Usually the content of ours – wanderers – dreams are distant places. Places beyond the seas. We dream to visit Americas. We’re imagining the routes that we would take, the famous places that we would see first. We dream to visit Southeast Asia. To swim in the turquoise water of Indian Ocean, have a tasty Pina Colada on a white, soft sand. It’s the thing with the places that are far, far away – it’s hard to even imagine that one day you could enjoy the culture totally different to ours.
European destinations, on the other hand, seems to be closer, easier to reach. Nevertheless, there are several spots in Europe which since our childhood seemed like a distant dream, hardly imaginable in real life. And, since the age of 10-12, when I first saw it on the Windows wallpaper, one of such European dreams for me was the gracious castle of Neuschwanstein.
During this past year we googled the location of Neuschwanstein not once. Actually, every time we were having a road trip through Germany. And, happily, the route of our last one lead us straight to the entrance of probably the most famous castle in Europe. So today, Dear Reader, we are very excited to share almost every detail of our awesome trip to the great castle of Neuschwanstein!
Staying in the Alpine Foothills
Though major part of Neuschwanstein visitors start their journey to the castle from the airport of Munich, which is just an hour or so from the final destination, we started our road trip in Belgium. With a short stop in Luxembourg we drove for a whole day, to reach a lovely town of Füssen in the evening.
Medieval Town of Füssen
Füssen is a small town in Bavaria region which history dates back to the Roman Times. Town is located at the German-Austrian border and is considered to be the highest town in whole Bavaria region. The main attractions which attracts masses of tourists every year are two worldwide famous castles located just several minutes away from the town center. And this was the reason why one dark March evening we found ourselves here – Füssen is the closest transportation hub for visiting castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau.
Nevertheless, with such a long history and such an extraordinary landscape, Füssen is worth your attention not only for those spectacular palaces. Actually, town even has its own personal High Castle, a medieval residence which graciously looks after this town from up above. What is more, Füssen owns the oldest fresco in whole Germany – it dates back to the 10th century! And when talking about the nature, Füssen is a town like no other. With Alps in the background and a beautiful city park to admire them, Füssen has a river Lech floating along its charming little streets. River’s fresh mountain water, bright color and small waterfalls makes this town a perfect nature getaway!
Exploring Royal Bavarian Palaces
After a serious breakfast and a peaceful morning walk, we packed our luggage and started our journey towards the famous palace. It’s true that Füssen is the best stop when visiting Neuschwanstein – it took only 10 minutes of driving and we were already at the foothills of Neuschwanstein. Since we arrived quite early in the morning, we were lucky to easily park our car and enjoy the first sights of the castle without masses of people around. Nevertheless, after a hour or two castle surroundings was already crowded by curious visitors. And I can hardly imagine what is going on there in the summer! So, Dear Reader, keep in mind that the earlier you will reach Neuschwanstein, the happier you will be.
Anyway, the greatest thing about going on a road trip to Neuschwanstein is the variety of sights that comes together with this castle. Yes, we have already talked about the charm of neighboring town and its spectacular surroundings, but that’s not all. Neuschwanstein doesn’t stand alone. It has a lovely companion in front of itself – a classy castle of Hohenschwangau!
The Bright and Beaming Hohenschwangau
Hohenschwangau was a summer residence of King Maximilian II of Bavaria and a childhood residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria. It was built in 19th century above the small village under the same name. Hohenschwangau is ten times smaller and less impressive comparing with its neighbor Neuschwanstein. It really looks like just a small summer residence in the background of its younger companion. Nonetheless, with the astonishingly picturesque view around, it’s not strange that King Ludwig II chose the same location for his project of a lifetime.
The small village of Hohenschwangau, which mainly consist of souvenir shops and restaurants, is the thing that separates both royal Bavarian residences. We have to admit that Hohenschwangau haven’t intrigued us enough to climb a hill to visit it. We admired the view of it from the village and headed towards the one and only – Neuschwanstein.
The Fairytale-like Castle of Neuschwanstein
I have to say that in my imagination castle of Neuschwanstein stood more far away from the civilization than it really does. Well, maybe, it did so in the 19th century, but now it’s clearly visible from the main road which leads to the village of Hohenschwangau. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy to reach!
Neuschwanstein stands on the high rocks above the Hohenschwangau and can be accessible in three ways: by foot, by bus or with a horse carriage. Though, usually, we are more of a foot persons1, but this time we were traveling differently. With our special and great company – P.‘s parents – we decided to try the way, which none of us tried before. And which makes a perfect arrival to a classy 19th century residence! Yes, Dear Reader, Neuschwanstein is the place where we took a horse carriage for the first time! And, though, it was a really interesting experience, the hill that we needed to climb was many times easier to climb for a person than it was for those poor horses.
15 minutes after we first sat into the carriage, we were standing in front of the entrance to the castle. This is where true discoveries begun! And there are two major ones. First one is an easy one. 15-20 minutes away from the entrance to the castle, we found the famous Marienbrücke – a place where the highest number of Neuschwanstein pictures are made. Marienbrücke is a man-made bridge other the spectacular gorge, which offers the view to side of Neuschwanstein. After taking a lot of pictures and admiring for a minute, we crossed this bridge to the other side and there we made our second – the greatest – discovery. We climbed up to a steep, slippery hill and found ourselves above the fairytale! We were simply standing above the Alps, bright blue mountain lake and outstanding Neuschwanstein.
To be fair, while wandering around the touristy trails I wasn’t excited about Neuschwanstein as much, as I imagined I would be. For example, another German castle – Eltz – made me many times more hyped, than this worldwide celebrity. But after we left all the curious visitors below, and reached a private spot above all that breathtaking landscape, then was the moment when I felt why this place is so special.
I know that exist a number of other, maybe even more private places to admire the uniqueness of Neuschwanstein. And, if you ask me, Dear Reader, in order to see the true view of King Ludwig’s vision for Neuschwanstein, you have to discover those private, secluded places.
Don’t you think so? As always, waiting for your thoughts in the comments!