To start knowing it it’s necessary to be able to name it: we can read it as Noi-shvan-stain.
And as if those weren’t enough consonants, this castle belongs to the Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung; right, the Bavarian Castles Administration 😉
If I confirmed something after this trip, it was that I love the german language. Listen to it directly from the sources renewed my enthusiasm of returning to study. And maybe in the next visit I’ll try to build better phrases.
It was great though reading all the signs that I saw, while trying to remember some words, and trying to add lots of new ones.
But going back to the castle…
It’s just amazing! If you like castles, train journeys, lakes with views to snow-covered mountains, Disney old movies, big trees… (and if you can stand lots of tourists together), then I strongly recommend you that if you’re staying a few days in Munich, or in some nearby city, you dedicate one day to this place.
And if after looking lots of pictures you think that it cannnot be more charming, here’s the meaning of Neuschwanstein: “The new swan stone”.
The first thing that pops up in the Internet when you google the castle is that apparently it inspired Walt Disney when he had to give his Sleeping Beauty a home.
I don’t think this place needs some “gossiply” resource to tempt more tourism, being the most visited castle in Germany, but that always adds some extra charm. So I don’t know if it’s a true story, but it’s indeed something believable.
What we do know is that it was built by King Louis II, or Ludwig II, or the Mad King, driven by his wishes of having a personal refuge where he could get away from his (hated) governor life style; and where he could feel to be living in a fairy tale, in a truly medieval world. Total success to Louis.
His father also made a contribution to this wonder that we can visit today, besides adopting the swan as the heraldic animal of his lineage, by building viewpoints and paths among nature, especially the famous Marienbrücke bridge, in honor of his wife and queen Mary.
From this hanging bridge, which makes up an incredible imagen by itself (and even more knowing it was built in the 1850s), you can see the castle standing out from a baseline of trees, surrounded by mountains, sky and water. If you have already seen several pictures of the castle’s profile, certainly the happy photographer was standing on this bridge.
Evidently there are many tours that will take you to visit the castle, including the already well-known Sandemans tours.
We preferred making this trip on our own, without entering the castle, so I can tell you a couple of things to keep in mind.
You can only access and visit the castle with a guide, and for that you need to have your tickets once you get to the entrance. The tickets are booked on line, and later in the ticket office you can withdraw them, following the specific line for this.
The online booking must be done 2 days before the visit day at the latest, so remember this when you decide when to go.
As the ticket is booked for a specific time, ’cause it’s a guided tour, you’ll need to calculate your arrival time at the ticket center, having in mind the starting time of the tour, so you won’t be late. Walking up from the ticket office to the castle took us about 20 minutes. The other option is to take a bus from there to the Marienbrücke and the walk a few minutes.
For what I read the tour lasts half an hour.
If you didn’t book your ticket, you can buy it at the ticket office, but the line for it will likely be very, very long, and it’s probably that you’ll have to spare time waiting for the tour time.
On the outside you can walk by the castle surroundings and have great views from a platform. Also it’s possible to enter to a castle’s patio.
It’s convenient to buy the Bayern Ticket, which is valid from 9 am till 3 am, and covers the necessary transports to go to the castle: subway to HBF station, the train and the bus. If you’re going in a group, when you buy it you can select the number of travellers, and you’ll have just one ticket for the whole group (and at a very good price).
From Munich Hauptbahnhof station, we took a train to Füssen from platform 29. The trains depart every hour, switching from one direct service to one with 1 change (but that doesn’t take much longer). The one we took was a direct one, and the departure time was 9.53 am, arriving at Füssen at 12.
When you get to Füssen station, you have to walk to the bus station next to it, from where the n°78 buses leave to Schwangau Castles, taking about 10 minutos to get there. You’ll see a lot of people getting off the train with you, so just follow the crowd to the bus station. The buses will already be waiting for all the tourists. The train and this bus are included in the Bayern Ticket.
Also with all the rest of the people, you get down from the bus at Hohenschwangau stop, from where the ticket office is just a few steps away.
Altogether, the trip from Munich center to the tickets office area, took us about 2:15 hours.
From the ticket center you can walk up to the castle, in about 20 minutes, by a road bordered by trees, where from time to time you can discover the castle far ahead. The walk up hill has some steep parts, but in general is not very challenging. Another option is to take a bus from the ticket office to the Marienbrücke, from where the castle is few minutes away, on foot (it’s the closest you can get with a transport). This bus isn’t covered by the Bayern Ticket and you buy it directly from the driver, for 2.60 euros the round trip ticket.
To head back the trip is the same. From the ticket center you take the bus to Füssen, and from there a train to Munich HBF. There’s a train leaving every hour. We took the 18.05 train, and arrive at Munich center at 20.05. So altogether, without the travel times, we spent 6 hours in the visit, more or less.
When you get down from the 78 bus in the ticket center area, you’ll find restrooms, several restaurants, souvenirs shops. As the long line to buy the tickets discouraged us, we used that time to have lunch at one of the bars before going to the castle, and keep tasting new beers.
To have some rest, and take really enviable pictures you can go to the Alpsee Lake side, surrounded by snowy mountains. It’s also a nice place to have a picnic.
Near and at sight from the ticket center there’s another castle, the Hohenschwangau, which is also open to the public, and you can buy a combined ticket for both castles.
The Marienbrücke hanging bridge is another stunnig place to stick around, admire the view and take pictures. It may happen though, ’cause all the constructions require maintenance, that the bridge is closed during some times of the year. I had that (bad) luck in my visit. In the official site they inform this, so you can know it before you go. Fingers crossed for you!
Before you go check the weather forecast, because except for the tour inside the castle, the whole day will be outside, and it would be far better appreciated on a sunny day. It’s an easy trip to make on your own, and I think it’s more enjoyable that way than taking a tour; plus the money difference is huge.
The train trip is very nice due to the landscape, with snowy areas at the floor surface, and in the background the snow-covered mountains. As you get closer to the Swiss border the change in the view is evident, and really worthwhile.