There are hundreds of beautiful castles scattered throughout Europe but there was only one on my must-see list this year: Neuschwanstein Castle. Set in the beautiful backdrops of the German Alps, the fairy tale-like castle is rumoured to have been the inspiration for the castle in Walt Disney’s Sleepy Beauty.
I don’t blame Wes for not wanting to join me on my castle day trip (just like he doesn’t blame me for passing on a day at the BMW Museum). To simplify the planning, I booked with Sandeman (again) and coughed up 37 Euros for a Füssen Fairytale excursion. This included my fare for the two hour train ride from Munich to Füssen plus a local bus ride and our guided tour of the village and castle surroundings.
I was just like everyone else on the bus, peering out all the windows looking for that first glimpse of the castle in the hills. And when you first see it, it really does feel like a fairy tale setting. The path to the castle starts in the village of Hohenschwangau and is about 1.5km uphill to the base of the castle. It’s a beautiful stroll through the tree-lined path and since no cars are allowed, you’ll only see horse-drawn carriages on the way!
Weather-depending, a bus is also available from the village of Hohenschwangau but it takes a different path upwards, past the castle and then you’re able to walk downhill about 15 minutes to the entrance of Neuschwanstein Castle. Again, a lot depends on the weather. I’m glad I was able to see the castle grounds and the village in a picturesque winter setting but that meant that the path to the Marienbrücke bridge (pictured below) was technically closed. Luckily, me and a few brave souls safely make it to the bridge for iconic views of the castle. This winter, the Marienbrücke bridge is actually closed due to renovation work and will reopen again in May of 2016.
Not included in the Sandeman tour price is entrance to the castle and a guided tour of the interior that runs about 45 minutes. If I could go back, I would have rather skipped the tour of the inside and explored the outdoor landscapes a bit more. The inside of the castle was pretty grand but the tour felt rushed and no photos were allowed either.
Have you visited any magical castles in Europe? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below!