Castle tour or stay in Munich?

I started to ask this on the other castle thread, but decided that maybe that would be hijacking it, so I'm starting my own.

After arriving in Munich at 7PM or so on Mon Sept 29th we then have only 3 full days to see the city before leaving for Budapest on Friday morning. We are then taking a Viking River Cruise from Budapest to Passau. Would those of you who've been to Munich before recommend just staying in the city to enjoy what it has to offer, or would you take one of your days for a castle(s) tour as described in the Neuschwanstein thread? Sounds like it is a full day trip whether done on our own or with a guided tour. It is something we'd do for sure if we were staying another day or two, but I worry that there is so much we should be seeing in Munich that we simply don't have enough time.

Also I have some issues with walking comfortably these days and I suspect getting up to the castles could be an issue for me, and no sense over taxing myself at the very beginning of the trip. My husband was stationed in Germany in the early 60s and at least once a year brings up his tale of seeing "old ladies" sitting at the bottom of the path up to various castles. He was nosy enough that he finally asked and one of the women told him that she and her husband dreamed of the day they could travel together after he retired. But now he was dead and she was too old to make the climb to the top with her tour group. So here we are, my 76 year old husband is going to be making the trek to the top alone because his eighteen-years-younger "old lady" has a bulging disc in her back that manifests itself as leg pain at the most inconvenient times!

Posted by Russ
2694 posts

Neuschwanstein is a long walk up a steep hill from the transport area - and a long trip anyway from Munich considering the tour is just 30 minutes long. And it's not a castle anyway but a late 19th century palace.

You may find Nymphenburg Palace in Munich more accessible and worth your time.
N'burg information
N'burg accessibility and other info.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
11073 posts

If mobility is a problem and you really want to see Neuschwanstein, you have two options. Take the horse-drawn carriage, although it stops about a 10 minute walk shy of the castle entrance. During the summer months, there's also a shuttle bus that deposits you about 10 minutes above the castle. Hohenschwangau is a much shorter uphill walk, but no transportation options other than your own feet.

"seeing "old ladies" sitting at the bottom of the path up to various castles." Oddly enough, out of the several dozen castles and mountains I've climbed since moving to Europe, I've never seen that. In fact, I've seen plenty of people considerably older than myself climb to the top of some very high mountains.

Posted by stephen
Greeley, co, usa
503 posts

Taking the horse carriage will greatly reduce the trip up to the castle. There are about 180 steps on the tour inside.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
14159 posts

Neuschwanstein is about the same age as the Eifel Tower, so don't see it either.

True, Neuschwanstein is a 19th century "palace" but it is such an icon of Germany, and beautiful, that I can't imagine being in Germany and not seeing it if you get the chance.

For an authentic castle in the area, you might consider taking the train from Munich out to the town of Burghausen, on the Salzach River, then the bus to the Burghausen Castle, billed as the "longest castle in Europe". That castle is almost 1000 years old.

I might also suggest the castle at Harburg (Schwaben), just south of Nördlingen, but the walk in from the train station is over a km.

Posted by Faith
San Pedro, CA, USA
186 posts

Thank you everyone for your comments. We are good walkers, when I can walk. Unfortunately we never know because I can have several weeks with no problems at all and days when it hurts to walk next door. OK, I'm hearing good things about several castles and how to keep walking minimized if I'm having a bad day.

Lee made the comment comparing missing Eiffel Tower to missing Neuschwanstein. Earlier today before seeing Lee's comment I was thinking to rephrase my question with this comment: If someone said to me that they have 3 days in Paris, should they see Versailles on one of those days? I'd answer NO, not unless they've always dreamed of seeing Versailles and think they might never ever return to Paris. Is Versailles worth a trip? Absolutely! But there is so much else to see and experience in Paris that I wouldn't suggest doing that to someone only visiting for three days.

I guess we'll "play it by leg" and once we get a feel for the city after the first day (probably try to find a HOHO bus, and my husband has a friend who may be showing us around depending on her work schedule) decide if day #2 should be a castle day, leaving day #3 for museums and/or more wandering around Munich. I have plenty of time to baby my leg on the 7 hour train ride to Budapest on day #4.

Posted by BB
160 posts

I was just in Munich for 3 days and didn't go to the Ludwig castles. Our 3 days were very full. I loved Nymphenburg, though, and I second that recommendation, although there is a fair bit of walking involved to see the other palaces on the grounds (which are worth seeing, IMO). The Residenz, near Marienplatz, is also worth seeing and had the most extensive interior tour of all the castles we saw in Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Cesky Krumlov, and Munich.

I don't feel as if I missed out by staying in Munich. However, since I did not see Neuschwanstein, I could be talking through my hat.

Posted by bswag
2 posts

Just returned from Germany, and I highly recommend Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwagenau. Both are in the same small village, and you do not have to walk to the top of the hill to see them as you've read. I took a very inexpensive shuttle bus to the top where you can see the castles from a bridge/overlook with a gorgeous view, then a short downhill walk gets you into Neuschwanstein. It isn't the best interior, but it is just so neat to see the place. You can easily walk back downhill, or you can take a private horse carriage or a shared carriage for a couple euro/ I opted for the short carriage back down. Oh the other side of the road is Hohenschwagenau, and indeed you can catch a shared carriage to the entrance, but the climb up from the central part of village is relatively easy. SO yes, you can reach both of these in one, easy day trip and you do not have to make exhausting climbs. In Munich, Nymphenburg Palace was nice to see, but very little is actually open for touring right now. I would have personally saved the entrance and audio guide fee and spent a lot more time in the gardens and park on the property. As far as The Residenz in Munich, I was not impressed. Many, many rooms that all looked the same, and not much real decore in them.

Posted by Chris
Mahone Bay, Canada
310 posts


You have a tough decision. There is more than enough to keep you busy in Munich for 3 days, but a trip into the Bavarian countryside and seeing some of Ludwig's castles would be pretty great, too. Personally, I'd do the day trip and I'd rent a car to do it, but then when we travel to Europe we tend to prefer spending more time in the countryside than the cities. As much as I love Munich (and it is one of the places I visit most in Europe), the Bavarian countryside is perfectly pretty with green meadows, old fashioned farmhouses and the mountains becoming in the distance. You can't go wrong with either choice and whichever you choose, you will leave wanting more.

Posted by BB
160 posts

Well, it just goes to show that there are different strokes for different folks. What one person likes, another doesn't, and vice versa.

By the time I got to Munich, I'd seen Budapest Castle, both the Hobrun and Schonbrunn palaces in Vienna, Prague Caste, the castle in Cesky Krumlov, Castle Hluboka, and the ruins at Divci Kamen. I was seriously wondering if it was worth visiting more palaces or castles at all, but both the Residenz and Nymphenburg wowed me, and I was very, very glad I got to see them.

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
904 posts

Neuschwanstein is the iconic castle. This is the fairy tale place you dreamed of as a child. The setting is spectacular and the castle is truly a sight to behold. Definitely take the horse & carriage up the hill and save your walking for the castle.

Hopefully you will feel well enough to make the trek - our first trip Germany we did not go to Neuschwanstein and after we returned home every time I saw a photo of it or spoke with someone about our visit I wished we had!

Fortunately we did go on our second trip to Germany!