I will be the first to admit it: I think I am a princess! So when the opportunity to visit Germany came along, I jumped. I knew Germany had a great collection of impressive castles, so I couldn’t wait to visit as many as possible.
While researching my trip to Germany, I quickly became overwhelmed by the sheer number of castles that dot the countryside of this magnificent country. Bound and determined to make the most of my time there, I set out to create an itinerary that included as many fairy-tale castles as possible, and I succeeded!
German castles have inspired fairy tales; one iconic castle even inspired Walt Disney to create his castle, so I knew I was in for a treat. I hope this list of fairy-tale castles in Germany will inspire you.
1. Neuschwanstein Castle
If a proper fairy-tale castle is what you are searching for, Neuschwanstein Castle delivers! Located in the heart of Bavaria in a small town called Fussen, Neuschwanstein Castle is an absolute dream.
This 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace was constructed by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and was his home until being opened to the public in 1886 after his death. Neuschwanstein Castle paints the perfect postcard picture as it sits high on the hillside, surrounded by lush forest. The foothills and lake behind the castle help to complete the picturesque scene, helping to evoke that fairy-tale feeling.
You can only gain access to the castle through a private tour, and once inside, you will continue to be delighted. Seeing the Grand Hall, the Throne Room, and Ludwig’s bedroom are a few highlights of the tour. I especially loved the beautiful mosaics and murals that decorated the castle.
After parking in the nearby village of Hohenschwangau, you have three choices to get to the castle. You can walk the 1.5 kilometers (0.93 miles) uphill, take a horse-drawn carriage, or ride the shuttle bus. It is important to note that neither the horse-drawn carriage nor the shuttle bus gets you all the way to the castle. If you ride the carriage, you will still have to walk about 10-15 minutes uphill, and if you ride the shuttle bus, you will have to walk 10-15 minutes downhill to get to the castle entrance.
Pro Tip: Be sure to purchase your at the ticket office in Hohenschwangau before making your way up to the castle. If you forget to do this, you have to go back into the village to purchase a ticket before you are allowed to enter the castle.
2. Burg Eltz
The enchanting castle of Burg Eltz is hidden deep inside a beautiful forest, perched high atop a 70-meter-high rock near the Moselle River in Germany. Having been in the care of the Eltz family for over 700 years, Burg Eltz boasts many of its original furnishings, pieces of artwork, and fine porcelain and silver, making this a unique castle in Germany to visit.
After hiking through the woodsy forest, I first looked at Burg Eltz from the forest floor below the rocky outcropping. The castle loomed over me with its many towers, pointed turrets, and high stone walls. It indeed was a scene out of a fairy tale! Of course, if you don’t want to trek through the forest to access Burg Eltz, you don’t have to. After parking in the designated area, visitors who arrive by car access the castle via a narrow cobblestone bridge that is highly picturesque.
During the guided tour of the castle, visitors are introduced to the history of the castle and the family through fascinating stories and artifacts. Learning that the castle has never been overtaken during times of war is incredible, given its long-standing history. As you tour the castle, take note of the original 15th-century kitchen and the suits of armor in the Knights’ Hall.
Pro Tip: Burg Eltz closes for winter break every year beginning in November. They reopen in April. Check their website before planning a trip to visit this fantastic castle.
3. Burghausen Castle
If sprawling castle complexes are your idea of the perfect castle, you need to add Burghausen Castle to your itinerary. Located in Upper Bavaria, this castle complex measures 1,051 meters long. The complex comprises the main castle, an inner courtyard, and five outer courtyards.
Visiting Burghausen Castle makes you feel like you have been transported back in time. From the almost fully intact ring of castle walls to the incredible towers and buildings within the castle walls, it is apparent that the duke of Bavaria, who designed the complex, wanted a true castle stronghold. A portion of the castle grounds is now dedicated to the castle museum, which houses numerous pieces of artwork. Be sure to check it out during your visit. I love that the castle offers several different themed tours for guests, and all are reasonably priced compared to other tours.
The castle grounds are accessible from the parking area by paved, mostly flat surfaces. Once inside, you can reach the museum ticket office and shop using a separate entrance to the left of the keep. Unfortunately, due to the historic nature of the building, there is no elevator to access the State Castle Museum in the Palas. You must climb a wooden staircase to access this area. Please visit the Burghausen Castle website for information on castle access, operating hours, and prices.
Pro Tip: During your visit, explore the working brewery and bakery on the castle grounds. Also, don’t miss the view from the platform on the castle’s roof!
4. Reichsburgh Castle (Cochem Castle)
Reichsburgh Castle, also called Cochem Castle, sit high atop a hill overlooking the Moselle River town of Cochem, Germany. The origins of Reichsburgh Castle date back to the 1100s, but only portions of this original structure remain today. The castle has been rebuilt several times to arrive at the magnificent neo-Gothic building you see before you today.
Reichsburgh Castle offers visitors the opportunity to explore the castle thanks to various fun and unique tours. You can take the traditional castle tour, a lantern tour, or a servant tour. In addition to unique tour offerings, Reichsburgh Castle hosts numerous events throughout the year, including a Christmas celebration, a gourmet food festival, and a champagne gala.
You can take the Reichsburgh shuttle bus from the town of Cochem to get to the castle. It is important to note that due to the historic nature of the castle, there is no wheelchair accessibility. Access to the castle grounds does require visitors to be able to navigate uneven ground and stairs.
For more information on accessibility, tour prices, and operating hours, please visit the Reichsburgh Castle website.
5. Hohenschwangau Castle
Hohenschwangau Castle is another Bavarian castle that seems as if it was plucked from the pages of a storybook. The castle, which stood in ruin for many years, was acquired by King Ludwig’s father, Maximilian II, in the 1800s and transformed into the romantic castle you see before you today.
The historic castle walls tell stories of knighthood and chivalry thanks to the ornate paintings commissioned by Maximilian. The romance of the castle continues as you step into the grand halls and chambers, many of which contain the original furnishings that King Ludwig was surrounded by during his youth. I loved the beautiful swan fountain in the castle garden. Be sure to look for it during your tour!
The castle is only accessible via a guided tour that lasts about 45 minutes. You can purchase tickets to tour the castle in person at the ticket center or online. Purchase your ticket online to ensure you have a reservation for your desired tour time.
Pro Tip: You can tour Hohenschwangau Castle and Neuschwanstein Castle on the same day if you would like. Be sure to give yourself 2 to 3 hours in between tour times to ensure you have time to travel between the two castles.
6. Wernigerode Castle
Wernigerode Castle is a medieval fortified castle that sits in central Germany near the town of Wernigerode. While the castle before you dates back to the 19th century, the site has been home to fortresses dating back to medieval times. The castle is a mix of several architectural styles, each illustrating the modifications it has experienced throughout the years.
Stepping into the castle, you feel as though you have been immersed in history. The 2-hour guided tour takes you through about 50 rooms of the castle, all of which served their own unique purpose for the German nobility that called Wernigerode Castle home. Pay special attention to the timeless pieces of furnishing and art as you tour the historic castle.
There is a train that takes visitors from town to the top of the castle and makes several stops in the town of Wernigerode. At the time of publication, the castle is not accessible to wheelchairs due to the historic nature of the building. Please visit the Wernigerode Castle website for more details and complete information.
Pro Tip: Take time to explore the town of Wernigerode while you are in the area. This picturesque village has a well-preserved medieval old town.