Our Top 3 MUST-SEE castles in Germany

Our Top 3 MUST-SEE castles in Germany

Germany is home to more than 20.000 castles, according to the estimation of some experts. And these castles vary quite a lot in terms of size, age and appearance. While we definitely have not seen the vast majority of these castles, we still want to share our current 3 favorite ones in this post! As we go along and explore more castles in Germany, we will update this post. But for now, here are our current top 3 castles to visit in Germany!

Drachenfels Castle Ruins, Königswinter, Germany
Drachenfels Castle Ruins, Königswinter, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle is probably the most well-known German castle. It is located in Bavaria in the southern part of Germany, only a few kilometers away from the border to Austria. The castle was built in the 19th century by King Ludwig II of Bavaria as a private residence. However he died even before the castle was finished and since then it is open to the public.

The setting of Neuschwanstein Castle is rather stunning, since it sits on top of a steep hill, surrounded by woods at the foot of the Alps. As a tip: head to the “Marienbrücke”, a bridge suspended over the Pöllat river gorge only a 12-minute walk away from the castle. While standing on this bridge you will have one of the most amazing views over Neuschwanstein Castle! There are also some other viewpoints surrounding the castle, however when we visited it poured rain, so we decided to stop our viewpoint hunt at the “Marienbrücke”.

Neuschwanstein Castle,Germany
View from the Marienbrücke, Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

How to get there

By car, Neuschwanstein Castle is located a 1 hour and 40 minutes drive away from Munich. We visited the castle as part of a one-week trip to Austria, which we spend in Reutte. From there Neuschwanstein Castle is only a 20-minute drive away. There are parking lots in the town of Hohenschwangau, at the base of the hill where the castle is situated. Be aware though, the prices for parking here are quite hefty!

In order to reach Neuschwanstein castle by public transportation, you will need to take the train from Munich to the town of Füssen and then from there take a bus to Hohenschwangau. This journey will take around 3 hours, if everything goes well in terms of connections. If you are thinking of visiting Neuschwanstein castle as a day trip from Munich, I would actually recommend booking a tour. For instance GetYourGuide offers several tours from Munich starting at 60€.

From the town center of Hohenschwangau you can walk up-hill towards the castle. The “Neuschwansteinstraße” street is paved and easy to walk on. It is not too steep so the walk is definitely feasible. For those that do not wish to walk, there are horse carriages and also a shuttle bus that can take you to Neuschwanstein Castle. For more information on where both of them stop, there quite a good map on the official website of Hohenschwangau.

What does it cost?

  • Parking in Hohenschwangau: approx. 10€ per car
  • Neuschwanstein Castle: 15€ entrance fee per adult (17,50€ when bought online)
  • Shuttle: 3€ one-way up-hill/ 2€ one-way down-hill/ 3,50€ round-trip per person
  • Horse carriage: 8€ one-way up-hill and 4€ one-way down-hill

For more information on Neuschwanstein Castle, head to the official website of the town of Hohenschwangau!

Eltz Castle

Located in Rhineland-Palatinate, a state in western Germany, you will find the beautiful Eltz Castle. This medieval castle was built in the 12th century and is up until today still owned by the House of Eltz, a German noble family. What is special about this castle is the fact that it is one of the few castles in the Eifel region of Germany that have never been destroyed in the course of history. The castle is located in the middle of a beautiful forest. Especially in fall, this makes for a really beautiful setting!

Eltz Castle, Germany

How to get there

Eltz Castle is located a 30-minute car ride away from the city of Koblenz. There are two parking lots located near the castle. From here you can make your way towards the castle by foot. The walk towards the castle is either a 1,2 km or a 2 km walk through the woods depending on the parking lot you are on. The walk itself is rather easy.

You can also get to the castle by using public transportation, however it is way more complicated. Essentially you need to get to the town of Hatzenport by train and than take a bus to the castle. For more details, the official website of the Eltz Castle provides a step-by-step guide on how to get there by using public ways of transportation.

What does it cost?

  • Eltz Castle: 14€ entrance fee per adult (note: the castle is only open for visitors 1 April – 1 November)

For more information on Eltz Castle, head to their official website.

Drachenburg Castle & Drachenfels Castle Ruins

Only about 25 minutes away from Bonn (in North-Rhine-Westphalia, western Germany), where we lived for four years, you will find the charming Drachenburg Castle. This castle was built in the 19th century as a private villa on a hill called “Drachenfels”, however its original owner never ended up living there. Today the castle is open to the public.

What we like most about this site though is not necessarily the Drachenburg Castle itself, even though it is quite beautiful. A little further up on the “Drachenfels”, which is German for “dragon’s rock” by-the-way, you will find the ruins of what used to be Drachenfels Castle, a castle built in the 12th century. While admittedly there is not that much left of the building itself, this place is definitely worth a visit! From the top of the Drachenfels, where the ruins are situated, you have a gorgeous view on the Rhine river and the surrounding hills. On a clear day, you can even see Cologne Cathedral in the distance!

Drachenburg Castle, Königswinter, Germany
Drachenburg Castle, Königswinter, Germany

How to get there

By car, you can reach the Drachenfels in a little more than 20 minutes from Bonn. There is a parking lot next to the base of the hill. Königswinter is also easily reachable by public transportation. From Bonn Central Station, take the tram Nr. 66 towards Bad Honnef. The ride will take 27 minutes. After getting off at the stop called “Königswinter”, walk to the foot of the Drachenfels hill, which can be done in about 12 minutes (900 meters walking distance).

Now you have two possibilities. Either you take the “Drachenfels Railway” up the hill. Or you walk up the “Drachenfelsstraße” street by foot. We always chose the latter option since its free. The street is paved so it is easily walkable, however it is quite steep at times. From the bottom of the hill towards Drachenburg Castle are a 1,1 km or a 14-minute walk uphill. From the foot of the hill all the way up to the Drachenfels Castle ruins are a 1,6 km or a 23-minute walk uphill.

What does it cost?

  • Drachenfels Railway: 12€ for a round-trip ticket
  • Drachenburg Castle: 8€ entrance fee per adult
  • Drachenfels Castle ruins & viewpoint platform: no entrance fee

For more information on Drachenburg Castle, head to their official website.

View from the Drachenfels viewpoint on the Rhine river
"Drachenfels" street sign
“Drachenfels” Street Sign

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