I freely admit that sometimes our “research” into places that we want to go & see & how to get there can be a bit half assed at times, but our trip to Neuschwanstein was especially memorable.
We looked into getting a hire car, but it was going to be a min of €250 just to hire a small car for the day, plus petrol etc, so we returned to the idea of catching public transport, neither one of us wanted to join a tour group by bus. Not that we have anything against busses, but tour groups in general are not our thing, they normally require a lot of rushing around to be at certain places at certain times & you feel like you are being herded the whole time. I looked up tickets to get us to Neuschwanstein by train & bus & thought that we were all set, but alas it was not to be.
We left our accomodation just before 6, so that we could catch our train at 6.30am & also pick up a few things to eat for the day. Whilst we were ready to go at the time that our train was expected to depart, it was not. This delay meant that when we reached the next train station, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, to switch over, we ended up arriving 10 minutes later than it’s departure time, so had to wait for an hour for the following train. This slight delay meant that now the journey would be almost 4 hours (with wait times), instead of 2.5 for the train section alone. We looked into a bus briefly, but decided not to, possibly a good thing, given what happened later. We even looked into an Uber, but unsurprisingly there are no Ubers in that area.
The next train departed just after 9am. There was a lovely woman on the train checking tickets who gave us a tip to get off a couple of stations before ours, but then as the train was running late, she came back to tell us to proceed as planned & go to the Musau station in the middle of no-where, as we wouldn’t miss the bus from there. Well, it turns out there are no buses at that time, something we discovered after we had disembarked from the train & walked to the bus station. Another great example of what you read online not matching reality. 🤣
We had a few options either;
1. catch the train back (on it’s way past again) to some other random place,
2. wait at Musau for a few hours for a bus that may or may not come, or
3. walk from there to Neuschwanstein. We decided on the later. I get the feeling not that many people walk from Musau, Austria, to Neuschwanstein though.
The walk wasn’t too bad, about 10km, not as hilly as I expected, but it still took us a couple of hours. We stopped at a supermarket on the way, to grab some food, including some amazing Hazelnut schnapps/ schnaps, which was quite enjoyable. The walk was quiet lovely. Google maps does not recognise the bike tracks & instead instructs you to walk on the road, but it was fairly easy to work out where to go & then we managed to find a lovely walking trail (thanks to a local in one of the villages we walked through). All of us really enjoyed that the walk enabled us to enjoy seeing the Neuschwanstein & Hohenschwangau Castle’s in a different way than you would if you approached it via bus. To have the castles appear as you go down into a valley & then see them peeking out behind some tree’s, was really quite beautiful. It was quite lovely to be able to walk from Austria to Germany to be honest too.
In the end we arrived at Neuschwanstein at 2pm, which meant that we were too late to go to both Neuschwanstein & Hohenschwangau Castle. If we had gotten there earlier it would have been ok, but alas, we did not & that’s just the way of it.
The kids were really excited to see the castle, it was one of a few MUST see’s on this trip, so we were both really happy that they got to see the castle. It’s quite an impressive castle to see in terms of size too. You have to do a tour to go into the castle, to wander the grounds outside the castle wall of either castle is fine without a ticket though.
With your ticket purchase (at the bottom of the hill, just follow the signs) you get an audio guide allocated within the cost (that you pick-up within the castle walls) & are assigned a time slot to go through with a bunch of other people, this way they can get a heap of people through at the same time who all speak different languages. You can either catch a horse drawn carriage or bus up to a certain point then walk the rest of the way or just walk up. Walking seems to be faster than bus or carriage, at least in the off season. When you get up towards Neuschwanstein, there is an area with a heap of lockers to put your backpack or any bag that is above a certain size (to be safe we left our backpack in the lockers) it’s a few Euro’s to use the locker, so make sure that you bring a few euro coins to use it. You get your money back when you return to get your belongings, which is nice.
The tour itself is only about 30 minutes or so & you are not allowed to take any pictures or video during your visit. You are basically herded as a group, through a small section of the castle, so don’t expect to see it all, because it isn’t possible, but what you do see is pretty special. I highly recommend being towards the front or middle of the group, because the “guide” who escorts you through & starts the guide at different sections may start it before you have even reached the room that is being talked about. You will only get to see the courtyard before your tour, so make sure that you go in early to have a look around, because you go out an entirely different exit & cannot go back to have more of a look around later. There are free toilets, just inside the castle gates where you show your tickets (or at least they are free in the off season).
There are a number of souvenir shops both at the bottom of the hill (you even have to walk through one, after you get your ticket) & there are a couple at the top that are still open in the offseason like when we were there, so there are lots of options for postcards or other small gifts if you so desire. We ended up buying a book about the castle from the first big one that they herd you through at the end of the tour, to make up for the fact that we couldn’t take any pictures, plus a couple of postcards.
I highly recommend taking a wander around the grounds & out to the lookout whilst you are there, where you can grab this classic scene of the castle.
Just as there are 3 options to get up to the castle, there are the same 3 to get down to the ticket area. If you decide to take bus or horse drawn carriage, down, it’s actually cheaper than the trip up. The timing of said rides didn’t follow any regular schedule when we were there, so if you are trying to catch other transport as we were, I highly recommend not relying on it. We unfortunately waited for the bus for over half an hour (it was supposed to run every 20) and then had to RUN down the hill, just missing our bus into town to catch our train. 😆
A lovely guy who worked at one of the hotels there, helped us out though & called a taxi for us, so that we could make our train. Our adventure didn’t finish there though, apparently there is a Füssen in Germany & another in Austria & the ticket I booked was from Ulrichsbrücke- Füssen, so after a taxi ride that cost a little more than the ticket back, we ended up back at Musau train station, as our taxi driver couldn’t find the right way to approach Ulrichsbrücke- Füssen station. Both of the trains back ran on time, which was a nice change & meant that after a quick stop on the way back to grab a few things to eat, we got back our accommodation & in bed around 10pm. A very long day, but glad that we still managed to get to Neuschwanstein.
Perhaps, if we go back that way, we will stay nearby for a couple of days to allow for our long transportation times? 😝