How to Visit Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles Solo
Want to visit Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles solo in breathtaking Bavaria? Here is my complete guide on how to get the best castle touring experience as a solo over 40 traveler, including where to stay, transportation, and other hot tips.
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The Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein Castles
Why is the Neuschwanstein Castle Famous?
The Schloss Neuschwanstein (Neuschwanstein Castle), is widely known as the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle or recognized from the movies Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or The Great Escape.
The castle, however, holds German royalty and historical distinction. Schwan (German for “swan”), the Neuschwanstein (“New Swanstone”) was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria to be his home.
Ludwig II also paid for this construction from his own funds, which assisted in his financial ruin. Ludwig II was dubbed the “Mad King” most likely because of his controversial dealings and extravagant and eccentric lifestyle.
Unfortunately, he died in 1886 before the Neuschwanstein’s completion. Although it cost Ludwig, the castle draws millions of tourists a year boosting tourism capital for Germany.
The Castle Next to Neuschwanstein
The adjoining castle in Shwangau is the Hohenschwangau (“Upper Swan”) Castle, where Ludwig II was born. He lived in this, the family’s summer home, while Neuschwanstein was being constructed.
Is Neuschwanstein Castle Worth Visiting?
Without a doubt! You don’t see castles like these every day, and touring them gives you a glimpse into German history while absorbing the vast Alpine scenery most of us only see in movies.
Where to Stay When Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle
When booking your castles visit in Bavaria, I recommend staying in Füssen. Arrive a day in advance of seeing the castles so you can enjoy the town’s offerings.
Füssen is the charming, southern-most of the 16 towns on the infamous Romantic Road. Füssen can be reached by car, bus and train. Füssen is a 2.25 hour train ride from München (Munich). I came up from Innsbruck, Austria, by FlixBus, which is the same distance.
Where to Stay in Füssen
I stayed at the quaint, Maurushaus in the heart of Füssen. I highly recommend this accommodation, whether you’re on a budget or not. The stay was cozy and comfortable, the breakfast ample, and the staff was cheerful and extremely helpful. I would definitely stay here again.
Considering how small Füssen is, I recommend making reservations as far in advance as possible, especially if you’re visiting during high tourist season.
Füssen, and the castles, are walkable so no car is required on this trip.
How to Get to Neuschwanstein Castle from Füssen
Buses leave regularly from the Füssen Bahnhof (train station) to the Schwangau Rathaus (town hall), a mere 5 km (13 minutes) away. Alternately, you can take a 10-minute taxi ride, bike or walk to Schwangau if you have more time and want to take in the luscious countryside.
As a Maurushaus guest, I was given a discounted bus pass to Schwangau, the town in which the castles are located. A nice bonus.
Buy your bus ticket online in advance to save time or purchase in the Füssen station. If you’re traveling with your bags, there is luggage storage at the Füssen station.
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When is the Best Time to Visit Neuschwanstein Castle?
To avoid the crowds, go early in the morning. I recommend getting there before the first tours start for leisurely walking and picture taking.
Also, go in the off season when you can still get good weather and avoid the really heavy crowds. The summer can see up to 6,000 tourists a day (ugh).
I went in April and had lovely weather. Check out the live Schwangau webcams for a preview of the terrain.
The Best Way to Visit Neuschwanstein Castle
Let me start by saying that the best way to visit is to make it a leisurely day. Don’t rush. You’re going to be doing some walking (up hills, no less). So, it’s nice to break up the walks and tours with some picture taking, outdoor lounging with drinks, and soaking up the countryside.
Arriving Schwangau, buses stop in Schwangau carpark at the base. I recommend getting there by 8 – 8:30am.
From there, walk about 15 minutes up the Alpseestrasse to the Ticket Center.
Castle Tours and Tickets
It is highly recommended you purchase tickets online in advance to avoid lines during high tourist season. I hear you can wait hours in line otherwise.
When I arrived early in the morning in April, I bought my tickets directly at the Ticket Center.
Castle tickets must be purchased either online or at the Ticket Center. You cannot get them at the castles.
You don’t have to tour both castles, but it would be a shame to miss the Hohenschwangau. It’s a nice tour with great preliminary information before visiting Neuschwanstein. Plus, the scenery and view of Neuschwanstein from Hohenschwangau is simply lovely.
If you like history, buy a combo ticket for both castles. Then make your way to Hohenschwangau.
How to Get to Hohenschwangau Castle
Walk the Lange Route (long route) up the hill. Feel free to take your time, especially around Lake Alpsee. Capture the white peaked mountain backdrop against the blue water. Perhaps you’ll glimpse the swans on the grounds.
Allow for 30-40 minutes to arrive at the top of the hill to the Hohenschwangau entrance, with some more time to stroll the garden and more sweeping views before your 9:45am tour.
The Hohenschwangau tour is only 30 minutes. Afterwards, you can take the short cut (Treppen pass) back down the hill, which drops you out at the Hotel Müller 20 minutes later.
Enjoy a coffee or treat on the hotel patio while watching the tourists pour into the area before heading to the Neuschswanstein.
How to Get to Neuschwanstein Castle
Across from the Hotel Müller is the path to the Neuschwantstein. It’s a fairly steep hill and the walk up to the Neuschwanstein Castle takes 30-40 minutes. I know you’re over 40, but I found this hill very doable on foot at a leisurely pace, if that helps.
If you’re not up to walking the hill, you can opt to take a horse-drawn carriage. Rides cannot be reserved and you pay directly to the carriage driver (approximately €5 uphill and €2 downhill). Carriage rides take about 10 minutes.
No, you cannot drive up to the Neuschwanstein Castle.
I left the hotel around 11am and was at the Neuschwanstein Castle by 11:45am, taking pictures along the way with plenty of time to spare for my 12:10pm tour.
How Much Time Do You Need at Neuschwanstein Castle?
The Neuschwanstein Castle tour is only 35-40 minutes.
From the castle, walk the castle trails. The mountains are lovely. Each angle and height provides its own stunning view.
A must do is Marienbrücke (Mary’s Bridge), which crosses the Pöllat gorge. It’s a short 15 minute walk from the castle, and from here you get the classic view of the Neuschwanstein.
Yes, you can walk around Neuschwanstein Castle without a ticket. You only need a ticket to go inside the castle(s). Touring the grounds is free.
Where to Eat
By now it’s around 1:30pm. The tourists are growing in numbers. You can continue to stroll the grounds or, if you’re like me, it’s food time.
From Mary’s Bridge, head back towards the Neuschwanstein. There are two restaurants half way up the hill to the castle with plenty of outdoor seating. This is where copped a squat. There are more dining options down the hill in the village.
Returning to Füssen
Head back to the car park where the bus dropped you off and queue for the bus back to Füssen. Even with a line, you won’t wait more than 20 minutes or so.
You could be back in Fussen by 4pm, plenty of time to rest and freshen up for a dinner out. Füssen has multiple dining options for a small town. It is helpful to check times when establishments may close.
Top Tips for Touring the Castles
- Go early in the day to avoid crowds.
- Try to time your visit with good weather.
- If you’re going at high tourist season, get your tour tickets in advance.
- Do not miss the Hohenschwangau Castle (and see it first).
- Dress in layers as you will be in higher elevation and going up and down hills.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes.
- Don’t forget your camera – it’s very scenic!
- Don’t forget to allow time to walk around the grounds and Mary’s Bridge.
Let Me Hear From You
I would love to hear if my tips on how to visit the Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles solo was helpful to you. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!