When Is the Best Time
Neuschwanstein is one of the most visited castles in whole Europe estimated 1.5 million visitors each year. Summer is the worst time with up to 8.000 tourists daily. However, even during the worst time of the year, you can find your magic moment here. Continue reading for detailed when to visit facts and the history of the fairy-tale king Ludwig II of Bavaria.
COVID 19 Update August 2020
Neuschwanstein Castle, Hohenschwangau Castle, and Marienbrücke (bridge) are open, but due to COVID 19 there is limited access only.
- If you want to visit Neuschwanstein inside you should book your ticket at least a month in advance. Just a group of ten visitors are allowed at each tour through the castle.
- For taking the bus or even the horse carriage plan at least half an hour to line up.
- The entrance to the famous bridge is limited and is supervised by security staff. For a spectacular view to the castle plan half an hour up to an hour depending on the time of your arrival. Early morning it is still quiet here but from 11 am onwards it gets utterly crowded.
- Poellat Gorge is also opened offering spectacular views to Neuschwanstein and Marienbbrücke (bridge)
Crowds and Weather by Seasons
Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most visited places in Germany. For an outstanding experience especially during the peak season, you should be prepared for an exceptional visit. Weekends are always busier with German and Austrian tourists as well. The famous castle is located close to the Austrian border and the Ammergau Alps. The mountains have a huge impact on the climate. The summer is wetter than the winter. The village Schwangau on the bottom of the hill of Neuschwanstein is located at an elevation of 800 meters. That’s the reason for long and icy winter and cooler summer months.
The best time to visit Neuschwanstein is during spring and autumn. It is busy, but not utterly overrun except midday, and the temperatures are pleasant. Either visit in the early morning and book the first guided tour or late in the evening.
Experience this magic place in tranquillity and watch the spectacular sunset. Tip: If you want to watch the sunset bring a torch or headlight for the walk back in the night. Sunset times for Munich
Top Tip: If possible bring a bike or rent one. It is a strenuous upslope ride but fast and great fun for the way back to your hotel, car, or campervan. Come by bike only after the bus and horse carriage operating times in summer from 7pm onwards!
Hohenschwangau and Lake Alpsee; pic by JensVenture whom we met on Marienbrücke
The best views to Neuschwanstein are first from Marienbrücke (bridge), and when you cross the bridge, continue walking for less than 10 minutes through the forest and than turn left uphill. It's a moderately short walk which offers even better views. For me the best photo spot of all where I took the sunset pictures. However, if you like to do so bring a torch for the way back and enjoy the magic atmosphere.
April can be sunny and warm, with temps around 20°C. May and June reach temps up to 26°C. If it’s overcast or rainy temps below 10°C are not rare. Precipitation occurs almost every second day due to the proximity to the mountains. However, the weather is changeable; after a heavy shower, it often clears up and gets warm again. During the night and in the early morning, expect 0-5°C.
The summer is a lovely time in the mountains. Temps can reach 30°C on a sunny day, but the mean daily temp is around 20°C. This time of the year is the wettest. Rain occurs every second day. Nevertheless, it doesn’t rain for days often. Instead, it’s also sunny or partly cloudy. Due to the location, it cools down in the night, temps drop on average to 10°C. The castle is a popular must-see site when visiting Munich. The worst time of the year is from July to September. Tickets are often already sold out before lunchtime. Make a ticket reservation in advance; otherwise, you leave Schwangau with disappointment.
This is my favourite time of the year. The crowds thin out, the temps are often still pleasant, and the fall foliage is spectacular. If it is sunny, temps are often above 20°C at midday. Overcast or rainy days are colder ranging from 10°-15°C. Decreasing precipitation in autumn.
November is often cold and grey; therefore it is less busy here. As soon as it starts snowing, it looks fantastic. December is a popular month for Munich for the Christmas Markets and so for the castle. December to February are the driest months of the year. Instead of rain, there is usually snow. March and November are a little warmer, while December to February temps are, on average around 3°C. Days with crispy blue skies and snow on the ground occur often. Nights are freezing at least -10°C. Unfortunately, during snow and ice, the popular Marienbrücke, the bridge with an excellent view to Neuschwanstein, is closed.
Opening Hours and Closures Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau Castle
- Daily opened except 1. January and 24 / 25 / 31 December
- April to 15. Oct 9 am-6 pm
- 16. Oct to March 10 am-4 pm
Ticket Center Hours for Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau
Attention: To enter the castles, you have to buy or pick-up your reserved tickets first!
- April to Sep 7.30 am until 5 pm
Oct to March 8.30 am until 3 pm Exception; if Easter holidays are in March already longer opening hours at the end of March
Bus Shuttle Hours to the Castle and Return
- Summer First drive up to the castle and Marienbrücke, the famous bridge for a fantastic view, at 8 am and last at 5.30 pm. Last transport down at 6.45 pm
- Winter First shuttle uphill at 9 am and last at 3.30 pm. The last shuttle back is at 5 pm.
- Not during snow and ice. However, horse-drawn carriages are always available.
Opening Months Pöllatschlucht - Gorge
Depending on the conditions of the gorge after the winter the iron track is accessible between late April and June. At the start of the winter, the gorge gets closed; usually, at the beginning latest mid-November. Since the reopening in May 2019, there are gates at the beginning and end of the gorge. These gates close automatically in bad weather conditions.
Our Three Top Hotels All Facing Neuschwanstein
These are our top three hotels all within walking distance to Neuschwanstein, Hohenschwangau Castle, and Lake Alpsee as well. Spend at least a night and watch the awesome sunset or sunrise at Neuschwanstein. It's a tranquil atmosphere when the day visitors left the village in the evening and before they arrive in the morning. We already watched the sunset twice which was mesmerizing.
Villa Ludwig Suite Hotel
Although a 4-star hotel, it feels like being in a real 5-star. Supremely friendly staff awaits you. Rooms are spacious with wonderful interior and Nespresso coffee machine. Delicious breakfast, huge parking garage fee 8€, bike rental. Although close to all amenities, it is quiet here. You can get your castle tickets at the check-in. Due to COVID 19 limited access to Neuschwanstein, request your tickets at your hotel booking. Ask for a room with a castle view.
Ameron Neuschwanstein Alpsee Resort & Spa
The 4-star resort is located next to Lake Alpsee, facing both castles. The Spa has a fantastic lake and mountain view. It is quiet in the evening. Rooms are comfortable, breakfast is outstanding, and the staff is super friendly. Parking available for 12€ each day.
This hotel is located opposite of the Ameron. The horse carriage departs from the entrance very convenient to get to the castle. Free onsite parking available. It’s quiet in the night though some hustle and bustle during the day. The restaurant of Hotel Müllers offers delicious dinner and a great breakfast. They also provide a ticket service for guided tours through the castles. Request the ticket service already when booking.
3 Top Tours from Munich to Neuschwanstein
Where and Tips
Originally, it was called New Hohenschwangau Castle, but it got renamed after Ludwigs' death into Neuschwanstein. Neuschwanstein is 65 meters high located on a huge rock formation 956 meters above sea level. From the car park get to the ticket center first for your guided tour ticket. It is roughly a 5 minutes walk to the center. There are lots of gift shops and restaurants around. Snacks, ice, and beverages are also available. Depending on your fitness level you may need another 25 minutes to the castle entrance. This paved road is steep and a little strenuous. A bus shuttle and horse carriage are offered for a small amount.
Entrances and Fees
- Neuschwanstein 13€
- Under 18 free Neuschwanstein entrance, not for school groups
- Both castles Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau on the same day 25€
- Castles of the King ticket for Neuschwanstein, Linderhof, and Herrenchiemsee 26€
- Bus shuttle one way 1,50 € adults and children 0,50 € not during snow and ice
- Horse-drawn carriages are available for the transport return ticket 3,50 € also in the winter season.
Heavy bags are not allowed in the castle during the guided tours.
Parking Fee in Schwangau
Cars: 7 € for up to 6 hours, every additional hour 1€, max. daily 12€
Bus: 15 €
During winter the parking fees are slightly cheaper.
3 Hikes around Neuschwanstein
- Pöllat Gorge Hike
Start your hike from your parking and follow the signs to “Pöllatschlucht”. The gorge is 600 m long, and the entire circular trail 3.8 km. Hike the well-maintained trail clockwise to enjoy the spectacular scenery in the gorge with plenty of waterfalls and cascades. At the end of the gorge is the 30 m high Pöllat waterfall. From here you have an amazing view of the famous Bridge of Mary 90 m above. There was a big rockslide in 2014 and the gorge was closed for five years. For your safety, the new iron track gets automatically closed in bad weather conditions. There are gates at the beginning of the gorge and at the end of the stony staircase which climbs steeply up and leads out. The gorge is open late spring until November. When you leave the gorge turn left to the bridge and have a look down into the canyon and to the waterfall. Now walk the way through the forest back to your car to Schwangau.
- Alpsee - Lake Hike
This circular trail leads from the car park to Neuschwanstein Castle. You can either walk up on the paved road or on a forest trail which is open in summer. Have a closer look to Neuschwanstein and walk along the castle then continue to the famous “Marienbrücke” Bridge of Mary. The way back to Alpsee is not marked. However, instead of walking to the right downhill continue to the left parallel to Lake Alpsee.
Our favourite App is Locus Map for hiking
Almost at the end of the lake, the trail leads down to a swimming area. Carry a towel and swim clothes in your bag back. Enjoy a refreshing bath in Lake Alpsee during the summer. From here stroll along the beautiful lake with fantastic views to the castles. The entire walk to Neuschwanstein Castle, the bridge, and the lake takes roughly 2.5 hours.
- Tegelberg Summit Hike
To the left Tegelberg Mountain and cable car station on top - to the right Neuschwanstein
This day hike starts at the cable car parking of Tegelberg Mountain. Walk along the Pöllat stream and through the gorge to Neuschwanstein, cross the Bridge of Mary, and follow the signs to the summit of Tegelberg. Now the track leads in serpentines uphill with spectacular views to Neuschwanstein Castle. If you are into hiking you can climb the Tegelberg peak on 1.567 m elevation and the Branderschrofen as well on 1.881 m elevation. What I really like is you can take the cable car down back to your car. However, before you are heading back enjoy a typical Bavaria meal on the mountain hut. The hiking trail starts on 800 m elevation and climbs up to 1.700 m.
The price for the cable car one-way adult: 15€/ youth, students, and retirees: 14€, children: 6-15 years 6€. For those who like climbing there are two via ferrata at Tegelberg mountain; one with medium difficulty and one for experienced climbers only.
Facts and History of Neuschwanstein Castle and King Ludwig II
- It’s unbelievable but the castle is just 132 years old. The start of the construction work was in 1868 and took 20 years.
- King Ludwig II was grown up in the Hohenschwangau Castle next to the hill where Neuschwanstein is located today. His father died early in 1864 when Ludwig was 18. Immediately he had to accede to the throne without any experiences to govern.
- Before he built Neuschwanstein he already gained experiences. His first structure was the 80 meters long winter garden on the top of the Residence in 1867. After Ludwig’s mysterious death, the winter garden was stripped down. The maintenance costs were too high and, the humidity was an issue for the entire Residence in Munich.
- He was very young when the construction work for his fairy-tale castle begun. The summit of the huge rock was blasted with dynamite in 1869. So, the base of the stone became 4.300 sqm big. His father was enthusiastic about technique and, so was Ludwig. It was challenging to build the castle on an exposed hill but, the technique of the industrial time was helpful to succeed.
- It was an exertion to get all the needed material for the castle to the top of the rock. The reason that all materials got transported by a precursor of a steam locomotive. Due to his interest in new technologies, he supported inventions that were necessary for this huge project.
- Some facts on how much was needed to build this castle annually:
- 200-300 bricklayers, stonemasons, carpenters
- 465 to of marble
- 1500 to of sandstone
- 400.000 bricks
- The building got interrupted during snow and storm only.
- Converted into Euros 20 Million were spent after 5 years.
- The gatehouse was built first and became his chosen home to supervise the construction. It is presumed he spent the happiest time of his life here.
- After 11 years of building time the shell construction, the apartment of the king as well of the servants, and the kitchen were finished.
- In 1883 the famous “Sängersaal” - hall for vocalists – was finally finished. Ludwig became inspired by the Wartburg in Eisenach in 1867 on how to create and design the hall. The entire castle is like a film set. To save expenses, some parts were built from cardboard.
- Because of the Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian War Bavaria lost its independent kingdom in 1870. He was a king without power and had a throne room without a throne.
- He needed a vast amount of money; loans were taken for the expensive palaces. Neuschwanstein was not the only one he let built. Other famous palaces are the castle Linderhof nearby and the “New Castle of Herrenchiemsee”. It is located on an island in Lake Chiemsee where he let construct a palace in 1878 in honour of King Ludwig XIV. However, he was a visionary for exceptional romantic architecture but born in the wrong era.
- Neuschwanstein was a modern palace. He already let install central heating and the first Bavarian telephone system in his office.
- However, he felt responsible for his workers. All of them had health insurance, including sick pay. He was an eccentric and lonely monarch but a romantic genius as well. It is assumed that he was gay, the reason that he was never married.
- In the end, Ludwig became bankrupt; his palace was incomplete; just 20 of the planed 70 chambers were finished. He lost his joy of living. The ministers doubt his mental condition, tried to dethrone Ludwig, and he was detained in his palace.
- They declared him insane and brought him to Lake Starnberg south of Munich on the 10. June 1886. Three days later, his body was floating in the lake. His psychiatrist Bernhard von Gudden was also found dead. Pieces of evidence have shown that Ludwig did not murder his psychiatrist and committed suicide by drowning. Instead, Ludwig was shot in his back with two bullets. His doctor witnessed the crime and got murdered, too.
- Already a few weeks later, Neuschwanstein was opened to the public. In 1892 the castle was completed but in a simple form.
- Ludwig was the last real king and Neuschwanstein, the mirror of his soul. Today he is also called the fairy-tale king.
- The maintenance of Neuschwanstein Castle is costly. It gets renovated for four years in- and outside until 2022 for roughly 20 million Euros.