A short train journey out of Munich can lead you to the beautiful Bavarian countryside, and more specifically, the area of Füssen/Hohenschwangau which is home to Neuschwanstein Castle (pronounced new-shwan-stein). This is the castle that inspired Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, and after visiting I can see exactly why. Upon arrival in Hohenschwangau, not only was I greeted with the most stunning castle which peered out from the trees of the surrounding countryside, but also adorable little buildings, mountains that looked like they were part of a backdrop, and a lake with crystal clear waters. I felt like I had just stepped straight into one of the story books that I read when I was a child. Even the interiors of the castle, which was built in the 1800s but made to look like a Medieval castle, looked like they had been snatched straight from Disneyland – there is even a fake grotto with multicoloured lights.
Hohenschwangau and Füssen themselves are up there with the most idyllic places that I’ve ever been; the whole time that I was walking around them I felt like I was on a movie set for a sequel to The Sound of Music. They have the most quaint little shops and cafés, that are all painted in bright colours and have flower baskets hanging from their wooden balconies.
Here’s how to do this day trip from Munich:
At least a few days in advance of your trip, reserve a ticket online if you want to tour the inside of Neuschwanstein Castle, Hohenschwangau Castle, or the Museum of Bavarian Kings. You will have to collect your ticket and pay for it at least one hour before your tour, from the ticket office in Hohenschwangau. If you are only visiting Neuschwanstein Castle, I recommend booking this for around 1-3pm, to give yourself enough time to get to and then explore the surrounding area.
On the day of the trip, purchase a Bayern Ticket from the ticket machine at your nearest S-Bahn station. The Bayern ticket allows unlimited travel on any Regional Trains (labelled ‘RB’) in the region of Bavaria, as well as the S-Bahn and the bus from Füssen to Hohenschwangau for the whole day. This costs 25€ for one person, and then an additional 1€ for each extra person added to the ticket (up to an additional 4 people). So, if you’re travelling as a group of 5, it will cost 29€ in total for 5 people (a mere 5.80€ each for unlimited travel!).
Once you have your Bayern ticket, take the regional train from Munich Hauptbahnhof to Füssen. The first train that your Bayern ticket allows you to travel on is the one that departs at approximately 9.55am and arrives at around noon. You can use the DB planner to check the out and inbound train times.
Upon arrival in Füssen, walk out of the train station and on the right is the bus that will take you to Hohenschwangau – they depart regularly. The Bayern ticket covers this bus too. Once you arrive in Hohenschwangau, follow the signs to the ticket centre to collect your ticket. Once I collected my ticket, I had plenty of time before my tour of the castle to explore Hohenschwangau. If you continue walking past the ticket centre, then you will see Hohenschwangau Castle, the Museum of Bavarian Kings and Alpsee Lake – the most picturesque lake that I have ever seen.
To get to Neuschwanstein Castle, you have 3 options. You can take a horse and carriage, a shuttle bus or walk. Expect to wait a while if you choose not to walk (and you also have to pay extra fees for these services). I decided to walk, which took me around 25 minutes walking quickly, so I would advise to leave about 40 minutes if you want more of a steady walk, as the hill is quite a steep incline. Once you get to the top, you can either go to the castle courtyard to take your tour from there, or you can take a walk up (another hill) to Marienbrücke, which is a bridge that overlooks the castle. The view from the bridge is probably the most Instagrammed picture of the castle, which unfortunately means that the bridge gets very cramped at times, but be patient because it’s absolutely worth the wait (I also wouldn’t recommend it if you’re seriously afraid of heights).
The tour of the castle is very informative, and tells you the history of the building and its opulent interiors, however no pictures are allowed inside. At the end of the tour, if you walk towards the café inside the castle then you will see a door that leads out to a balcony. You are allowed to walk out onto the balcony and take pictures, which overlooks Alpsee Lake and the surrounding mountains. I can’t describe in words how overwhelmingly magnificent this view is. I had to take 10 minutes just to take it all in and appreciate it.
After you have sight-seen your socks off in the Hohenschwangau area, take the bus back to Füssen from the same place that it dropped you off at. Füssen is an adorable chocolate-box town that is great for a little wander around before you take the train home. Grab an ice-cream, walk down to the bridge and take pictures of the pastel buildings that line the river. Then, when you’re ready, hop on the two hour train back to Munich – some people used this as an opportunity to look through their pictures, but most people were exhausted from wandering around one of the most beautiful places in Germany and took a nap.
If you are planning to do this day trip, then don’t hesitate to ask me any further questions in the comments!