Hiking the Alps near Neuschwanstein Castle
A day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle combines stunning romantic architecture with a breathtaking natural location in the Bavarian Alps. The gateway to Germany’s famous Romantic Road, the region around Füssen is home to some of the most picturesque hiking trails in Bavaria. Neuschwanstein itself is merely the glittering centerpiece of an awe-inspiring alpine landscape. The castle, which looks like something from a fairy tale and inspired Walt Disney, is perched on a lofty crag towering above the Alpsee lake, and is visible from miles away.
The walk up to Neuschwanstein Castle is a popular one, with thousands of visitors every year opting to trek uphill rather than taking the bus or horse-drawn carriage. The trailhead starts in the charming village of Hohenschwangau, where you can buy tickets for a guided tour of the castle. The uphill walk is moderate and takes no more than 40 minutes at a gentle pace, with options to stop for refreshments along the way.
As you approach Neuschwanstein Castle, the going becomes a little steeper for a short period, but the reward is worth it. King Ludwig II’s great romantic castle in the clouds stands tall and proud, with its turrets and towers reaching for the sky. From the castle, you can also see the nearby Marienbrücke suspension bridge on one side, and the huge Forggensee lake and Schwangau village on the other. If you continue uphill past the castle for another 15 minutes, you will arrive at the Marienbrücke bridge and can enjoy one of the great views and photo spots in all Europe, with its view of the castle against a backdrop of the Allgäu mountains, forests and lakes.
But the hike to Neuschwanstein is just the beginning. There are plenty of other hiking options in the area that offer equally breathtaking views. One of the most popular is the walk through Pöllat Gorge, an alternative route back down from Neuschwanstein which takes you through a narrow, rocky canyon with waterfalls and lush vegetation.
If you’re looking for something more ambitious, try the nearby Tegelberg mountain. The cable car to the top is close to Hohenschwangau, right beside a fun toboggan station. Make sure to look out the right side of the cable car going up for a simply stunning view of Schloss Neuschwanstein. The restaurant at the top of Tegelberg Mountain offers panoramic views of the entire region, with clear evidence of why Bavaria is considered the most beautiful part of Germany. From here, choose your route down. Your options are colour-coded (blue: easy; red: middle; black: difficult). We recommend the red path, which is simply gorgeous but not as exhausting or potentially dangerous as the black path. Factor in at least four hours.
No matter which trail you choose, be sure to bring plenty of water and wear sturdy shoes. that protect your ankles. Mountain pathways can be steep, rocky, and uneven. Always be prepared. Also, keep in mind that the weather in the Alps can be unpredictable. The golden rule is to always check the forecast before you head out.
When you’re finished hiking, be sure to explore the charming village of Schwangau in the vicinity of Lake Alpsee, or the larger town of Füssen. Here you will find excellent restaurants and cafes, as well as shops selling souvenirs and local crafts. And of course the one essential needed to wind down after a day in the mountains: a cool German beer.