A detailed guide on how to plan your Neuschwanstein castle tour from Munich by bus, train or car.
Are you currently in Munich or planning a trip to Bavaria’s capital? And now you are wondering how to get to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich?
Well, you came to the right place as I grew up 15 kilometers away from Schloss Neuschwanstein and have been living in Munich for more than 20 years. In this post, I’m going to show you exactly how to plan your day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich.
The good news: The fairy tale castle that inspired Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Germany and so you have four different options to get there. You can either take the bus, the train, book a tour, or rent a car.
In this guide, I’m going to show you the pros and cons of all the different options. And then it’s up to you. There are alternatives for travelers looking for luxury or budget alike. You should also check out my list of the 15 best castles near Munich for some further inspiration.
But, let’s get started, eh?
Note: I earn a small commission for purchases through GetYourGuide links in this article
Where is Neuschwanstein Castle located?
Neuschwanstein Castle is located in a small place called Schwangau in the very South of Germany close to the Austrian border and around 120 kilometers away from Munich. Schwangau is a tiny suburb of Füssen and it is a region that has been favored by the Bavarian kings for centuries.
There are five lakes close to the castle and behind it, you will find the mighty Ammergebirge and the Tegelberg mountain. The castle itself rests on a smaller hill above the Pöllatschlucht gorge and was built by King Ludwig II between 1869 and 1886. It’s quite scenic. I compiled a list of the best Neuschwanstein castle photography spots here.
Nearby, you will also find the Castle Hohenschwangau, the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site Church of the Wies, the scenic town of Oberammergau, the famous Ettal Abbey, and Linderhof Castle – which makes it one of the best day trips from Munich.
All tourists, no matter which route you take, will have to climb the last meters to the castle, though horse carriages (6€) and shuttle buses (1.5€) are available to cover the biggest part of the way from the parking lot to the entrance.
So, in essence: It’s a beautiful setting but it’s a bit harder to get there. Here are your 4 options:
1. Neuschwanstein castle tour from Munich
By far the easiest way to get to Schloss Neuschwanstein from Munich is by booking a tour. Why? Well, there are actually quite a couple of reasons: First, it’s the fastest way to get there as you don’t need any transfers or catch a connecting train. You enter your bus at Munich central station and exit it right in front of the castle. Secondly, tickets for Neuschwanstein Castle sell out fast and it is currently not that easy to reserve them online. The tour company has access to a special ticket contingent and you will be able to buy your tickets (same price) on the bus.
Then, of course, you get the advantage of having an experienced travel guide with you. Most tours also visit the closeby Linderhof Palace (also built by King Ludwig II.) and the scenic town of Oberammergau. It’s virtually impossible to reach these places by public transport AND see Neuschwanstein on the same day.
Of course, you will be traveling in a big group and some might see this as a comfort and others as a negative. But here is the thing: There are 1.4 million tourists visiting the hilltop castle each year. So, even if you rent your own car, you won’t have the place to yourself (not even in the early morning). You’ll be surrounded by crowds all the time, you can only visit the inside with a public guided tour, so I don’t really see any advantage in having a private tour other than being able to set your preferred departure time.
And believe me, I have visited the castle countless times and I came to the conclusion that taking the tour bus is the most relaxing and best way. Here are the tours I tested and would recommend:
- The most popular bus tour to Neuschwanstein castle (I tested it again recently and it’s still very well organized & good)
- This is the luxury version of the same tour company (mainly bigger seats and free snacks and drinks)
- If you want to visit Hohenschwangau instead of Linderhof, book this tour.
- Pros: Easiest and most secure way to buy tickets; very fast (2hours one way); experienced travel guides; everything is organized for you; no stress
- Cons: considerably expensive; big groups, inflexible times
2. Taking the Train from Munich to Neuschwanstein castle
You don’t like tour buses or you can’t afford it? No problem! You can easily get to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich by train. It will take roughly 3 hours to get there but you get to set your departure times according to your own preferences and Munich itinerary (and you can also travel back to Munich whenever you want). There is a direct train to Füssen from Munich central station almost every hour, so it’s really as easy as it gets.
In Füssen, you will have to catch the bus #78 to Schwangau. There are signs and you can basically follow the crowd as you are most certainly not the only one who wants to go there. Please be aware that the train can be quite crowded in the morning and early in the evening (a combination of lots of tourists & commuters).
I recommend buying a BayernTicket (Bavaria ticket) as it will usually be the cheapest option. For 26 euros you get unlimited rides on the regional train for one day, plus the bus in Füssen and the subway in Munich is also covered. Each additional traveler has to pay 8 euros more (so it gets cheaper the larger the group). Please be aware that you have to sign your ticket and it is only valid after 9 am on weekdays! You can check the schedule, prices, etc on the official website of the German Railway.
The earliest direct train you can take is the BRB departing 9:52 am. The next one will be 11:52 and then every hour. Trains back to Munich depart every hour as well, but the last direct connection is 18:04 from Füssen. If you don’t mind the transfer time, then there are earlier or later trains. If you use the official website, it will offer you a cheaper price (23€), but DON’T buy the Regio-Ticket Allgäu Schwaben as it does not include public transport in Munich, so you end up paying more.
Also, make sure you plan your return from Neuschwanstein Castle to Munich as you will have to catch the bus from Schwangau to Füssen first (and you don’t want to miss that bus). I wrote a more detailed description of how to take the train to Neuschwanstein Castle with tons of pictures here.
Note: Definitely make sure to arrive early in the morning or buy your tickets in advance!
- Pros: Considerably cheap, very flexible
- Cons: Slowest way to get there, have to organize everything by yourself
3. Renting a car for your Neuschwanstein day trip from Munich
If you like to be your own boss, are a good driver, and love flexibility, renting a car is a very valid option to get to Neuschwanstein Castle. For bigger groups, it might actually be cheaper than a guided tour (though probably not cheaper than the train) depending on the car you rent. Only the last couple of kilometers are scenic country road, the rest is straight highways and autobahns. You don’t need a jeep or anything fancy at all.
Note: American tourists might want to take a look at German traffic regulations before departure. We do drive quite a bit faster, slow drivers need to stick to the right lane, and you only overtake toward the left. etc.
The standard route: The fastest route is usually taking the Autobahn 96 to Landsberg am Lech and then the highway 17 to Füssen. You’ll see the castle on your left side a couple of kilometers before you enter Füssen (there is a beautiful church) and you can just follow the signs from here. I’d still recommend using Google Maps or getting a car with a navigation system.
Often, it will try to route you via Lake Starnberg. While this is indeed the more scenic route, the route is also famous for its traffic jams – especially on weekends when half of Munich is trying to escape the heat and have a nice day swimming in the lakes. If you plan to visit Ettal & Linderhof Palace (which you should!) it will probably still be the faster route.
Note: Definitely make sure to arrive early in the morning or buy your tickets in advance!
- Pros: Very flexible, easy to visit tourist attractions nearby, can stop for pictures along the way whenever you like
- Cons: Considerably expensive, have to organize everything and find the way yourself
4. The bus from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle
Your last and cheapest option is to visit Neuschwanstein Castle by bus. Flixbus is offering a daily connection from the central bus station at Hackerbrücke in Munich. The bus departs at 8:30 am and arrives 2 hours later in Schwangau at 10:35 am. The return bus departs at 4:50 pm and arrives in Munich around 7 pm depending on the traffic.
The good news: It only costs 25 euros, so it is both a bit cheaper than the train and quite a bit faster. And you don’t even have to worry about catching the bus or connecting trains. The only problem: There is only one bus per day. If you miss it, you are screwed and you really can’t leave whenever you are done with your tour. So, you might end up waiting at the bus stop for 2 hours.
Be aware that there is no discount for groups. So, two travelers would pay 50 euros to take the bus, while the BayernTicket for two people is only 32 euros. This is the reason why I don’t really recommend the bus, but if you want to be at the castle very early and you are traveling alone, it makes sense. You can use the time to visit Hohenschwangau Castle and maybe even the new Museum of the Bavarian Kings.
- Pros: No transfers, very cheap, departs earlier than train
- Cons: Not flexible at all; only one connection per day; only cheap for singles
Things you should know when planning your Neuschwanstein Castle tour from Munich
- The castle will be very crowded in summer, especially during the summer holidays and on weekends. If you want to know what it is like visiting when in snows, read this guide to visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in winter.
- The shuttle buses do not operate in winter and the famous Marienbrücke (where you can shoot the iconic picture) may be closed as well. Check the official website for details before your visit.
- Check the weather forecast and dress accordingly. If you stay multiple days in Munich, you might want to plan your visit accordingly as it does rain quite a lot in the mountains. Also, most of the way up to the castle is in the shadow. Depending on the season, it might actually be a bit chilly.
- There are many stairs inside the castle. If you have a walking disability, you absolutely need to contact the castle office. There is a small elevator inside, but you need a special permit and it only operates once every hour.
- Your ticket is only valid for that one specific time slot. If you don’t show up at the entrance at that exact time, you’ll have to buy a new ticket.
- Three different routes lead up to the castle. Consider taking the less crowded path through the scenic Pöllatschlucht gorge.
- Always bring some cash. You won’t be able to pay the horse carriage with a credit card and the smaller cafés near the parking lot don’t accept it either, nor the ticket machines for the parking lot.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes. It’s quite a long hike up to the castle (30 minutes), plus it may rain.
- Bring some food & snacks: It’s going to be a long day on the road and while there are some restaurants in Schwangau, you won’t be able to buy drinks on the train or during your visit of the castle.
I hope I was able to give you a good overview and you now know how to get from Munich to Neuschwanstein castle and back again. Feel free to ask your questions in the comments below.