My second trip to
Neuschwanstein was during the week leading up to Christmas.
makes the whole setting surreal, as if it was taken from a
Truthfully, all castles have that dreamlike quality when surrounded
with snow covered trees. Winter is a great season to visit
these mountaintop hideaways. And Neuschwanstein is located up
in the Alps, so you can be assured of a snow-covered setting, rather
than a bleak leafless landscape of gray.
Just make sure you bring a warm winter coat!
During this second trip, we were
staying in Garmisch,
which is only about a 30 minute drive away from the castle. It
certainly was nice being able to spend time visiting the two
castles, taking both tours, and not have to worry about a long drive
back out of the mountains. I would definitely recommend
combining a trip to Neuschwanstein with a stay at Garmisch or
perhaps the lesser known but just as beautiful Berchtesgaden (town just below
the Eagle's Nest).
had learned my lesson about getting into town early enough to buy
tickets from my first trip,
so I made sure that we
hit town fairly early in the morning (around
9am). We drove into town on the B17 (as if we were coming down
from Munich). I like approaching the area from that direction
because you can see the castle high up on the hill as you approach
town, which provides plenty of great picture taking opportunities.
When you approach town, you should keep driving until you hit an
intersection where the B310 (Füssen),
the B17 (from Munich), and the B17 (from Schwangau) all meet.
You will see parking lots marked A,B,C, and D all nearby. Try
to park in lots B or C
if there is space available. Do not park in Parking Lot E
(where most of the tourist buses park) since this parking lot is the
furthest lot away from the ticket center and is at the bottom of a
Make sure you have some spare change to pay for parking.
From the parking lot, head South into town and you will see the
Ticket Center on the west side of
After buying tickets, we hiked up the hill to
Hohenschwangau. It was about a 10 minute walk
up to the castle, and while it was uphill, it was not very
strenuous. The route up to the castle takes you through the
woods above Parking Lot E and by the scenic
Alpsee lake. If you are not
in the mood to walk, you may purchase a ride on one of the horse
carriages which drive up to the castle.
After the Hohenschwangau tour, we walked back down into town and
joined the line in front of the Hotel Müller to hitch a
ride up to Neuschwanstein on a
The hike up to Neuschwanstein from the center of the village takes
about 45 minutes. The hills is quite steep, and I definitely
DO NOT recommend hiking up unless you are in the mood for a long
The horse-drawn carriage was comfortable enough, although we were
packed in quite tightly with other tourists. The carriage
drivers provide warm blankets for the passengers, which make the
ride up the hill a pleasant one.
The carriage does not quite take guests all the way to the top.
It dropped us off just below the castle, which loomed up above us.
There is a sit-down restaurant and würst stand at the dropoff point.
What I would recommend is a würst snack, a tour of the castle, and
then a hearty German meal afterward. The restaurant
specializes in Haxnfleisch (pork knuckle), which is a true Bavarian
The castle gate is a 5 minute walk from the restaurant, and you will
have to wait in the courtyard until your ticket number is called on
the large LED screens. We occupied our waiting time by
browsing the cheap souvenirs at the small bookstore at the gate, and
by wandering around the large castle courtyard.
The inside of the
castle was not quite as impressive as the outside. The castle
was never finished, so most of it is inaccessible to the public.
You don't get to go up into any of the towers, which I found quite
In both Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein, the tour guides prohibit
visitors from photographing or video taping the inside of the
castle. We thought we could get away with it, and we did
manage to tape short portions of videotape inside the castle without
using the viewfinder or LCD screen. However, the video was
obviously shaky and of a poor quality.
Overall, this trip to Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein proved to be
a success. Although the tours generally dragged on a little
bit, the castles themselves were extremely photogenic.
We had planned on taking the hike up to the Marienbrücke bridge
behind the castle, but the road was closed for the winter due to the
snow and ice.
If you can stand the cold, and you don't mind missing out on the
hike to the bridge, wintertime is a great time to visit these
castles. The white snowy landscape provides a beautiful
backdrop for these beautiful castles, and it surely was a trip I
will never forget.