A massive list of the 15 most famous palaces and fairy tale castles near Munich written by a local.
I bet, 9 out of 10 tourists visiting Munich come here to see one of our fairy tale castles. You might have seen pictures of Neuschwanstein castle already, but there are many more. In fact, almost every small town in Bavaria will have a little ruin or restored medieval fortress. There are just so many! This is exactly why I put together this list of the best castles near Munich.
And here is the good news: There are actually 5 castles in Munich itself! This means, you don’t need to even need to leave the city limit (though you definitely should, as there are more than 20 amazing day trips).
It probably needs no pointers, but you really should know that there are some amazing churches, museums, and parks in Munich. So, definitely also check out my list of the 20 best things to do in Munich. There is more to Bavaria’s capital than just palaces and ancient castles.
Note: I earn a small commission for purchases through GetYourGuide links in this article at no additional cost to you.
1. Nymphenburg Palace
The fantastic Nymphenburg Palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Munich (it’s part of my 3-day itinerary). The stunning baroque complex was once the summer palace of the Bavarian prince-electors and kings. Inside, you’ll find a mesmerizing mix of beautiful staterooms and a stunning central festive hall with outstanding frescos and stucco.
The huge landscape park around Schloss Nymphenburg will be the actual highlight, though. There are actually 4 more little palaces hidden in the forest. Each and everyone a little gem itself. There is the Badenburg, which is like a bathing palace, or the china-inspired Pagodenburg. I personally love the pure silver interiors of the Amalienburg, while others might love the secluded Magdalenenklause.
You’ll also find two outstanding museums (actually there are 4) there as well. Definitely don’t skip the Marstallmuseum (full of golden fairy tale carriages) or the Porcelain Museum (read my list of the 20 best museums in Munich for some more details).
Recommended tour: You should consider buying a ticket for the Hop-on-Hop-Off bus, as it’s the easiest connection to see tourist attractions outside the city center. It’s not much more expensive than the day ticket for public transport, but faster, as you can easily continue to Olympic Park/ BMW world, etc.
How to get there: Simply take tram #17 from the central station in Munich towards Amalienburgstraße and get out at Castle Nymphenburg.
2. Neuschwanstein Castle
Schloss Neuschwanstein hardly needs an introduction. It’s probably among the top 50 most photographed places in the world, and once you stand in front of it, you’ll clearly know why: This fairy tale castle is just beyond beautiful.
And it really is a fairy tale. It looks like a medieval fortress. Know then, that King Ludwig II. only built it in the middle of the 19th century because he wanted to escape into a medieval fantasy world. It never got finished and almost bankrupted the house Wittelsbacher, which is the very reason the castle got opened to the public only a couple of days after the king’s untimely death. Here is how to visit from Munich.
Make sure to hike (10 minutes) to the Marienbrücke where you see the classic panorama of the castle. Also, be aware that getting tickets is a bit more complicated in summer. It’s probably best to book a tour because they got access to a special contingent. Otherwise, you have to be very early as the few available time slots sell out very fast.
Recommended tour: The most popular bus tour to Neuschwanstein castle (I tested it and it’s very well organized) | There is also a luxury bus tour available
How to get there: It is possible to get to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich with public transport, but it’s a bit more complicated. You have to take the regional train (BRB) to Füssen. From here, there is a bus (#78) that will take you to the foot of the mountain. You’ll have to walk the rest. Here is how to take the train to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich.
3. Residence Palace
If you are short on time, then the Münchner Residenz is probably your best choice. I actually included it in my 24 hours Munich itinerary. This palace was once the seat of the Bavarian Kings and prince-electors and is absolutely gigantic. There are more than 130 official staterooms and apartments in the gigantic city palace and it takes around 4 hours to see them all.
It’s definitely worth to bring some extra time to see the outstanding Treasury Museum on the ground floor and I generally don’t recommend taking the express tour, because there are few places on this planet where you can see a wider selection of beautiful staterooms from all different periods.
Also, don’t miss the Cuvilliés Theater. It’s an authentic Rococo court theater which you will find in one of the courtyards (it’s a different entrance). Just make sure you get the combination ticket where both the treasury museum and the theater are included.
How to get there: It’s directly in Munich city center. You can walk from the subway stations Marienplatz or Odeonsplatz (5 minutes).
4. Schleissheim Palace
Munich has many little hidden gems, and Schloss Schleissheim is definitely one of them. So very few international tourists come here. Which is quite the pitty because the fantastic baroque ensemble is nothing short of breathtaking. It’s also one of the very few places in Europe with an intact baroque garden.
It only survived because the palace built by Max Emanuel of Bavaria fell into disuse after his death (as later generations preferred Nymphenburg). You should also know, that the ensemble actually consists of three palaces and that there is a beautiful little pleasure palace located at the end of the huge park: Schloss Lustheim. Inside, you’ll now find a priceless collection of very early European porcelain quite worth seeing.
How to get there: Take the suburban train S1 from Hauptbahnhof (to the airport) and get out in Oberschleißheim. From here, you can take bus #292 for 2 stops or walk.
5. Hohenschwangau Castle
Did you know there is another castle right next to Neuschwanstein? In fact, there is yet another castle in nearby Füssen as well, but as a tourist, you should definitely consider visiting Schloss Hohenschwangau.
Why? Well, Neuschwanstein is a fantasy. It’s beautiful, but you won’t see anything even closely resembling what a true medieval Bavarian castle would have looked like. Hohenschwangau is a 19th-century reconstruction of a medieval castle ruin and inside you’ll get the real deal. While there are some later additions, it’s more or less pure and authentic. Fun fact: The descendants of the Bavarian kings still own one of the wings of the castle.
How to get there: It’s the same as getting to Neuschwanstein castle (see above).
6. Linderhof Palace
King Ludwig II was an industrious monarch – at least when it came to building palaces and castles. Much to his dislike, he didn’t wield any real power so he lived most of his life secluded from public and Linderhof palace was his first and only finished project. It’s a very intimate palace with only a handful of rooms – but built to give the king utter privacy.
Make sure to take a full tour of the gardens as there are some marvelous little gems scattered around the majestic expanse. I personally love the Moorish pavilion with its fantasy peacock throne, but you should also tour the artificial grotto where King Ludwig had Wagner Operas performed!.
Recommended tour: This is the tour to Neuschwanstein castle that also stops at Linderhof
How to get there: I really recommend booking a tour or renting a car for this one. It’s faster and easier. But you can take the regional train to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Then take bus 9606 to Ettal and then transfer to bus 9622 to Linderhof.
9. Burghausen Castle
The Burg zu Burghausen is the longest castle in the world. Construction of the current building probably started around 1025 AD and the six consecutive castle courtyards reach a total length of 1051 meters. Research suggests that the place has been inhabited as early as the 16th century BC, but other than a scan few (invisible) remains of a wall, nothing from the bronze age settlement remains.
Starting from the high medieval ages, the castle became an important seat of power for a sideline of the ruling Bavarian dukes. Together with its excellent military location, the castle was expanded multiple times to allow enough rooms for weapons and people and played an important role in the Thirty Year’s war. Today there are still people living in parts of the castle, but the majority of Burghausen fortress is a museum you can visit.
How to get there: Take the regional train to Markt Schwaben and then transfer in Mühldorf to the regional train to Burghausen.
8. Herrenchiemsee Palace
I already mentioned King Ludwig II of Bavaria twice in this article and I need to do it one more time because he also built Schloss Herrenchiemsee. The king was a huge fan of Ludwig XIV (because of his sheer absolute power) and wanted a place like Versaille. Plans started as early 1869 but construction only started in 1878 – four years after his first successful visit of the French counterpart.
It is, by far, the most expensive and ambitious project and was never completed. Only the staterooms and the central staircase got finished (but those are incredibly impressive!). The king himself only ended up spending 9 full days at Herrenchiemsee Palace before his untimely death. Still, the setting on the lonely island on Lake Chiemsee is incredibly beautiful and the garden well worth a walk.
How to get there: You have to take the regional train from the central station to Prien am Chiemsee. Then, you have to walk to the harbor and catch the next fairy.
9. Nuremberg castle
The city of Nuremberg is only one hour away from Munich by train and that time is well spent if you want to see a true medieval castle. The Kaiserburg in Nuremberg played an important military role between the 12th and 15th centuries. In fact, the German emperor held variously national diet meetings (Reichstage) in the castle. You can still visit the reconstructed chambers from that time.
Sadly, Nuremberg was heavily bombed during World War II and the castle was hit as well. Only the chapel, quite through a miracle, survived almost intact. The rest was reconstructed in the 1950ies. Fun fact: The imposing stables right next to the castle was turned into a youth hostel in 1937. So, if you are looking for castles near Munich you can stay in, this could be your best (and cheapest) bet.
How to get there: There are frequent highspeed trains (like every 20 minutes) from the central station to Nuremberg (takes just 1 hour; don’t take the regional train, it takes twice as long). From here you have to walk through the old town (or take the taxi).
10. Blutenburg castle
Sometimes you don’t need to drive far to visit an amazing place, and Schloss Blutenburg on the outskirts of Munich is certainly a testament to that rule. The small castle from the 15th century with its big water moat is one of the lesser-known sites in Bavaria’s capital and very few tourists come to visit.
There are probably two reasons: Other than a beautiful gothic chapel from the 15th century, nothing of the original interiors remains. Today there is a library inside. And of course, the other big castles in Munich are probably a bit more impressive. Still, if you got the time, it’s a beautiful place to visit in summer, as there is a little beer garden right under the wall. Also, there is a Christmas market every year inside the courtyard which is well worth noting!
How to get there: Take suburban train S2 to Altomünster and get out in Obermenzingen. Bus #143 to Freiham will get you directly to the front of Blutenburg Castle.
11. Salzburg Fortress
The city of Salzburg counts among the most popular day trips from Munich and the medieval fortress abutting the UNESCO World Heritage old town is just one of the reasons. The Hohensalzburg (essentially translates as “high castle salt”) was the seat of power of the mighty bishops of Salzburg until the late medieval ages.
Starting from the Baroque times, most of them started to live in palaces outside the city walls, but it served an important military function until the 17th century and was continuously expanded. What I personally love about it is not the sheer size of it (though it counts as one of the biggest castles in Europe) but rather the fact that you can still visit medieval state apartments.
And let me tell you when they ask if you want to buy the cheap ticket for the standard tour or the more expensive ticket with the Prince’s Chambers, then DON’T thinks for a second to go on the short tour. It sounds like you are paying 3 euros for seeing only two more rooms, but those two rooms are the only truly furnished and spectacular rooms inside the whole fortress (the rest is bare walls).
Recommended tour: Guided bus tour from Munich
How to get there: Take the direct train from the central station (make sure it’s a EuroCity) and make sure you take your passport as you will be crossing the border to Austria (sometimes there are checks on the train). Take a bus to the old town and then you have to ride the funicular up to the castle.
12. Regensburg Castle
Tranquil Regensburg is quite a special place, as here you will find the biggest palace in Germany which is still owned by the original family and is still in use. In fact, you might actually see Princess Thurn und Taxis on your tour through her palace. Naturally, you are only allowed to see the old staterooms and not her private apartments.
Still, the powerful house of Thurn and Taxis was responsible for the German postal service for almost 500 years and amassed wealth beyond measure in that time. Regensburg was also the place where the perpetual diet of the holy roman emperor sat from 1663 to 1806. In the later years, the emperor wasn’t present any longer. Only a powerful principal commissioner and the house of Thurn und Taxis was able to hold this (very expensive office) from 1741 until the end in 1806. This is the very reason you will find an imperial throne room inside the Thurn und Taxis Palace.
How to get there: There are regular trains from Munich to Regensburg. Once there, it’s only a short walk to the castle.
13. Würzburg Residence
After you have seen everything in Munich itself, you should consider doing a day trip to Würzburg. Here you can see the lavish Würzburger Residence, which is a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site. Mark my words: You won’t see a more beautifully decorated palace in Germany anywhere else.
There are countless frescos by the Italian genius Tiepolo inside and the staterooms are nothing short of breathtaking. In fact, you’ll find the largest ceiling fresco in the world in the main stair house.
Definitely join one of the tours of the emperor’s apartments (the tour is included in your entrance fee) to see the famous mirror cabinet. Also, don’t miss the beautiful chapel which you will find in one of the courtyards of the palace. Tiepolo couldn’t work on the frescos in winter (as it was too cold for the plaster), so he furnished the chapel with a couple of beautiful oil paintings.
There is also a medieval castle in Würzburg (the so-called Marienburg) but it burned out during World War II, so it is just a lovely from outside. These days, you’ll find a museum inside, but no original interiors.
How to get there: Take the highspeed train (ICE) from Munich central station (2 hours, don’t take the regional train as it will take above 3 hours). From here you can either walk or catch a bus (like #554) from the bus terminal in front of the station in Würzburg.
14. Kaltenberg castle
Schloss Kaltenberg is quite the average Bavarian castle. Local’s would tell you the place is not special at all, and they wouldn’t be wrong either save for the fact this medieval castle still remains in the positions of the descendants of the Bavarian kings and one of them (prince Luitpold of Bavaria) actually still lives there. Which means you can’t go inside.
But here is the thing: Once a year the prince of Bavaria hosts a medieval knight tournament on the meadows in front of the castle. The Kaltenberger Rittertournier is one of the largest medieval festivals in the world and your main reason to visit the castle in summer. It always takes place on three weekends in July. Here is the website.
How to get there: You have to rent a car. As an alternative, you could take the S4 to Geltendorf and then either walk or try to catch a taxi to the castle. Sometimes, there are shuttle buses for big events.
15. Alter Hof castle
Last, but certainly not least, I want to mention the only true castle in Munich itself. Before the Bavarian dukes moved into the Residence Palace (back then known as Neue Veste) in the 16th century, they lived in an old medieval castle. Most of the Alter Hof (old court) was destroyed in the 19th century, but the late gothic west wing still exists.
The castle was renovated in 2007 and you can now visit a little free museum in the ancient gothic cellar. As a tourist, you’ll also find an info point in the basement. The Bavarian National Museum (make sure to visit, it is a-mazing!) still has a couple of exhibits from the old court, especially the famous ancestor cycle of house Wittelsbach from the 15th century.
How to get there: You can easily walk from the Odeonsplatz or Marienplatz subway stations.
Other castles near Munich
I already mentioned 15 castles in Munich and the cities around it, but there are in fact quite a couple of other places you could visit. Dachau (where you will also find the concentration camp from the Nazi times) has an old palace with a beautiful renaissance ceiling. Bamberg also has quite the spectacular palace and the remains of an old court. The Veste Oberhaus in Passau or Trausnitz Castle in Landshut could be an option as well.
Essentially, you will find a little palace or castle in every city in Bavaria. It’s why I think Munich is so worth visiting! Often, the city hall or a library is installed these days. Germany was, you have to know, split into a thousand little shires for almost a thousand year and each and every little aristocrat had to represent their power one way or another.
In the 19th century, there was a big medieval revival and a lot of old castles were reconstructed or built from scratch. I did, however, mention the most important castles near Munich is this article. But if you ever take the car through Bavaria and leave the highways, you’ll be amazed how many other smaller ruins and castles there are.