Ever since I was a child I have always wanted to go to the “Sleeping Beauty Castle”. Though I have since discovered that it wasn’t Princess Aurora’s but King Ludwig’s II castle, built from 1869 onward, Neuschwanstein Castle has had a reserved spot on my top places to see for a long time. I finally got to see it as a part of a day tour that took us through Southern Germany.
Our first tour stop was Oberammergau. This quaint little town is perhaps most famous for its rendition of the ‘Passion Play’ which is performed every ten years. It is also well-known for its beautifully painted building facades. Unfortunately due to traffic our time here was cut short however, we still had the chance to have some free time wandering as well as buy some hot chocolate and pastries…the breakfast of champions!
Our next stop was the Linderhof Palace. An evident Francophile, King Ludwig designed this lodge to look like the Versailles Palace in France, complete with gold leaf trimming on the walls and highly extravagant furnishings.
After the tour we had time for a little wander of the surrounding gardens, or in our case bare twigs, but still, it was a very picturesque scene. By about midday we were on our way to Neuschwanstein Castle.
Neuschwanstein is an eye-capturing castle on a hill, literally. It is situated in lower Bavaria and sits atop a hill in the middle of nowhere. At the base there is a little village with various food spots and a tourist centre for the endless queue of tour buses and rental cars.
We had time for a quick lunch break before beginning to make our way up the hill. To get to the top you generally have to walk but there are also carriages available if you are willing to wait. From the base the castle looks quite dominating however, it is actually the positioning of the castle that gives it this appearance. The castles actual height is about 65 metres.
Hohenschwangau, King Ludwig’s childhood home is at the base of the hill. We didn’t have the time to visit this castle as well but we still managed to snap a few pictures.
The walk up to the castle took us about 25 minutes though the trip varies dependent on fitness levels and stopping to check out the view! By the time we reached the top we came out to a spectacular view of the snow covered castle. By this point I could clearly see how the castle has inspired so many stories and why it has been used in different films such as “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (1968).
Before entering the castle we had a look at the surrounding area from the viewing deck. There is a great viewpoint of the castle from a distance that can be walked to however, due to ice and the weather this path was closed when we were there. The surrounding terrain is very natural and rugged, giving the castle an isolated fantasy-like feel.
After going through the strictly timed entry point we began our tour. The tour takes you through the completed rooms within the castle, including the throne room. Each room was designed with extravagance in mind and there are distinct themes and influences evident, such as medieval times. Unfortunately photos are not allowed inside. After the tour we took a series of stairs down to the original kitchens where there is also a gift shop before exiting the castle. As the sun was beginning to set we had time for a quick snack of little dough balls (that weren’t quite doughnuts?) before making our descent back down the path. During this time we passed many a slow moving carriage and I am thankful we chose to walk.
The tour we went on was a fast-paced fun filled day with lots of things to see. These locations are must do’s when in Germany though some are harder to get to than others. If you aren’t planning on driving I would recommend shopping around on what day tours are available as each location was worth the day out and needs to be seen up close.