One of the must-see sights when you are visiting Munich and Bavaria is the fairy-tale castle of Neuschwanstein. Built by Mad King Ludwig in the late 19th century, it’s the basis for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. Located a couple of hours away from Munich, the majority of visitors pay for a day tour, sometimes also visiting a second castle. However, if you’re okay with just visiting Neuschwanstein Castle and don’t need a guide to direct you on your way, it’s very easy to organise your own Neuschwanstein Castle without tour group day-trip.
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The Cost of a Train & Bus from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle
Most day trips to Neuschwanstein Castle will cost you around €50, not even including the entrance fee. Instead it’s far cheaper to just buy a Bavaria Ticket at any train station in Munich. A Bavaria Ticket allows travel on all trains and many buses in Bavaria, all day on weekends and public holidays or after 9am on weekdays. The cost is €25 for a single traveller, plus an extra €6 per extra traveller for up to 5 travellers in total. So if there are two of you on the trip, the total cost is €31 for both of you. Or just €15.50 each to do the trip yourself.
How to Get to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich via Train & Bus
So how do you get to Neuschwanstein Castle via train and bus? Firstly in Munich travel to the München Hauptbahnhof (or Hbf, the main train station). On weekdays, direct trains to Füssen depart here each hour, at 8:53am, 9:52am, 10:53am, etc, with no reservation required. The journey is comfortable and quite picturesque as you approach the Alps. Stay on the train until it terminates in Füssen. The total time on the train is a couple of minutes over 2 hours.
(Oh, and if you’re wanting to catch that early 8:53am train on a weekday, and still use the Bavaria Ticket that doesn’t allow train journeys before 9:00am, there is a way! Additionally purchase a single trip ticket for Munich for €2.80 per adult. This will cover the part of your train journey from München Hauptbahnhof to München-Pasing, where the train then departs at 9:00am.)
The train times on weekends slightly differ, and generally involve a change of train and a longer journey time. Check out the full train timetables on the easy to use Deutsche Bahn website.
At Füssen train station, alight from the train and board one of the buses heading to either Schwangau (RVA/OVG 78) or Steingaden / Garmisch-Partenkirchen (RVA/OVG 73). Usually one ore more buses is waiting when the train arrives. Most of the other people on the train will also be catching the same bus, but check with the driver if you are unsure. Your Bavaria Ticket will cover this bus trip too. Just show the driver your ticket.
After about 10 minutes on the bus, get off in Hohenschwangau. Again, most of the other people on the bus will be alighting here too. Cross the main road and head a few hundred metres along the road through Hohenschwangau to the Ticket Office. It’s located on the right hand side of the road.
What about the Munich Neuschwanstein Bus?
Flixbus have recently started offering a bus directly from Munich to Neuschwanstein. It departs the Munich Central Bus Station (close to the Hauptbahnhof) and deposits you at Schwangau (the same destination as the above local bus, close to the ticket counter). Bus fares vary between €7.90 and €19.90 for each direction, meaning the total cost could be as low as €15.80 return, cheaper than the Bavaria ticket for one person. This is a big but though: the return ticket could be as high as €39.80, far more expensive. And if there are two of you travelling together, the Bavaria ticket is only €15.50 each, which is cheaper.
It’s a simpler option, without the need to change transport, but there are some disadvantages of this bus option:
- Currently the Flixbus to Neuschwanstein is only offered on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
- There is only one service each direction per day. During October, it departs Munich at 7:15am and arrives at the Castle at 9:55am, then departs the Castle at 3:45pm and arrives back in Munich at 6:35pm. (Note that the time differs depending on the month of the year.)
- The total time you’ll spend at Neuschwanstein Castle is between 5 and 6 hours, which is a lot longer than you’re the duration you’ll need to visit just Neuschwanstein Castle, or even both Neuschwanstein Castle and the nearby Hohenschwangau Castle. You also don’t get the option to spend part of the day in Füssen.
- Public transport to get to and from the bus station isn’t included, while it is included with the Bavaria Ticket.
Buying Neuschwanstein Castle Tickets In Advance
When it comes to tickets for tours of Neuschwanstein Castle, there are two options. If it is high season or you are organised, it is highly recommended to book tickets in advance. In addition to the Neuschwanstein entrance fee of €13 per adult, there is also a €1.80 reservation fee per person. But this is worth it in case the tickets are all sold out by the time you arrive or there is a very long queue.
Book Neuschwanstein Castle online tickets here. Bookings must be done at least 2 days in advance. Credit card details are required to reserve a ticket, but are only used if you are a no-show. Make sure you arrive at the Ticket Office at least 1 hour in advance of your tour, then pay for the tickets in cash or with credit card. Cancellations are permitted up to 2 hours before the tour.
Buying Neuschwanstein Castle Tickets on the Day
If you haven’t booked in advance for tickets, you will need to join a queue and select a tour. Available tours displayed on the boards above the ticket counters. Tours are offered every 5 minutes in either German or English, with audio guides for other languages. The Neuschwanstein Castle ticket price is €13 per adult (children under 18 free) and can be paid for on credit card or in cash. It you’re worried about missing out on a ticket, it’s best to catch an earlier train. Plus for a shorter queue it’s worthwhile hurrying after you leave the bus, so you’re not lined up behind everyone else on the bus. Don’t forget to buy a ticket down in the village, as they’re not available up at the castle!
Climbing the Hill to Neuschwanstein Castle
Once you have your ticket in hand, the cheapest option to get to Neuschwanstein Castle is to walk up the hill to the castle. Whilst it is steep, the 1.5km climb is no issues if you’re used to walking (and will probably be quicker than the 30-40 minutes listed). Alternatively, a shuttle bus (€1.80 uphill, €1 downhill, €2.60 return trip) or horse and cart ride (€6 uphill, €3 downhill) can take you most the way. Although there is still a short distance to walk (with the shorter walk from the end of the horse and cart ride).
The Tour of Neuschwanstein Castle
Your actual tour of Neuschwanstein Castle begins from the interior courtyard. There is still probably a delay until your tour time, so fill in time by visiting the Marienbrücke and taking photos from the popular look-out (see the top photo), then wander around the outside of Neuschwanstein Castle and the interior courtyard.
If your wait is even longer, it may be worthwhile having lunch first. There are multiple options down in the village (either sit down inside or simple take-away options outside). Alternatively, the restaurant just below the castle where the horse and card ride terminates is actually good value.
When it’s almost time for your tour, make sure you are waiting at the tour gate in time. Five minutes before the start time, the electronic board will update to display your tour number. Your ticket now allows you through the turnstile into the queueing area. Promptly on time, your tour will then enter the castle. The guided tour lasts 35 minutes, although you can spend extra time wandering through the souvenir shops and old kitchens at the end of the tour. Strictly no photos are allowed, and there’s no free time to wander around by yourself.
Returning to Munich from Neuschwanstein Castle
To return to Munich, follow your journey in reverse. Return to the main road to catch the bus, then climb aboard a train at Füssen. Trains again depart each hour. If you have extra free time, it is well worthwhile wandering around the historic centre of this beautiful town. Check out the time of return trains at the Deutsche Bahn website.
Prefer to be accompanied by a guide and skip the ticket queue? Check out the prices and availability of this small-group day tour offered through Viator.