Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in Winter: Planning, Tips, & More

Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in winter can be a magical experience, as the surrounding Bavarian landscape transforms into a winter wonderland. The castle and its surroundings are often covered in snow, creating a picturesque and fairytale like atmosphere.

I visited Neushwanstein Castle in winter during the month of February. It’s beautiful year round, but there are some special planning considerations and tips to help make your visit to Neuschwanstein flawless during the winter! Let’s get into it.

Table of Contents

 

About Neuschwanstein Castle

History of the Castle

Ludwig II of Bavaria, often referred to as “Mad King Ludwig” or the “Fairy Tale King,” commissioned the castle. Construction began in 1869 and was intended as a personal retreat for Ludwig II. He only lived in the castle for a few years before his mysterious death.

Neuschwanstein Castle is situated near the town of Füssen in the Bavarian region of Germany. It is part of the Bavarian Alps and is surrounded by breathtaking natural scenery, including mountains and lakes. 

Castle Architecture 

Neuschwanstein Castle was inspired by the romantic and medieval themes of Wagnerian opera, particularly the operas of Richard Wagner, whom Ludwig II admired.

 

The castle is a prime example of Romantic architecture, blending elements of Gothic style with medieval and fairy-tale aesthetics. This is one of the reasons this castle stands out, it combines different architectural styles.

Neuschwanstein Today

Despite its grand appearance, Neuschwanstein Castle remains unfinished. Construction ceased in 1886 due to the sudden death of Ludwig II. Only 14 of the planned 200 rooms were completed.

 

Walt Disney visited Neuschwanstein Castle in the 1950s and felt inspired by it. He used elements from Neuschwanstein Castle to inspire the design of the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland and other Disney fairy-tale castles.

 

Today, it is one of Germany’s most popular tourist attractions and well worth a visit any time of year! It’s the last stop on the Romantic Road which is known for beautiful and historic towns throughout Bavaria and includes other cities like Rothenburg.

Is it worth visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in Winter?

 
Neuschwanstein is Bavaria’s most visited attraction and one of the top destinations in Germany. It is stunning year round and definitely worth visiting in Winter. It’s open year round, but certain activities might be closed in winter—more on that in the planning considerations!
 
As mentioned, I visited Neuschwanstein Castle in February and had a great time. In this post, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of visiting in winter and why I still think it’s worth visiting.
 
 

Pros and Cons of Visiting in Winter

While thinking about visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in winter, there are some pros and cons to consider.

 

Pros:

Fewer crowds: Winter offers a more peaceful and intimate experience at the castle. I went with someone who had been in August and said winter was so much better because there were far fewer people!
 
Snow-Covered Landscape: The castle and its surroundings are often covered in snow during the winter, creating a picturesque and fairy-tale-like atmosphere. The Alps covered in snow?! So pretty.
 
Easier to get tickets: In summer, the tickets to go inside frequently sell out early in the morning, and in winter, you usually don’t have this problem at all. The exception, although still not as bad as summer, is December, when a lot of people come to visit Germany’s famous Christmas markets.

Daily opportunities to visit: There are still daily tours to Neuschwanstein Castle from the central station and multiple trains daily from Munich to Fussen. Shops and restaurants all operate normally too.

Christmas time magic: Situated at the foot of the castle, the small town of Schwangau is full of festive decorations and a Christmas market. You can find hot cups of Glühwein (mulled wine). Soak in the stunning views of the towering castle with a cup before heading up!

Cons:

Weather Conditions: Winter weather can be unpredictable, so it’s essential to plan your visit well in advance and be flexible with your schedule in case of unexpected changes. Average temperatures are 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit in winter. It’s also often cloudy in winter throughout the day.

Potential Closures: Roads and pathways around the castle may be covered in snow or ice, horse-drawn carriage ride to the castle might not be available in winter, and certain view points from bridges and trails may be closed. Note, I visited in February and everything was open. Stay flexible with plans!

Shorter Daylight Hours: Keep in mind that winter days have shorter daylight hours, so plan your visit accordingly to make the most of the available sunlight. You will want to plan to arrive earlier in winter than in summer.

Fewer ways to get to the castle: While getting to the town of Shwangau is still easy in winter, there are fewer options to reach the actual castle entrance. In winter, the roads may be too icy for horses or buses, so you may be left with only one option—walk. While we were there, the bus was able to take visitors up to the castle but not down.

 

Planning for Neuschwanstein Castle in Winter

 
 

How to Get There

 
There are several different ways to get to Neuschwanstein Castle in winter. Below are a few options to consider.
 
Train: Trains depart from Munich Hauptbahnhof (main train station) to Füssen. The journey takes approximately 2 to 2.5 hours. Trains run regularly, and schedules are available on the official Deutsche Bahn website. If you’re coming from other German cities or neighboring countries, you may need to transfer trains to a major hub like Munich.
 

Options for tours:

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How Long Should You Visit?

Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in winter and the surrounding area from Munich is a full day trip. You could potentially do it on your own in two thirds of a day if you rush it, but since it takes about two hours to get there, it’s best to plan to spend the whole day trip there.

The actual guided tour inside Neuschwanstein takes about 35 minutes. This is the only way to see the inside of the castle. However, with transfer times, waiting in line, walking up to the castle, etc., you can plan to spend 4-5 hours here. The tips section has more details on the interior and visiting inside.

Last, the village of Shwangau is worth spending some time in, and you will likely want to visit Hohenschwangau Castle, which is visible from Neuschwanstein and in the same village. You’ll want to allot yourself enough time for all of these things, too!

 
 

Best Time of Day to Visit

The best time of day to visit Neuschwanstein Castle is before noon in winter when crowds tend to be smaller. Arriving early helps you make the most of your visit, catch the daylight hours, and avoid the crowds.
 

Our tour from Munich left at around 9:00 am, and we arrived at 11 am. We left the area around 5:20 pm. It ended up being perfect timing!

 

Group Tour Options

 

Getting Tickets

Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau Castle can only be visited by booking a guided tour.
 
It is recommended to book tickets for these attractions a few days in advance online via the official online ticket shop.
 
The other option is to book a guided tour. I chose this option because they did all the planning for you! Everything is timed entry, and having someone tell you where to show up and then took some of the stress out of the day!

Costs to Visit the Castle

  • Neuschwanstein Castle Interior: 18 euros regular, 17 euros reduced entry for students, kids under 18 free (2.50 euro booking fee for online tickets)
  • Visiting the outside and grounds of the castle is free. Tours start in the castle ward.
  • Combination ticket “Königsschlösser” (King Ludwig II’s palaces): 31 euros
  • The combination ticket is valid for six months; you can visit each of the palaces Neuschwanstein, Linderhof, and Herrenchiemsee once.

Due to the high number of visitors, you can purchase tickets for Neuschwanstein Castle from the official online ticket shop (booking fee 2.50 euros). If you take a guided tour they take care of this for you.

Alternatively, you can purchase tickets at the box office in the Ticket Centre in Hohenschwangau on the day of your visit, depending on availability, but only for the current day.

These tickets are often sold out very early (“first come first serve” principle), arrive at the Ticket Centre as early as possible (it opens at 8 am). If the tickets are already sold out, it will unfortunately not be possible to visit the castle on that day.

In winter, this is not as big of an issue, and you probably do not need to arrive too early. However, it’s still best to choose to go with a guided tour or book in advance.

 
 

Tips for Visiting in Winter

 

Planning ahead

 

Since this is a popular tourist attraction and the weather can be unpredictable, it’s best to plan this day trip in advance. The official Hohenschwangau website shares details on what is expected to be open, special events, and timely updates.

 

I chose to wait until the day before to book my winter trip because the weather had been rainy in the days leading up, and I had three days in Munich that I could choose from for the day trip. Each day before, I checked the weather and waited for the best potential outcome. The weather the day I visited ended up being in the 50s (Fahrenheit), which was so nice compared to the rainy, gloomy day the day before.

 

It’s also important to plan ahead in case of any closures to the overlooks or portions of the castle undergoing renovation. Right now, there’s a major restoration effort, and while rooms were not fully closed, a few were partially covered. Something to know before visiting!

Should you go inside?

Before visiting, I heard a lot of discussion about whether visiting the inside of the castle was worth it. Only 14 rooms were finished before King Ludwig II’s (the “mad king”) untimely and mysterious death.
 

I think you should absolutely visit the inside of the castle! While it’s a short guided tour (35 minutes) and does feel quick, it’s still worth it. Plus, you’ve traveled all that way to see it; taking an extra 35 minutes to see the inside feels well worth it.

Visiting the interior

Here are a few things to know before you visit the interior.

  • Limited Time: Guided tours are audio only and last about 35 minutes. There is someone at the beginning of the group and at the end who keeps the group moving quickly. It does feel rushed.
  • No Self-Guided Tours: You can only see the interior of Neuschwanstein Castle through the official guided tours; you cannot explore inside on your own.
  • Restricted Room Access: The castle was incomplete after Ludwig II’s death, and only 14 of the 200 planned rooms were accessible to visitors.
  • No Photography: You’re not allowed to take any photos inside Neuschwanstein Castle.
  • Crowds: Expect tour crowds, even during winter.
  • Don’t miss the cafe: It has a great view of the Alps and was built in one of the rooms being completed when construction halted, which is fantastic to see!
 

Other Attractions Nearby to Visit

 

Neuschwanstein Castle is not the only thing to do in this area. There’s lots to do to make an entire day trip out of visiting! Consider this as you think about a guided tour and which one you might want to take. Below are a few places to visit nearby!

Hohenshwangau Castle

In the 12th century, Hohenschwangau Castle, or Schwanstein Castle, as it was called at the time, was first mentioned in a document. It was owned by the Knights of Schwangau until the 16th century and changed hands several times in the following years.
 
King Ludwig II grew up in this castle and it’s in the same village as Neuschwanstein. It’s easy to visit as it is walkable in about 15 minutes from the bottom of the village. It’s bright yellow and easily spotted when you arrive!
 

Museum of the Bavarian Kings

The Museum of the Bavarian Kings, inaugurated in Hohenschwangau in September 2011, offers a glimpse into the history of the Wittelsbach dynasty, spanning from its origins to the present day.

The exhibition’s primary focus is on King Maximilian II, who transformed Hohenschwangau Castle into a summer retreat, and his son, King Ludwig II, who is renowned for constructing Neuschwanstein Castle.

The exhibit distinguishes itself with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and castles, incorporating cutting-edge interactive museum technology and expansive presentations.

 

Photo by Lukas Seitz on Unsplash
 

Linderhof Palace

Linderhof is situated in southwest Bavaria, near the town of Ettal. It is part of the scenic Ammergau Alps region. It is the smallest of the three palaces built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and the only one that was actually completed and that he lived in most of the time from 1876.
 
While the palace is small, the real winner here is the surrounding grounds. The mountainside setting and unique buildings really make Linderhof Palace worth a visit. A view of the palace and grounds from the Music Pavilion is not to be missed.
 
Linderhof Palace is a great option if you are driving or on a van tour. It’s a stop along the way to or from Neuschwanstein to Munich. It’s open to the public, allowing visitors to explore its opulent interiors, stroll through the gardens, and enjoy the scenic surroundings.
 
 

Fussen Old Town

Explore the picturesque Old Town of Füssen with its colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, and charming shops. Stroll through the Market Square and enjoy the historic architecture.

 

Experience the enchantment of Neuschwanstein Castle in winter. Find out how to plan your visit and make the most of this fairytale setting.
Experience the enchantment of Neuschwanstein Castle in winter. Find out how to plan your visit and make the most of this fairytale setting.
 

Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in winter can provide a unique and enchanting experience, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of the Bavarian Alps in a different season. 

Meghan

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