Neuschwanstein Castle, also known as Schloss Neuschwanstein, is a Gothic Revival palace perched on a mountain overlooking the village of Hohenschwangau in southwest Bavaria. Commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria, construction of the palace began in 1896. The palace's design was inspired by Richard Wagner, including frescoes in the Minstrels' Hall depicting scenes from his Tannhauser opera. According to the Bavarian Department of State-owned Palaces, Gardens and Lakes, 1.3 million people visit the fairy-tale castle each year. During peak summer days, approximately 6,000 people visit the palace.
Determine whether you want to visit the interior of the Neuschwanstein Castle. The only way to visit the interior of the palace is with a guided tour. A ticket is not required to see the palace grounds, the courtyard and nearby trails. Trails and a nearby pedestrian bridge offer views of the palace and the surrounding mountains and lakes.
Purchase your ticket online at the official Neuschwanstein Castle ticketing website (ticket-center-hohenschwangau.de) if you plan to visit the interior of the palace. The website also offers tickets for the nearby Hohenschwangau Castle. The Bavarian Department of State-owned Palaces, Gardens and Lakes, which manages 45 castle, palaces and residences in Germany, make tickets available. As of June 2011, an adult ticket was 12 Euros.
Make your travel plans. Hohenschwangau is approximately one hour and 45 minutes by car from Munich -- Bavaria's capital and home to the region's main international airport. Rental cars can be obtained at Munich's airport or at outlets in downtown Munich. The palace can also be reached by train from Munich to Fussen, which is approximately three miles from Hohenschwangau. You can travel to the village by taxi or bus from Fussen.
Pick up your tickets in Hohenschwangau if you've decided to take a tour of the palace. The Hohenschwangau Ticket-Center is at Alpseestrasse 12 near the town center. The center has dedicated lines for visitors with and without tickets. If you did not purchase your tickets online, you can purchase one at the ticket office.
Plan your arrival time. Tours are set for specific times and you must allow sufficient time to travel to the palace's courtyard, where tours depart. You can walk to the palace, take a shuttle bus or travel by a horse-drawn carriage. Walking to the castle will take approximately one hour and the path can be steep at times. Horse-drawn carriages and shuttle buses leave visitors approximately 15 minutes from the castle entrance.
Make your way to the castle. Give yourself time before your tour to explore the palace grounds. Scenic viewpoints are located near the palace and offer views of the surrounding mountains and lakes, as well as views of Hohenschwangau Castle and Hohenschwangau village. St. Mary's Bridge offers a stunning view of the castle perched on its hilltop and is about a 15-minute walk from the palace.
Go to the palace entrance and wait in the courtyard for your tour. You must be present at the time printed on your ticket. Visitors without tickets can also explore the courtyard but will not be able to purchase tickets at the palace.
Visit the palace on your guided tour. Guided tours take approximately 35 minutes. Tours are offered in German and English, and audio guides are available in Chinese, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Czech, Slovak, Polish, Hungarian, Japanese and Dutch. You should pick your desired language at the time you purchase your ticket.
Make your way back to Hohenschwangau. You can return to the village by foot, or chose to return by bus or horse-drawn carriage. Tickets for the bus and the carriage can be purchased directly from the operator.