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Salzburg or Neuschwanstein?

My husband & I are planning a trip to Berlin, Prague, Vienna, and Munich. We'll have 1 day free to visit either Salzburg or Neuschwanstein Castle. Which would you choose? Neither of us have visited any of these countries/cities. Thank you!

Posted by
691 posts

I would choose Salzburg too, Neuschwanstein is nice but you can do a lot more in Salzburg.

Posted by
12157 posts

Having been to both, it's Salzburg.

Neuschwanstein is an icon. It's also overrun with busloads of tourists, can only be seen by tour and isn't a real castle but built later according to Ludwig's fantasy. I'm glad I went once to see it but wouldn't schedule it again.

Salzburg is amazingly beautiful. It has a real castle plus great churches, parks and music. It's very walkable; all of the old town sites are convenient. If you're into Sound of Music (not for me), you can tour those sites as well. I never skip Salzburg when I'm in the area.

Posted by
9110 posts

Neuschwanstein was built by a crazy idiot. Does that answer the question?

Posted by
2193 posts

Wagner didn’t think the Swan King to be a crazy idiot...he loved him. :) Anyway, Salzburg makes the most sense for the reasons previously mentioned and that fact that it’s right in between Vienna and Munich.

Posted by
32155 posts

Sara,

Actually, I'm going to differ from the others here and suggest Neuschwanstein since you only have one day. While one can argue on the "merits" of the Castle, you could also tour Hohenschwangau and have a brief look around the beautiful town of Fussen. Even though the Castle was built by a supposedly "mad" King, I found the tour interesting and the interior was beautiful.

Although Salzburg is only a short train ride from Munich, after taking into account the travel times back and forth you wouldn't really have enough time in Salzburg for more than a quick look. My preference under the circumstances would be to plan for a visit to Salzburg on a future trip when you can spend a few days and see it properly. This would also allow for at least a day trip to Hallstatt as well.

Happy travels!

Posted by
1568 posts

I have been to both. Definitely Salzburg. We were there for 4 days and really enjoyed it.

Posted by
19026 posts

I've been to Salzburg three times and Fuessen four times. Considering your agenda, I would say do Munich to Salzburg to Vienna as a continuous trip. But that is only because that routing would avoid backtracking. If everything else were even, and you had never seen either, I would definitely say, "see Neuschwanstein".

Contrary to what the Salzburg fans here say, there is a lot more to see in the Fuessen area than just Neuschwanstein. We spent a day there in Jan, 2001. It was bitterly cold, so after the castle we spent most of our times in the shops in Hohenschwangau, just to keep warm. Later, in the summer, we came back and had a nice time seeing Hohenschwangau castle and then went in and spent time in Fuessen. So that was more than a day, total. I also went to Salzburg and spent a day and felt I had seen everything I wanted to see.

As someone earlier said, Neuschwanstein is the signature sight in Germany. You can't say you have seen Germany if you haven't been to Neuschwanstein. Still, you can't do both, and Salzburg is more on your way. Optimize your travel.

Posted by
12040 posts

If you choose Neuschwanstein, the castle is more interesting if pre-arm yourself with information about King Ludwig, Wagner and his operas, and 19th century German Romanticism. The castle is almost a psychological projection of all these influences on King Ludwig (I would say "peculiar" is a better description of him than "mad"). Otherwise, the castle interior will seem just like a collection of pretty wall paintings.

Posted by
12040 posts

Most sources you read about Ludwig don't specifically say he was gay... but with his life story, it's hard to come to any other conclusion. But no, when I wrote "peculiar", I meant just plain odd.

Posted by
12157 posts

James,

When I hear the word peculiar, I don't think gay. Odd is more the word that comes to mind.

Posted by
2193 posts

I agree that both “odd” and “peculiar” are more precise descriptors. I suppose we should remember that he was ruled incompetent by his political enemies, the same people who may have murdered him. Also, I guess I don’t get the homophobic question about Ludwig being gay. Does it matter somehow…why in the world would you care?

Posted by
19026 posts

Definitely peculiar, eccentric, maybe "bi", but I don't think gay. Have you seen his study in Neuschwanstein? I don't think the architect had more control over it's "decoration" than Ludwig, and it certainly isn't what a gay man would prefer.

Ludwig was raised at Hohenschwangau, in the foothills of the Alps and seemed to prefer the rural scene to ruling in Munich. He was a hopeless romantic who longed for another era, and recreated it in his realm.

Supposedly, he (like many men of that era) was in love with Pricess Sissi, but the family decreed he should marry another (her sister?). He allowed them to announce the engagement, but later broke it off. I prefer to think that, romantic that he was, he remained faithful to Sissi (even though she married Franz Joseph).

I sometimes wonder if that story is true since she married Franz Joseph when Ludwig was 9, and her sister was about 9 years his senior.

Posted by
2193 posts

Insightful reply with just a hint of anxiety, internal conflict, and contempt...a visit to the base psychiatrist might be in order.

Posted by
14465 posts

Sara,

Depending on the accomodations you have in Munich, I
recommend seeing Salzburg, a real city of art, what is called in German, eine Kunststadt, as a day trip.

If you have the German Rail Pass, going from Munich to Salzburg, round trip, is covered. Then you can go from Munich to Vienna uninterrupted, and then from
Vienna to Prague, and then by a night train from Prague back to Berlin Hbf, which is presumably your starting point.

You didn't mention how much time you have for this trip covering these 4 capitals and this diversion to either Neuschwanstein or Salzburg. Salzburg's Altstadt, which is where you want to go and really take in, is also swamped with tourists. To make the trip to Salzburg really worth it, go to the fortress, Festung Hohensalzburg, from which you'll have this great view. To sum up, between the two choices: Salzburg, whether it's a day trip or 2-3 days.

Since this is the first trip for both of you, it is good that you're including Berlin, with all its significance, because without BERLIN you have not seen Germany. So, skip Neuschwanstein.

Posted by
951 posts

STOP INTERNET FIGHTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sara, I have been to Neuschwanstein but not Salzburg. It does seem though, that if I had "just one day", I would choose the easiest "just one day" option and go with the peculiar, odd, and perhaps gay Ludwig's castle. I had a chance to add Salzburg to my trip this year but was advised against it when I told a group of friends that it would only be for one day. I was told that one must not rush Salzburg.

Posted by
19026 posts

With a Bayern-Ticket, a day trip to Salzburg by rail would take about 4 hrs and cost €28 for two people. With a German Rail pass you could use use express trains and do the trip in 3 hrs, but unless you were on the fifth or sixth day of a GR twin pass (an additional €28 or €32 Euro resp), would it be cost effective? The first four days of a GR pass cost €65 per day, more than twice the cost of a Bayern-Ticket.

I still say, avoid backtracking. The most common route to Vienna from Munich goes through Salzburg. Go to Salzburg with a Bayern-Ticket, spend a day, then go on to Vienna.

Posted by
19026 posts

KELLY!!!!!!!!!!

I don't feel I am internet fighting; I think I am giving good advice based on a lot of experience. Since 1987, I have spent over 120 days (4 month) in Germany, over 100 of them in the last 9 years.

OK, I'm not a big city kind of guy. Except for Munich, my favorite city (16 days), Mainz (2 nts before flights), Salzburg (1 day), Nuernberg (1 nt), and Wuerzburg (2 nts) the rest of the days have been spent in small-town, rural Germany. Some years ago, I thought I should go to Berlin, because it is "so German". After reviewing guidebooks, and the Berlin website, I couldn't find anything that spurred my "to the metal" German experience desires, so I neglected it.

Posted by
12040 posts

Wow, I didn't think I would start all of this just by mentioning that Ludwig was a peculiar fellow, on which I think we can all agree. Let's see how long it takes for this argument to validate Godwin's Law.

Posted by
19026 posts

As an Internet discussion grows, the probability that someone will mention Godwin's Law also approaches 1. In fact, if a discussion goes on long enough, the probability of any subject being mentioned approaches 1.

BTW, about the same time that Ludwig built Neuschwanstein, Kaiser Wilhelm I built Hohenzollernburg, a similar castle, at Hechingen, and wealthy Germans were rebuilding previously destroyed castles on the Rhein and Mosel as residences. Maybe it was the era.

Also, as an illustration of the futility of making Salzburg a day trip, note that by express train (RailJet), it's only an hour longer to Vienna than back to Munich. If one were to book the 7:29 RJ out of Munich, they could spend 8 hours in Salzburg and continue, arriving in Vienna by 7:30 PM. And all the travel, Munich to Salzburg and Salburg to Vienna, could be done on a single €29 (per person) Europa-Spezial Österreich ticket.

Posted by
21 posts

Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond! I'm leaning towards Salzburg, with Neuschwanstein on my list of places to visit on another trip. Like Rick always says, "Assume you will return." Happy Travels!

Posted by
14465 posts

Sara,

Depending on how much of a time constraint you have, since you say one day is reserved for Salzburg or Neuschwanstein, I would suggest you shorten the stay in Munich by one day and add it to Salzburg. If you can, Salzburg is worth more than just a day trip and should not be rushed. I'm glad you're leaning towards Salzburg.

Spend the extra day in Salzburg, if you can, and then the next morning take the train to Vienna.