One of my favorite things about living in Munich is the fact that I have access to so many beautiful Bavarian castles that are in my vicinity.
I have visited many Bavarian castles during my stay in Germany and I must admit I have a few favorites. Here is a list of my favorite castles in Bavaria and the towns/cities that they can be found in.
Bavarian Castles In Munich
The city of Munich is well-known for many things including the Oktoberfest. But there are also beautiful castles to be found here.
The Munich Residenz is one of the largest and most opulent palaces in Europe. It served as the main palace and house of government for Bavarian rulers for 400 years dating back to 1508.
Today, visitors can tour 130 rooms in the palace. You can choose between a self-guided audio tour (available in several different languages). Or you can read the signage that is written in both German and English. The Munich Residenz was severely damaged in World War II, but you’d never know it. Significant efforts have been made to restore it and its furnishings as close as possible to its original state. It’s more impressive inside than it first appears on the outside. The Treasury is also worth a visit to check out the crown jewels.
Tickets: €7, or €11 for a combination ticket for the Residenz and Treasury. Receive €1 off if you’ve purchased the Munich City Card Tour.
Opening Hours: 10:00 to 5:00 pm (last entry at 4:00 pm). Closed Dec 24th, 25th, 31st.
Location: Residenzstraße 1, Munich
This Baroque palace was completed in 1679. It served as the main summer residence for the former rulers of Bavaria. You can also visit the Marstallmuseum (carriages and sleighs) and the Museum of Nymphenburg Porcelain which is also onsite. The Palace Park with its canal is absolutely spectacular, especially at sunset!
Tickets: €8.50. Oct 16th to Mar 31st: includes admission to the palace and both museums mentioned above. The Palace Park is free to enter. You’ll also receive a €1 discount if you’ve purchased the Munich City Card Tour.
Opening Hours: 10:00 to 4:00 pm (last entry 20 minutes before closing time). Closed Dec 24th, 25th, 31st.
Location: Schloß Nymphenburg 1, Munich.
Where to Sleep in Munich
Rocco Forte The Charles Hotel This 5-star design hotel gets rave reviews for its location – it overlooks the Old Botanical Garden. Guests love its special touches, like the original paintings by Munich artist Franz von Lenbach in every guest room. It is the perfect place to plan an itinerary to see Bavarian castles.
Platzl Hotel – Superior This 4-star hotel is in the heart of Munich. It features old-world charm, a 16th-century restaurant, and floor to ceiling windows.
Hotel Torbräu A classically furnished 4-star hotel, with some rooms offering views of Isator (one of the city’s three remaining gates). This is a good location to explore the surrounding Bavarian castles from.
Hotel Freisinger Hof Located in Bogenhausen, where some of Munich’s most extravagant villas, can be found, this 4-star hotel overlooks the English Garden. You’re just a few minutes walks away from the Christmas Market at the Chinese Tower. Afterward, you can warm up in the hotel’s Finnish sauna!
Füssen and Hohenschwangau
Fussen is the transportation hub for Neuschwanstein Castle and is a town with ~15,000 residents. It’s famous for its violin-making and there’s more happening there, including the Christmas market. Hohenschwangau is a small village where Schloss Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein Castle are located.
Schloss Neuschwanstein The Most Famous Bavarian Castle
Neuschwanstein Castle is a Bavarian castle which is Germany’s most famous castle. You may know it as the Cinderella Castle seen at Disney, which was inspired by this King Ludwig Castle! You’ll never see another castle quite like Schloss Neuschwanstein (Schloss is German for castle)!
The castle itself you can only visit with a guide. The tour lasts ~30 minutes and can feel somewhat claustrophobic with the other visitors, but unfortunately, that’s your only option. Check out Neuschwanstein: How to Make the Most of Your Visit to the Cinderella Castle for more tips.
Tickets: Tickets cost €12. Photography is not allowed inside. I HIGHLY recommend purchasing your tickets online PRIOR to your visit, otherwise, you risk waiting hours for a tour, since they’re often sold out. To book online you must reserve at least 2 days in advance. It costs an additional €1.80 to reserve online, but then you’re guaranteed entrance. If you do decide to buy your tickets the day of your tour, note that they’re only available at the Ticket Centre in Hohenschwangau – not at the castle itself.
Opening Hours: Oct 16th to Mar: 10:00 to 4:00 pm. Closed Dec 24th, 25th, 31st.
Location: Neuschwansteinstraße 20, Schwangau
Hohenschwangau is a Bavarian castle that is unique in its own way. It wasn’t built by King Ludwig II, but he did spend several weeks here each summer while growing up. Its proximity to Neuschwanstein makes it worth a visit. It’s a pretty castle, even if it is lacking the standout quality that makes King Ludwig II’s castles unique. It’s this comparison to King Ludwig II’s castle that also makes it worth a visit – so you can see how unique his castles truly are!
The castle dates back to the 12th century and was rebuilt by King Ludwig II’s father, King Maximillian II. Of special interest are the Banquet Hall, the largest room in the castle, often referred to as the “Hall of Heroes”. Various paintings depict scenes that your guide will explain.
Tickets: €12 at the entrance and by guided tour only. If you are planning on visiting Neuschwanstein as well, you can get a €1 discount with the “King’s Ticket” for a total of €23 instead of €24, as long as you visit both castles on the same day. Note: even if you purchase your tickets online, you must pick them up at the nearby Ticket Centre. Tickets can be p purchased online up to 2 days in advance for an additional fee on the above link.
Opening Hours: 9:00 am to 3:30 pm. Closed Dec 24th.
Location: Alpseestraße 30, Schwangau
Marienbrücke (Queen Mary’s Bridge) is not one of the Bavarian castles but the bridge is where you can get the best views of Neuschwanstein. It’s worth the short uphill walk which only takes about 10 minutes from the castle. The bridge will be crowded, but walk to the end of the bridge, or up a bit higher and the crowds thin out! Some visitors like this vantage point, better than the castle tour itself!
Best of all? It’s free!
Where to Stay
Hotel Rübezahl While Hotel Rübezahl is not a castle, the 4-star hotel provides excellent views of both Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles – the next best thing to actually sleeping in a castle. It has a spa area (try the Kneipp area for a local treat) and a gourmet restaurant serving regional food and an elegant cozy atmosphere. Best of all, it’s location can’t be beat! They can also arrange for entrance tickets for both the Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles upon request.
Hotel Schlosskrone You’ll find spacious rooms in this 4-star hotel with a touch of Bavarian decor. Warm-up after visiting the Christmas market in the Finnish sauna or steam room.
Ferienwohnung-Königsschlösser 5-star luxury apartments that offer views of Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau Castle. Each apartment comes with a fully furnished kitchen, making it ideal for families.
The Chiemsee is often referred to as the Bavarian Sea. You’ll find rolling alpine meadows, and King Ludwig’s impressive Herrenchiemsee Castle which is based on the Palace of Versailles. Another highlight is the beautiful car-free Fraueninsel (Women’s Island – because there’s a Benedictine Convent there), which is famous for its fresh fish. The Chiemsee is a wonderful mix of culture and outdoor activities.
Königsschloss Herrenchiemsee (Neues Schloss)
Herrenchiemsee is the most impressive of King Ludwig II’s Bavarian castles. It was modeled after the Palace of Versailles and cost more than Neuschwanstein Castle and Linderhof Castle combined!
It’s decadence at its finest and is even housed on its own island (Herren Island) on the Chiemsee. Bring comfortable walking shoes as it’s ~ a 20-minute walk to the castle from the boat docks. While you’re there you can also check out the Augustinian Monastery, museum, galleries or restaurant.
Tickets: You can only visit the palace by a guided tour which costs €8.50. You can call for reservations and then they’ll fax you a confirmation, but I recommend just purchasing your tickets on-site. You may have to wait but can visit the museum, monastery, or restaurant while waiting. Photos are not permitted inside.
Opening Hours: Oct 29th to Mar: 9:40 to 4:15, last tour at 3:50. Closed Dec 24th, 25th, and 31st.
Location: Herrienchiemsee Island. Take a boat from Prien am Chiemsee to the island. Once you’re there, it’s ~ a 20-minute walk on a well-signed flat path.
Where to Stay
Inselwirt Located on the beautiful shores of Lake Chiemsee, on Fraueninsel (Women’s Island), you’ll have to take a 30-minute boat ride to reach this island rich with history and home to fishermen, nun, and craftsmen. It’s a getaway that most tourists skip or only spend an hour visiting. It offers a very unique experience – most people don’t know that you can stay on an island in Bavaria! It’s steps away from the very special two-weekend only Fraueninsel Christmas Market and a 10-minute ferry ride to Herrenchiemsee Island, where you’ll see the majestic Herrenchiemsee Castle.
Hotel Inselwirt is a 4-star hotel that was built in the 12th-century building and over the course of its eventful history has served as an official residence, Hofrichter, tavern and even a clothing factory in the 1800s.
Hotel Gut Ising – Hotel Gut Ising Chiemsee is a romantic 4-star manor with a history dating back to 1220. Its spa suite is the nicest hotel room I’ve ever stayed in! It features a jacuzzi and sauna. It’s the perfect recipe for romance and a little indulgence! It’s full of surprises everywhere you go. It consists of 8 different buildings, built in different styles, ranging from Toscana to Salzburger to Bavarian, to name but a few and all of a variety of ages. It’s located in a rural area near the Chiemsee (lake) and even has it’s own private pebbly beach!
Yachthotel Chiemsee – You’ll find rustic 4-star accommodation, along with a cozy lounge with a fireplace waiting to warm you up after your Christmas market visit. Or perhaps the outdoor whirlpool is your preferred way to warm up.
Oberammergau and Ettal
The village of Ettal is most famous for Ettal Abbey, a Benedictine monastery with over 50 monks, making it one of the largest Benedictine houses! The village is between the town of Oberammergau and Schloss Linderhof. Oberammergau is a town famous for its wood carvings, frescos, and the Passion Play. It only runs every 10 years though, so you’ll have to wait until 2020 to see it!
Linderhof Palace is the only Bavarian castle that eccentric King Ludwig II finished before his mysterious death. It’s by far the smallest of the three castles. It is inspired by Versailles. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in opulence.
The palace grounds are beautiful and make a great spot for a picnic, weather permitting, or for a nice stroll, so wear comfortable shoes. A unique feature found on the palace grounds is the Venus Grotto. The Venus Grotto is an illuminated artificial cave made especially for King Ludwig II. It illustrates the first act of Richard Wagner’s Tannhaüser. It’s closed from mid-October to mid-March, but the rest of the grounds are still impressive and work exploring. Photography inside the palace is not permitted.
Tickets: €8.50, guided tour only. Advance reservations can only be made by mail or fax. But I recommend just showing up. Both times that I visited I waited less than 20 minutes to get in. But you may have to wait longer depending on when you visit. The tour is for ~ 25 minutes.
Opening Hours: Oct. 16th to Mar: 10:00 to 4:00 pm
Location: Linderhof 12, Ettal (it’s less than a 30-minute bus ride from Oberammergau)
Where to Stay
Alte Postvilla Hotel Alte Postvilla (old post office villas) offers 4-star apartments in the former post office which is now a landmark! It’s a great option for families looking for extra space. Fresh bread and a newspaper are hand-delivered right to your door each morning! It’s located right in Oberammergau, making it easy to walk and explore the town.
Ludwig der Bayer Hotel This 4-star hotel is part of the Ettal monastery! Yes, you can sleep in a present-day monastery! It serves as a cozy place where you can unwind in front of the fireplace while sampling the monastery’s brewery. Monks definitely know what they’re doing when it comes to beer making. It makes a great base for hiking and Linderhof Palace is just a short bus ride away! Of course, you’ll also want to check out Ettal Abbey itself. It has over 50 monks, making it one of the largest Benedictine houses in the world!
Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber
This well-preserved medieval town dates back to 1274 and charms visitors with its medieval architecture, half-timber houses, and cobblestone streets. It’s one of my favorite towns in Bavaria! Located further north than the aforementioned places in Middle Franconia, it has a different feel. Of special interest at this time of year is the Käthe Wohlfahrt store which features a year-round Christmas village and is the leader for traditional German Christmas ornaments.
Castles in Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber
While you won’t find a Bavarian castle per se in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, you will find something even more unique – a medieval fortification of 46 towers, gates, and a well-preserved town wall! Pick up a brochure from the tourist office (Marktplatz 2) which shows you the key sights. The self-guided free tour will take you ~ 2 hours.
Where to Stay
Historik Hotel Gotisches Haus Garni Housed in a historic house that dates back to the 13th century, a romantic, historic ambiance with Gothic touches awaits you! Couples will love that every room features a corner bathtub for 2 people.
Hotel Eisenhut This historic hotel located in the heart of Rothenburg features antiques, original artwork and guest rooms that are originally furnished. Enjoy a gorgeous view of the Tauber River Valley from the restaurant.
Hotel BurgGartenpalais This hotel is ideally located between the marketplace and the castle gardens. Wood furnishings give it a cozy feel.
Hotel Herrnschloesschen Located in one of Rothenburg’s oldest buildings, this hotel has a history that has been brought up to present-day comfort with its French-country decor. Be sure to check out the sauna, it’s located in the historic cellar, providing a very unique experience.
Nürnberg is known for being the ‘unofficial capital’ of the Holy Roman Empire. Visitors will be entranced by its medieval architecture. It features fortification sandstone towers in the Altstadt (Old Town), towered over by the Imperial Castle.
Imperial Castle of Nuremberg
Dating back to the Middle Ages, the castle represents the power and importance of Nürnberg to the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. This Bavarian castle was largely destroyed in WWII, but has been restored and now offers visitors a permanent exhibition explaining elements of the castle and also the role of Nürnberg in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.
Opening Hours: Oct to Mar: 10:00 to 4:00 pm. Closed Dec. 24th, 25th, and 31st.
Location: Burg 13, Nürnberg
Where to Sleep
Park Plaza Nuremberg Just reopened in June 2016, this hotel makes a nod to the past by honoring two of Nürnberg’s famous citizens with an Albrecht Dürer and Martin Behaim inspired theme.
Hotel Drei Raben This 4-star design hotel gives travelers a choice of unique themed rooms that reveal the legends of Nürnberg. The perfect place to stay if you want to explore Bavarian castles.
Hotel Victoria Nürnberg A 4-star hotel with individually decorated rooms offering guests the chance to indulge in home-made cakes in the hotel’s conservatory.
This city east of Munich is best known for its well-preserved medieval city center. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It sits on the banks of the gorgeous Danube, the second-longest river in Europe and doesn’t have the crowds that other cities have despite all that it has to offer.
Thurn + Taxis Palace
Not only will you visit the centuries-old house of Thurn + Taxis, but you’ll also visit St. Emmeran, a former Benedictine Monastery with a 1000-year-old history. It is one of the more unique Bavarian castles.
Tickets and Opening Hours: Admission is only possible with a guided tour. From Nov 7 to Feb 28th visitors have a choice of the Premium tour (90 minutes) on Sat or Sun at 10:30, 1:30 or 3:30, (€13.50) or the Compact tour (60 minutes) on Sat or Sun at 11:30 or 2:30 (€10).
Location: Emmeramspl. 5, Regensburg
Where to Stay
Bohemian Hotel This historic hotel features individually designed themed rooms about Regensburg’s history. How about a stay in the hat maker’s room, or perhaps the brewery room is more to your liking? It is the perfect setting to explore Bavarian castles.
Domresidenz Regensburg Located just 100m from the Regensburg Cathedral, the central location can’t be beaten! The historical building has been updated with modern touches.
Eurostars Park Hotel Maximilian The Neo-Rococo-style facade on this 4-star hotel is designed to impress. It’s conveniently located in the Old Town.