Neuschwanstein Castle is a popular attraction in Germany, a few hours from Munich. The views are breathtaking and the castle is quite a structure to witness (it was Disney’s inspiration for Cinderella’s Castle!) so plan to spend plenty of time snapping pictures and taking it all in.
If you’re planning a visit, my biggest piece of advice is to plan ahead! We witnessed plenty of people who took the long, long trip to the castle with us, only to be sorely disappointed to be told at the ticket centre that the tours were fully booked for the day. You can freely walk around the outside of the castle but to go inside you’ll need to have a guided tour booked.
There are a few steps to get there and you’ll need to book your tour in advance so I’ve provided a breakdown below of what we did. If you’re following my schedule, we took the 15:55 tour. Our train left Munich Hbf at 11:53 and our train back into Munich left Füssen station at 18:05.
1 WEEK AHEAD: Book your castle tour tickets
The tours are booked online here.
The website allows you to book two days in advance but even in low season we weren’t able to get the original time we wanted. I’d maybe even book earlier during high season just to be safe.
The online time slots are weird. It doesn’t really tell you what time the tours are, it just gives you dates and times in 5 minute increments. I picked a time I thought we could be there at and then selected the language I wanted the tour in. The next day, I received an email from the ticket centre confirming the time they had reserved for me (15:55).
ON THE DAY OF YOUR TOUR
Allow for plenty of time for travel, at least four hours before your tour to be safe. You’ll see what I mean when I detail the steps below. It’s a long trip and you don’t want to miss your tour!
1. Go to Munich Hauptbahnhof (Hbf)
This is the central station in Munich. If you need to pay for fare to get to Munich Hbf, see step 2. This ticket will cover your ride to the Hbf.
2. Buy a Bayern ticket to Füssen
You can buy this ticket at any ticket machine, whether it’s at Hbf or your origin station. If you’re planning to return the same day, there’s a day ticket option that gives you a round trip journey for € 23 for one person + € 5 per additional person up to five people. Make sure you get this one if you’re doing a day trip because you’ll save a ton of money this way.
There are solid lines on the ticket. Write your name and the names of all other passengers traveling with you. When a conductor came around to check our tickets, he had a pen for anyone who didn’t do this. I don’t know whether they would’ve fined you – maybe he wasn’t as strict – but you might as well do this just in case.
Update from reader’s comment: On weekdays the Bayern ticket is only valid after 9am, with the earliest train to Füssen at 9:55am. Plan your tour time accordingly if you’ll be traveling Monday-Friday (holidays excluded). There are trains to Füssen that leave earlier than 9:55am, however the day ticket option is not valid for these times.
Also, the Bayern ticket is not just for travel to Füssen, but allows access to all regional trains in Bavaria for as long as the ticket is valid. Regional trains are all trains with the designating letters RB, RE, IRE, ALX, S-Bahn, BOB (Bayerische Oberlandbahn).
3. Train ride to Füssen
Once you have your ticket, follow the signs marked “trains”. There will be signs showing which platform you’ll be getting on for Füssen. We took platform 28 although it might be different for you.
The train ride will take approximately two hours. It’s a nice scenic ride with washrooms available and there will be plenty of tourists heading to Neuschwanstein Castle too if you’re looking for some conversation to pass the time.
4. Get to the ticket centre
When you get to Füssen, walk to the end of the platform and hang a right where you’ll take bus 78. There will be a crowd going that direction so you can’t miss it. Your Bayern train ticket will cover this bus so hang on to it and show the driver when you board.
The bus will take about 5-10 mins. When you arrive, walk uphill where the ticket centre is located and go through the reserved line (aren’t you glad you planned in advance?). You’ll need to pick up your ticket an hour before your tour time. If you don’t pick up an hour before your tour time, they’ll cancel your tour!
A tour ticket costs € 13.80 a person, which includes a reservation fee. You can pay with cash or credit card.
5. Get to the castle
You have your ticket and now it’s time to go to the castle!
There are three ways to get there:
– Walk. It’s a steep uphill climb that’ll take 30-40 minutes. If you’re relatively fit and/or on a tight budget, it’s a doable option.
– Shuttle bus. It costs € 2.60 return trip. There’s an area where you lineup for the shuttle and a booth there to buy your ticket. The lineups get long as the shuttles aren’t very frequent and we waited for about 20 minutes until we could board one. If you’re in a time crunch, this wouldn’t be your best option.
– Horse carriage. This is the fastest option since the lineup isn’t as long but it’s the most expensive option at € 6 uphill and € 3 downhill.
It’s worth noting that the bus and horse carriage don’t go right up to the castle. From where it drops you off, it’s another 10 minute walk uphill. There’s also a bridge located at the drop off point where you can get “the money shot” but it was unfortunately closed when we were there. If it’s open, you don’t want to miss it!
6. Going on your tour
On your ticket is a tour number that you’ve been assigned to. At the entrance of the castle, there’s a gate with a screen showing tour numbers and you can enter once your number is called.
The tour itself is guided and there will be a tour guide waiting for you when you enter the castle. The tour takes about 30 minutes since a large portion of the castle is still incomplete so you’ll only see a few rooms. There’s an amazing view at the end of the tour and the ticket/long day of travel was worth that alone!
7. Getting back to Munich
To recap how to get back:
– Walk downhill from the castle to catch the shuttle/horse carriage, or walk the 30-40 minutes back to the ticket centre
– Take the shuttle or horse carriage to ticket centre (show your round trip ticket for the shuttle!)
– Take bus 78 to Füssen station (free with your Bayern train ticket!)
– Füssen station to Munich Hbf
There’s a yummy Middle Eastern take out place around the corner from where bus 78 drops you off. We grabbed a shawarma and falafel wrap and ate that while waiting for the train.
Update from reader’s comment: on the train back to Munich Hbf, there is a direct train every second hour and another that requires a change of trains in Buchloe. Make sure you check for departure times when you arrive in Füssen if you’re looking to take the direct route.
There are a few tour companies who will take you to the castle. I looked into it on Viator but we ended up getting there ourselves since it was significantly cheaper. Neuschwanstein Castle uses their own tour guides so if you do go this route, you’ll still need to purchase a separate tour ticket. I also don’t think you can avoid the 10 minute uphill walk no matter which way you get there.
Wear comfortable shoes. There’s a lot of walking involved but it doesn’t stop there – you’ll be doing a lot of stair climbing on the castle tour too.
I honestly wished we could’ve spent more time in Schwangau, the village where the castle is located. It was so beautiful and would’ve been perfect for a bike ride. Unfortunately we had to catch our train back into Munich so we didn’t get much time to explore. Definitely get there earlier if you can. I’d even spend another day or two there.
Planning a trip to Neuschwanstein? Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll try to help!