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Neuschwenstein and /or Herrenchiemsee?

Our family of 4,kids 22 and 20 are traveling to Europe for 2 weeks in May.We begin out trip in Italy,and travel by train to Austria and Germany, leaving from Frankfurt. Please give your opinions concerning our itinerary with special focus on our visit to Munich/ side trips.I have read posts that give sound advice about slowing the pace a bit when you can allow for it. It caused me to wonder if fitting two castles in was too much, and which we should eliminate.I lean towards Neuschweinstein, but wonder if we should stay longer in Munich and cut out The Herrenchiemsee stop.We are an energetic bunch,and like to see all we can when on a vacation. This is my husband and children's first Europe trip.
Days 1-5- Italy
Day 6-Night train from Venice to Munich,arriving 6:10 a.m Day trip to Neuschweinstein.
Day 7-Dachau/ Munich
Day 8-train to Salzburg via Prien/ Herrenchiemsee
Day 9-12- Salzburg/ Day trip to Hallstat
Day 13-14- Rothenburg
Day 15 -Rudesheim/ Rhine cruise/ Koln ( full I know)
Day16- Leave from Frankfurt

Posted by
81 posts

We just did the Munich part of this trip last October. I might make a couple of recommendations. We drove all this and it was very easy so a train shouldn't be any problem.

Day 6 - I would recommend this be your day for Dachau/Munich.
Day 7 - Train to Salzburg via Prien/Herrenchiemsee
Day 8-11 - Salzburg/Day trip to Hallstat
Day 12-13 - Rothenberg
Day 14 - Neuschweinstein & Hoenswanghau Castles (This is the castle where Ludwig lived while Neuschweinstein was being built)

Herrenchiemsee is modeled after Versailles and is definitely worth the visit.

To me this seems a little more logical. This way you don't have to double back from Rothenberg which is on the way to Neuschweinstein.

Just as a side note if you could squeeze in Ludwig's "hunting lodge" - Linderhof - it would definitely be worth the time.

Your family will have an awesome time!

Posted by
5201 posts

"Please give your opinions concerning our itinerary..."

You have just 5 nights for all of Germany - and 5 nights in Salzburg? I could easily see just 3 nights in Salzburg including your day trip to Hallstatt.

You say you "...wonder if fitting two castles in was too much" but in fact you have no castles on your list - just two late-19th-century residential palaces. NeuSCHWANstein (think swan, not pig) was created by a set designer to resemble a castle, but a real castle it is not. If you'd like to tour a castle, spend one night in the Middle Rhine Valley, where there are 40 real knights' castles in a 40-mile stretch of river. The 9:06 train leaving Rothenburg means an arrival in Rüdesheim at 13:04; have a bite to eat and catch the 14:15 boat north to St. Goar (15:55.) Drop bags at hotel and head up to Rheinfels Castle for a couple of hours. A 5-minute train ride south to Oberwesel (or a 10-min. ride to Bacharach) gets you a glimpse of some fine old-world towns, good places for an evening meal.

Head to Cologne the next morning. That way you'll have time to actually see something there, not just sleep there, before you head back to FRA.

Posted by
278 posts

funbunch- Russ made some good points re cutting Salzburg back a night or 2 and spending at least one night ( 2 is better) in the Middle Rhine Valley. Eaglesnest and the Konigsee is also an easy day trip from Salzburg. And I would recommend keeping your original routing to visit Neuschweinstein before traveling to Rothenburg and the Rhine to save travel time. With your tight schedule, Rothenburg is probably worth only 1 afternoon and night. Finally, Jerry made a good point about using a car in Germany. Pick it up when you get to Munich (better selection at the Munich airport) and drop it off at the Frankfurt airport. Get a good map at any gas station on the autobahn. A car gives you a lot more flexibility in that you can stop if you see something that is of interest, you are not tied to a train schedule, and it will probably be cheaper since there are 4 of you. A note of caution- don't drink before driving as the laws are very strict... Have a great trip!!!

Posted by
12040 posts

If you cut some time in Salzburg, I think you could easily see Herrenchiemsee and Neuschwanstein. Both worth visiting, especially if you pre-read a little about King Ludwig and some of his rather odd pecularities. Particularly his obsession with Wagner. For all the attention Salzburg gets, I must admit I was a little disappointed. It's an attractive city and worth visiting, but the historical core isn't particularly large and it doesn't take very long to see.

Rothenburg is worth a few hours, not two days.

Posted by
5201 posts

"Go and let yourself be awed by marvels, instead of letting someone snatch one of the absolute highlights of your German vacation away from you."

Funbunch is an adult who requested feedback on the itinerary with an eye to making changes him-/herself and will surely not permit any "snatching" of "marvels" from the family vacation. No one has even told Funbunch not to go there (but I think I will now.)

That N'stein is not a castle doesn't mean it's worthless. Is it a marvel? 90% of visitors will say "yes", but having toured the place twice, I find this unanimity almost unexplainable and side strongly with the 10% who say "no." Reasonable people can disagree on this place. This page on yelp includes the following review from Jay F; his impressions mirror mine almost exactly:

Don't be lured here by the amazing pictures. The place is stunning in scenery but that is about it.... The line to buy a ticket (which can only be done at the ticket office BELOW the castle) is longer then that at any other tourist magnet I have been to and this include the Vatican, Louvre, Tower of London, etc... Not only is the line long but you have to buy a ticket for a guided tour only, and in a set time slot. This means if you miss it you miss it and no refund. The ticket is around €11 for a 30 minute tour.... The tour? My English tour was led by a nice women with a harsh Bavarian accent. I am good with accents and had no real issue with it but I heard some other people complaining, and if English is not your first language it could be rough. The tour group is crowded and rushed along through shockingly few rooms... remember that the place was never finished. No pictures are allowed so you can't even bring back any memories of what, to be fair, are pretty cool rooms.... Overall this place suffers from too long lines, a short tour, not much history, and no photos allowed. By contrast Versailles, Schloss Shönbrunn in Vienna, the Residenz in Munich, all allow photos, are bigger, more impressive, easier to get to, and even cheaper in some cases! If you want true palaces or castles, there are MANY better ones to visit in Europe. If you wanted an area to hike around... well this is a pretty sweet area... and no reason to wait in line as you can walk to the castle for free. Don't get your hopes up, as the best thing about this place is the photo you have already seen.

I would only add that as castles and palaces go, this one has seen almost no history. Ludwig II lived there for all of 6 months before it became a tourist trap. So why all the praise? The Disney "link" is a big factor for Disney fans ("Disney" is mentioned 17 times on the above page of reviews as grounds for visiting.) And if you've seen just 1 or 2 "Ludwig" castles from Germany's inventory of 25,000 castles and palaces, I guess you really want to think that you've seen the marvel of marvels, and the tourist crowd there reinforces that notion.

Posted by
1064 posts

Neuschwanstein is Germany's best-know structure and one of its most scenic; the same goes for the Eiffel Tower in France, as well as Windsor, the Houses of Parliament in England. For people around the world, these structures define their countries. Guess what, these are all 19th century structures. Most people have enough sense to realize these buildings are not medieval, but they still want to see them before moving on to older structures.

True, if your goal is to tour a palace or castle, you would be best served by touring another. But after a half dozen or so castles and an equal number of palaces, the tours lose their appeal. We used Hohenschwangau village as a base a while back to tour that part of Bavaria, hiked around the area, viewed the castles from different vantage points and at different times of the day and night, yet made no attempt to tour Neuschwanstein. Instead we toured the nearby Linderhof and got our fill of Ludwig's interiors. Yet we thoroughly enjoyed our stay beneath the castles. And yes, they are castles, from different eras, but still castles.

Posted by
12040 posts

"The line to buy a ticket (which can only be done at the ticket office BELOW the castle) is longer then that at any other tourist magnet I have been to and this include the Vatican, Louvre, Tower of London, etc..."

That's not at all typical. Accompanying various family members and friends over the past four years (a total of 8 times and counting, although I've only taken the tour twice), the longest anyone had to wait in the line was about 15 minutes. One group I took to the castle had to wait about 90 minutes for their tour to begin after they bought their tickets, but the wait in the ticket line itself was negligible. No problems, my dog and I simply guided them on a hike above the castle.

It's a cool looking castle in a beautiful setting, with an interesting story behind it. I think it mertis a visit, but decide that for yourself.

Posted by
8 posts

I truly appreciate your time and opinions on this topic! The forum is so helpful in finalizing the plans for a vacation we are sure to enjoy! It is certain that we won't see all the gems of these beautiful contries in such a short time, but you have given me good food for thought,and valuable advice from different perspectives.I will talk with my bunch and plan to report back on our trip! Thanks again!

Posted by
1064 posts

My home IS my castle. Ludwig must have felt the same way.

Posted by
5201 posts

Funbunch: It can be very tricky for first-time travelers to Europe like yourselves to decide how to spend their time and money. I'll bet thousands have taken the N'stein tour and departed 30 minutes later still thinking they saw a real castle... and I didn't want you making plans to go there under the same misunderstanding... so I won't offer an apology for clarifying the common but deceptive use of "castle" after Neuschwanstein with a dictionary definition. Requests like yours for an itinerary evaluation will inevitably turn up diverse viewpoints and experiences. I see such differences not as "hate" but as evidence of our fruitful capacity for diverse thought (actually, I've never hated a building in my life, including N'stein; some of my best friends are buildings :)

Also: Dachau provides a very powerful experience. If you go, remember that it's a bit tough to jump from a place like that into the Hofbrauhaus or some other bastion of frivolity in Munich.

Posted by
449 posts

Hmmmm...

I was wondering myself, and I'm inclined not to wait in line for more than 15-20 minutes to get a ticket, so might just have a look on the outside and visit interior another time.

Posted by
12040 posts

None of the guests I've taken to the castles reserved tickets, and I don't think anyone waited for more than 10-15 minutes in line. The average wait was probably just over 5 minutes.

Posted by
1064 posts

Russ, please don't crush the dreams of millions of Disney fans by calling Snow White's Castle a palace. Snow White's Palace just doesn't have the same ring to it. Next, you will tell us that Snow White never actually lived at Neuschwanstein when we know full well that it was the model for her castles in the U.S.

Edited: Sorry, but I originally called it Cinderella's Castle. As if I know the difference?

Posted by
12040 posts

OK, this is off topic a little, but now that we're talking about fairy tales...driving on A3 between Frankfurt and Würzburg, one of the brown tourist boards advertises the town of Lohr as Schneewittchenstadt (Snow White town). Anyone know the connection? I can't find any information online.

Posted by
662 posts

Salzburg was a day trip for us and we weren't tempted to spend more time. It was very tourist and shopping oriented. We saw the fortress and Mozart 's homes as well as walking the shopping areas. The side trip might make it worth two nights. We LOVED Herrenchiemsee. It's very different in that you ride a boat across a beautiful lake to get there. The palace is gorgeous and the exhibit about Ludwig was very educational. If you're going to Neuschwanstein you might as well do Hohenschwangau since you walk from one to the other. Well, you want to take the bus up to Neus. Herrenchiemsee is a mini version of Versailles. It has the garden outdoor space that Neus and Hohen don't. And Linderhof beats them all as far as gardens. Get your tickets in advance for Neus and Hohen. We spent only one day in Munich. We saw lots of fun sights but missed out on Dachau. I would definitely take in Dachau with your adult kids. Believe it out not, in Munich we loved the river surfing and the Hofbrauhaus pub. A lot of folks seem to consider Rothenburg as too touristy. We have cut it from this year's trip to spend more time on the Rhine.

Posted by
662 posts

Btw, we had a car and have driven everywhere in Bavaria easily, except for Munich. We actually stayed out in the country and took the train into Munich. You might consider doing the same and driving to Salzburg and other sights on Bavaria. The distances are short and might be easier than changing nightly locations. Besides the scenery and the villages you go through are an experience in themselves.

Posted by
8 posts

Hi Kay! When you went to Herrenchiemsee, did you go from Munich towards Salzburg via Prien by chance? That is our plan,and I was wondering how much time to allow for train travel ,boat across the lake,and Herrenchiemsee itself. We had purchased rail passes before I discovered this forum, and realized travel in these areas by car would've been fine! Thanks!

Posted by
18022 posts

I went by train from Munich to Freilassing (across the border from Salzburg) with a stop in Prien (Herrenchiemsee), and it worked out fine. I actually got on the regional train at Munich Ost (because I was staying in that part of town) and the trip to Prien takes less than 50 minutes. From the Hbf it takes just under an hour. In Prien, just down the hill from the Bahnhof, there is a kiosk where you can buy the boat ticket as well as a ticket for the steam streetcar that will take you to the harbor. You can also walk to the harbor; it isn't that far. What took the most time was waiting for the next boat to the island. I left Munich at 9 AM (to use the Bayern-Ticket), spent enough time at Herrenchiemsee to take the tour and have lunch, and still got to Freilassing in mid-afternoon.

Posted by
2297 posts

The SETTING of Neuschwanstein is absolutely stunning, few sites have left such an impression on me. However, I cannot remember a thing of the interior .... it's not worth all the touristy hassles to tour it. I'd combine a short visit to enjoy the exterior and the views from afar with a separate trip to Herrenchiemsee and tour the interior there.

Posted by
662 posts

Sorry, funbunch, I just saw your question of me but Lee has given you the perfect answer for your needs. Be sure that you get going in the morning to make it all work out.