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Planning a Fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle Winter Day Trip: Everything You Need to Know

Planning a Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip? Read on to find out everything you need to know about taking a magical day trip from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle in the winter!

Steeped on top of a hill in the midst of the Bavarian Alps, Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most famous castles in the world. Some 1.5 million visitors come to see the iconic castle, which is also said to have been the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle. While the castle is stunning at any time of the year, visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in the winter may just be the best time to go!

Seeing the snow-covered castle nestled on top of an idyllic mountain is as close as you can get to a scene straight out of a real-life fairytale. Neuschwanstein Castle had been on my bucket list since the moment I laid my eyes on a photo of it. When I recently had the chance to spend some time in Munich, I immediately started researching how to make a Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip happen.

While there are a ton of guides out there about how to visit Neuschwanstein Castle on a day trip from Munich, there isn’t as much information about a Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip. A part of me wondered if it would be too cold or too foggy, that it would be too complicated to visit in the winter, if it would be even worth it (especially if the Marienbrucke was closed). I decided to go anyways, if only for the chance to live out my princess dreams.

And let me tell you – it was every bit as magical and breathtakingly gorgeous as it is in all of the photos, maybe even more so…even though the Mariebrucke was closed during my visit. Now I am absolutely convinced that visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in the winter is the best time to go!

Wanting to visit Neuschwanstein Castle in the winter? Keep on reading for absolutely everything you need to know before you plan your own Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip!

**Disclosure: his post contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase or booking, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

About Neuschwanstein Castle

The story behind Neuschwanstein isn’t as idyllic as its surroundings. The castle was commissioned in the late 19th century by eccentric Ludwig II, was obsessed with creating his own fantasy world, and had built many castles over his lifetime.

After he was essentially stripped of his powers when Austria and Bravaria were conquered by Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War (nicknamed the Seven Weeks’ War), he had Neuschwanstein built and used it as a place of escape and refuge from society.

Sadly, Ludwig never got to see the finished Neuschwanstein in all its glory – he died in 1886, while the castle’s towers were not finished until 1892. Many of the interior rooms were never completed as well.

The castle was opened to the public as a museum just two weeks after Ludwig’s death, and has since become one of the most famous castles in the world, attracting over 60 million visitors over the years.

Why You Should Visit Neuschwanstein Castle in the Winter

It gets far fewer crowds than in the summer

As one of the most famous castles in Europe, Neuschwanstein Castle draws some 6000 visitors a day during the summer months. This means that tickets often sell out days, even weeks ahead of time.

Not only that, you will most likely be elbowing other tourists and battling crowds during your day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle. That doesn’t sound very pleasant to me.

By planning a Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip, you are more likely to be able to get tickets the day-of, which is especially helpful when you aren’t sure what the weather conditions are going to be like in advance.

You will see a magical Neuschwanstein Castle winter wonderland

Idyllic mountains. Snowy forests. Frozen alpine lakes. Charming winter villages. These are some of the things you will get to experience when you visit Neuschwanstein Castle in the winter.

Sure, Neuschwanstein Castle is magical to visit at any time of year, and yes, it is definitely easier to visit in the summer, when you don’t have to worry about bad weather, or closures. But seeing Neuschwanstein Castle in a winter wonderland? There is simply nothing like it.

Seriously, the scenes in front of you will look like someone tore out some pages from a book of fairytales and brought them to life. It is the epitome of Disney, and every single one of your princess fantasies brought to life. It is sure to take your breath away – I literally gasped when I caught my first glimpse of the castle, with its towers peeking out from the snow-covered hills off in the distance.

That alone is why winter is a great time to visit Neuschwanstein castle.

Neuschwanstein Castle Winter Travel Tips

Check the weather before you go

Planning a Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip isn’t going to be worth it if there’s no visibility due to fog, rain, or snow. Not only that, roads may be closed and trains may not be running in bad weather conditions.

To prevent disappointment, check the weather forecast before planning your Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip. You check here for the latest conditions and updates. 

Marienbrucke at Neuschwanstein Castle in Winter

Marienbrucke is the main lookout bridge at Neuschwanstein, where you can snap that Insta-worthy photo of the castle. This is supposed to be the best view of the castle and the valley behind it.

Once you cross the bridge, you will find several hiking trails. There are many more viewpoints to be found on these trails as well.

Unfortunately, the Marienbrucke is often closed during the winter because of icy conditions. Because I visited a day after a fresh snowfall, I sadly found the bridge to be closed on my Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip.

The best time to take your Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip would probably be 2-3 days after a snowfall, as you can still see the castle covered in snow but it leaves enough time for the sun to melt the ice off, therefore increasing the likelihood that Marienbrucke is open. Unfortunately, I only spent 2 nights in Munich, and this was my only day to go, since the weather was poor the previous day.

You can check here for the latest updates and to see if Marienbrucke is open. However, it may not be completely updated, as I did check the site before I took off on my Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip, and it did show the bridge was open. Once I got there, I sadly discovered the signs saying that Marienbrucke was closed.

Technically, one of the paths leading to the bridge is not fenced off and I did see people who disregarded the signs and decided to go up the trail anyways. I’ve also read several people’s accounts about how they went up to the bridge anyway, even though it was closed.

Please, please, PLEASEEEE do not do this, people – the bridge is closed for a reason! Not only is it trespassing which can subject you to a hefty fine if you get caught, the bridge is very high up and can get very slippery when there’s ice on it – this is just asking for trouble! It’s just not worth it.

Is it still worth it to take a Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip even when the Marienbrucke is closed? 1000000% absolutely, YES!!!! I admit that I was definitely I found out that the Marienbrucke was closed, but I got over it after about 5 seconds because seeing Neuschwanstein covered in snow is still one of the most magical things I’ve ever seen, even if I didn’t get to see THAT view from the bridge.

Buy tickets ahead of time (if you want to see the inside of the castle)

The only way to see the inside of the castle is to book a guided tour, which lasts about 35 minutes. While you have a higher likelihood of scoring a same-day ticket on your Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip than during the summer, I still a pretty sizable line at the Hohenschwangau ticket office. 

To save time and avoid waiting in this line, as well ensure that you book your desired time slot, book tickets ahead of time here. Note that you must book your tickets by 3pm local time two days before your planned visit. 

Otherwise, you will have to purchase your tickets at the ticket office at the base of the hill leading up to the castle. You will have to decide whether or not you want to see the inside of the castle before you make your way up the hill!

Tickets cost €13, and an additional €2.50 service charge is applied for advanced reservations. If you wish to see Hohenschwangau Castle as well, there is a combined admission ticket that costs €23 (which saves you €3). If you make a reservation, the ticket charges are collected once you arrive at Neuschwanstein Castle.

I personally opted not to tour the inside of the castle, as I had heard pretty mixed reviews about it. Since Ludwig II died before the castle was completed, many of the rooms were left unfinished. Plus, what really drew me to Neuschwanstein was seeing the fairytale-like facade of the castle, and what I really wanted to do was take in the Neuschwanstein Castle winter wonderland scene!

However, a part of me did kind of wish that I had booked a tour of the inside of the castle since I was already there, and partly because the Marienbrucke ended up being closed during my visit. However, I was already partly up the hill and since the ticket office in Hohenschwangau is the only place where you can buy same-day tickets, I was too lazy to make my way back down and back up again.

Don’t be like me and end up having FOMO!

Bring good shoes

Keep in mind that you will be in the mountains, and that the weather conditions at Neuschwanstein may be different than in Munich – it may be colder, and there may be snow. You’ll want a pair of shoes that will help keep your feet dry, especially if there’s snow – I saw a girl wearing a pair of Chuck Taylors and she looked absolutely miserable.

You will also likely be doing a ton of walking, so will want to wear a comfortable pair of shoes. Even if you don’t hike up the entire trail and take the shuttle or a horse carriage, they only drop you off partly up the hill, so you will still have to do at least a little bit of (uphill) walking, so you definitely want to be comfortable!

A good pair of warm, waterproof boots will serve you well on your Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip. I packed this pair of boots – they kept me warm, dry from the snow, and were as comfortable as wearing sneakers. In fact, they were the only pair of shoes I brought on my weeklong Europe trip, and they were able to handle the rain, snow, and walking 35,000 steps on cobblestone streets. 

What to Wear to Neuschwanstein Castle in the Winter

Neuschwanstein Castle winter temperatures hover around 35 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius). Weather conditions can vary and change quickly, so wearing layers is key! I found that I was chilly when I first got to the village, but got warm as I started walking up the hill.

Aside from wearing warm, comfortable winter boots, I wore a lightweight thermal under my sweater (like this one) to help stay warm. A blanket scarf (like this one, which I wore on my Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip) is cute, warm, and versatile. A warm hat and gloves are also a must!

Eat first, or bring snacks (and plenty of water)

Once you start making your way up the hill towards the castle, there are no places to eat (there are a few restaurants that are just down the hill from the castle, where all the souvenir shops are, but they were closed). I don’t know about you, but I get HANGRY if I don’t eat, and when I get hangry, it’s not pleasant – if you’re like me (or even if you’re not), eat before you start making your way up to the castle, or pick up some snacks before you leave Munich.

There are a few places small restaurants in Hohenschwangau, the village at the bottom of the hill. This is where you’ll get dropped off, no matter what mode of transportation you use to get to Neuschwanstein. I got a quick bite to eat here before I started trekking up the hill towards the castle. Even then, I was still pretty hungry when I came back down!

It’s important to stay hydrated – you’ll definitely want water if you hike up to the castle. I always carry this reusable water bottle, which is perfect for travel because it folds up into a compact size in your bag when it’s not in use!

How to Plan a Neuschwanstein Castle Winter Day Trip 

Winter wonderland views on the train ride from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle

Getting From Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle is nestled in the midst of the Bavarian Alps on the southwestern part of Germany, about 110 kilometers (~68 miles) outside of Munich. There are a few ways you can make your way to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich:

Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle via Train

From Munich’s central station, hop on a train bound for Fussen. The trip takes about 2 hours, and the train ride itself is a beautiful trip – you will pass through some breathtaking mountain vistas of the Bavarian Alps. As we climbed higher up into the Alps, the scenery became more and more stunning, until we arrived in Fussen, which was an enchanting village itself!

To save some cash, purchase a Bayern ticket, which allows for unlimited travel on regional trains within the Bavaria region (for future reference – you can even use it to take a day trip to Salzburg). The cost is €26 for the first passenger. Considering that a one-way ticket to Fussen usually costs €23, this is a great deal! If you are traveling to Neuschwanstein Castle as a group, it costs only €7 for each additional passenger (so it costs €33 for 2 people. €40 for 3 people, and so on), which makes the Bayern ticket an even sweeter deal! 

Your Bayern ticket sill also cover the fare for the bus from Fussen to Hohenshcwangau, the village at the base of the hill leading up to Neuschwanstein Castle.You can purchase the Bayern ticket online here, at the ticket machines in the station (it will come up when you select the “top offers” or “special offers” button), or from a station agent (but this will cost an extra €2).

The only caveat is that the Bayern ticket is only valid on trains departing after 9am on weekdays (on weekends, you can use it anytime after midnight). The ticket is valid until 3am the next day. Once again, the Bayern ticket is valid on regional trains only – the best way to check if the ticket is valid on your trip is to download the DB app and filter your search to show regional trains only. 

Trains depart for Fussen every hour, but there direct trains leave only every two hours. Otherwise, you must get on a train bound for Kaufbeuren and transfer onto a Fussen train there. For the sake of convenience and to avoid confusion, I highly recommend taking a direct train. 

Even more winter wonderland views on the way from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle

The first direct weekday train on which you can use the Bayern ticket departs Munich Hauptbanhof at 9:52am and arrives at Fussen at 11:55am. On weekends, you can also use your Bayern ticket on the train that departs at 7:52 am (arrives in Fussen at 9:55am). I took my Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip on a Saturday, and I had originally intended to take the earlier train – however, sleep and laziness won out and I ended up hopping onto the 9:52 train.

Keep in mind that train service may be stopped during severe weather, so check the weather and keep an eye on the DB website before you head out for your Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip!

Once you arrive in Fussen, you must take the 73 (Steingaden / Garmisch-Partenkirchen) or 78 bus (Schwangau). The bus stop is just outside the station; it’s impossible to miss because everyone will make a beeline to it as soon as they get off the train!

The bus will drop you off at Hohenschwangau, the village at the base of the hill leading up to Neuschwanstein Castle. Again, it will be impossible to miss because everyone will be getting off here!

If you have pre-booked a time slot for a guided tour of the inside of the castle, allow at least an hour and a half from the time you are scheduled to arrive in Fussen to have ample time to make your way up to Neuschwanstein Castle.

For your return trip, keep in mind that the last train leaves Fussen at 6:04pm (there is also an earlier train that departs at 4:05pm). Sunset at Neuschwanstein Castle in the winter occurs around 4-5pm. This will give you about 3-4 hours of daylight to explore the castle and its surroundings.

For more information about taking the train from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle, see the DB website here

Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle via Bus

Another option for getting from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle is by bus. Daily bus service is offered by Flixbus. There is one bus headed towards Neuschwanstein Castle in the morning, and another returning to Munich in the evening.

The trip takes about two hours, although delays can sometimes occur depending on traffic conditions. Flixbus departs from the Munich central bus station (just down the street from the train station), and drops you off at Hohenschwangau.

Fares start at €12 each way; it is best to book early, because tickets are cheaper the earlier you book them! For more information about schedule and fares, see here

Driving From Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle

Driving from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle will allow you to set your own pace for your Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip, without having to worry about train and bus schedules. It will also allow you to get there earlier than if you were to take a train or bus, allowing you to get first dibs at the castle and enjoy it with the fewest crowds.

It takes about an hour and 45 minutes to drive from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle. Driving directions from the Neuschwanstein Castle website are below:

Take the A7 motorway (direction Ulm-Kempten-Füssen) until the end. From Füssen first follow the road B17 to Schwangau, then the signs to Hohenschwangau

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Take the A7 motorway until the exit Kempten and then the road B12 to Marktoberdorf. Follow the road B16 to Roßhaupten – OAL I to Buching – and then take the road B17 to Schwangau and Hohenschwangau.

Note that there are no cars allowed on the roads leading up to Neuschwanstein Castle. Therefore, you must park in one of four parking lots in Hohenschwangau. Parking is €7 in lots 1, 2, and 3. Lot 4 is also the departure point for the shuttle bus going up to Neuschwanstein Castle, and costs €7 for the first 6 hours, and €1 for each additional hour. 

For more information about driving and parking, see here

Visiting Neuschwanstein Castle via Guided Tour

If trying to find your own way from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle sounds daunting, consider booking a guided tour. This is the easiest and most convenient way to  enjoy your Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip without having to worry about the hassle of booking your own transportation.

There are tons of Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle tours to choose from, but I’ve listed some of the most highly recommended options below:

  • Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle Full-Day Tour: This is a very popular tour, and includes round-trip transportation to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich. An experienced local tour guide will accompany you on your Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip, which will give you interesting commentary and fun facts about the castle and its history, and the surrounding area! This is an all-day tour, so it gives you plenty of time to explore the castle and its surroundings. Note that it does not include a ticket for the guided tour to the inside of the castle, so you must purchase that separately, otherwise you can just choose to walk around the beautiful grounds (plenty of eye candy to explore and snap photos of)!
  • Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle Half-Day Tour w/Skip-the-Line Ticket: If you are pressed for time and only have a half-day to devote to your Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip, consider this option. This tour departs from Munich’s central train station, and includes round-trip transportation to Neuschwanstein castle. It also includes a skip-the-line ticket to the guided tour of the inside of the castle, so you don’t spend precious time waiting in line! If you know you want to see the inside of Neuschwanstein Castle but only have limited time, this is your best option.
  • Day Trip to Neuschwanstein & Linderhof Castles from Munich: This tour also makes a stop at the nearby Linderhof Castle, which is the only castle that Ludwig II completed in his lifetime and spent most of his time. This is a great option if you want to get a taste of more than one of Germany’s fairytale castles! Linderhof is much more difficult to access using public transport, so if you want to see both, booking a guided tour is probably the best option.

How to Get to Neuschwanstein Castle From the Village

The view from Hohenschwangau – can you see Neuschwanstein Castle off in the distance?

No matter what mode of transportation you use to get from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle, you will most likely get dropped off in the village of Hohenschwangau. From here, you must work your way up the hill to the castle itself.

If you want to see the inside of the castle, you must purchase your tickets at the ticket office in Hohenschwangau – this is the only place that offer same-day tickets. Once you get up the hill to the castle, it is a giant pain to come back to the ticket office and go back up the hill, so you must make up your mind here! 

I noticed that there was a pretty sizable line, even visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in the winter, so in order to save time, I highly recommend purchasing tickets ahead of time here

You then have three options for getting to the castle itself:

Option 1: Shuttle Bus

A shuttle bus departs from parking lot 4, right down the road from the ticket office and right under Hohenschwangau Castle. Service frequency is based on demand. A one-way uphill fare is €2.50, and €1.50 coming back down. You can also purchase a return ticket for €3.

The bus drops you off near the Marienbrucke, right above the castle. From here, it is a 10-15 minute walk to the entrance of the castle.

Please note that the bus does not run when there is snow or ice on the road. The shuttle was not running on the day of my visit, since it had snowed the day before and the roads were still icy. You can check to see if the buses are running here – chances are if the bus is not running, then the Marienbrucke will also closed.

Option 2: Horse Carriage

What is more romantic than riding in a horse carriage to see one of the most iconic fairytale castles in the world? Horse-drawn carriages depart from Hotel Muller, adjacent to the Hohenschwangau ticket office. 

It costs €7 to go uphill, and €3.50 to come back downhill. Carriage service frequency based on demand.

While carriages were in service on the day of my Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip, service may be stopped during inclement weather conditions. For current service information, check the Hohenschwangau website here.

The carriage drops you off about just down the hill from the castle, and it is about a 5-10 minute walk from the drop-off point.

Just know that the carriage doesn’t have a big capacity, and there are only so many that are in service at one time – this results in a huge line of people waiting for one, especially when the shuttle bus is not running.

Which brings us to…

By walking up to Neuschwanstein Castle, you can walk through this snowy forest – a true winter wonderland!

Option 3: Walking

It is about a 30-40 minute walk uphill to reach the entrance of Neuschwanstein Castle. At first, I was less than enthused about having to hike up this giant hill in order to reach the castle, but ended up being so glad I did!

Not only do you get to walk up a magical winter wonderland on the way to Neuschwanstein Castle, you will get to see the castle from different perspectives and angles. Plus, some of the views that you get of the valley below are absolutely stunning!

It really isn’t a difficult walk, so I highly recommend this option!

What to See on a Neuschwanstein Castle Winter Day Trip

Neuschwanstein Castle Winter Photo Ops

If you booked a tour of the inside of the castle, check the time first and head to your tour. Tours start right on the dot, and they are said to be very strict about it, so be sure not to miss it! Also note that photography is not allowed during the tour.

If you did not book a tour of Neuschwanstein Castle’s interior, roam around the grounds of the castle. In all honesty, the castle looks much prettier and dreamlike from a distance than up close, but it was still cool to get up and close and personal to it!

You can snap some photos on the walking path on the hill, just underneath the castle entrance. The castle is perfectly framed by the trees below, which makes for some super pretty Neuschwanstein Castle winter photos!

Be sure to visit the courtyard of the castle as well – you do not need a ticket to see this, and somehow I missed this fact.

While the Marienbrucke is closed, the best spot to snap Neuschwanstein Castle winter photos is on the viewing platform that extends above the Pollat gorge, just underneath the castle. Here, you get an excellent view of the castle itself, framed perfectly by the snowy mountains and trees – it literally looks like the inside of a snow globe! 

Be sure not to miss the views of the valley below, as these are pretty stunning as well!

If the Marienbrucke is open during your Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip (luck you – I’m definitely jealous!), there are plenty of photo ops on the walking path leading to the bridge, on the bridge itself, and on the hiking trails on the other side. Snap tons of photos of me – I’m super jealous!

Hohenschwangau Castle

Hohenschwangau Castle is where Ludwig II spent his childhood, and is well worth a visit as well. Since you are already here, you may as well check it out! 

While the facade is not as impressive as Neuschwanstein, the yellow facade definitely does pop against the snow in photos. You can catch many beautiful views of the castle from various spots in the village and on the trail up to Neuschwanstein, where you can get some pretty photos!

Like Neuschwanstein, the inside of Hohenschwangau Castle is only accessible through a guided tour. You can purchase a combined ticket for both castles for €23, which knocks off a few euros off booking each tour separately. To reserve tickets, see here.

Alpsee Lake

I didn’t even know that this lake existed until I went walking down the road in Hohenschwangau in search of a bathroom. I saw a view of pristine snow-covered mountains and an alpine lake and I was curious, so I kept walking down the path.

The breathtaking scene that will unfold in front of you looks like something you would expect to have to hike miles to access, not something that is right in the middle of the super-touristy Shcwangau. 

It definitely makes for some beautiful winter photos! If you wish to explore the lake further and photograph it more, there is a circular trail that runs along the perimeter. It is definitely not to be missed. The reflections in the water of the magical snow-covered mountains is absolutely unreal!

Wander Around Fussen

Most people only visit Fussen in order to pass through the train station, but it would be a shame to only use the town as a gateway to Neuschwanstein Castle. Be sure to set aside some time to explore this charming town while on your Neuschwanstein Castle day trip!

To be honest, I had never really thought about spending much time in Fussen, but when I stepped off the train from Munich and looked out at the enchanting, fairytale-like scene in front of me, I knew that I would have to come back to explore the town on my Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip, before I hopped on a train back to Munich.

While the town is probably charming at any time of the year, it is especially magical when you can still see dustings of snow on all the rooftops, and the snow-covered mountains off into the distance. It is the perfect backdrop to the picture-perfect pastel facades!

I will admit that I did not do any research on what there is to see and do in Fussen, so I just spent some time getting lost in the enchanting streets. It is after the fact that I discovered that there is much more to do in Fussen, such as its own Gothic castle (Hohes Schloss), and a man-made waterfall (Lechfall), spilling water over an impressive dam ladder.

By this time, you will probably be starving from a long day of exploring Neuschwanstein Castle and its surroundings, so Fussen is a great spot to stop for a late lunch or early dinner, since you still have a two-hour journey back to Munich!

You will find no shortage of restaurants lining the streets. I stumbled into La Perla, a cozy Italian joint tucked into a little alley in town – the pasta was delicious and totally hit the spot after a long day, and the service was super friendly!

Just make sure not to lose track of time while getting lost in Fussen’s charming streets, and remember that the last train back to Munich leaves at 6:06pm.

Hooray, you’ve now planned the perfect Neuschwanstein Castle winter day trip!

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