Schloss Neuschwanstein: A Trip to The Fairytale Castle
Those closest to me know a secret I don’t usually share until I feel absolutely comfortable being myself around someone.
I kind of sort of love Cinderella. To be honest, I’m a huge all-things Disney fan, but she’s my absolute favorite. Hers was the first movie I ever saw in theaters when I was just two years old. Legend has it, when a group of people sitting behind us wouldn’t stop talking, I stood up on my chair and demanded they “shush!” so we could all enjoy the experience.
It’s not just limited to the classic Disney princess, though. Ever After starring Drew Barrymore? Swoon. Ella Enchanted with Anne Hathaway? Yes, even the modern versions with Hilary Duff, Selena Gomez and Brandy. Loved them all. When I found out they were making the live action version, I just about cried.
It’s the story that gets me, and not just the romance and the magic, either. In my opinion, Prince Charming is not the champion of this fairytale. Cinderella is my kind of heroine… her kindness, humility and bravery shine through a tragic circumstance to bring light to those around her.
Call me a hopeless romantic. A naïve optimist. I’ll own that.
By now, though, I’m guessing you’re wondering where I’m going with all of this! You’re here for Schloss Neuschwanstein, so, if I haven’t scared you away yet, we’ll get back on track.
On our way home from our trip to Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in December, we decided to make a detour to visit the real-life fairy tale castle that is said to have inspired Walt Disney, himself. For this reason, it’s been at the top of my list of sights to see around the world, even before we found out we were moving to Germany.
I was giddy with excitement as we drove along the narrow mountain road lined with cliff faces and pine trees that took us into the beautiful Bavarian village of Füssen.
Have you ever been to a place that just seems to click with your spirit for whatever reason? It could be the perfect climate or the breath-taking scenery or the vibrant culture. I’ve only experienced this kind of feeling in two other cities: Ruidoso, New Mexico and San Antonio, Texas. Now, Füssen has been added to this short list. I would love for an excuse to go back and spend more time there (someone please come visit us!).
After we stopped to enjoy the sights for a few moments, we drove past the lovely city centre before turning onto an even narrower road that led us into what looked like overgrown countryside. I’d been expecting the area to be a bit more tourist-y, so I found myself wondering whether or not we’d gotten off course for a minute or two.
Then, all of a sudden… there she was, sitting almost precariously over a frosted field with early morning sunlight reflecting off her white façade!
While my husband parked in the lot designated for castle visitors down the hill, I walked to the ticket office to secure a spot in what I expected to be a line out the door. I was surprised and excited to find the place mostly empty!
Quickly, I purchased our passes for the tour and practically skipped back down to find my husband in the parking lot. By the time we made our way up the road again to find the line for carriage rides, the ticket office was just as I’d imagined it would be: overflowing with excited tourists, fanny packs and flashy cameras. It was just after 9am, then, and it looked like we’d only just made it ahead of the day’s rush.
The hike up the mountain is long and steep. Opting to pay a little extra to take a carriage ride up to Schloss Neuschwanstein was definitely one of the best decisions we made on the entire trip! I think we paid a total of €20 round-trip for the four of us (you pay in cash just after you’ve found your seat), and I would do it, again, in a heartbeat. The boys and I had never ridden in a carriage before, and the experience and convenience were well worth it!
All the way up, my inner Cinderella was gushing over Ludwig II’s masterpiece.
The carriage dropped us off just beneath the castle.
We still had a 10 minute-or-so hike up to the entrance, and we realized we only had a few minutes to meet our tour guide inside. So, we grabbed the boys and made the mad dash up the mountain. I would’ve felt silly, but I had a feeling this happens a lot.
Thankfully, we made it just in time for our tour. Being the last inside, they closed the heavy doors behind us while we stood catching our breath.
Honestly, the tour, itself, was not my favorite part. Even though it was short (only 20 minutes or so), it was beautiful and informative. However, our boys – ages 4 and 2 -had a difficult time (and understandably so) comprehending the social convention that encourages us to be still, quiet, and keep our hands to ourselves while on a guided tour. I gave a little sigh of relief when it was all over and we were free to do some wandering around by ourselves.
For me, the most memorable part of our trip to Schloss Neuschwanstein was simply walking around outside to take in different views of the breath-taking architecture, as well as the surrounding lakes, mountains, and Schloss Hohenschwangau, Ludwig II’s childhood home.
Sadly, Mary’s Bridge (Marienbrücke) was closed for repair, but we did get a chance to see its signature view from a slightly treacherous trail off the beaten path.
By the time we rode the carriage back down to the village, we were all pretty tired and hungry. So hungry, in fact, our youngest asked a stranger sitting across from us if he could have a bite of his snack – oops! We stopped at a little streetfare stand on our way back to the car for pizza, Curry Wurst (one of our favorites), pommes, and Wurst mit Brötchen and Senf.
Schloss Neuschwanstein was just as beautiful as I hoped she’d be. At the stroke of mid… day, we knew we had to get back to the car before it turned into a pumpkin.
What to Know Before You Go
Purchase your tickets online up to two days prior or get there early.
- We arrived at just after 9am, and by 9:30, the line was winding around the ticket office. If you can, buy your tickets as soon as you know you’re going. Find current admission prices and information on the Schloss Neuschwanstein website.
Wear hiking attire.
- You will do plenty of walking on your trip to the castle, whether or not you choose to take the carriage or bus up to the entrance. Make sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes for your outdoor adventure.
Bring plenty of euro coins and small bills.
- You’ll need them to pay for parking, public restrooms, carriage rides/bus fares up to the castle, food and souvenirs.
Take water bottles and snacks.
- There is a small cafe inside the castle, but it was a little pricey. Bring something with you that will tide you over ’til the next meal time.
You can only tour the castle with a guide.
- And, it’s short and sweet. Take in as much as you can while you’re there.
Strollers, pets and photography are not allowed inside.
- Although I can’t imagine trying to push a stroller up that hill, it’s still a little bit of a bummer. Just another reason why baby carriers and wraps are the thing to have in Europe when you have little ones!
Oh, and… if anyone finds it, I seem to be missing a glass slipper. Size 6 1/2. 😉