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FIRST VISIT 

SECOND VISIT

My second trip to Neuschwanstein was during the week leading up to Christmas.  The wintry landscape makes the whole setting surreal, as if it was taken from a picture-book fairytale. 

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).
 

Road to Neuschwanstein    Neuschwanstein in the Fog


I 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 hill. 

Make sure you have some spare change to pay for parking. 
From the parking lot, head South into town and you will see the large, modern Ticket Center on the west side of Alpsee Strasse.

 

Neuschwanstein Map  Parking information


After buying tickets, we hiked up the hill to Schloss 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 horse-drawn carriage

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 walk uphill.

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 treat. 
 

    Castle Courtyard Approaching the Castle   


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 disappointing. 


   
   


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.

THIRD VISIT 

Other European Castles

HohenschwangauHohenschwangau
Venture into the Bavarian Alps and visit the castle Bavaria's Mad King Ludwig grew up in.

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