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Germany's Castles

If we are already planning on touring Burg Eltz, Marskburg, and Rheinfels (and earlier in the trip Windsor and Versailles), is it worth touring Neuschwanstein too? I am trying to decide whether to add another Germany day to see it or to head straight to the Swiss Alps and skip it and be satisfied with my Rothenburg, Nurnberg, and Dachau time instead. Also, is the tour really great or would going to walk up to the castles for the views/pictures suffice?

Posted by
1496 posts

I don't believe Neuschwanstein can compare to Eltz or Rheinfels. I'm going to Marksburg for the 1st time this year so can't speak to that. I would say you are hitting some of the best castles and ruins. The view of Neuschwanstein from Mary's Bridge is very nice, but I don't think it's worth giving up a day in the Swiss Alps sounds like an awesome trip!

Posted by
2921 posts

Hi Rachel, I'd only go to Neuschwanstein if it's convenient. We've been to many castle's including all of "Mad" King Ludwig's. My opinion, nothing comes close to Burg Eltz. While Marksburg is fantastic, Burg Eltz had it all... just the castle and it's location was simply amazing to see in person. Paul

Posted by
33 posts

Ok, thanks guys. I can't wait to see Burg Eltz and the others! I think I will pass on N. and hike in the Alps instead :) Thanks for your advice!

Posted by
32 posts

Can any of you tell me if there are buses to take you to Eltz or is a car needed? Also, did you overnight in the area?

Posted by
6758 posts

"Can any of you tell me if there are buses to take you to Eltz or is a car needed? Also, did you overnight in the area?" Take the train to Moselkern and walk through the woods to the castle: http://www.bensbauernhof.com/burgeltzfrommoselkern.html Cochem is close by - 15 min. by train from Moselkern - and maybe the most adorable town in the region. Stay in the old town section there. 2 inexpensive places reviewed at Bavaria Ben's site, one of my favorite resources for Germany: http://www.bensbauernhof.com/hausandreascochemmosel.html http://www.bensbauernhof.com/froehlichenweinbergcochemmosel.html Cochem's online brochure; old town rooms start on p. 24, less expensive pensions on p. 42: http://issuu.com/cochem/docs/gastgeberverzeichnis2012-13 See the falconry show at the castle in Cochem too; 4 shows per day except Monday: http://www.falknerei-reichsburg-cochem.de/fotobuch.htm

Posted by
17 posts

If I have two days in Munich before I go to Cologne, is it worth leaving Munich half a day earlier and going to Burg Eltz? I would still have to be in Cologne that night (unchangeable plans), so I can't spend the night there. If I go there, would I be able to leave my luggage in a locker in Koblenz (or wherever it is that I change trains, or the station before Moselkern or something) since the guidebook says there are no lockers in Moselkern?

Posted by
12040 posts

I find Neuschwanstein one of the most fascinating buildings in Europe - I'm a huge fan of Wagner's music, on which most of the interior decoration is based. Pre-arming yourself with some knowledge of King Ludwig II's life can also help put the castle in the proper context. The actual content of the tour isn't more interesting than any other, but it's mandatory for going inside. Now, is it worth visiting for your trip? Only you can answer that. If you're already visiting Dachau, it wouldn't too much extra effort to visit.

Posted by
32247 posts

Rachel, I agree with Tom and believe a tour of Neuschwanstein would be worthwhile, especially as you'll be in Munich anyway. You can either travel there on your own or take a tour with Radius Tours. Note that Castle tours are on a "reserved" basis for a specific time. If you go on your own, you'll have to make the arrangements. Although Neuschwanstein is relatively modern and not an "ancient" Castle, it has an interesting history and the interior is incredible, more so because of the unusual aspects of King Ludwick. If you have time, you can also tour Hohenschwangau, which is nearby. One point to note is that photos are not allowed inside the Castle (at least that was the rule when I was last there). The Amazing Race had video of the interior last week, and it was great to see it again. Happy travels!

Posted by
32247 posts

Kim, I really don't think you have time fit Burg Eltz into a short half-day side trip from Munich to Köln. It takes a bit of time and effort to get to the Castle, and the transportation options are "limited" for those without a rental car. The usual method is to take the train to Moselkern and then hike up to the Castle through the woods, which will take at least an hour each way (longer in my case). For those with a "larger budget", another option is to take the train to Löf (as I recall that's one stop before Moselkern) and take a Taxi to Burg Eltz. There are a few issues with that approach, such as the cost and the fact that the drivers may not speak English. You'd have to pre-arrange your pickup time for the trip back to the rail station. That's the method I used last time, and it wasn't cheap! BTW, the station in Löf definitely doesn't have Lockers - it's basically just a "lean to". I don't have any information on the luggage storage options, but didn't see any Lockers in Moselkern. My suggestion would be to visit Burg Eltz on a future visit unless you can allocate more time. Happy travels!

Posted by
258 posts

yes, Neuschwanstein may not be THAT old, and yes, it's a bldg we've all seen a million times in pics....but that said, I must say that I REALLY enjoyed it in person! The side view of it from Mary's Bridge (very easy walk to get there) really is pretty stunning. IF totally pressed for time, than I think just going to see it on your own is fine.....but I really did enjoy the guided tour of it AND neighboring Hohenschwangau (the yellow castle just a stone's throw from Neuschwanstein, that was King Ludwig's boy-hood home.) I just found it so interesting to learn about him in his youth, and see where he grew up and then to proceed to the castle that he would build as an adult....and that would lead to his ruin. I thought the 2 tours painted a complete picture of this complicated man. The tour guides at both were very informative I also liked seeing it in comparison to Rheinfells (which, as you'll see, is just a shell of a former castle; did love it; VERY interesting; as well as the views of The Rhine below); comparing the VERY old to the not-so-old, as well as the ornate interiors of Neuschwanstein (or at least, what was completed in his short time there before his death).

Posted by
6758 posts

Rachel: Eltz and Marksburg are vastly different from N'stein. The first two are castles. N'stein is a private home made to resemble a castle, not a castle at all. I don't think you are missing much by missing N'stein. The tour is 30 minutes long. My English-speaking guide's heavy accent made her text unintelligible. I speak German and understood the Germany guide just fine on my German tour, but her tour and the place itself were still unexceptional. I can only suggest visiting the castle under a couple of conditions: 1.) ...if you already have some particular fascination with Wagner or Ludwig.
2.)...if you are in Füssen already for other reasons and have time to kill. I would never give up a day in the Swiss Alps for a day built around N'stein - and I majored in German language and culture and generally have a strong appreciation of historical sites in Germany.

Posted by
6758 posts

Kim asks, "If I have two days in Munich before I go to Cologne, is it worth leaving Munich half a day earlier and going to Burg Eltz?... would I be able to leave my luggage in a locker in Koblenz?" It would require a whole day. Leave Munich 9:28, arrive Cologne 22:01; there's time to stow and retrieve bags in Koblenz and 4.5 hours for your walk to and tour of Eltz. A slightly more feasible plan is to take a tour of Marksburg Castle in Braubach, only 12 minutes by train from Koblenz; leave Munich at 11:28, stow bags in Koblenz, arrive in Braubach at 16:36, catch the shuttle up to the castle for the final tour at 17:00, depart Braubach 18:53, arrive in Cologne at 20:08. But the Rhine/Mosel area really deserves a stay of 2 nights anyway, and if you don't have the time now, maybe on some future trip.

Posted by
2829 posts

Neuwschanstein is as fake as the Venetian gondolas in that casino is Las Vegas. A waste of time in my humble opinion if ones looks for a medieval castle, though a fun experience if one wants an early example of Kitsch.

Posted by
6758 posts

Kim: You may not need 4+ hours to visit Burg Eltz - JUST saw this post from an official of the town of Treis-Karden promising a new shuttle service: "Starting in April we will launch a new shuttle service to Burg Eltz including the starting points airports Frankfurt, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt/Hahn. Furthermore it will be started a shuttle from Moselkern station to Burg Eltz including services for accompanied luggage. This new service package will upgrade the opportunities visiting Burg Eltz and the whole range of Mosell highlights. We are looking forward launching an special website for this service. Until then you can get more information by contacting the Burg Eltz team or by visiting www.chauffeur-auf-zeit.de including more contact options. Peter Michels
Head of business development of local government of Treis-Karden"

Posted by
15 posts

You might also want to check if Burg Eltz is still under scaffolding. My husband and I were there last May and it was undergoing a massive structural project. It was a tad disappointing because it didn't have that same awesome view from afar. But still is a fantastic place to visit.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks to everyone who answered my questions, and my apologies to Rachel for hijacking her question with my own.
Kim

Posted by
19 posts

I've visited both Neuschwanstein and Burg Rheinfels just last year and I found Neuschwanstein just as fascinating as Rheinfels. If you're going to be in the area why not take that extra day and hit it? That's just my thought.

Posted by
805 posts

As my German cousins say, Neuschwanstein is just theater and nothing else, it was built in the very late 1800's and has no history at all. If you are traveling by car and have the fexibilty I would recommend Ludvig's other castles. Herrenchiemee is on a island in the Chiemsee and is patterned on Versailles only nicer and not as grandiose. Even better is Linderhof, a small place in the woods where Ludvig actually spent time. The porcelain pieces at Linderhof are exquisite, and the whole place is truly unique.

Posted by
12172 posts

Rachel, I've been to Neuschwanstein once. I'm glad I went; it's an icon - but one trip is probably plenty. At Neuschwanstein, there is also Hohenschwangau which is an older castle. It's fully furnished and IMO at least as good to visit as Neuschwanstein. We arrived at least 30 minutes before the ticket windows opened and were behind less than 50 people (in mid-October), so we were able to get tickets for early entries to both castles. When we finished (probably about 10:30 am), the ticket line looked like a scene from Disneyland. If I had waited in that long of line, I wouldn't have considered the trip worthwhile. We toured Hohenschwangau first (with very few other visitors) then took the bus uphill to Neuschwanstein. From the bus stop we went further uphill to Marienbrucke (Mary's bridge) for a great view and some photos of the castle. We actually hiked up the trail a little bit from there, but stopped because there were some large drops and warning signs on the trail (our youngest was 7 on that trip, though she's hiked some fairly hairy trails in the Canadian Rockies before and since). The courtyard was crowded when we entered the castle (but not as packed as I'd bet it gets later). The tours are limited in size so crowds aren't really an issue once you're inside. The tour is interesting, with plenty of Ludwig history and romantic Wagner opera themes everywhere.

Posted by
12172 posts

As for Burg Eltz, yes, leave your bags at Koblenz - there is no place for them at Moselkern (it's a tiny station). The walk from Moselkern to the trail head was the hardest part. It's through a fairly typical neighborhood. The scant signage wasn't very worthwhile (maybe they've improved it since I visited). I'm pretty sure I didn't go the way of Russ's link (I didn't pass the hotel and didn't start at the double handrail). I asked some local kids who walked me to the trailhead (past one suspicious older man, watering his flowers, who wanted to know why these local kids were walking with me). Once you find the trail it's easy to follow. The walk is nearly flat until right at the castle. It's in a lightly forrested area with a small brook. The walk was a big part of a pleasant overall experience. The castle itself is nice. The tour isn't long and takes you through, I think, eight rooms and the courtyard. Getting back to the train station isn't hard since you have an idea where you are going and you're walking toward the small center (if you can call it a center) instead of out into a neighborhood. It's a shame you don't have time for Trier. I really like the town and it has some outstanding Roman ruins.

Posted by
12172 posts

If you can get to Rheinfels first thing, do. It's great having the place to yourself. It was foggy in the morning which made things seem bigger and more mysterious, and us more alone. By the time the fog burned off and more people arrived, we were just finishing up - getting pictures of the great views of the Rhine from various vantage points.

Posted by
19156 posts

"Neuschwanstein ... was built in the very late 1800's and has no history at all." The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889, even later than Neuschwanstein.

Posted by
12040 posts

Neuschwanstein is less than 10 years younger than Friedrichsbad in Baden-Baden. Why, it's not even an authentic Roman bath! Can't be much history there either, Rickniks, so you'd better not go there as well.

Posted by
1525 posts

Lee; Excellent point. Tom; I'm confused. Are the "Rickniks" in your mind the people who like Neuschwanstein (certainly many of Ricks fans go there) or are they the people who DON'T like Neuschwanstein (as a few posters here seem almost obsessed with pointing out)? Or do you just like saying "Rickniks" whenever possible regardless of whether or not it makes any sense? It seems to me any number of locations are capable of generating both positive and negative opinions. Whether those holding the opinion are fans of RS hardly seems relevant. For my part; I thought Neushwanstien was delightful. I also enjoyed the short hike up the hill behind for great views. I liked Linderhof even more, if your are interested in getting into the twisted mind of young Ludwig. But since I've also been to maybe something like 50 other castles - most in varying states of ruins - there is little chance that I would by "corrupted" by any potential misunderstanding about what a "real" castle is.

Posted by
12040 posts

Nope, just checking if the term "Ricknik" would still provoke a comment from someone in Minnesota... always does.

Posted by
1064 posts

Some people are proud of the term "Ricknic" in the same way others are proud of the term "Redneck," not to mention the N word. To me, and I suspect to others, "Ricknic" is a pejorative term, not only to Rick Steves but also those who frequent these sites, especially when the obvious intent is to insult others and draw a response, as seems to be the case above. It is time to cool it with the insults and provocations.