I have visited my fair share of castles and palaces in Europe, especially in Germany! From lavish and opulent palaces like the Residenz in Munich to the almost ruined castles along the Rhine and Mosel river, there is no short of castles and palaces in Germany. Out of all of these places, there are 2 castles that are absolute must visits when in Germany, in my opinion. These are Burg (castle) Eltz and Neuschwanstein castle. Not only are these 2 castles my favorites in Germany, they also rank 1 and 2 in my favorite castles in the world list! This post provides information on everything you need to know about visiting Burg Eltz and Neuschwanstein Castle.
History and Overview
Nestled deep in a forest above the Mosel river, this medieval castle has been in the same family for 8 centuries! This is extremely rare historically but Burg Eltz was spared from wars or any sort of destruction due to clever marriages and diplomacy. Although the Eltz family does not live in the castle on a regular basis they are still very much involved in its upkeeping. The castle is so authentic that original furnishings of the past eight centuries still remain in place today!
Burg Eltz is located above the Mosel river near Koblenz. That’s the easy answer. My favorite answer is that it’s actually located in a forest! I hiked through the forest to get to Burg Eltz and it was such an amazing sight to see this beautiful castle emerge out of nowhere.
But, here is the technical answer:
Kastellanei Burg Eltz
Burg Eltz 1
D-56294 Wierschem, Germany
How to Get There
1. By car – It’s about a 30 minute drive from Cochem (see below). Parking can be found at this address. It’s about 4 euros to park (cash only). You have to take a shuttle bus from the car park which costs another 2 euros or you can also walk.
2. By foot/hiking – There is a hiking trail from Moselkern to Burg Eltz. It’s roughly about 5 km but can be steep in certain places. The trail is marked “Burg Eltz” from the train station and boat landing in Moselkern.
3. By Train – You have 2 options here
Train to Hatzenport – From Hatzenport, there is a bus that runs to the Burg Eltz car park. There are 2 buses every hour. The first one starts at 8:02 AM from Hatzenport train station. The next is at 8:48 AM. From there onwards it runs at the 13th and 48th minutes (i.e., 9:13, 9:48, 10:13, 10:48 etc. until 18:48 pm). Going back it runs on the 47th and 22nd minute of every hour starting at 8:47 AM. The bus number is 365.
Train to Moselkern – From Moselkern, you can either hike to the castle or take a taxi. The taxi companies are listed below.
- Taxi Charly, Pillig, Tel.: +49 (0) 2605 2022 / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Taxi Ewald, Löf, Tel.: +49 (0) 2605 4700 / email@example.com
- Taxi Reuter, Treis-Karden, Tel. +49 (0) 2672 1407 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Burg Eltz is open daily between April 1st to November 1st from 9:30 AM onwards.
Tickets can be bought on site. My advice is to go early to make the first tour. The ticket includes a tour of the castle and a visit to the treasury.
You can only visit the castle on a guided tour. The tour lasts around 30-40 minutes. Gather at the upper deck to join the tour. There is a separate tour for English speaking visitors so make sure to wait for that one to be called. You will be taken to the various rooms through the castle during the tour. The bedroom with the canopy bed and the chapel were my absolute favorites!
You can visit the treasury on your own.
Check out the official Burg Eltz website HERE
Where to Stay
The best way to see Burg Eltz is to stay in a nearby town and make a day trip to the castle. Cochem along the Mosel river is a popular and great choice. Another good choice is Beilstein which is just down the road from Cochem.
Why I like Burg Eltz
When I think of castles, usually it’s a huge building with many rooms, lavishly decorated in gold from floor to ceiling and has a well kept manicured garden. I love burg Eltz because it’s nothing like I’ve seen before! Instead of the walls covered in gold from floor to ceiling, the walls at Burg Eltz are simply painted in murals and flowers. It’s simple but has so much charm and character! Unfortunately they don’t allow pictures inside so you may have to take my word for it! The location being so remote also adds to the mystery of the castle. If I had to pick one word to describe Burg Eltz I would use the word authentic! This is why I consider Burg Eltz a must visit castle in Germany.
If you don’t like the hassle of planning a visit on your own, you can join a tour like the one below!
History and Overview
Built in the late 1800s in the Romantic style, this castle was King Ludwig of Bavaria’s dream project. Ludwig ruled Bavaria for 22 years until he was tragically found dead in a lake nearby. There are two castles in this location. The oldest of the two and the more lived in Hohenschwangau castle and Ludwig’s dream project, Neuschwanstein castle. Ludwig was a true romantic and as such his friends were all poet, musicians and artists from the romantic era. You will see scenes from operas of the composer Wagner in the form of murals on the walls of Neuschwanstein.
Neuschwanstein is the better castle of the two and a must visit castle when in Germany. However, you can buy a combine ticket to both castles if you wish to visit both. The official website advices you to keep 2.5 hours between the 2 visits.
Broadly, Neuschwanstein is located in Schwangau, in the state of Bavaria, Germany. To get to the castle you need to first get to the village of Hohenschwangau.
The map below taken from the official website, gives a good overview of all the places I speak about below.
How to Get There
This really depends on where you are coming from. Here’s how to get to Neuschwanstein from Munich
1. By Car – It’s about a 1.5 hour drive. Park at the P4 lot.
2. By Train – It’s a 2 hour train ride to Füssen. Once in Füssen, hop on bus #73 or #78 to get to the village. The ride is only 10 minutes and the buses run every 30 minutes or so.
Tickets are timed and you need to keep adequate time to not just get to the village but to get up to the castle. If you are coming from Munich, you need to leave 2 hours for the train ride, 30 minutes to catch a bus and you need to be at the ticket office 1 hour prior. Basically, you need to leave Munich at least 4 hours before your ticket entry time.
Buy a Bayern Pass – This pass will cover the train ride to Füssen and the bus ride from Füssen to Hohenschwangau. This is good for up to 5 people and cheaper than buying individual tickets. Only caveat is that this Bayern Pass is only valid after 9 AM on weekdays.
Neuschwanstein castle is open daily except January 1st and December 24th, 25th and 31st. The operating hours are as follows:
- April to 15 October: 9 am-6 pm
- 16 October to March: 10 am-4 pm
You HAVE TO buy tickets in advance! Especially in the summer months. You may be able to buy tickets at the ticketing office in the low season but I would not bank on it.
Once you get to Hohenschwangau (the village), make a straight line to the ticketing office. Even if you have a pre-paid reservation, you still need to exchange the voucher (which you need to print) for your actual ticket. Also, you have to pick up your ticket an hour before the tour time and then make the hike up (see below on how to get to the castle).
Ticket office times are as follows:
- April to 15 October: 8 am-4 pm
- 16 October to March: 9 am-3 pm
Pro Tip – Tickets can sell out fast, especially during the summer. Purchase well ahead of time!
Getting to the Castle
Once you pick up your actual ticket, you have 3 options to get to the castle.
1. Walk – It’s about a 40 minutes walk up a steep incline from the ticket office up to the castle. Best for people hoping to knock out leg day 🙂
2. Shuttle bus – There is a shuttle bus that leaves from P4 that will take you to Marienbrucke (see below). From there it’s a 10-15 min walk downhill to the actual entrance. The bus can be often packed and you may have to wait a bit if the first one that comes by is full. The bus ticket costs a few euros and can be bought from the driver. It’s cheaper to buy a round trip than to buy 2 separate tickets. Exact change is needed (3 euros round trip, 2.50 up hill, 1.50 down hill)
3. Horse Drawn Carriage – You can find these near Hotel Müller, where most of them are parked and buy your tickets right with the carriage driver. You will be dropped off below Neuschwanstein, so you will have to hike uphill for about 5 minutes.
You need to make sure you are at the entrance to the castle at least 10 minutes before the tour starts. This is absolutely vital!
Once it’s time, a board will display your ticket number. Go to the turnstile and use your ticket to enter. You will go through about 15 rooms inside the castle. Unfortunately pictures are not allowed but the interior is really amazing! My favorites were the king’s bedroom with it’s elaborately carved canopy bed and throne room. The huge byzantine crown shaped chandelier took my breath away!
Marienbrucke (Mary’s bridge)
This is where you will find the postcard view of Neuschwanstein castle. Whether you do this before or after the castle visit is up to you. Typically the shuttle stops close to this spot.
Check out the official Neuschwanstein Castle website HERE.
Where to Stay
The closest town to Neuschwanstein is Füssen, while the closest big city is Munich. It’s a relatively easy day trip from Munich. Where you stay really depends on your preference. Füssen is a small town but you cut out the travel time, while there’s a lot more to do in Munich.
Why I like Neuschwanstein Castle
I’m careful not to use the word fairytale too much in my travel writing, but if I had to describe Neuschwanstein in one word, it would be fairytale. Neuschwanstein really gives you a glimpse into the genius that was King Ludwig and his eye for exquisite beauty. Also, it is said that Neuschwanstein was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s castles. While there is some golden, guilded opulence inside, it’s still a completely different vibe to say a Versailles or a Schönbrunn in Vienna.
Here are some great tour options if you prefer to join one.
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Curious to know what my 3rd favorite castle is? Check it out HERE!
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