A local’s guide to the most Instagram-able photo spots at Neuschwanstein Castle
Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Europe and certainly among the most beautiful spots in the world. The fairy tale castle built by King Ludwig II. attracts millions of tourists each year. And most of them have something in common: They want to take a picture of the iconic castle.
I personally love Neuschwanstein Castle in winter the most. Probably because I grew up only a couple of kilometers away and I am a winter child. In this post, I’m going to share my favorite Neuschwanstein castle photo locations with you. I visited the iconic tourist attraction so many times I lost count, and yet I still didn’t grow tired of it.
If you are currently in the process of preparing your visit, I recommend reading my post on how to get from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle. I’m not going to touch that topic in this guide here.
In addition to the different spots and how to get there, I will also try to include some insider tips. Three important notes ahead:
- it is forbidden to fly drones without a special permit. You should also know that GPS is very bad in the location. I recently talked with a guy who got a permit and still lost his drone in the trees.
- Due to the very peculiar location at the foot of a big mountain (and the fact that the King who built was mostly nocturnal), the lighting is difficult and best early in the morning.
- Taking pictures inside Neuschwanstein Castle is not allowed!
The best Neuschwanstein Castle photography locations
Please note that the following list is not really ranked, I more or less sorted them by popularity. I also want you to know that there are 14 other beautiful castles near Munich you could visit instead.
By far the most popular and famous viewpoint of the castle is the so-called Marienbrücke (Bridge of Our Lady). The beautiful bridge spans a deep gorge across the river Pöllat and was constructed in 1866. This is about the only place you can take a picture of the castle from behind! 99% of all Neuschwanstein Castle pictures were taken here.
The Marienbrücke is a very crowded place, so definitely consider crossing it and following the path a little further up. There are some additional interesting viewpoints there. To the left, there is a spot where you can take a picture of the castle and get a bit of foreground into the frame. Please note, however, that it’s forbidden to go there. It is actually quite dangerous and only a couple of years ago there was a rockslide that took 5 years to remove.
How to get there: Standing right in front of the castle, there is a path that branches off to the right that will take you there in 10 minutes. If you take the shuttle bus, you will more or less arrive exactly in front of it.
Best time to be there: The lighting will be best early in the morning, especially in winter. In December and early January, the sun barely climbs above the mountain behind the castle. 10 am and around 3 pm will be your best bet then.
Important note: The Marienbrücke will often be closed in winter (as long as there is snow and ice). Check the website for daily information
2. Viewing platform below the castle
The easiest spot to take a picture of Neuschwanstein Castle is right below the main gate. There is a little glass viewing platform above the abyss which is an ideal spot to take a family picture. You won’t be the only one to have this idea, so you might have to wait quite some time to get your shot.
Personally speaking, I don’t like this spot all that much as a couple of trees obstruct the view and the lighting situation is difficult most of the day.
Best time to be there: You will only be able to shoot a reasonable good picture very early in the morning from here. Starting from around 10-10 am, the sun will be directly behind the castle creating a lot of backlight the later it gets.
How to get there: If you take the horse carriage or hike to the top, you will pass it on your left side before you reach the main gates.
One of my personal favorite spots is the hill in front of the Reithlift ski lift station. From here, you can get an easy and amazing picture from the front of the castle. It’s also, one of the shots very few tourists ever take, so I feel this makes it extra worth the little hike to get there. You will need a telephoto lens to shoot a good picture (200 mm or more).
How to get there: From the parking lot, you have to follow the path towards Tegelberg (just follow the signs). It will take about 20 minutes to get there. After walking parallel to the mountainside for about 10 minutes, you’ll cross the Pöllat creek and then you’ll already see the lift. Here, you have to walk a bit up the hill for the best viewpoint.
Alternatively, you can climb down the Pöllatschlucht from the top of the castle (takes 20 minutes) and you’ll end up very close to the above-mentioned bridge. Just follow the signs towards Tegelberg from there.
Best time to be there: The earlier the better! Only in summer, you’ll have the sun lighting the front of the castle very early in the morning (around 8 am). In December or January, the sun basically never hits the gates from the front. Around 4 pm, you can try to catch a backlight situation, when the sun barely sinks down below the hill (see the shot above).
A very easy photography spot is right from the parking lot. With a decent telephoto lens, you can get a very nice shot of the main tower of the castle. If you walk the path towards Hohenschwangau Castle, then you can even improve your line of sight a bit and you can achieve an almost level shot.
How to get there: Comming from the ticket center, the path towards Hohenschwangau branches of the right behind Hotel Müller. The best position is right before the little gate that leads you into the courtyard.
Best time to be there: Late in the afternoon is best for this shot. Around 3 pm you will have the sun lighting the back of the castle, in summer a quite a bit later.
5. Tegelberg ropeway
If you walk around Schwangau (or search the web) you cannot help but notice the many amazing pictures of Neuschwanstein Castle from the front. It is very difficult to get that shot and it involves either a drone permit or some very serious hiking to a secret (and extremely dangerous) spot. If you still want to get that shot and you are not satisfied with the angle you can get at the Reitlift, your only chance is the ropeway up to the Tegelberg mountain.
There are two things you need to know, though: First of all, you’ll need a good telephoto lens (something around 400 mm; might be able to crop it decently with 280 and a full-frame camera). And then, of course, you should know that the windows of the cabin are not exactly perfectly clear. Make sure to position yourself on the ride side of the cabin as you go up! 🙂
How to get there: There is a bus (78) that will get you right to the station. As an alternative, you can walk from the parking lot (~35min), in this case, you can also visit the Reitlift viewpoint. OR you can follow the trail that leads upwards from the Marienbrücke all the way up to the Tegelberg. It’s a lovely hike but it will take around 2 hours. You can then take the ropeway down.
Best time to be there: Again, the earlier the better and as soon as the sun appears behind the mountain. In summer this will be as early as around 8 am, in winter 9 am is probably your best shot but the lighting situation will be difficult as the sun barely touches the front. March will be your best bet to get snow + front.
6. Behind the Marienbrücke
You’ll find a very interesting view if you follow the road that leads to the Marienbrücke and then stay on the Bleckenaustraße. There is one little gap in the forest, where you can take a picture of Neuschwanstein Castle with the bridge in front of it.
How to get there: Comming from the bridge take the road to the very left and follow it for about 100 meters until you reach a little clearing in the forest to your left.
Best time to be there: Just like with spot on the bridge, it’s best to be here early in the morning. Just head there after you visited the bridge
7. View of Hohenschwangau and the Alpsee
Are you aware that there is actually another beautiful castle right next to Neuschwanstein? It’s called Hohenschwangau Castle and it’s quite pretty as well! There’s a beautiful little stretch right behind Neuschwanstein where you can see the beautiful landscape. The Allgäu region really is pretty, don’t you think?
How to get there: On your way to the Marienbrücke, you will virtually stumble across this spot. There is a portion with a metal railing and this is the best viewpoint in my opinion (picture above).
Best time to be there: In summer, morning is the best time. In winter the sun doesn’t illuminate the castle before noon.
8. St. Coloman Church
Last, but certainly not least, you should stop at the beautiful St. Coloman church. It’s a small pilgrimage church famous for its annual horse festival (“Colomansritt“). To me, it is one of the most scenic churches in Bavaria and you can actually get the church and Neuschwanstein Castle into the same frame (it will be somewhat tiny, tho)
How to get there: Arriving by car, you will actually see it on your right as you drive down the road to Schwangau. You cannot miss it. You could also walk from the parking lot, but it will take around 35 minutes (it’s almost 4 kilometers)
Best time to be there: In summer, the evening will be the best time to be there as the sun touches down in the west and beautifully illuminates castle and church. In winter your best bet is the morning.
So, this was the list of all my favorite photography spots near Neuschwanstein. I hope I was able to give you some good inspiration. I’ll try to update this post soon, as I noticed the pictures are not very consistent. But the thing is: I almost never walk around my hometown with a camera. Lol. Maybe you can relate 😉
Further tips for the best Neuschwanstein Castle pictures
I want to close this guide with a couple of important tips. You should be aware that a lot of hiking/walking is involved in getting to all these spots. Actually, you might not be able to fit it all into one day. You should definitely bring some comfortable shoes. You won’t need hiking boots, but some mountain trainers are very much recommended – especially if you want to visit the viewpoints off the beaten bath (Tegelberg, Reithlift). In winter you will need proper boots, though.
Definitely bring a little day pack with some snacks and drinks. There are shops in Schwangau and a restaurant close before the castle – but nothing in between. You should also consider bringing a tripod, doubly so, if you want to produce some video footage as well (too much zoom involved for stable handheld content).
There are two secret photography spots I specifically did not mention in this post. First of all, you’ll be trespassing into private property (the area around the castle actually still belongs to the descendants of the last Bavarian king). But more importantly, you’ll need some mad hiking skills to get there and even then it is somewhat dangerous – and I am saying this with 30+ years of hiking experience. The area around the castle is extremely steep and rockslides happen ever so often. Do leave the paths except you really know what you are doing.
Please consider that there are a lot of tourists (especially from Asia) with no mountain experience whatsoever (or with snow). The second you leave the path, you inspire them to do so as well. This is no joke! The last time I visited a Chinese girl in fancy suede high heels asked me if I knew the way to the alternative viewpoint for the Marienbridge as it was closed due to heavy snowfall.