Live the Fairytale Fantasy: Discover Castles in Bavaria

Lydia Fulson

By: Lydia Fulson / Writer, Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Thrill Seeker, and Adventurer

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Welcome to Bavaria!

Picture this: You've stumbled across the part of Germany that everybody has been raving about – the castle-filled state of every little girl's princess dreams. A place where you can relax on your way up the castle path by horse-drawn carriage. What a dream!

Not only is Bavaria full of exciting cities, like the medieval Rothenburg, but it's also the place to find the most beautiful castles. And it's a place you can be escorted like true royalty as you do it.

What are the best castles to see? Will they fulfill that princess fantasy? The history-lovers fantasy?

Neuschwanstein Castle : Castles in BavariaThe stunning Bavarian scenery and colors showing off the bright and bold Neuschwanstein!

Bavaria is home to many of Germany's most famous and often-visited castles and palaces, known for their rich architecture and elegant beyond words. They are true pieces of art.

Nestled among the mountains and, low in the valleys, stand tall, the wondrous castles of Bavaria.

Let's explore a few!

 Castle Construction

Castle construction

Note that these castles are old and sometimes require construction and upkeep. Be sure to check the official castle websites or local tourist stops to stay updated and informed of any construction in the castle to avoid a scene like this. After a trip up the mountain to see Heidelberg Castle, I was met with a lovely sight of an excavator instead. Stay in the loop on castle construction to plan your castle trip around it!

List of the Best Castles near Bavaria

Neuschwanstein Castle / Schloss Neuschwanstein

Distance from Munich: 73 miles (118 kilometers)

Travel by car: 1 hour 47 minutes

The first on our list and the first to pop into everyone's mind when we say “German Castle” is this one.

Notice anything slightly familiar, fellow travelers? You guessed it. THIS is the very castle that inspired Walt Disney and the design of the Disney castle at his amusement park. Fit for a prince or a princess. Neuschwanstein is the most visited castle in all of Europe, bringing in 1.4 million visitors a year!

I mean, who wouldn't want to get a gander at this beauty?

Nestled in the Bavarian cliffside at 2,620 ft (0.8 kilometers), this medieval castle of the fairytale king can be spotted surrounded by a rocky outcrop and spectacular views. It's hard to miss!

Lydia's pic of Neuschwanstein CastleA beautiful palace to match its beautiful name!

What about that wacky name? Neuschwanstein translates literally to “New Swan Stone”.

~ Fun Fact ~ 

The castle's name was inspired by a character from one of Richard Wagner's famous operas, which happened to be one of King Ludwig II of Bavaria's favorite operas.

Neuschwanstein is Germany's most famous castle. This one offers a horse and carriage ride to bring you right to the castle entrance, where sometimes, during the warmer months, you can even find musicians in traditional uniform playing authentic German music to give you a lovely serenade.

Lydia's horse and carriageI was lucky enough to experience the horse and carriage ride for myself! What a way to feel like royalty!

Neuschwanstein was built by the King of Bavaria as a summer residence and a medieval fortress of solitude.

It was a place to escape the business and responsibility of royal duties and expectations. Though it was the largest castle built in Ludwig's reign, sadly, the king did not live to see his castle in its finished stages. He lived in it while it was under construction. Only 14 of the planned 200 rooms were completed, but today, what is seen is breathtaking.


As you enter the castle from the lovely ride up, walk through stunning hand-painted murals, elaborate chandeliers, and enormous golden candelabras.

Perusing the elegantly decorated dining room feels like one dove right into a Cinderella storybook. Take a moment to prepare yourself, sit down and take a minute before you see the unimaginably stunning throne hall!

This will take your breath away; check out that chandelier! The King's bedroom is another must-see on your tour.

~ Fun Fact ~ 

The intricate woodcarvings throughout the bedroom took almost five years to complete!

All one can say when touring through Neuschwanstein is … WOW.

Neuschwanstein is amazing and screams elegance!

This state has even more Bavarian castles to see. Follow me—a quick taxi ride away, and you can see King Ludwig's second castle of solitude.

Linderhof Palace / Schloss Linderhof

Distance from Munich: 60 miles (97 kilometers)

Travel by car: 1 hour 17 minutes

Follow the German Alpine Road through the Bavarian Alps and you'll come across Ludwig's smaller palace of beauty. Being about an hour away from each other, tourists will often visit Neuschwanstein and Linderhof together. It's a great way to see both Ludwig's elegant creations in one day.

Make a day trip out of it and see it all.

Don't forget to stop for an authentic Bavarian pretzel on your way!

Linderhof palace in BavariaA pricey, but lovely abode for the eccentric king.

Ludwig bought the castle, already knowing of the area well, as he would often accompany his father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria, during his hunting trips through the alps. The King had an eclectic taste in home decor, and remodeled and redecorated to his liking.

Not exactly the typical, “Welcome” or “Live Laugh Love” signs, instead think … as expensive as you can. We're talking chandeliers worth millions!


The perfectly manicured gardens and golden statues of Linderhof are sights worth visiting. Ludwig took a special liking to the design and architecture of the famous palace of Versailles and wanted that to be his biggest inspiration.

Linderhof Palace GardensThere's nothing like a peaceful walk around royal grounds

I hope you like gold because from floor-to-ceiling the conference room, bedroom, and hallways are covered in it. The dining room will give you that splash of color you've been waiting for. With spunky pink and blue cupboards and the popular 'Tischlein deck dich'—the King's favorite disappearing dumbwaiter. The literal translation of 'Tischlein deck dich' is 'Table, set yourself'. It's the name of a fairy tale written by the Brothers Grimm. 

Admire the hand-painted murals and tapestries of Greek goddesses and floral designs all over the walls. Look up! Behind those giant chandeliers are the massive-painted masterpieces. It's incredible to think that they were painted by someone's hand!

But the coolest room in the castle? The hall of mirrors. That's right! The purpose is even cooler than the name.

The King loved to read and draw. He would spend hours upon end in the hall of mirrors. In the hall, stands a tall 16-branch ivory candelabra. When Ludwig would light the candles to sit and read, the reflections off the many mirrors would make thousands of candlelights. What a beautiful sight.

Now get ready for one of the world's longest castles.

Burghausen Castle

Distance from Munich: 68 miles (110 kilometers)

Travel by car: 1 hour 15 minutes

Attention all photography lovers! Not only is this marvelous 3,448 ft (1 kilometer) long castle complex beautiful on the outside, but it also doubles as several museums on the inside, with an entire museum dedicated to the love of photography. 

Burghausen, the historic site and longest castle in the world, is located in Upper Bavaria and has been awarded by Guinness World Records.

Burghausen Castle Complex. The longest in the worldWelcome to the longest castle you'll ever see!

It dates back to the 8th-9th century and was the home to several Bavarian dukes throughout history. By the early 1500s, Burghausen was declared the strongest fortress in the region.

But it isn't just one castle: it is an entire castle complex. Each wing is connected by a series of paths and walkways, with one shared inner courtyard. There are also five outer courtyards, all for specific jobs and characteristics.

~ Fun Fact ~ 

The first camera manned in space can be found here!


  • The first courtyard protected the main part of the castle, holding the royal stables, bakery, and in true German fashion, a brewery to get the finest beer in the land.
  • The second outer courtyard harbors the gunsmith tower along with the big arsenal building. The Saint George gate, built in 1494, stands tall to protect this yard.
  • The third courtyard was made specifically to hold the grain towers of animal feed.
  • The fourth displays the eye-catching towering chapel of St. Hedwig. This is a popular sight for photos.
  • Until 1800, when destroyed by the French, a strong fortification protected the fifth courtyard. Important court officials and the castle craftsmen lived in this yard.
Burghausen architectureNo wonder it has so many courtyards! It's HUGE!

Burghausen was designed in an old Gothic style, much like the inspiration for Neuschwanstein, with ornate decoration, pointed arches, and hundreds of large-scale windows. As you tour the rooms, courtyards, and chapel of the great castle, there's an extra special spot to get the ultimate view. Bask in the beauty of the landscape and get an incredible view of the courtyards from the viewing platform on the rooftop.

Nymphenburg Palace / Schloss Nymphenburg

Distance from Munich: 5 miles (8 kilometers)

Travel by car: 29 minutes

This beautiful baroque palace served as a summer home for a former ruler of Bavaria. Building started in 1701 when two massive pavilions connected by two gallery wings were built, with a circle of connecting massive mansions.

Fifty years later, Nymphenburg was finished and is now one of the most visited royal palaces in Germany. This enormous palace brings over 300,000 visitors a year!

Swans outside of Nymphenburg palaceA popular destination for the swans as well!

~ Fun Fact ~ 

There is a part in the garden wall that leads to the Great Botanical Gardens of Munich!

The palace gardens are what draw the attention here. A canal lies between two lakes on the grand 500-acre property designed as an Italian garden. The canal leads to a huge marble cascade decorated with statue after statue of Roman and Greek gods. As you can see, the swans love basking in the sun and floating about in the surrounding waters.


Oma and Lydia standing outside Nymphenburg!Oma and Lydia standing outside Nymphenburg!

Italian architects came together to bring the desired French Baroque style to life, although throughout its many years under different ownership, its style changed with them. Some rooms kept with the Baroque style, but most changed to the popular Rococo style.

Inside the palace, you can find five different museums. If you love history, this is the place for you! Wander the beautiful gardens as you take in the stunning historic architecture. Add this one to your itinerary when exploring southern Germany.

Herrenchiemsee Palace

Distance from Munich: 56 miles (90 kilometers)

Travel by car: 1 hour 17 minutes

Are you looking for an excuse for a boat trip on the peaceful Chiemsee lake in southern Bavaria? Here it is!

The Herrenchiemsee Palace is a place of beauty. Located on the island of Herreninsel and only accessible by a relaxing steamboat ride, this is another of Bavarian King Ludwig II's palaces—or 'money pits', as many called it. Ludwig purchased the island in 1873 and turned it into yet another place of residence and solitude.

Herrenchiemsee Palace and its intricate fountain out frontSee the immaculate details in the fountain!

Add it to the list!

Just wait until you hear the total that was spent on this place! Like Neuschwanstein, it was never totally completed. Ludwig only got to stay in this palace for a few days. Eventually, it was sold off to different owners, redone multiple times, and had the cathedral demolished: that castle has been through the works. It even served its time as a brewery!

Sadly, 50 out of the 70 planned rooms were never completed. Today, you can visit and tour the finished, stylish rooms and during the warmer months, go for horse-drawn carriage rides around parts of the island.

Such a pretty palace came with quite the heavy price tag.


~ Fun Fact ~ 

It was just shortly discovered, that out of all of king Ludwig’s castles, this one alone cost a whopping £154,000,000 (US$250,100,000) to remodel and design, more than both 19th century Neuschwanstein castle and Linderhof combined!

Let's talk about what all that money added to this place.

Herrenchiemsee features an astounding formal garden with a copy of the fountain of Versailles, which he had a bit of an obsession with. Versailles is where lots of his inspiration came from for all of his builds. Lining the gardens are classical statues.

Did you know that this castle holds the world's largest Meissen porcelain chandelier? Admire this expensive decoration featured in the decorative dining room along with the elevator table!

All of this brought the dream of King Ludwig II and his fantasy fairytale castle to life. He has gone down in history as one of the most eccentric and recklessly spending rulers in the whole country's history.

Though, he did leave us some very amazing sights to see.

New Hohenschwangau Castle / Schloss Hohenschwangau

Distance from Munich: 73 miles (118 kilometers)

Travel by car: 1 hour 49 minutes

In Hohenschwangau valley in the Bavarian Alps, New Hohenschwangau served as a summer residence for royal families and a hunting lodge for many years. But before construction of the new castle, there stood old Schwangau, which unfortunately did not survive the battles that took place in Bavaria.

As the castle ruins kept crumbling, a new Hohenschwangau was built on a slightly lower site on the same mountainside. King Ludwig II's father bought it and continued the construction. The result was a beautiful yellow-toned fortress with square towers and pillars and the most fantastic views.

Ludwig would eventually build the first of his famous castles, Neuschwanstein, at the site of the old Schwangau. When looking down from the top of the cliff, he could see his parent's castle below, Hohenschwangau.

Hohenschwangau castle overlooking the valley viewHohenschwangau standing out from the bunch with its yellow beauty


Ludwig's royal family lived here and continued to decorate it with poise and a comforting design. Inside, you can find depicted scenes and paintings of old German folklore tales. The 19th-century palace gives more of a 'homey' feeling when you tour the interior rooms.

Scattered about, you can see plenty of swans. Some painted, some in carvings, and you can even find silver statues and a giant swan fountain in the garden. The valley, in which the castle is located, has the nickname, “The Valley of the Swans”.

King Maximilian loved the swans and wanted to carry the theme throughout the palace. It is also said that he wanted this because swans symbolize the love between two people and he adored his wife. Awe!

Hohenschwangau lit up at nightLit up beautifully at night to show off its architecture

Guided tours in more than ten languages are offered daily to explore and expand your knowledge of Hohenschwangau. As part of a guided tour, you will learn about the history of its famous old castle, the royal family, the architecture, and so much more.

These tours are a great way to travel through Bavaria and its most popular castles.

Hohenschwangau: Lydia's upclose pic

Can you see the swan on top? Yep, the pictures confirm, the castle may be a tad bird crazy. I took this picture while waiting to explore Neuschwanstein. Both are so close you can get beautiful pictures of both from the same parking lot!

~ Travel tip ~ 

Be sure to ask or research before visiting the castles. Some have areas that are not allowed to be photographed. Ask your tour guide.

Just as one would in a museum, one always wants to be respectful of the rules. The historic buildings themselves, they are works of art too!

Now you can say you've learned a little bit about the historic castles of Bavaria and maybe even have found the motivation to visit! See the childhood home of Ludwig II, his future towering castles, and the others that this great state has to offer. Enjoy your travels and take lots of notes and pictures!

What is Bavaria's capital?

Bavaria's capital is Munich.

What is the Zugspitze in Bavaria?

The Zugspitze is Germany's highest peak, at 9,718 ft. Bavaria is home to some amazing things.