Schwangau, Germany

Famed for the Romanesque Neuschwanstein Castle, this little town is a beautiful detour off the Romantic Road, but offers little else in the way of activities.

by Steve Wilson

 

Everyone knows the Neuschwanstein castle whether they realize it or not. It’s the quintessential fairytale castle commissioned by King Ludwig II and one that Walt Disney used as inspiration for Cinderella’s castle in Disney World. It’s a breathtaking structure and impressive to behold even from far away. You get a great view of it driving in from Schwangau along with Schloss Hohenschwangau, the castle Ludwig II grew up in.

 

The town itself is small and really just a waystation for tourists visiting Neuschwanstein but I would definitely recommend going just a little further down the road to a town called Füssen which has a lot of great shops, restaurants, and is filled with that certain charm every small German town seems to possess. The drive from Munich takes about 2 hours each way and we had decided to rent a car ourselves to make the drive when we felt like it and not be bound by tour bus schedules.

 

If you want to see the inside of the castle you’ll need to plan ahead as you can only enter the castle as part of a guided tour. You can either stand in line to buy a ticket (which could take hours depending on when you go) or buy a ticket in advance for a fee but you can only buy those advance tickets up to 2 days prior to your visit so again, plan ahead! The tickets will be for a specific time slot and they are very punctual so make sure you leave plenty of time to get up to the castle.

 

 

We decided we didn’t really want to see the inside, so after lunch and a walk around Füssen, we parked on Parkstraße just west of Hohenschwangau and used a great little walking trail to get us to the base. From there you can take one of the buses that bring tourists up to a great spot for pictures, Marienbrücke. It was way easier than dealing with the tourist parking lot at the base and free, too. Tourist buses aren’t our thing but hikes are and lucky for us there was a short one up to Marienbrücke where you can get those incredible views you see on all the postcards. If you have more time to kill and want to hike some more, cross over the bridge and continue up the switchbacks for some of the most incredible views in Bavaria. Guaranteed!

 

Once you’ve seen your fill of gorgeous mountains and valley vistas, head on back down the hill and maybe stop for a drink back in Füssen before your trip home. You’ve earned it!