If you fell in love with Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, here is the chance to actually visit her castle! Located against the beautiful background of the southwest Bavarian countryside, Neuschwanstein Castle is a 2 hour drive from Munich. The castle attracts visitors from all over Europe and the world. It was this same castle that left Walt Disney in complete awe, and served as the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty.
Built by the shy King Ludwig II of Bavaria, the Neuschwanstein Castle represents 19th century Romanesque Revival architecture. The king paid for the palace out of his own personal fortune, as opposed to borrowing from Bavarian public funds. He intended the palace to be his home until he died. Ultimately, the king stayed here for only 170 days, not even a year. After the king’s death in 1886, Neuschwanstein Castle has received around 1.3 million people annually.
Tours for Neuschwanstein Castle are highly in demand and should be preferably booked in advance online. Online tickets cannot be printed and have to be picked up at the ticket center in Hohenscwangau at least an hour in advance of your designated tour slot. The line for picking up reserved tickets is much shorter than the one for purchasing tickets. In addition, since the tours are booked all the way up to 3pm, standing in line to purchase a ticket does not guarantee you a spot, let alone a preferred time. Hence, advance reservations are the way to go for Neuschwanstein Castle.
Parking for Neuschwanstein Castle is available at Hohenscwangau. However, from this point onwards you have three options to go up the steep 1.5 kilometer road:
- Walking will take around 30-40 minutes
- Horse Drawn Carriages (uphill trip 6 euros/ downhill trip 3 euros)
- Shuttle Bus (uphill trip 1.80 euros/ downhill trip 1 euro/ return trip 2.60 euros)
When you reach Neuschwanstein Castle at the top, you stand with other visitors in a sort of “waiting area” near the castle gates. There are monitors which will display your tour number and time. When your number shows, proceed past the turnstiles and present your ticket to the castle guides.
While some may complain that photography is prohibited in Neuschwanstein Castle, I find it liberating to actually experience things through my senses, as opposed to compulsively “capturing” everything. This was the only castle I visited on my Europe road trip, and it is truly worth the ticket prices.
Some of the interior artistic highlights of Neuschwanstein Castle include:
- Sangersaal: The Minstrels’ Hall is covered with beautiful frescoes depicting scenes from the opera Tannhauser.
- Royal Bedchamber: Based on the romantic legend of Tristan and Isolde, King Ludwig II’s bedroom features a Gothic theme with intricate panel work and cathedral-like spires.
- Thronsaal: The Throne Room’s mosaic floor is an incredible work of art with over two million stones.
P.S. What’s with King Ludwig’s obsession with swans?? They are everywhere!