As promised last week in my 2-day Munich recap, today is all about the beautiful castles of Bavaria (southeastern Germany)! A must-see for anyone visiting the area!
The famous Neuschwanstein Castle (where Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was filmed and Walt Disney found inspiration for Sleeping Beauty) has been on my list to visit for as long as I can remember. So as soon as I knew we were heading to Munich, I added a stop at the castles to the itinerary.
What I didn’t realize until I started researching a little more, was that the castles were a good 2 hours from Munich, and there was no easy way to get there via public transportation (at least if we wanted to see more than one castle). During the winter months, the day trip tours out to the castles are a bit more limited, but fortunately, we were able to snag a deal from Viator ($57 base + 22 EUR the day of for admission fees each) for a Day Trip via coach bus to Neuschwanstein and Linderhof castles, plus a stop in the quaint town, Oberammergau.
Our day started pretty early, as we had to be at the bus station around 8 a.m. to ensure we got there on time (and with a little cushion time). The BMW bus (I had no idea such a thing existed, but hey, Germany is the home of BMW) was completely packed once we boarded, along with several others gearing up for the same destination.
The drive time to our first destination, Oberammergau, was about 2 hours, so our tour guide shared some interesting facts about Munich with us and collected the castle admission fees from everyone, and within an hour, everyone was conked out for some shut-eye before the castle adventures officially began.
I didn’t know what to expect in Oberammergau. To be honest, I’d never heard of the town, but it was the cutest! Some of the buildings had fairytale murals painted, they had a dog hotel, and everything just seemed so perfect in the quaint town.
Since it was a Sunday, most of the shops in the town were closed. But there was one main shop open that we were able to pick up some authentic German goodies to bring home from, which I was excited about. I fell in love with the beautiful countryside, so removed from the big city, and would absolutely love to plan a trip back to wander through some more of it, and spend a weekend (or even a night) in Oberammergau!
Our ~50 minute stop in Oberammergau went too quickly, and before we knew it, we were off to Linderhof, the one-time “summer home” to King Ludwig II. The area surrounding the palace was just incredible. So peaceful, so gorgeous.
Unfortunately, no photos are allowed inside (one person tried to sneak some and got yelled at in German), but I was able to snap a couple photos of the incredibly detailed front. Can you imagine living in this place?!
The most fascinating part of the King’s digs, was his dining table. King Ludwig II wasn’t a very social person, and didn’t like to interact with others if it wasn’t necessary. Why have such a huge palace if nobody’s going to come over and enjoy it, beats me, but I guess a king gets what he wants. Buttttt, I digress. The King’s dining table was a table made for one, and was able to be lowered and lifted via rope from the kitchen. So the staff would send his table up and bring it down, without interacting with him at all. Crazy, right?!
Last but not least, our stop in Schwangau, another adorable small, German town featuring 2 castles! Neuschwanstein almost seemed unrecognizable and tiny as we drove up the winding roads with the anticipation building, but once we made it to the town and saw a better glimpse, we couldn’t wait to run off the bus to get a closer look!
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to tour Hohenschwangau Castle, the childhood home of King Ludwig II, but we were able to get a pretty good look at it from the outside!
Since our Neuschwanstein tour was at a scheduled time, we had about an hour and a half to kill, so we stepped into a couple stores, and grabbed a quick bite to eat at one of the local restaurants. Post-meal, we opted to skip the long horse-drawn carriage and bus lines and went with the free option of walking up to the castle ourselves. Despite our guide’s warning that it was a 40-minute uphill walk, we thought nothing of it… until a few minutes in when we needed a break. And another, and another. SO not used to hiking at that elevation! At least it was a pretty scenic route up, and we found the most delicious donuts along the way!
Stunning, I tell you! It looked like a fairytale and felt so surreal standing next to. I was disappointed that the Marienbrücke (bridge with the best views of the castle) was closed while we were there (and will be for a good chunk of this year due to construction), but was still happy to get as close as I was.
Again, no photos are allowed inside, but this castle seemed 100x bigger than Linderhof, and I’d love to time travel to see what life was like living in this beauty! Also note that while it looks like it’s been there for centuries, it wasn’t built until the late 1800s.
It’s hard to believe, but Neuschwanstein was actually never completed. King Ludwig II died while it was still under construction, and since he spent all of his money and then some on castle building (what an expensive hobby!), his family decided to open the castle to the public instead of finishing it due to the cost and nobody else wanting to live there (UM, WHAT?!).
I loved spending the day exploring the fairytale castles built by “Mad” King Ludwig II. While he certainly sounds like a quirky guy from all of the stories we heard, I so appreciate him for being the “Fairytale King” and creating these castles (and a third we weren’t able to stop at).
Have you ever visited a castle?