Thursday, 22 September 2016

Visiting the Neuschwanstein Castle

If I have to be completely honest, my trip to Germany didn't go into overdrive until I came across a picture of the Neuschwanstein Castle, and then, everything else fell into place. This was my one big moment from the trip, the one thing I absolutely had to see no matter what, and it was just as magical as I expected.

I thought I would show you a little photo diary of our time in Füssen and give you an overview on how to plan a visit to the Neuschwanstein Castle. Read more to see the rest!
We arrived in Füssen in the late afternoon, vi a train from Munich. It's a short xx train ride, although if you are pressed for time, you can visit the Castle as a day trip from Munich. There's a lot if different companies that offer tours, so I'd recommend just googling it as I can't comment on which is best (although I love Sandemans walking tours, so that's a firm favourite!)

Our trains were booked 3 months in advance on the Loco2 app on my phone (or their website!). It's so easy to use! You simply enter your destination and date, and they'll price it up for you in £. What I love best about the app is that you can set up alerts for train fares that aren't in range yet, and they'll email you to let you know when they're released. This was really useful, especially for journeys that can be pricey if booked at the last minute. You can book your train, then print the ticket at home or have a mobile ticket. The app is free to download and works with trains in the UK, France, Spain, Germany, and Italy. 

After a little bit of searching on, I booked us a room at the Old Kings Hostel. Now this is a proper design hostel, and I think if it wasn't for the fact that we were in a room with bunk beds and a shared bathroom, it would be closer to a hotel! This was such a beautiful hostel to stay in, and it's very small, so there aren't hordes of people around you. Our host was so lovely! He gave us a quick overview of Füssen, and gave us advice on what to see and where to eat.

With a map in hand, we decided to go a little evening stroll before dinner.

Füssen is such a fairytale town, I felt like I had stepped in the real-life version of "Beauty & the Beast". On every corner, there was a cute shop to photograph, and I couldn't get enough of it. This was the Welshman's favourite stop on our little trip, and I can see why as he's a fan of small places. I don't think you need many days to visit Füssen, and our one night stop was enough to see the town and visit the Castle without feeling rushed. With more time and better weather, I would've liked to rent bicycles and venture further out, as per our host's recommendation.

Trying to get that perfect Insagram shot.

We ended up having dinner in a lovely Chinese restaurant (the one escapes me now, but it was a small hole-in-the-wall kind of place that was recommended by our host), and wandering the streets of Füssen.

The next day was reserved for the Neuschwanstein Castle! Now, you can visit both the Neuschwanstein Castle and the Hohenschwangau Castle (the little yellow one in the picture above!), but we decided to just visit one castle as we weren't sure if we'd have time to do both (we certainly could've, but it would have been an exhausting day! Instead, we spent the afternoon in Füssen).

How to get there:

Unless you've booked a coach tour, you're going to have to get from Füssen to the village of Hohenschwangau. You can rent a taxi for about 11€ (a bargain if you ask me!) or take the bus. The bus fare is 4.50€ return or €2.60 one way per person. As you can see, we managed to save a bit by taking the bus, but the taxi would've been more convenient as we had to skip breakfast at the hostel. 

The bus ride is fairly straightforward, and it doesn't take more than 15 minutes to get to the village.

How to book: 

If you just want to visit the Castle from the outside, that is completely possible! We booked the guided tour because we weren't sure if any areas would be off-limits without tickets, but you can actually see quite a bit even if you don't book the tour. The guided tour takes you inside the Castle, as you learn all about King Ludwig II and his kooky personality. The tour lasts about 45 minutes long, and you're not allowed to take any photographs (a big let down for me!) If I was planning this again, I would probably skip the tour. It's very interesting, but I don't think it was necessary for us to have a great time. The best parts of the day were spent hiking to the Castle and its surroundings.

If you want to book the guided tour, I recommend you book it online. You're essentially making an online reservation that can be paid upon arrival, but if you don't show up, they will charge your card anyway! It's important to remember that you have to show one hour before the time on your ticket, so plan ahead.

Tickets are 12€ per adult, 11€ for students/concessions.

Our tour was booked for 10:00, so we had to be at the ticket office for 08:55 at the latest. This meant we caught the 08:00 bus from Füssen and had quite an early morning to beat the crowds. While there were still a lot of people by the time we visited, we left before it started to rain - so the timing was great!

When you've arrived in Hohenschwangau, you just need to go to the ticket office to pay for your reservation. You can pay by cash or card. It was really easy to find the ticket office, just follow the crowd coming off the buses! After this, you can make your way to the Castle entry by foot, bus, or horse-carriage.

As we are natural cheapskates, the Welshman and I opted for the 30-minute hike to the Castle. Now, the Welshman is a pretty fit person. I, on the other hand, could probably do with hitting the gym a few days a week. The hike was tiring, but not impossible. 

Right before you reach the Castle, there's a lovely viewpoint where we took the picture below. 

The guided tour is probably not something I would recommend, simply because it's very short and you don't even get to take any pictures from inside the Castle. You learn all about King Ludwig II, but unless you're a huge history buff, I feel like most people wouldn't be too fussed to miss this. For me, the fairytale views were enough to make this visit an must-do, without having to do the tour. 

After a few hours exploring the outside of the Castle and the many hiking routes there are available, we decided we had seen plenty and headed back to Füssen. We wandered around town ad had some delicious ice cream before catching a train to Heidelberg, our next stop.

If you're in Munich at any time, and have a day to spare, I would definitely visit the castle - it's a really magical place, and you truly feel like you're in a new place. It's also quite inexpensive to visit, even if you account for all the transportation cost of a train or a bus.

Have you been to the Neuschwanstein Castle?
Did you love it, or was it over-hyped?


Post a Comment