‘Once upon a time….’ we all heard it before. It’s how all fairy tales start..and end with ‘happily ever after’ with their destined prince in a big, beautiful castle. Growing up, we all want to visit one, thanks to Disney for making our ‘dreams come true.’ We can now visit the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland around the world. But those ones aren’t actual castles. They are just replicas from fairy tales. What if I say, there is a real castle which is the inspiration to the Disney animated logo that you see before the cartoon movie starts, the centerpiece of Disneyland, the place all young girls want to live in. The castle that influenced Walt Disney during his Europe trip and started all this miraculous phenomenon – Neuschwanstein castle! (for those not fluent in German, how about we just call it the real-life Disney castle, safe some embarrassment when speaking to German people ;p)
First tip! To go there, and you’ll be thanking me later for this… so you’re welcome in advance… BOOK THE TICKETS ONLINE! With over 1.4 million visitors per year and over 6,000 visitors per day during the summer, I am so glad that I book the tickets online. The lines for those who buy the tickets up front is almost as long as the queue at Disneyland, or even longer. There are various ticket packages, you can visit 1 castle only or bundle up the 2 castles Neuschwanstein with Hohenschwangau and/or with the Museum of Bavarian Kings. The guided tour for each castle is about 35 minutes only due to securities reasons, available only in German and English, but don’t worry they have audio guides for other languages too. More info on the website: http://www.neuschwanstein.de/englisch/tourist/tours.htm
You know it’s going to be a good start when on the way you pass a certain train station with a romantic name.
Reaching Fussen train station, there isn’t any sign showing where to take the bus to Neuschwanstein castle. But don’t worry, pretty sure everyone who comes here is also heading to the castle as well so just follow the flow. If you’re not sure, follow tourists with cameras or group of Asians. But if you really want to make sure you can ask the people around there, in which I do and as I mentioned before about pronouncing the castle’s name, to avoid embarrassment then you should say just ‘the castle’ instead of suffering to blurt the word ‘Noy-scha-wine-sa-tine’ out. However, before I even finish the sentence, they already know what I’m about to ask and point to where the bus station is (which is very near to the train station).
Within a short time…hollaaa Neuschwaa… wait what? Nope, not at the castle yet. Going to the castle is not that easy. First, you get your tickets, in which you previously book the entry time for the first castle, then they will automatically suggest what time for the next one. Also, when you reach the bus station, make sure to check the bus schedule that heads down to Fussen train station to really maximize the time spent at this enchanting heaven.
If you choose to see the 2 castles like me, they will suggest to visit Hohenschwangau first as it is nearer to the ticket booth, then follow by Neuschwanstein as you have to hike up the hill.
1.) Ticket booth
~15 minutes walk to
2.) Hohenschwangau castle (35 minutes guided tour)
~45 minutes walk to (other options are taking the bus or horse ride, it’s about 1,500 m distance)
3.) Neuschwanstein castle (35 minutes guided tour)
~10 minutes walk to
4.) Marienbrücke bridge ( for the gorgeous view of the Disney castle)
~ 30 minutes walk down to
5.) Alpsee lake
Below is a clearer map provided by their official site
Not far from the ticket booth, I reach Hohenschwangau castle with time to spare. So I walk around and observe the surrounding nature. In addition, photography is prohibited in the castle, therefore I can’t show you the interior photos, but I guarantee you there’s definitely a reason why millions of people fly across the globe to once-in-a-lifetime walk through the magnificent castle.
A little history: Hohenschwangau castle was residence to King Maximillian with his wife and 2 sons. In 1864, King Maximillian passed away, his son Ludwig succeeded to the throne. King Ludwig loved living at the castle and decided to build his own castle near to this one, which you all know as Neuschwanstein castle. However, the new castle’s construction cost exceeded the planned budget lead to huge debt. By the time of Ludwig’s death, the castle was not finished, and he only slept there for 11 nights. Due to its isolation location, the castles manage to survive through war with no destruction.
1500m? Chill.. come on we can do this! Yes! But seeing horse carriages pass by sometimes make you want to join them, but hey it’s a good exercise! Think of all the muscles huh! (Just me motivating myself) It’s actually not that far, if you take few stops and just look at the view, you’ll completely forget about the exhaustion. But tips for you guys who decide to hike up, a water bottle is a must.
No photos from inside as mention, but I must say, everyone who steps in the castle will immediately fall in love! The gorgeous interior design with elegant decor, and the view through the window! What do I have to do to live here? Of all the places I’ve been, this castle just rises to the top of my all-time favorite place. It’s just so spellbinding. It’s beyond expectation. Disney castle got nothing on this real one. Every little detail! Urghh!! Breathtaking…
I mean if you’re already stunned by its exterior appearance and its surrounding, the inside will make you lose your mind. I don’t doubt for a second if they said it’s god’s vacation home or something. I cannot believe that it’s actually manmade. A castle up on the hill that high, secluded in peace. Pure magic.
For the greatest view of the Neuschwanstein take a short hike up to Marienbrücke bridge. (Where I happen to witness an Asian couple taking their pre-wedding photo, as romantic as it sounds, they seem to be at odds with each other, but thumbs up to the bride wearing the dress in this cold weather and hiking up the hill!)
View from Marienbrücke bridge
As expected with this stunning view, the bridge is fully packed, so be careful.
Just when you thought you’ve seen it all… Alpsee lake takes you to paradise on Earth where time stands still and it’s only you and nature.
What a wonderful place to be! The Royalties who lived here as well as the servants sure were lucky people!
It’s always sad to leave such a beautiful place, but baby you are truly one of a kind and I’ll come back for you one day! I promise!