Perhaps one of the most famous castles in the world, a visit inside Neuschwanstein Castle may not be what you expect.
This fairy tale castle is often referred to as the “Disney Castle,” the “Sleeping Beauty Castle and the “Cinderella Castle,” almost everyone recognizes this Romanesque Revival Castle perched on the rocky hills of Hohenschwangau. Neuschwanstein, the name means “New Swan Castle,” and some also refer to Neuschwanstein as such.
All tourists heading to the Bavarian region of Germany have the Neuschwanstein Castle on their list of things they must-see. And everyone plans to go inside Neuschwanstein Castle.
Sadly, while the exterior of Neuschwanstein Castle will take your breath away and is by far the most beautiful castle in the world, the inside is underwhelming and then some.
King Ludwig II of Bavaria, otherwise known as The Mad King, built Neuschwanstein Castle’s sprawling as a recluse directly across from his childhood home – Hohenschwangau Castle.
Thought to be “mad” due to his behavior, Ludwig earned this title from psychiatrist Bernhard von Gudden who ultimately declared him unfit to rule in 1886. The action deemed “mad” being his over-the-top spending himself into debt building castles, his instance of eating outside no matter the weather, and his lack of marriage.
Even though he was declared insane, he wasn’t; he was eccentric and shy.
And, if you visit any of his creations, you will see for yourself just how peculiar he was. A tour inside the Palace of Linderhof left me with a headache from the over-the-top color carnival.
The History of Neuschwanstein Castle
Inspired by visits to Wartburg Castle and Château de Pierrefonds, Ludwig, enamored by both castles’ style, dreamt of his own. You will see where elements of both show up in Neuschwanstein.
Construction of Neuschwanstein Castle began in the summer of 1869. The king estimated that it would take three years to complete while it took more than sixteen. And, the castle was never completed. Much of the interior remains unfinished to this day.
King Ludwig II of Bavaria died in 1886 before its completion. Shortly after, the castle opened to the public as a museum.
Inside Neuschwanstein Castle
After you have reached the top, you are immediately in awe of the castle’s sheer size. And, given it is a relatively new castle compared to others, the exterior stone is immaculate – almost like new construction. Gray, in color with hues of blue, the outside is impressive. The sheer size has a wow factor, but the details and conditions of the exterior are mind-blowing. The surface of Neuschwanstein is immaculate. It almost appears like new construction.
Finally, your tour begins.
Neuschwanstein Castle is approximately 65,000 square feet in size. The entire tour start to end, takes thirty-five minutes—most of which you spend climbing the towers.
The tour is a bit of a farce. You meander through halls and climb several towers to peek in on finished rooms—a total of fourteen rooms out of the two hundred.
The Singers Hall being the pièce de résistance of the tour, I was left speechless.
Singers Hall Study Inside Neuschwanstein Castle
Bedroom Inside Neuschwanstein Castle
Study Inside Neuschwanstein Castle
Are the fourteen rooms impressive? No, not at all. Not even the Throne Room. I would go as far as saying that I wish I did not go inside Neuschwanstein Castle so that I could continue to maintain the images I had concocted in my imagination.
There is nothing fairytale-like, romantic, or endearing about the inside of Neuschwanstein Castle.
The rooms on view are tasteless even for the period. Richard Wagner’s operas inspired the decorations. And, while the fashion of the time, I think it’s the most over the top display of money poorly spent by monarchs.
Richard Wagner was Ludwig’s friend and benefactor. Ludwig dedicated Neuschwanstein to the composer.
Note: You can not take any photographs inside Neuschwanstein Castle.
Map of Neuschwanstein Castle
Getting Tickets to go inside Neuschwanstein Castle
As of 2020, the castle receives more than 1.4 million visitors a year.
You can buy a ticket on the same day. However, I strongly recommend that you purchase tickets in advance. There are a few reasons for this:
You must take a guided tour.
All tours run at specific times, and you will get a time slot based on availability.
Tours often sell out way in advance.
The lines to buy tickets are ridiculously long, even on a rainy day.
If you are late for your allocated time, there is a high chance you will get turned away.
You can only buy tickets for up to two days in advance.
The ticket counter is located at:
Alpseestraße 12, D-87645 Hohenschwangau
Telephone +49 8362 93083-0
2021 Ticket Prices
For Neuschwanstein Castle, it costs € 13,00 for adults plus a €2,50 service fee. Children under 18 are free.
Wittelsbach-Ticket (Hohenschwangau castle / Museum of the Bavarian Kings)
Swan-Ticket (Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein castle/ Museum of the Bavarian Kings)
Remember that all tours are timed when you book tickets and allow yourself enough time to get from one castle to the other.
Getting Up To The Castle
There are essentially three ways to get up to the castle entrance.
Surprisingly, we saw many walkers take this on; it seems relatively popular to walk. However, you will need to be in excellent shape. We were all exhausted just from the walk at the mid-way point where the horse and carriages and shuttle buses drop people off.
It is not an easy hike up. And it will take you almost an hour to get to the top.
2. By horse-drawn carriage
The horse-drawn carriage does not go all the way to the top; you will still have a five to ten-minute steep walk to the castle entrance.
Price: Uphill trip € 7,00 / downhill trip € 3,50 payable only in cash.
Purchase tickets from the carriage driver.
The carriages operate all year round and shuttle according to demand, with no fixed timetable.
You can’t make a reservation.
Independent companies operate carriage services.
3. By shuttle bus
The shuttle bus does not go all the way to the top. You will still have a five to ten-minute steep walk to the castle entrance.
There are plenty of places to eat and drink in the village of Hohenschwangau.
The castle sits high in the clouds. As a result, the weather will affect your ability to get “the perfect picture.” Plan and check the weather.
There is parking on-site. You have to pay a nominal fee to the park, and you should expect heavy traffic.
Photography and video inside are strictly prohibited.
If you are in Southern Germany and have your heart set on seeing the inside, Neuschwanstein Castle goes up the hill and takes the tour. After all, you’ve made your way to Bavaria, so you’ve nothing other than your imagination to lose.
If you can live without going inside Neuschwanstein Castle, save yourself some time and money and focus on getting a dramatic shot of the exterior, which is worth the visit alone.
Don’t skip Hohenschwangau Castle. It’s nowhere near as significant, and it’s certainly not as stunning from the outside. But it is far more interesting, has better views and is not decorated to blind you.
Lastly, there is a fairytale-like town called Fussen that is only a six-minute drive away or two miles away. You will enter into a circle maze of cobbled streets that hold an endless array of things to do behind this town’s castle walls.
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Nikki Webster is a travel writer who covers how to travel while grinding a day job, how to travel without breaking the bank, hotels, cruising, and off-the-beaten-track experiences. She is particularly fond of Florida and writes extensively about the state. She flies around 60,000 miles per year and has visited 54 countries, 50 states, and six continents. You can read all about her travels at www.britonthemove.com.