How Neuschwanstein Castle Became the Proof That Dreams are Only Dreams Until You Make It Real

Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany

I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?
— John Lennon

Once upon a time, I dreamt of fairy tales coming to life not just on big screens, but in the form of an unbelievably gorgeous Neo-gothic romantic castle, perched on a rugged cliff ridge, secluded in the Bavarian mountains – the world-famous Neuschwanstein Castle, built by King Ludwig II (1845 – 1886), popularly known as the “Mad King” or “Swan King” of the 19th century. To be completely honest, it was the Disney’s live-action remake of the Beauty and the Beast and the sudden surge of comments on my Facebook cover photo featuring Neuschwanstein, which inspired Disney’s storybook castles that ultimately prompted me to write this piece – at long last.

I thought, why not? It’s the perfect time to take you on a tour in and around the castle despite the lack of interior visuals due to the fact that you’d be sent out if you tried clicking away as soon as you step inside the halls. When a German gives a stern warning, you better believe it. So at least I’ll do my best to put into words what makes this experience absolutely dreamy, especially for all you royalty wannabes out there.

I constantly come across photos of this Neuschwanstein castle on so many travel magazines, fliers, websites and the likes, but travelling to one of the most-visited castles on earth was not on my priorities list until I moved to Germany, and that’s the truth. But that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t always curious to see if there was more to this emblematic castle on a hill, apart from the likelihood of being turned into a fairytale-crazed adult. That was why I just had to go.

Neuschwanstein Castle during autumn

It was in expectedly bleak and cold November when I, together with my husband, planned to do a roadtrip to some neighboring countries and to the south of Germany, specifically Schwangau region, the home of King Ludwig II’s imposing 65-meter-high masterpiece. Admittedly, it’s not the best time to go, but we couldn’t find a better occasion to fit this itinerary into our schedule. We just hoped and prayed the heavens would smile on us and give us an amazing weather.

Oh, we were so blessed.

The next morning, the sun was brimming brightly and the cobblestone pavement appeared dry unlike the day before as we made our way to buy our tickets at the ticket center in Hohenschwangau, where our journey on foot would start. We went during the off-peak season, so we were quite confident we’d be able to get tickets on the day of our visit IF we turned up early, and we did. During busier months though (summer season for example), it’s highly advisable to purchase admission tickets way in advance to avoid massive disappointment and regret. Days before we arrived, we debated for a while whether or not to take the guided tour, which is the only way you can be allowed to peek inside. It was simply because we were unsure if it was going to be worth it or it was just going to be another overrated castle. Now we know the answer.

IT WAS DEFINITELY WORTH IT!

Let me tell you why.

After a 25-minute hike, making a few stops to take photos, I found myself gapping at the view of this utterly majestic architecture right before my eyes. White limestone façade, prickly turrets, Gothic gargoyles. I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve been to a number of palaces and castles across the globe, mind you. When it was our turn to experience the magic hidden within its walls, I tried hard to contain my excitement.

We began to walk up the stairs, that was nothing special, but it was like a secret entry point to the past. Then our guide led us to the end of the hallway to be greeted by King Ludwig II’s bronze head bust, right before we quietly slipped into the world of this imaginative genius.

Neuschwanstein Castle - Throne
Photo credit: Neuschwanstein Official Website

The castle’s interior is whimsical; the artfully adorned walls roll out murals depicting biblical narratives, German legends and mythology mainly based upon operas created by Richard Wagner, the king’s beloved composer. In a sense, Neuschwanstein Castle plays as a tribute to Wagner’s theatrical stories and is the result of Ludwig’s obsession to breathe life to all of his works.

King Ludwig II's Bedroom
Photo credit: World Visits – King’s Bedroom

Gold, oak wood, silk, decadent décor – Ludwig’s got an expensive taste. From fully-furnished servants’ quarters, to the enchanting grand ballroom that was never used for any function, to the bejeweled two-story throne room with a massive golden chandelier, to the Byzantine church inspired bedroom where he spent most of his time in isolation – beyond a doubt, this entire place embodies his soul. For what it’s worth, he definitely knew how to impress.

Neuschwanstein Inside Cave and Waterfalls
Photo Credit: Curmudgeon Abroad | The very first “man cave” ;)

As soon as you enter “the cave” which leads to his elaborately decorated bedroom, you will certainly begin imagining how in the world this part of the castle was built with the limited resources and knowledge of technology during that period. A dripstone cave with waterfalls illuminated by color changing mood lights? Mind blown. Elaborate, intricate, modern – no wonder you’d be called mad for these wild ideas. But it’s my kind of crazy. Here are more features: centralized heating, hot and cold running water, toilets with automatic flush, intercoms, electric bell system, and get this, a food elevator! A true definition of luxury. The bed may seem comparably small to a king size, but it’s intricately and painstakingly hand-carved for 7 long years, adorned with Bavarian blue embroidered linen and draperies. Also don’t forget to look up and marvel at the ceiling of the canopy bed dotted with tiny lights, resembling stars and constellations.

Neuschwanstein Conservatory
Photo credit: Official Neuschwanstein Website

However, my favorite spot was the conservatory with pebble flooring, offering panoramic views of Alpsee and alpine foothills; intertwined twigs covering the interior, a 2-tier mini fountain standing in between two chairs made out of rustic tree branches. How classy is that? When I caught a glimpse of the candles and the wooden antique table clock, it instantly reminded me of Lumiere and Cogsworth! And that was when my so-called “Belle moment” kicked in. I could totally picture myself having teatime with someone right there and just taking in all that beauty around me.

For a good 30 minutes of my life, I was entranced by the grandiosity of Neuschwanstein Castle. It is one of those places you have to see for yourself to believe it’s real.

Quick facts:

  • Neuschwanstein means “new swan stone” or “new swan jewel”. The swan was the heraldic animal of the counts of Schwangau and became the coats of arms of the ruling Bavarian family which also symbolizes purity.
  • Neuschwanstein Castle receives 6,000 visitors a day during peak season (Spring/Summer) and around 1.5 million per year
  • Located 2-hours away from Munich (you can take a tour or DIY)
  • Only 15 were completed out of planned 360 rooms at the time of Ludwig’s untimely and mysterious death, 17 years later from the start of its construction in 1869. The original plan included an ornate chapel, a huge balcony, bathhouses, additional bastions and turrets.
  • Even though not a single cent from the state funds was used to build the castle, Ludwig was declared insane because of the amount of time and money he was willing to pour out to realize his extravagant dream for it. He pulled in all his resources to realize his projects, that’s a fact.
  • Ludwig II spent his childhood days in a nearby beautiful yellow castle his called Hohenschwangau which you can combine with the Neuschwanstein tour on the  same day for 25 EUR.

Quick Tips:

  • Book your tickets online in advance even during low-peak season if you really want to take the guided tour (and I highly recommend you should! It’s worth a visit!)
  • Current prices for the tour is 13 EUR for adults (more info here: http://www.neuschwanstein.de/englisch/tourist/admiss.htm#ticketcenter
  • Guided tours start punctually. If you miss your schedule, you can NOT ask to be included in the next scheduled tour.
  • Their website states allow 45 minutes to reach the castle from the ticket center, even though you can do it in 20 minutes if you’re quite fit and don’t need to stop for photos along the way. They just do not want you to be late for your schedule.
  • If you don’t want to walk uphill and do an early morning cardio, you can take the horse-drawn carriage ride in your princess gown! No really, I think it can be a real authentic experience. It’s only 5 EUR per head each way. Alternatively, you can take the shuttle bus for 2.90 EUR return – but you’d still need to walk a few hundred meters to the castle’s entrance. No biggie, it’s close!
  • Wear comfortable clothing/shoes if you plan to hike/walk
  • You may bring water and snacks, but obviously, you can only eat it outside. Keep your trash.
  • Bring your pro camera, but do not dare taking photos inside. It is strictly prohibited. Hence, I have gathered all these snaps of its interiors from the official website and visitors who defied the rules and just got lucky.
  • The best spot to take photos of the Neuschwanstein is from Marienbrücke (Queen Mary’s Bridge). It’s a short walk from the castle, close to the bus stop.
  • Always check the weather forecast before you go. Usually during winter months, they would close Marienbrücke for visitors’ safety. Also, if the skies aren’t clear, you will hardly see the castle anyway.
  • The castle entrance has a storage facility but only for small bags/items. Leave all your bulky belongings in your car or hotel.

Where to stay:

Disclaimer: May contain affiliate links

We booked a place in Füssen, only a 5-minute drive from the ticket center, where a medley of charming boutique hotels, cafes, bars and restaurants can be found in a central area. A fancy stay at a hotel also won’t cost you an arm and leg, so it was definitely a good decision to stay there. The authentic Asian restaurant was a bonus, too! With more than half of the tourists flocking every year coming from Asia, they’ve figured they must have sushis and Chinese fried rice on offer.



Booking.com

Check out other accommodation options near Neuschwanstein castle.

How to get to there:

Here’s a comprehensive travel information if you are coming from Füssen or Munich

If you prefer to take a day tour from Munich, Viator offers a small group tour you can join in!

THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO VISITING NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE

23 Comment

  1. I’ve wanted to visit here for so long and I might get my dream this year as I am going to Munich so hoping to make the trip. Its so special from the outside but I had no idea about its interior! That cave is stunning! What a special place to explore.

  2. Neuschwanstein sounds straight out of a fairytale with its mad king and swans. I did not know it was Beauty and the Beast inspired. Also, that “man cave” is straight up FANCY!

  3. Maggie says: Reply

    This is gorgeous! It’s been on my bucket list forever. The Disneyland castle is said to be modeled after this and I’d love to see the real thing.

  4. Abby says: Reply

    Wow! Neuschwanstein has been on my bucket list ever since I was little and my aunt got us chocolates that had a pic of the castle in the wrapper. I had kept that wrapper for so many years before somehow losing it. But your blog has made me want to go again. Your pics are beautiful and vibrant. Also, the pic of the cave with the boat looks pretty similar to the one in the gypsum mine at Seegrotte in Austria. Amazing!

  5. Jean says: Reply

    I’ve always wanted to visit here. It always looks so majestic. Your photos of the interior are just mesmerising. I’ve not seen these before and they make me want to get my bag packed and head over right now.

  6. We couldn’t agree more. This castle lives up to hype. Visiting is a like a dream come true. It does suck that they don’t allow many photos, but that helps foster an air of mystery that we all just have to come and see in person.

  7. Thanks for describing Neuschwanstein in such detail. It was also interested to hear that you loved your visit since I’ve heard very mixed reviews about it. I haven’t been to Germany yet but plan on visiting if I make it down to the Munich area.

  8. Oh, you are blessed indeed! I am a Disney baby, and I think if I ever visit this enchanting castle, I might also not be able to contain my excitement. In fact, I might cry. Haha! It’s really like being in a fairy tale!

  9. That castle is truly magical. It’s truly been an inspiration for all those Disney castles, right? The interior of the castle is even more grandiose than the outside. You’re so lucky you get to explore it, I’d love to one of these days!

  10. Julie says: Reply

    Right out of a fairytale. Just added to my bucketlist!

  11. Your pictures are literally breathtaking! Even better than the “official” ones haha. I`ve been dreaming to go there for a while, as a few of my friends have been there and took great pictures. Also, that cave is insane! Great post! <3

  12. Oh how I’d love to visit this castle! You were so lucky with the weather in November. I’ve never seen any pictures of the inside before; it looks unreal!

  13. Your pictures are amazing! I love Neuschwanstein – a friend took me to see it when I visited Germany, and it really is just like stepping back into a fairytale!

  14. I’m not one for fairy tales and such but my goodness isn’t that just the most gorgeous castle! My son and I were just reading about it the other day in one of his books. Your post was perfectly timed! 🙂

  15. Megan Johnson says: Reply

    I looove the picture of it with the fog! I went back in high school, but don’t really know much about it other than I though it was cool and I liked the bridge haha. I’d love to go back to see it again though

  16. Erin says: Reply

    I’ve always wanted to go here just for the view of the outside. I had NO idea the inside looks like that! Looks like the tour was definitely worth it! Thanks for all the great info, I want to go even more now.

  17. Kris says: Reply

    Great post. I loved Neuschwanstein. We didn’t get rid see the cave though. That looks incredible!

  18. Neuschwanstein castle has been the number 1 castle I’ve wanted to visit for years. Not only is it incredibly beautiful, but all the history surrounding it!

  19. Kat says: Reply

    I’ve been to most famous tourist attractions in Germany but unfortunately never made it to Neuschwanstein. I definitely want to go there on my next visit to Germany though!

    I love the King’s “man cave” haha. His bedroom looks so elaborate!

  20. Wow! This is beyond belief! I love that the first man cave was a cave!! The architecture is astounding. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Alex says: Reply

    I’ve wanted to visit here for so long! I’m a sucker for any castle and this one looks absolutely magical! So glad to see that it’s so highly recommended 🙂

  22. I’ve driven by here and never realised it was ever there. Next time we’re crossing Europe I’m definitely stopping and checking this out. Thanks for the tip and write up. Love being able to read blog posts about something fascinating that I didn’t know before.
    Cheers
    James

  23. Kyntra Strickland says: Reply

    Visiting this summer and I can’t wait! I’m sure it’s going to be a dream come true. Your tips are so helpful and the pictures are beautiful. Thank you for sharing this experience!

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