Tips for Visiting the Bavarian Castles in Germany
I went to Germany this September for Oktoberfest, and of course, I had to go see famous Bavarian castles. First on my list, was the famous Neuschwanstein castle. As one grows up with Disney’s movies, seeing a castle from the fairy tales is a dream come true (for that don’t know it was an inspiration for the castle in the Disney movie, Sleeping Beauty).
So, in my last post, I showcased the photography of the German castles of Ludwig II and their magnificent stand. In it, I briefly touch base on my trip from Memmingen to Hohenschwangau and Ettal in southern Bavaria to get to each castle. It was one hectic day for sure.
So, I would like to share some tips regarding my journey, and helpfully make yours a little bit easier.
Tips to Get You Through Ludwig’s Castles
Tip #1: Reserve Online Tickets
As mentioned in my previous post, several times, reserve your tickets online to the Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein castle. I’ve read some posts and reviews from people stating they had no issue purchasing tickets at the ticket counter, but I went late September and it was packed!
The parking lots were filled with cars and tour buses.
Not only because of crowds but if you plan to do other things that day, you won’t know your scheduled tour time until you get there. Even if you get there at 9 AM, the tour might not start until 1 PM.
Tip #2: Visiting the Museum of the Bavarian kings – Debatable
I did not visit the museum, nor am I sorry that I didn’t. I really think it depends on the person, whether they would enjoy such an attraction or not.
When I was reserving the tickets for the castles, I got the Kings Package (Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein castles). A price of 25 euro per person. It’s always hard to get people to agree on one thing, so as a group we made the decision of not including the museum in the package. So, whoever wanted to go to could (you can get tickets for it there), and everyone else can walk, explore or do as one would want.
It’s a trip for everyone, not just one person.
Also, we visited the Linderhof Castle in Ettal, Germany on the same day, which crammed the day a bit. Read more about it in tip number 4.
Tip #3: Visit the Hohenschwangau official site if driving to the castles
They post constant information regarding road closures, so if you are driving there make sure you check it out first.
We visited Linderhof the same day because we didn’t have the time nor the choice. I really wished we had more time to give Linderhof at least half a day of exploring.
Our Hohenschwangau tour was scheduled at 1:55 PM and the Neuschwanstein tour at 3:55 PM. My travel partners and I decided to leave Memmingen very early and get to Linderholf at opening time (9 AM), explore as much as we can, and drive to Hohenschwangau.
That’s exactly what happened, but 9-11 was not enough time to properly see it. We didn’t even go inside the castle because they only do a guided tour, which lasts about 45 minutes. When we got there, it was already packed and the first tour was filled up.
The park, garden, statues, and fountains take up a substantial portion of the property. One can easily spend 2-3 hours walking around, photographing, and enjoying nature.
Tip #5: You don’t have to pay to visit the castles
(For my fellow hikers, photographers, explorers, adventurers)
Now, I don’t mean visiting the Bavarian castles inside for free. For that, you must pay, and it can get quite expensive per person. However, if you aren’t really interested in walking around rooms, seeing antiques, hearing of stories and fairy tales, then why not save money and just explore the lands?
The parking at Linderhof was 2 euros for the day, and 6 euros at Hohenschwangau. For 8 euros, you can do a lot just by walking around the hiking trails, take amazing shots of the castles, time-lapses, and even go biking.
I love nature, so I was a bit disappointed when I found out that around the lake at Hohenschwangau and the castle there are multiple trails that go around it and into the mountains. I didn’t get the chance to explore the lake and the mountain around it. However, there are clearly marked signs to guide visitors on their journey.
I love how organized and environmentally friendly the Germans are.
There is, also, a cable car a little bit before the entrance to the Hohenschwangau property. The cable car goes to the mountain across the Neuschwanstein castle, which is connected to Mary’s Bridge. Based on the information I read there, it should take 3.5-4 hours to hike from the end of the cable car to the bridge. Then it’s a 15-minute walk down to the castle.
Tip #6: Eating at the restaurant by the lake
I really wouldn’t recommend the restaurant by the Hohenschwangau lake. The selection is very limited, and it’s overpriced. There are other smaller places and cafes in the area to grab something else to eat.
I don’t care that fancy, rich people go there to “fit in,” the food choices were not the best.
Or, maybe the more appropriate tip would be to come prepared with sandwiches and drinks you made at home or bought before setting off; that way you will save a lot of money, plus you’ll make sure to eat something that suits your taste rather than ending up with some weird pastry and leek dish that costs a fortune and tastes terrible (yup, that happened).
Tip #7: Appropriate clothing
We went when it was rainy, foggy, misty, and cold. Check the weather and dress appropriately.
The trip was in Mid-September and the temperatures were low. Don’t freeze, be smart!
Have an umbrella at hand, comfy (waterproof) shoes, waterproof and windproof jacket, several layers of clothes you can easily take off if it gets warmer etc.
Tip #8: Choosing which road to take
From Memmingen to the Hohenschwangau are there are two ways to go: through highway A7 or A7 and then turn-off to B12 & B16. A7 is pretty much straight down from Memmingen to Hohenschwangau.
I went both ways and loved driving on B12 & B16. I just love nature, and it was a very pleasant drive. I actually continued on to 472 and down to 17 because we first went to Ettal (the monastery and Linderhof Castle).
Also, have in mind that if for some reason you decide to take a tour through Austria you will have to buy a vignette in order to use their roads.
Tip #9: When in Hohenschwangau, visit the Fussen Waterfalls!
The Fussen Waterfalls are about a 10-minute drive from Hohenschwangau and on the border with Austria. So, no matter if before or after your trip to Hohenschwangau, visit the waterfalls. The view is unforgettable!
If you have the time to visit Fussen, that will be even more remarkable. However, it’s a big town, so be prepared to spend few hours there.
You really should pay attention to the Bavarian castles and their beauty rather than worry about all the details of the trip. Once the trip ends, it will be surreal that you were there, hopefully on Mary’s Bridge looking at the Neuschwanstein castle.
It really is a view one cannot forget!