If ever you find yourself in Bavaria, you must take a day trip to Hohenschwangau to see the castles of Mad King Ludwig II. King Ludwig II was born in 1845. Growing up, he spent his summers in Hohenschwangau Castle, restored by his father King Maximilian in 1837. When he took over leadership in 1864, King Ludwig decided to restore the ruins of two former castles near his childhood home. Ludwig designed Neuschwanstein Castle as an homage to his friend Richard Wagner in the Romantic style.
When you arrive at the castle site, park in one of the designated lots and make your way to the ticket center. There you can purchase your tickets for tours of the two castles.You will be given a tour time for each castle. Tours last approximately 30 minutes, and you are given at least an hour in between tours. You must be on a guided tour to enter the castle and tours are offered in German and English with audio devices for other languages.
With tickets in hand, make your way to Neuschwanstein. Explore the outside, the patio, the fountains, and the sculptures while you wait for your tour time. At the main entrance, you will notice a sophisticated setup. A large clock hangs high. It will flash the designated tour times when they become available. If your time is up on the screen, you must bust a move to the turnstile or else you will miss out on your tour.
The Guided Tour
The guided tours offer a rich history of the castles and the King who built them. The tours are more entertaining than educational, but the wonders inside the castles make the whole visit worth it. The architecture is breathtaking. The interiors are extravagantly decorated. A sizeable staff is kept on hand to maintain the properties and polish the silver.
After you tour Neuschwanstein, you will have to trek your way up a sizeable hill to Hohenschwangau. Adventurous folk may like to walk it and stop at the Marienbrucke for a nice view, or you can take a horse and buggy up to the top. There is also a shuttle that will get you part way up the climb. Once at the Hohenschwangau Castle, you will have to repeat the procedure for ensuring your tour. Keep an eye on the time board and be prepared to jump up when your time flashes. On your trip back down the hill, stop for ice cream or other treats. You can also pick up some souvenirs along the way.