Neuschwanstein Castle has been in my bucket list of places for awhile, and during my three weeks trip to Europe in July this year, I was finally able to realise it.
There are two main options to visit the castle – tour and independent. Considering that my family will be coming along, I decided on the ‘most convenient’ route, which is following a tour group. It was the best option to see the most in a day, for the itinerary included Oberammergau and Linderhof Palace. Of course, given the chance, I would have visited the castle on my own for several reasons mentioned below.
Our tour was booked from the reception desk, so we did not have many options. If you are interested, it was hosted by Grayline, and judging by the queue that day, it seemed to be a popular choice amongst tourists. Here are some of the pros and cons in going to Neuschwanstein with a tour group:
1. We did not have to travel in a congested train for hours, alongside the risk of having to stand for the entire duration. Summer is an exceptionally brimming season in Europe because of the school holiday. Standing for hours is definitely not something my family would pleasantly remember from the trip.
2. Tour covers more places in a day. As our trip to Munich only lasted for 3 and half days, we wanted to see as many landmarks as we could. Travelling in a tour bus really saves a lot of time, hence letting us cover more grounds.
3. Since entrance tickets were purchased beforehand by the tour operator, we did not have to queue for tickets, nor be worried that tickets might be sold out.
1. There was not enough time to cover every places thoroughly, unless you walked very very fast or the place was not crowded. We barely made it to Marienbrücke during our visit.
2. Very standard activites in all locations. Although there are tours which bring you on a more exciting adventure, the tour that we went on did not leave you thinking about the tour itself.
Our course started at 8:30 am. and lasted for 10 to 10 and half hours, depending on the traffic and weather. Expect to reach Neushwanstein Castle at 12:15 pm, just in time for short lunch. We bought sandwiches to go, and ate them while hiking up. It absolutely saved us some time.
There are three options to reach the castle: by foot, bus, or horse carriage. Bus would bring you close to Marienbrücke bridge, but presume a long queue during summer. Additionally, you will be required to fork out some money if you decide to take bus or horse carriage. My family and I decided to walk, because of the snaking queue. The hike was not as bad as I had predicted, although we took a few breaks to accomodate my Mom. Twenty-five minutes hike and we reached the castle. To go to Marienbrücke, we need to hike for another twenty minutes. Do not skip the bridge, unless you have no choice. That is where the best view of Neuschanstein Castle is.
To actually walk on the bridge, you will need to battle the human traffic. Sometimes, they even require you to queue. Be the bad guy and cut the queue if you are pressed for time. Let the other visitors know politely if they asked, and hopefully, they would be nice enough to let you go. If worst comes to worst, ask them where is the queue sign at. Proceed to the bridge if they can’t give you an answer. This is what you will see from the bridge, Neuschwanstein Castle at its best:
Neuschwanstein Castles boasts its exterior, but not so much on the interior. Surprisingly, it was not fully furnished, and most of the castle’s interior is just bricks. It was no wonder that the castle tour felt short. This fact made me a little sad that something so beautiful on the outside is not actually as beautiful inside. Pictures were prohibited indoor, so I could not show you what the castle looks like inside. We had to climb a long flight of stairs during the tour. It got a little exhausting but as long as you focus on the next step and not on the distance, you will be fine. Before it started, I was provided an audio player, which will play according to the room you are in, as you proceed on the guided tour.
Overall, I was very thankful to be able to step foot inside and would love to go back someday for a hike – or maybe a bike tour. Bavarian castles never cease to amaze me, and I wish to see more in the future.