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How to Visit Neuschwanstein Castle in Winter

Ever wanted to visit the castle that inspired Disneyland’s princess castle? Yup, that’s right! It’s an actual castle in Germany and it is INCREDIBLE! All year you can go inside the castle, walk around it…and then you can head up to an Insta-famous spot to get a picture of the castle far below you…unless it’s winter. So I’ve laid out exactly how to visit the Neuschwanstein Castle in the winter WITHOUT missing anything. If you want to book a guided tour to the Castel, check out this post!

Neuschwanstein Castle in winter: What is the marienbrÜcke bridge?

You’re busy planning your trip to one of the most beautiful places in the world: Bavaria in Germany. You’re dead set on seeing with your own eyes one of the most famous (and Insta-famous) castles in the world.

You assume that somehow that view you’ve seen so many times on Instagram or Facebook will be available to you, but then you get there and realize that just because you wanted the magical wintery landscape, you are left WITHOUT that incredible shot. Why?!

Because during the winter, the famous Marienbrucke bridge (where you can get amazing views of the castle from above) is closed!

Yes, your friends on Instagram might not have mentioned this, but if you pay close attention to the photos, you’ll see they have one thing in common: a steel bridge barely in the frame.

Here’s what the castle looks like during Spring from the Marienbrucke Bridge:

Neuschwanstein Castle during the summer
Photo from The Hangry Backpacker

You see, during the other seasons, there is a pedestrian bridge suspended between two mountains just above the Neuschwanstein castle. In fact, it’s even easily accessible straight from the castle itself!

UNLESS ITS WINTER. UGH!

The gate behind the castle that leads to a beautiful walkway with a view of the castle the whole way AND even a view of ANOTHER castle is locked.

During the winter, the bridge is considered unsafe because of the amount of snow buildup and ice.

The pathway halfway up the castle, however, is not locked. There are signs telling you not to go up since the area is dangerous or that you would be trespassing, but there is no locked gate.

Don’t worry, you can still enter the castle and walk around the grounds, but what about the best view of all?

When is the marienbrÜcke bridge closed?

This is a bit tricky since it completely depends on the year and when winter decides to hit! However, you can assume that if it has snowed and there is snow on the ground when you’re heading towards the castle, then it is most likely closed.

This is a screenshot from the official website of the city Hohenschwangau (the city where the castle is located):

Marienbrucke Bridge is closed in the winter

So How do you get to the Neuschwanstein viewpoint in the winter?

Well, if you still want to get that incredible shot, you’ll need to break a few rules! Well, for some of these options. But overall, yes this is a bit of what we would call a “gray area.”

I do have to say though that there was no one there supervising or reporting anyone. I absolutely HATE getting in trouble and I wouldn’t have done it if I thought that was going to happen.

That being said, there were only about 6 people up there willing to do this. So are you ready for a real adventure?! And with the best view EVER with almost ZERO tourists?! Let’s go!

Quick Important Tip: For both of these options, make sure that you SAVE the locations on your Google Maps. You should save the castle, the Marienbrücke bridge, and all of the options listed in this post.

Why? Because you never know if the option you chose will be available that day. By marking and preparing for both, you will almost guarantee yourself that incredible view.

What time should you head up to the viewpoint?

This is completely up to you! I will discuss later on how to get tickets to go inside the castle and take a tour as well as where to stay and how to get there, so it all depends on what you want to do!

During the winter, the sun isn’t likely going to be out, but you want to be up at the viewpoint when the castle is easily visible (so preferably when it’s not snowing).

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We decided to head up to the castle first and then go to the viewpoint since the sun might be out a little stronger for better lighting.

We were up there at about 10-11 am. The worst lighting is in the afternoon.

I’d recommend late morning or around 3:30 pm so you can be up there by 4 pm. It all depends on the kind of shot you want to get and the lighting that you like! Now on to the options…

Option 1: Follow the path by the Souvenir Shop

Normally, there are multiple ways to get to the Marienbrucke bridge: a gate about halfway up to the castle (they have a little hotel and restaurant there) and then again at the gate behind the castle itself.

The pathway halfway up the castle, however, is not locked. There are signs telling you not to go up since the area is dangerous or that you would be trespassing, but there is no locked gate.

The walk is much shorter this way and on an obvious path. It takes about 13 minutes to get to Marienbrucke from there. Here’s a Google Map to show you the exact path you would be taking:

Jake and I decided not to do this path since, like I said before, I HATE getting in trouble and those signs really scared me.

Plus, there were a ton of people hiking up to the castle and taking selfies around that area and I didn’t want them to see us going up.

Instead, we used Option 2, which as you’ll see is a bit more dangerous since it’s not a paved path, but there were no signs telling us not to do it!

IMPORTANT NOTE: I do not think that ANYONE should actually go on the bridge once you get there. It’s closed off for a reason and it is actually REALLY hard to get on the bridge with the tall gate and the chance of falling (yes, I might have tried).

You can get the view without going on the bridge at all. We’ll get to that after I go over all of the options. You can scroll down if you’ve already chosen Option 1.

Option 2: Follow a snowy path on Google maps

This is the option that Jake and I chose. It was absolutely beautiful, but definitely the more adventurous option since some of the parts we had to improvise a bit and just follow the general direction that our Google Maps told us the bridge was in.

Snowy path to Neuschwanstein castle in the winter

This meant that at one point we had to crawl up a snowy hill covering ourselves in snow by the time we reached the top.

I wouldn’t advise this option if you haven’t hiked before or if you aren’t comfortable winging it a bit and just following Google Maps. For those of you who feel up to the challenge, here’s where we started our little hike:

The path eventually meets up with Option 2. Below is the hike that you would follow if you choose to do this option.

Although it says that this hike is only 13 minutes, you have to factor in the amount of snow and needing to walk a little more carefully. It will probably take 20-25 minutes or so and includes a small stream crossing.

Although Jake and I chose this option to get to the viewpoint, we went down using Option 1 and spent a lot of time just walking around and finding different views.

There is so much to explore around this area, you can even walk to the locked gate at the Neuschwanstein castle that is supposed to lead to Marienbrucke.

I’ll go over what else to do around Marienbrucke in the “What to do once you’re at Marienbrucke” section.

what to do once you’re at marienbrÜcke

Like I said before, I do not think that ANYONE should actually go on the bridge once you get there. It’s closed off for a reason and it is actually REALLY hard to get on the bridge with the tall gate and the chance of falling.

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INSTEAD of going on the bridge, you are going to ignore (sorry, I warned you!) a few more trespassing signs and head up the small hill right to the left of the bridge.

At the top, there is a steep drop-off and below, lo and behold, the Neuschwanstein Castle!!

It’ll look like this:

Neuschwanstein castle in the winter
Couple in front of the Neuschwanstein castle in the winter

You can spend as much time as you want up there, but I would recommend leaving plenty of time to get down before the sun sets.

IMPORTANT BUT OBVIOUS TIP: DON’T get too close to the edge! It’s a cliff and definitely not worth it! You can get an incredible picture without getting close to the edge at all. It’s all about perspective.

Plus, it can be difficult in the snow to tell where the actual edge is. The snow can fall at any moment if you step on it wrong, so to be safe, stay close to the trees and far from the edge!

Explore the surrounding area

After you get your fill of that viewpoint, your adventure is definitely not over yet! Head back down the little hill you hiked and start heading to the right.

This whole area is the “paved path” from Option 1 and has unbelievable views of the whole area AND the other castle: Schwangau.

This is another reason why I recommended earlier to mark each of the options on your Google Maps. You can choose to hike this whole area, including Option 1.

You’ll know that you’re on the paved path (not only because you marked it on Google Maps) because you’ll start to see a guardrail like this:

Couple in front of the Schwangau castle in the winter
Schwangau castle in the winter

You can even mark the locked gate behind Neuschwanstein Castle on your Google Maps and head there as well to get a closer look at the castle from that angle.

Snowy path to Neuschwanstein castle in the winter

Or, you can just explore without needing to look at your phone! Once you get up there, the paths become more clear and you’ll feel better about exploring without help from your phone.

Visiting the Castle Itself

After you’ve gotten that crazy, unreal, can’t-believe-Europe-is-a-real-place, I-believe-in-magic-again VIEW, you have an important decision to make: to go inside the castle or to not.

Skip the Inside

Here’s my argument as to why Jake and I decided not to go inside the castle. A lot of people don’t agree with our viewpoint on it, and that’s totally fine!

I’m just writing this out so that those of you who are on the fence about it can make a better decision. So here’s what I think…

You don’t have to go inside a place if you don’t want to! Jake and I love learning about a place but have found that going inside doesn’t always add to the experience. It just adds money.

There are plenty of resources online that can help you learn about a place without spending the entrance fee (about $15 per person).

Especially since the inside of the castle was never actually lived in (according to Wikipedia King Ludwig only slept 11 nights there) and the inside was never completed during his lifetime.

The inside is still more simple and definitely not as impressive as the outside. Like this review from TripAdvisor states:

Review of visiting the castles

Do your research beforehand, but if you aren’t feeling it, don’t feel pressured! Not everyone needs to see the inside of that museum or castle in order to have a good experience there.

Neuschwanstein Castle Tickets

If you do want to book tickets for the castle, you can do so on this website. Make sure to read very carefully the instructions since you are required to get the tickets in advance as well as pick them up at a certain time.

You can also buy a combined ticket for the other castle if you’d like, the ticket prices are listed here.

The tickets sell out quickly, so buy them as much in advance as possible for your trip.

WHERe to stay

Jake and I normally BUDGET THE CRAP out of our trips. Like seriously. And it really works! We average about $22 per night in Europe while traveling.

If you want an option like that, you should stay in Fussen instead of Hohenschwangau. Fussen is just a short bus ride away from the castle while Hohenschwangau is walking distance.

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The two cheapest hotels/hostels are Old Kings for $23 per person and Jugendherberge Hostel for $31 per person. (Both of these are affiliate links to Booking.com which help this blog!)

These are definitely more expensive than we’d normally spend, which is a big reason why we decided to do something a little different…

We decided to splurge a little on this trip (so out of character!) and stay right below the castle for only $75 a night! (Here’s my affiliate link for this hotel, if you use this link I’ll make a small commission and it helps me keep blogging! Thank you!)

Hotel under the Neuschwanstein castle

You can also find some cheap options on Airbnb, although they might be a little further away.

How to get to Neuschwanstein castle

There are two main options to get to the castle. The first is a day trip from Munich and the second is staying the night.

We chose to stay the night since we wanted to see a bit more of the area without having to be in a hurry.

Don’t Take the Train

This applies to travel all over Europe! Usually taking a bus will be cheaper AND faster. Jake and I made a HUGE $1,000 mistake when we thought we would “budget travel” to Europe for the first time by buying the Eurail pass.

So instead of taking the train, I suggest using Flixbus. To get to the Neuschwanstein castle, we booked a Flixbus ticket from Munich to Fussen for about $13 per person.

Quick Tip: Be careful when planning your trip to Neuschwanstein castle as the Flixbus doesn’t go to Fussen every day. Make sure you plan around the days that actually have buses.

Sometimes the Flixbus drops you off a bit further from the main city than you’d like (this happened to us, while it was snowing!

We had to carry all our stuff on a 15-minute walk to the city, but it was actually pretty dang magical to watch the snow lightly falling so we didn’t mind.

BUT, you should be prepared. Make sure to mark and SAVE your hotel and the city of Fussen on Google Maps before your trip so that if you do get dropped off, you at least know the right direction.

Always be prepared to be without service or wifi.

You can also try out this website (Omio) instead to compare all the different ways to get from where you are to Fussen. If there’s nothing to Fussen, you can try typing Hohenschwangau or Neuschwanstein castle instead.

Also, if you book on Omio use this code: daynab8u6i6c to get €10 off your first booking!

Use the public bus

Whether you stay in Fussen or splurge on an amazing hotel closer to the castle, you will still need to use the public bus since the Flixbus will always drop you off in Fussen.

Once you get to Fussen, you can take a short 10-minute bus ride that will take you to Hohenschwangau and then walk to your hotel. Or you can walk from Fussen to your hotel/hostel in the area.

This is the bus stop that you should also have marked on Google Maps:

There are two buses that head to the castle: Bus 73 in the direction of Steingaden/Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Bus 78 in the direction of Schwangau. Get off at the stop Hohenschwangau/Alpseestraße.

Fussen, Germany

On your way in or out (or if you decide to stay there) you should definitely spend some time checking out Fussen itself. Did you know that there’s a castle there too?!

Fussen, Germany

It’s actually one of the cutest and most traditional looking towns I’ve seen, especially at night with snow gently falling.

I definitely wish I had a little more time to explore this town as well, but we already plan to head back to this area since there is a lot of good hiking nearby with castle views!

But until then, this was a trip to remember and I hope this helped you plan a magical, wintery trip to Bavaria!

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How to Visit Neuschwanstein Castle in Winter

Shelley

Friday 28th of February 2020

This was SO helpful!! Thank you so much, you made my winter Europe dreams come true with that view point!! :)

admin

Monday 2nd of March 2020

Yay, I'm so glad! So you were able to go there and see it for yourself?! That's so awesome!! And yes, this place is seriously a winter Europe dream!!

Nina

Saturday 1st of February 2020

Wanted to visit Neuschwanstein for sooo long and haven’t managed to go even though I don’t live that far away. But would love to go in fall when the leaves have such amazing colours. Love this post and your photos 💗😊

Sarah

Friday 3rd of January 2020

Such good tips! I had no idea the view point closed in the winter. Fussen looks adorable as well - there are just too many places to see in Germany!

admin

Friday 3rd of January 2020

Thank you! And yeah, I bet most people don't find that out until they get there! And seriously, agreed! As we were leaving Fussen we already were wanting to head right back again. We're moving to France in January so we'll be planning a lot of trips there!!