What a day! Although our actual sightseeing today was confined to a relatively small number of things, we saw a lot, took some awesome pictures, and had a good, but long, day.
So what did we do? We visited Linderhof Palace and Neuschwanstein Castle via a day trip we booked through Viator. I’ve used Viator for day trips a number of times in the past, including our 2013 trips to Toledo (Spain) and Windsor/Stonehenge/Oxford (England). I’ve never been disappointed with them in the past and they came through again this year! We only had time for one day trip this year and I’m really glad we picked this one because it was great (even if the rainy weather tried to ruin it for us!). Before I even get into the details of our day, I’ll reconfirm that I would recommend Viator for any day trip you’re considering! Even if you don’t know what day trips are good options from a given city, just go to their site, select the city, and see what comes up. You may find something awesome you didn’t know existed!
For our trip, we started by gathering at the designated meeting point in Munich to get on our bus. We had already been by there the day before, so we knew exactly where to meet, making this morning’s process a breeze. Travel tip – if you know you’ve got to be at a certain place for a tour or day trip, scope it out the day before if it at possible. That way, if you have any questions about where to go, you still have time to do more research and/or contact the organizer to get clarification. After setting off from Munich, we reached Linderhof Palace in a little under two hours. Both this palace and Neuschwanstein were commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, a very interesting man to say the least. In addition to clicking the link above, do a little googling on him to learn more about him – fascinating!
Although Linderhof isn’t huge, it’s a gorgeous building and is the only one of three palaces/castles commissioned by Ludwig II to be fully completed. You can only visit the palace via guided tour, which takes about 25 minutes and costs €8.50 ($11.75 USD) as of September 2014. The guide was great and was full of good information and, since the tour is relatively short, it doesn’t get dry or boring. In addition to the palace itself, there are a few other buildings, like a lodge, grotto, and more, that you can visit. Although we weren’t able to visit those other buildings because of the time allotted in the day trip, I bet they would be very worth it, so I would recommended at least looking into them as you’re planning your own Linderhof trip. Check out the palace website for the full details on the different buildings. You aren’t allowed to take pictures inside the palace, but you can outside, so touring those other buildings could give you more chances to capture those memories, too.
From Linderhof, we drove a short distance (maybe 25 minutes) to Oberammergau, a small village, for a souvenir/snack/potty break. In my experience, you’ll often find that pre-arranged day trips like these include some kind of shopping break at some point. They’re never long (ours was 40 minutes) and you may find a great souvenir or snap a cool photo, so take them for what they are. Sometimes the location is the interesting part, which is true of Oberammergau. During the time of the Black Plague, the residents of the town had experienced sickness and death and at a certain point, they went to the town church and prayed to God, saying that if no other residents died, they would promise to honor that good favor by putting on a play about the Passion of Jesus. No one else died, so they made good on their promise and they still put on that play today, once every ten years. So interesting! Check out the official website for the play to learn more.
At last, it was time for us to go to Neuschwanstein Castle! Located just above the village of Hohenschwangau, this castle is definitely a sight to be seen, especially the exterior, which was the inspiration for the Walt Disney castle for Sleeping Beauty. As I mentioned earlier, this castle was never completed fully, so the tour through it only takes about a half-hour, which seems surprising given how big the castle looks from the outside. As with Linderhof, you can only see the castle via guided tour, but the guides here are equally good, so it will be money well-spent (currently €12/$16.50 USD). The castle’s official website has more information on where to get tickets (you do NOT buy them at the castle) as well as info on visiting the other castle in Hohenschwangau (Hohenschwangau Castle), so give it a look.
It’s important to note that, once you get to Hohenschwangau, there are three ways to get to Neuschwanstein – walking, carriage ride, and bus. Walking up would probably take at least 40 minutes of relatively steep walking, so I wouldn’t recommend it. The carriage ride, while probably nice, also isn’t very practical as it’s not particularly fast and costs €6.50 ($8.50 USD), which is far more than the bus. Also, the carriages can only hold about 12 people, so if there’s a long line, you may have to wait awhile. I think bussing makes the most sense as it’s fast (they run constantly, so you shouldn’t have to wait more than ten minutes once you get your ticket), cheap (€1.80/$3 USD for an uphill ticket), and takes you to the best location to reach the castle – Marienbrücke) (Mary’s Bridge). We bussed up and walked down and that worked great. Walking down is always easier than walking up! No matter what method you choose to reach the castle though, you’ll have to do some walking. The carriage drops you off below the castle, so you walk up to it, and the bus drops you off above the castle, so you walk down to it. The key thing to know is that the Marienbrücke is just a short distance from the bus drop-off and you get some absolutely breathtaking views of the castle from that bridge. Like, postcard-worthy views. 🙂 Don’t miss out on this! We had drizzly weather and lots of fog/mist in the air and the views were still worth it! A word of warning though – the bridge will be FULL of people, it’s very high up, and there are boards here and there that don’t feel super sturdy. If you’re afraid of heights, the bridge is likely not somewhere you want to be. So send your friend/spouse/travel companion to the bridge to get pictures for you! As with Linderhof, you can’t take pictures inside the castle, so getting pictures of the exterior is as good as it gets in terms of preserving the memories.
Ready to see pictures of this amazingness?? Today’s weather made photography more challenging, so I had to work with that as I was editing the pictures. I think a lot of them came out pretty cool though! Judge for yourself. 🙂
The town maypole in Hohenschwangau.
Before we got on the bus, I also had to get a picture of the Alpsee, a lake in Hohenschwangau.
As I said at the start of this post, what a day! Definitely a good way to end our time in Munich. Tomorrow, we’re off to Zurich, Switzerland for just a couple of days before we fly home on Saturday. Come back and find me there tomorrow, won’t you? 🙂