Many Disney fans are familiar with the castle in Sleeping Beauty. It was a highlight of the 1959 film and we saw many of Disney's castles resemble it in movies afterward. As it turns out, after visiting Neuschwanstein with his wife while on vacation in Bavaria, Walt Disney was inspired by the 19th-century castle and put his own spin on it for his movies. Now known as the "Disney castle," Neuschwanstein is busier than ever with tourists.
Created by Ludwig II, the former King of Bavaria, the castle was actually inspired by composer Richard Wagner's “The Swan Knight." The name literally translates to "New Swan Castle."Ludwig II wanted to use Neuschwanstein as a getaway home but never saw its entirety finished as he mysteriously passed away in the late 1800s. However, the city decided to open the castle as a museum and has been seen by millions of people since.
Before heading to Bavaria (South of Germany) yourself to see this gorgeous castle, here are 10 things to know.
10 WALT DISNEY'S VISION
As the story goes, Walt Disney was vacationing in Bavaria, Germany with his wife Lillian when they heard about Neuschwanstein. From the moment Walt laid eyes on the castle, he knew he had to bring parts of it home.
While creating Sleeping Beauty, Walt sketched Neuschwanstein and his own Disney version of Neuschwanstein was thus created. Some even say it was Cinderella's castle that he was inspired for, but they're both incredibly similar.
9 BECOME FAMILIAR WITH KING LUDWIG II
King Ludwig II was also known as the "Mad King" (no relation to Game of Thrones' Arys Targaryen.) He was a precarious young man who became king at the tender age of 18. And while traveling throughout Bavaria, you'll see and hear his name everywhere — even in 2019.
King Ludwig II had many properties and was a very wealthy man and yet he liked being secluded. He wasn't a king who was out and about schmoozing at balls. His odd behavior left many ruffled feathers but the people of Bavaria appreciated him.
8 BUY TICKETS IN ADVANCE — THEY TYPICALLY SELL OUT
Buying tickets to see the inside of Neuschwanstein is the smartest thing a tourist can do. You're able to buy tickets two days in advance and beat the line once you get into the town of Hohenschwangau.
If you don't buy your tickets online, you're able to buy tickets on-site, however, lines tend to be long (translation issues) and they may even be sold out, making your trip the castle kind of pointless.
7 THERE ARE TWO WAYS OF REACHING THE CASTLE
When you arrive in the village of Hohenschwangau, you'll notice Neuschwanstein when you look up the mountain. It's so massive and high up that it's impossible to miss when you're in the village. If you're taking the tour, you can grab your ticket and walk up the mountain (ticket workers say the walk takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how slow or fast you walk) or you can take a horse-drawn carriage for around €6.
6 PARKING'S A BREEZE (BUT DIRECTIONS MAY NOT BE)
Surprisingly. as small and quaint of a village Hohenschwangau and Fussen are, the area sure does know how to delegate. If traveling by car, you're not going to pass by large cities with millions of things to do.
Instead, you're going to pass by a lot of land, farms, and mini towns. When you finally reach Neuschwanstein's small village, follow signs for parking where you'll be directed by helpful workers. Parking is between €5-10 for the whole day!
5 THERE ARE 'SNACK BREAKS' ON THE WALK UP TO THE CASTLE
The trail up the mountain to Neuschwanstein is paved for walkers and horses. The hills are steep and windy, but they try to make it as easy as possible to get up the mountain to see the real reason why you're there.
Knowing what a treacherous journey it can be, there are a few cafes and carts with snacks, beverages, and touristy gifts for walkers to take a break with. If you really wanted to, you can even bring snacks in your bag to make the walk more tolerable.
4 FIND MARY'S (MARIENBRÜKE) BRIDGE FOR THE BEST VIEW
There are so many fantastic views of Neuschwanstein in every season. Up high in the mountains, there are no bad pictures of this iconic castle.
Once you made it up the mountain to the castle's front doors, walk to the side of the castle and look for a trail to Mary's Bridge. Now, some tourists have found the trail to be closed during winter months but others have ignored the warnings and took the trail to Mary's Bridge anyway. While here, you'll get an outside view of the castle (like the image above) along with the water beneath the bridge. Depending on the season you're in, this bridge may be jammed pack with tourists. Other times it's no one but you, the bridge, and the castle.
3 THERE'S MORE THAN ONE CASTLE TO EXPLORE!
On your way to Neuschwanstein, you'll notice another different-looking castle across the way. This castle is known as Hohenschwangau Castle and was actually where King Ludwig II grew up as a child. Showcasing his love for the area, he built his vacation home nearby as a getaway. Vistors of Neuschwanstein can also buy a bundle ticket that gets them a tour of Hohenschwangau Castle as well. Also, just a couple of miles away is Linderhof Palace; another home of King Ludwig which tourists can see!
2 YOU DON'T NEED TO PAY TO TOUR THE GROUNDS
The tour of Neuschwanstein can be done in German or English and takes about 30 minutes to complete. The tour only goes through select rooms and everyone must stay together as a group. Although the castle is massive, you sadly won't be seeing every room the castle has.
However, you don't need to buy a ticket just to see Neuschwanstein and its grounds. You can easily walk up the mountain and explore the grounds of the castle—along with finding Mary's Bridge—all for free.
1 YOU CAN FIND FOOD AND PLACES TO STAY AT THE FOOT OF THE CASTLE
Neuschwanstein is high above the adorable village of Hohenschwangau. Roaming the grounds can stir up quite the appetite so visitors are encouraged to eat at some of the restaurants at the bottom of the mountain in the town. Tourists will also find hotels and many shops to get lost in during their getaway to Neuschwanstein.