Countdown to Spring: 10 travel tips for Neuschwanstein Castle
The iconic Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most popular attractions in Germany, drawing tourists from all over the world. There are actually two castles in close proximity, Neuschwanstein and the smaller Hohenschwangau. Whether you choose only Neuschwanstein or both, here are several travel tips to make your trip a success.
1. Reserve tickets BEFORE you go.
Tours may fill up several days in advance, so it’s smart to reserve tickets early. There is a small fee to book online, but it’s worth it. Remember to print and pack your confirmation email. Once at the ticket center, go to the short line at the Reserved Ticket window (versus the mile-long non-reserved ticket line), present your confirmation, pay and get your tickets.
2. Avoid crowds by booking an early tour.
Even if you’re not a morning person (like me), an early tour is worth the effort. By 10 a.m., parking lots are packed, and people are elbowing each other for photo opportunities. Aim for a 9:30 a.m. or earlier tour.
3. When staying in Bavaria, choose a home base and account for transit time.
Füssen, Oberammergau and Reutte (across the border, in Austria) are popular locations with many lodging, but don’t forget about the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort. Just make sure to account for drive time from your hotel to the ticket center (watch for signs pointing to Königsschlösser, the “king’s castle”).
Add at least one hour beyond the drive time, closer to 1.5 hours, because you must pick up tickets no later than one hour prior to the tour’s start time. From the ticket center, it is a brisk 45-minute uphill walk to the castle entrance, and you'll want to have time for photos. If you miss your appointed time slot, your ticket is not valid for a later tour.
4. Pushing a stroller uphill will be tough.
Strollers are not allowed inside the castle, so you’ll have to leave it in the courtyard. We did see a few baby-wearing parents, but not many.
5. If you’ll need assistance getting uphill, allow for plenty of extra time.
There are a few horse-drawn carriages and shuttles, but they are infrequent and slow. Also remember to check the weather because rain will mean more people competing for limited covered transportation seats, and thus longer wait times.
6. Take lots of pictures before you get in; photography is not allowed inside the castle.
To get your iconic Neuschwanstein-in-the-background photos, pause at the shuttle drop-off lot, near the toilets, at the top of the hill. Another great viewpoint is from the nearby Marienbrücke; check www.hohenschwangau.de before trekking to the bridge, as it is sometimes closed due to trail conditions, weather and maintenance work.
7. Pay close attention to the designated admission time and tour group number.
In the castle courtyard, LED monitors display tour group numbers and admission times (for example, Tour 417, time: 9:30 a.m.). You must scan your ticket at a turnstile while your tour group number/time is flashing on the screen. If you don’t, your ticket becomes invalid. Pay close attention to the screens, as there is no audible announcement — just a silently flashing monitor.
8. Don’t lose your ticket.
Your ticket has a barcode with your tour group number and admission time. To enter, you must scan the ticket at a turnstile. No ticket, no entry
9. Eat before you come and pack snacks.
There are a few eateries, but even at 9 a.m., they were full of people. We brought small water bottles for the hike and snacks for the car, and were very thankful we did.
10. Remember, patience is a virtue.
Even if you take the earliest tour (9 a.m.), the parking lots and surrounding areas will be packed with tour buses, circling cars and awestruck tourists. Drivers: stay alert, as many pedestrians are transfixed on the castle skyline and paying little attention to their surroundings.
Meanwhile, take a deep, satisfied breath because you’ve made memories to last a lifetime — and found a really smart way to do it.
Check back tomorrow for more great content during Stripes Countdown to Spring.