If you fail to plan your trip to Neuschwanstein Castle, you will fail to visit the legendary Fairytale Castle.
Located in the village of Hohenschwangau, Neuschwanstein Castle is one of Germany’s best attractions. Find it familiar? Well, the 19th-century hilltop castle is not nicknamed ‘Disney Castle’ for nothing. Walt Disney was so inspired by Neuschwanstein Castle that he modelled Sleeping Beauty castle after it.
Neuschwanstein Castle is a perfect day trip destination from Munich and visitors can reach there by car within 1 hour 45 minutes. The travelling time via public transport is slightly longer, and the process involves taking the train for two hours to Füssen, followed by a 10-minute bus ride to Hohenschwangau.
King Ludwig II of Bavaria aka the ‘Mad King’ built this world-famous castle. The king, however, was never interested in fulfilling his royal duties. Instead, he was obsessed with building fairytale castles and ended up incurring a massive debt. He was eventually abdicated and died mysteriously several days later.
The construction of Neuschwanstein Castle was never finished.
1. You can only enter Neuschwanstein Castle via a guided tour
You can’t just rock up to Neuschwanstein Castle and expect to be let in. Admission tickets are required and you have to make an online booking in advance. Each adult ticket (>18 years old) currently costs €13 and includes a mandatory 30-minute tour.
There is no option of ditching the guided tour – it is the ONLY way you can step into the castle! Photography is not allowed once the tour has begun.
2. Reserve tickets to Neuschwanstein Castle online in advance
If you not wish to engage a tour agency, then it’s best to reserve your tickets as soon as possible. Bear in mind that bookings cannot be accepted on the day they are made. The official website states that ‘bookings made after 15:00 can only be accepted for two days later’ – but chances of scoring a ticket is near zero if done only two days before.
We urge you to book the tickets now even if your trip is a few months away.
Upon getting a confirmation of your ticket, you have to collect the tickets in person from Ticket-Center Hohenschwangau. Collection of tickets can only be done on the day of the tour itself – and you must collect it no later than 90 minutes before your allocated tour time slot.
If you fail to meet the pick-up time, your reservation will be cancelled automatically.
And you will be charged a no-show fee. This apparently happens quite frequently.
Note that visitors usually have to wait between 20 to 40 minutes at the ticket center. So plan ahead and make sure you have plenty of leeway for unforeseen travel hiccups. Never be too complacent, shit does happen.
Don’t wish to deal with these logistics? Join a tour agency day trip and they will handle these ticketing issues. There are many tour companies that organise day trips from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle. We highly recommend Klook (rates start from US$62.10 per pax).
3. You have to ascend a hill to reach Neuschwanstein Castle
Assuming you have successfully gotten your tickets to Neuschwanstein Castle, you now still have another hurdle before you can reach the foot of the Fairytale Castle – climb 1.5 kilometres up a steep road. You have to walk (or take the horse carriage / shuttle bus) down the same route after your tour is completed.
Everyone must ascend and descend the steep hill, regardless of whether you came with a tour group or not. Vehicles are not allowed on the road to Neuschwanstein Castle, unless they received special permission from the Neuschwanstein Castle administrative office. Indeed, none of the tour buses were allowed up the road.
You have three options available:
Option 1: A 40-minute uphill walk
Honestly, it’s not a difficult climb and the fit ones can easily do it under 30 minutes one way.
Option 2: Horse carriage
It costs €6 to go uphill and €3 to go downhill. Tickets can be purchased directly from the carriage driver. There aren’t any fixed timetables and these horse carriages operate based on demand. Not the most reliable mode of transportation – especially when rushing for time.
The horse carriages do not operate under snowy and icy conditions. You should also know that the distance between the horse carriage drop-off point and the castle entrance is about 450 metres. Passengers MUST alight at the drop-off point and continue by foot to the castle. There’s no escaping from walking, really.
Option 3: Shuttle Bus
The shuttle bus prices are the following: €1.80 uphill / €1 downhill / €2.60 return. Tickets can be purchased on the bus and shuttle bus reservations are not possible.
During my visit in early January, shuttle buses were not in operation due to slippery roads.
4. Latecomers will not be entertained
By now, you would have noticed how strict Neuschwanstein Castle is with time, time, and time!
First, it was the importance of booking tickets online wayyy in advance. Next, it was the pick-up time of tickets. And then, it was the time taken to ascend the hill.
Alas, here comes the final step:
Waiting at the entrance of Neuschwanstein Castle.
An electronic board would be flashing tour group numbers, so keep your eyes peeled on the digital screen. When your tour group number is flashed, proceed to the turnstile, scan the ticket and enter.
You’ve already come so far, so please not fuck up this last crucial step!
5. Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle.. Last Minute?
So you happen to be in Germany now and have failed to reserve any tickets to Neuschwanstein Castle…
Your last resort is to join a tour agency’s day trip.
These experienced tour agencies have priority in reserving tickets last minute. Of course, expect to pay more.
My initial plan was to embark on a DIY day trip from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle, after reading this useful step-by-step guide. I really like the idea that getting there on my own would have been cheaper.
Unfortunately, I somehow failed to reserve my tickets online. With just three days left in Munich then, I was seriously panicking. How could anyone visit Germany without visiting the Disney castle?!
Thankfully, I managed to visit Neuschwanstein Castle in the end. I booked a tour via travel agency Klook and paid US$62.10 per pax. The tour agency handled the return coach transportation from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle and the tickets – phew, there was no need to wait in line at the ticket center! Our day trip package also included a quick visit to visit Linderhof Palace and Oberammergau.
The best part was having an informative tourguide throughout the day to fill us in the juiciest bits of Bavaria’s history. Admittedly, the tour is pretty pricey… But definitely worth it.