From Munich to Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau: How to get there on your own
Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau: How to get there

From Munich to Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau: How to get there on your own

The castle from the Disney screensaver is real. Its prototype is Schloss Neuschwanstein near Munich. There are two swan castles near the town of Füssen in Bavaria — Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein. Swans appear in the names of both castles (in German «swan» — Schwan) and dominate the interiors. I will tell you how to plan your trip and visit these romantic places.

Interesting: Guide to Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles

How to get from Munich by public transportation

Both castles are located near the village of Schwangau and the nearest town is Füssen. It takes about 2 hours to get to the castles by car or tour bus from Munich, or 3 hours one way if you drive yourself.

There are regular transportation links between Munich and Füssen. First you have to get to Füssen, and from there buses run to the castles.

From Munich to swan castles

Train Munich — Füssen

From Munich to Füssen is a convenient and cheap (as far as railroads in Germany are concerned) train ride.

  • The first train from Munich departs at 6:45 am, the last train at 11:19 pm.
  • Travel time is about 2 hours.
  • Some trains are direct, some have one connection, most often in Buchloe.
  • If buying a ticket in German is difficult, you can buy tickets for the same price on the aggregator websites Rail Europe, Trainline and Omio.

A regular one-way ticket to Füssen costs about 23 €. I recommend taking a Bayern-Ticket — it’s cheaper and more convenient. This is a day pass that allows you to make unlimited train and bus trips (including city and intercity buses) throughout Bavaria and even go as far as Salzburg. The only but important restriction is that the ticket is only valid for 2nd class carriages on regional trains.

  • On weekdays, the ticket is valid from 09:00 in the morning until 03:00 the next day, on weekends and holidays — from midnight until 03:00 the next day.
  • You can buy a ticket at the station: at terminals and at the ticket office. If you buy a ticket at a ticket office, you will be charged a service fee of 2 €.
  • A ticket for one person costs 25 €, for two people 32 €, for each additional person there is a surcharge of only 7 €. One general ticket can be issued for 5 people. After purchase, you must write your names on the ticket, otherwise it is invalid.
  • Important: the ticket is not valid for high-speed, international and all higher class trains. The last regional train in the return direction from Füssen to Munich leaves at 18:05.
Regional trains at Munich station
Regional trains at Munich station

Bus Munich — Füssen

Füssen can be reached by Flixbus. In Munich, buses depart from the central bus station.

  • There are usually two buses per day, the schedule varies depending on the day of the week, so you have to check the website.
  • Tickets are from 11,99 € one way.
  • The bus ride is a little over two hours.

In Füssen, from the Flixbus terminus you have to get to the train station, from where buses to the castles depart.

How to get from Füssen to Schwangau

There is a bus stop next to the train station in Füssen, from where regular buses run to the ticket office of the castles. They are coordinated with the train schedule and depart about 10 minutes after the train arrives.

  • From Füssen to the village of Schwangau and the ticket office of both castles, bus numbers 73 and 78 run from Füssen.
  • Travel time is about 15 minutes.
  • The fare is included in the Bayern-Ticket. Without the Bayern-Ticket, you have to buy a bus ticket to and from the village for 2.10 € one way from the driver upon boarding.

Buses stop next to the ticket office in the village of Schwangau (stop — Hohenschwangau Neuschwanstein Castles).

The castles themselves can be reached on foot or in a horse-drawn carriage. There is also an additional bus to Neuschwanstein Castle.

Restaurant in the village next to the ticket office
Restaurant in the village next to the ticket office

How to get to Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau by car

The distance between Munich and Schwangau is about 120 km and the drive takes about 2 hours. You can park your car near Hohenschwangau. Parking costs from 7 € per day.

Auto is the most flexible way to get to and from the castles. You won’t be tied to the return flight of a tour bus or train departure time. On the way you can see the ancient Bavarian town of Oberammergau and Linderhof Castle. And although the prices for car rental in Munich are relatively high, when traveling with three people it is already more profitable than the «Bavarian ticket». The most difficult question is who doesn’t drink Bavarian beer today.

I found the best prices for renting a car — from 35 € per day — in the aggregators Rentalcars, Economybookings, AutoEurope.

View of the valley and Hohenschwangau Castle
View of the valley and Hohenschwangau Castle

Excursion to Neuschwanstein from Munich

Traveling to both castles in one day can be quite exhausting: it takes almost 6 hours just to get there and back. And considering that the last train to Munich leaves at 18:05, you’ll need to keep a close eye on the time to avoid accidentally spending the night in Füssen.

This is one of the few cases when a guided tour is justified: no need to change from train to bus, saving about 2 hours of travel time. Full-day guided tours start from 57 €. Here you can book a tour in Russian: a comfortable bus starts from Munich at 8:30, takes you directly to the castles, the guide will give you a tour and bring you back to Munich in the evening. Tickets to the castles can be purchased in advance or from your guide.

In the village of Schwangau, even the restaurants have royal names
In the village of Schwangau, even the restaurants have royal names

What to consider before traveling

Average temperature in the vicinity of the castle: -2°C to +1°C in winter, +25°C in summer. The temperature in the mountains differs from that in Munich, so it is worth checking the forecast before traveling.

The ticket office is located about halfway between both castles. The way to the castles is not included in the ticket price. It is possible to walk between the castles. It is more convenient to visit Hohenschwangau first, and then descend the mountain and climb up to Neuschwanstein Castle — the walk from the ticket office to the castle takes about 40 minutes at a leisurely pace. In the case of buses and horse-drawn carriages, the journey also starts from the ticket office towards either castle.

The castles can only be visited as part of a tour group. Tours are conducted in English and German, and a Russian-language audio guide is available. The castle tour lasts about 30 minutes.

  • Tickets are sold strictly for specific times at the ticket office in the village below, there are no ticket offices near the castles themselves. Tickets sell out quickly, especially for Neuschwanstein Castle. I advise you to arrive early so that you can buy tickets for both castles and get to the castles without rushing.
  • Advance ticket reservations are available online, but tickets must be redeemed at the ticket office one and a half hours before the start of the tour at the castle. Online ticket sales without the need to redeem them at the ticket office are planned to be introduced from the beginning of 2020.
  • Photography is not allowed inside the castles.
  • Bring cash with you. You’ll need it to pay for the carriage ride or to eat at the castles.
  • Taking a snack with you is a good idea. After a three-hour one-way trip, you’ll be hungry before you even get to the ticket office, and food prices near the castles will be higher than in town.
  • Form of clothing: comfortable and layered. In the mountains it gets dark earlier and cooler. Shoes: comfortable, without heels: you will have to walk a lot uphill.
  • Due to weather conditions, repairs, strikes, carriage or bus transportation may not work temporarily, a bridge or part of the road may be closed. Check the official website before traveling.
Alpsee Lake at the foot of Hohenschwagau Castle
Alpsee Lake at the foot of Hohenschwagau Castle
There is not a lot of snow here in December
There is not a lot of snow here in December