What?! Another castle?! Challenged by previous foiled attempts to enter this elusive castle while driving along Germany’s Romantic Road, we finally got our chance.


Seriously. A castle is a castle is a castle, right?

Well, this one is special. As many of you know, it was the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle.

Schloss Neuschwanstein looking ever so familiar to us, Disney fans.

I had gone to see Disney’s version on my first trip to the U.S. when I was in my 30s. And I have to say, even at that age, the wonder and magic of the happiest place on earth wasn’t lost on me – at all.

So I swore to myself that if I ever get the chance to return to Germany, I’d try harder to see the real thing.

And instead of just showing up without a reservation – or worse, showing up late in the day – I didn’t take any chances. This time, I did my homework.

The Mad King’s Castle

Neuschwanstein or New Swan Stone, named after a character in one of the great composer Richard Wagner’s operas, was the real-life castle of Bavarian king, Ludwig II. Mad King Ludwig. But was he really mad?

Postcard of 1886 photograph of the Singer’s Hall by Joseph Albert.

Reading up a bit on this Bavarian king prior to your visit would definitely put things in perspective and allow for a better appreciation of the castle. Or any of his castles or palaces, for that matter.

I promise you, you won’t be bored.

It’s a fascinating story of a complex king who was loved by his subjects but whose eccentricity and extravagance, although all from his personal fortune, turned his ministers against him and declared him mad.

A dreamer thrust into his royal duties at a young age, Ludwig found solace in these elaborate building projects. He was also an important patron of the great composer, Richard Wagner, with whom the king had formed a close friendship.

The Drawing Room with murals showing scenes from Wagner’s opera, Lohengrin

So the world has Ludwig II to thank for making this delightful drive along the roads of Bavaria even more interesting. 

To ensure your place inside the Castle…

This is How It’s Done

1. Reserve your tickets. 

Click here to reserve the date and entry time of your visit.

2. Print the Confirmation Letter generated by the reservation system.

Make sure to bring this with you on the day of your visit.

3. Claim and purchase your tickets. 

On the day of your visit, make sure you arrive at the Ticket Center in the village of Hohenschwangau (High Swan Region) more than 1 hour before your chosen entry time. Reserved tickets must be claimed no later than 1 hour before entry time. There’s parking near the Ticket Center. The Ticket Center itself opens at 8am.

4. Present your Confirmation Letter and exchange them for your tickets.

Bear in mind that you cannot claim tickets at Neuschwanstein Castle itself. Get them first at the Ticket Center in Hohenschwangau.

Top Tips

It’s best to stay somewhere close to the Castle so you can get a headstart. We got there early for our equally-early morning booking. At that time, it was still easy to find parking at both the Ticket Center and Neuschwanstein Castle. (Check out where we stayed here.)

Ludwig II’s childhood home in Hohenschwangau or the High Swan Region

And do wear comfortable shoes. The end of the tour leads you out onto the grounds of the castle, where you walk downhill towards the parking lot. It can get slippery when it rains, so it’s best to wear proper shoes. 

Ludwig II

Ludwig’s life wasn’t always a happy one. Even more sad was how it ended mysteriously.

But walking through the different rooms of the castle, enjoying the glorious views from its windows and balconies, all I could think of was the little boy prince who once looked out from across his childhood home, Hohenschwangau Castle, straight into this dramatic, rugged cliff, and dreamt of building a castle above it.

And did.

Mad King to others, perhaps? But to me, he will always be the Swan King

Why not spend a lovely day or two in the capital city of Ludwig’s Bavaria, Munich? Read about our visit here