairy tale” castle which inspired the Disney castle is visited every year by 1.4 million visitors. In the summer it can receive up to 6,000 visitors a day. The irony being that the castle was not designed for royal representation, but was to be Kind Ludwig II’s retreat to escape to the poetic world of the Middle Ages. We went there by train, around 9 of us, by buying the Schönes Wochenende ticket in Germany, which entitles you to travel with a huge discount on the weekends in the whole of Germany for one whole day, either Saturday or Sunday. This castle is a big trek and exercise in itself, it was a one day trip but it makes you walk, and go uphill for a good one hour to get the best view of the castle. Undoubtedly it is incredible but it sucks out the energy in you, if you are not a regular mountain climber. Rainy weather should be strictly avoided when you go here, because there is mud along the way and it can get really swampy and tricky if you are walking through the trees. The roads are well made and strongly built but there is a mud stretch that requires attention and good sports shoes to reach the top of the castle. Nothing but a horse tonga or a carriage as the Europeans might call it goes up to the castle, in case you are not able to climb up, but is costly. Also be sure to book your tickets online before hand to avoid last minute rush and waiting in the queue once you reach the castle.
Getting to the castle is easy, around 4km walk from down to the top of the hill. My recommendation that it would be the best in autumn as the changing hues and colour of the leaves will surely capture your senses and leave you asking for more colour combinations. Buses also go up and down the hill for commuters who are not able to climb up, but if you are fit and healthy, climbing is a must as the view is spectacular and captures your heart. It at least left me flabbergasted. Ok so now let us come to some history of the castle. A castle is built for the royal family to stay lavishly and also to show off. So this was built by King Ludwig 2. Neuschwanstein was planned and commissioned by King Ludwig II, a deemed mentally unstable King with an obsession with Wagner and returning to the more traditional medieval times. Building began on the castle in 1869 but was never finished. King Ludwig II was declared insane and taken from Neuschwanstein in 1886. The next day, he and his doctor were found drowned after taking an evening walk. The actual tour of the castle, therefore, isn’t particularly long, around 30 minutes, as only a third of the rooms were actually completed. In fact, the King only lived in the castle for 170 days!! One of the most interesting rooms on the tour was the King’s bedroom. Perhaps not helping the mentally unstable claims, Ludwig only slept during the day and so had a night sky built into the top of his bed!
After the tour, we were desperate to go in search of that million dollar shot of the castle. To get this, you take a 10 minute walk (well, 10 minutes in warmer months) to Marienbrücke (Mary’s bridge). The view from the bridge is almost perfect, it seems unreal, especially taken with beautiful colour of the leaves besides it and the grey stoned castle reminding me of my Disney days. We stayed here for a good half an hour, just drinking in the views and mentally preparing for the long walk back. The path also allowed us to take in another mind boggling picture-perfect scene of Schloss Hohenschwangau against the perfect landscape view of the mountains and rivers that everyone dreams of taking. This part of Bavaria is simply stunning. This castle was the childhood residence of King Ludwig II. It is a 20 minute walk from Neuschwanstein. This castle can only be visited on a tour. Tickets can be purchased in combination with Neuschwanstein.
I am really glad we visited this castle and it was worth every penny spent and yes also the climb. The view on the Marien bridge simply deserves all the attention. A must on your bucket list if you’re in this part of the world in Germany.
Some quick points:
Please wear good walking shoes. It is atleast a mile up there, 4km for both castles, if you are going by bus to Marienbrücke well and good, but the inside view of the castle is also worth watching.
The individual tours of the Castles are extremely crowded and there is no way around it. Private tours aren’t an option and the only way to get inside the Castles is with a tour group. Be prepared to be in large crowded groups for the tours.
Please take food with you, there are very limited options and all are costly, so have a healthy meal and also take one healthy meal with you.
Carry some cash with you, as cards are not accepted everywhere except of course souvenir shops.
A short one, but an awaited one. Until the next time!
Rucha Sudhir Khot