I have a 2-3 day window to get to Munich while in Germany March 2-4th. I would like to go see this amazing fairy-tale castle. What is the best way to go about it? Rent a car? Bus? Train? I will be traveling alone and do not speak German. I will be flying into Munich and thought about renting a car w/GPS. Concerned about road conditions this time of year. Thanks!
Another method you might consider is to take a day tour of Neuschwanstein Castle with one of the firms in Munich. I've used Radius Tours on past occasions and would certainly recommend them (their tours are provided in English). They have an office in the Munich train station, and take care of all the details including transportation and reservations / admission to the Castle. Check their web site for details and prices.
I'm not sure if they'll be operating that early in the season, but you could send them an E-mail.
I took a bus trip like what Ken was talking about many years ago on our first trip to Germany. It was very convenient. They picked us up at our hotel, we stopped at Oberammergau(sp?), a luge ride, Linderhoff castle then Neuschwienstein, from there they took us back to the hotel. It was a full day but for one price we thought it was worth it. It was also easier than if I had to bumble my way around Bavaria in a car.
I only have experience taking the train, so I will let you know how it can be done that way. I found it to be very simple, although it probably would take less time if you drove yourself.
I also do not speak German, but it really is not a problem on the German train system as it is very easy to figure out. From Munich I took the train (with one line change) to the town of Fussen, which is nearest to the castles. From there, I took a public bus for the fifteen-minute drive up to the castle ticket area. From here you can see either or both of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles. If time is an issue, you can reserve in advance to get a time - I did this and although the lineup that I did not have to wait in to buy tickets was not too long, the people in the lineup were getting tickets for tours that started an hour after mine did, so it was less wasted time. If you get the tickets to both castles, you will get about an hour and a half between tours to get from one to the other... and have lunch if you need to as well.
To get back, I took the bus back to the train station and this time the train went to Munich so I did not need to change lines. Check the train schedules in advance and remember that the buses in Fussen are coordinated with the arrivals and departures of the trains so one will depart the train station about fifteen-to-twenty minutes after the train arrives, and will get you back to the station in about that much advanced time as well.
You can get the train schedules from the German Rail website. Use "Munich" for from: and "Fuessen Bahnhof" for to: Make sure you use European format for the date and 24 hr time. A Bayern-Ticket-Single for €20 (Ops, €19 was last year's price) will cover all of your transportation (train and bus) between Munich and the castles. The train takes about two hours.
The 9:51 train has a very easy, cross-platform connection in Buchloe at 10:41. Just make sure you are out of your seat and at the end of the car before your train comes to a halt in Buchloe.
On workdays, the Bayern-Ticket-Single is only valid after 9 AM. There is a train at 8:52, but it gets to Geltendorf, still in the MVV (Munich metro district) after 9, so an MVV 3 zones single trip ticket (Einzelfahrkarte), for €6,90, along with the Bayern-Ticket, will cover all of your travel.
You can find a map and some pictures of the Füssen station here. The bus to Hohenschwangau, site of the castles, leaves from bus stop 2, across the parking lot from the tracks.
The only time we visited Nuswstn. we had a car. And I recommend that you drive from Munich. It will be faster for you with limited time.
The train takes more time. And a car will be more convenient getting to the castle.
Be sure to buy a good highway map before you go. If you want an accurate map, buy it there and not here.
The weather forecast for Füssen for the 2-4 of March is for cloudy and light rain with a high of around 50°F, lows of near freezing at night.
According to the Bahn schedule, it takes 2:21 by train and bus to the castle. I would say that you can pretty much count on that time. The bus drops you off a short distance from the ticket kiosk.
According to ViaMichelin, which some people say underestimates the times, it will take you at least 1:45 minutes from Munich to Hohenschwangau. That is without any missed turns or traffic tieups, and you still have to find a parking spot in Hohenschwangau.
Also according to ViaMichelin, fuel for a compact car will cost about €26, RT. That's about the cost of the train tickets and doesn't include the cost of car rental. And, you certainly don't need, or want, a car in Munich.
We drove it with a rental car and I would say it was pretty easy. However, I think I would be more likely to hop in a train or bus. Once you add up the time of getting the car and returning it - plus any bus or train will be way less expensive - I think the public transit would make more sense. Unless you need the car for other things on your trip.
A note that maybe you are already aware...Nschw is not as old as it might appear. It was built to look old fashioned at its time. And it was lived in for a very short period of time before Ludwig died. It turned immediately into a tourist destination. So the history of that castle is short - but the surrounding area is absolutely breathtaking! I am very glad I went - the pictures we have of the castle and everything that surrounds it are really beautiful.
I agree with Ken and Reg . . . take a day tour bus from Munich. Less hassle and enjoy!
I would disagree about the packaged tours.
Why pay a lot of money (~$50) when it is so easy to do it yourself? That way, if you want to go into Füssen after the castle tour and look around, do some shopping, have a meal, you can, without the restrictions of staying with a tour. The entrance to the castle includes a guided tour anyhow; that's the only way you can get in.
In twenty years, I have been to Füssen three times, did it myself, worked fine.
BTW, The Bayern-Ticket not only includes unlimited use of regional trains throughout Bavaria, it is also valid on RVO (RegionalVerkehr Oberbayern) buses, which run from Hohenschwangau to Oberammergau. From Oberammergau you can take the train back to Munich.
I was about to suggest a packaged tour myself.
While Lee is right as well, I too splurge on a package tour here and there, even though I will be first one to encourage people to travel on their own.
I took one from Prague to Terezin, because I knew I would be emotionally shaky after, and it was worth the money to me, not to have to worry about getting my behind back to Prague.
Wow! Thank you all so much for the great replies and great information! So many good ideas! I will check out the tour bus, the rental car, and the train on the web today. I travel to FRA a lot and am familiar with the train system there. I have certainly gotten on the wrong train a time or two. Being always off my time zone is a factor I might consider in car rental. It's hard enough to pay attention to what train stop you need to change at, let alone read a map while going around a mountain road not understanding the signs and no companion to help navigate.
My only goal is to see the 2 castles in the limited time.
Thank you all so much!
Also, I forgot to ask about Hotels. I will fly into Munich the evening of the 2nd in order to be ready for the castle adventure early the next day. Should I stay in Munich or try to get a hotel in Fussen? Any recommendations? Clean and safe is my only requirement - and rather easy to find would be nice!
Researching tours it looks like this time of year, it's only offered on Mon, Wed, Fri. I will be there the entire day of Tuesday only -hoping to return MUC-FRA late Tuesday night. I guess it's back to train or car.
We can recommend the Hotel zum Hechten in Fuessen. We stayed in '01 and '03.
Nice place, great location, big buffet breakfast, good restaurant and right across from Fuessen (not Ludwig's!) Castle.
I visit Germany every year and from Munich have taken an excellent 12 hour local bus tour which took all the stress out of driving and waiting in line for tickets. Our tourstarted about 7 am took us through Oberammergau, visited Schloss Linderhof and then on to Neuschwanstein. With a bus tour, you dont have to wait in line for hours. You will love this area.....
if you have not yet booked a hotel I found one that I will be staying at around the same time as you...I will be arriving in Munich on the 3rd and had the same questions actually re: train or car to Ludwig's castle...I wanted also to ride the luge and cablecar nearby so was considering driving and have not yet decided what to do...but the hotel I found looks delightful and has great reviews...www.hotel-uhland.de...and they are quick to respond and very helpful with directions etc...I am paying euro 77 for 2 people/night...good luck...maybe I will see you there !
Hi Kathryn, I agree with Lee and would get a car! We rented a car with Autoeurope in 08 and had no problem. The roads are very easy to drive on and with
a GPS you won't have a problem.
The great thing about having a car is we found places along the way we didn't existed and would stop to expore!If we were on a train or bus we couldn't had done that. Have fun, Monte