Top 10 Castles In Germany
Top 10 Best Castles In Germany

Top 10 Best Castles in Austria:

Out of all the countries in Europe, Germany hands down has the best collection of amazing castles!  From defensive Medieval wonders to fairytale castles straight out of a storybook, Germany has it all.  Some of the magnificent structures were built to protect towns, while others were formed just for the pleasure of mad kings.

In the past, some of these properties have helped inspire Brother’s Grimm to write timeless tales, provided the backdrop for Frankenstein’s laboratory, and even gave Walt Disney the model to create his own iconic castle.  Our complete list of the best castles in Germany is sure spark to your imagination just like they have done for other travelers over the centuries!

1. Salzburg High Fortress (Salzburg, Austria):

Top Castles In Germany -Neuschwanstein
Top Castles In Germany -Neuschwanstein

About Neuschwanstein Castle:  Tucked on the edge of the mountains South of Munich is the crown jewel of Europe’s fairytale castles and the best castle in Germany, Neuschwanstein (website) .  Meaning New Swanstone Castle, Neuschwanstein (Noy-shvahn-shtine) is an over-the-top castle is so impressive that Walt Disney used it as his model for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. From the alpine setting overlooking a lake, to the timeless design, and lavish interior, you’ll quickly understand why Disney loved Neuschwanstein so much.  It is not just one of the best castles to visit in Germany, but maybe the best fairytale castle in the World.

While the Neuschwanstein may look like it is straight out of the Middle Ages, Germany’s best castle was actually the work of Bavarian King Ludwig II in the mid-1800s.  The site had formerly been the fortress of the Knights of Schwangau from the 1100s until 1535, but laid in ruins by the time Ludwig’s dad King Maximilian II built the family home on the hill below.  Ludwig grew up in the shadow of the ruins and was inspired to build his masterpiece through his obsession with the works of opera composer Richard Wagner.  The castle has everything from a man-made grotto cave to tons of grand rooms that only a theater mind could drum up.  It was fitting that when Wagner went broke, Ludwig let him move into Neuschwanstein where he wrote some of his best work.  One of our favorite things to do at Neuschwanstein is to explore Mary’s Bridge (closed in winter) which spans a large waterfall behind the castle.  You can even hike further past the bridge for unique elevated views of Neuschwanstein.

Along with a guided tour into the depths of Neuschwanstein, you will also get to tour King Ludwig’s boyhood castle Hohenschwangau (website) which sits right next door and also made our top castles in Germany list (explained below).  Visiting both castles together gives you a lot better insight into the King behind Europe’s greatest castle.  Just as fun as the castles is taking a paddle boat out onto nearby Swan Lake just like the young King Ludwig did in his childhood.  As you leave it is crazy to think that in his day the citizens called Ludwig the Mad King and got upset about his grand projects.  They even got so mad that they kicked him out of office after getting fed up with his overspending.  As time has passed, however, Ludwig has become beloved in Bavaria for the beauty of his projects.

Getting Here: Take the train directly from Munich to Füssen (2:05) then either Bus 73 or 78 directly to the Castles’ ticket office (0:10).  It is 1:45 by rental car.  Important Ticket Tip: This is the crown jewel of world-wide Fairytale Castles and therefore are super busy and sells out daily.  We highly suggest reserving your tickets at least 3 days in advance and arrive at will call 90 minutes before your tour time.  Reservations Online: HERE.  Reservations By Phone: +49 (0) 8362-930830.

2. Werfen Castle (Werfen, Austria):

Top Castles In Germany -Burg Eltz
Top Castles In Germany -Burg Eltz

About Burg Eltz:  Tucked into a lush valley, Burg Eltz is one of the greatest fairy tale castles in the World.  The current castle was built from 1490-1540, and the property has been in the hands of a single family for over 33 generations since 1157.  Berg Eltz is only one of 3 castles in the Rhine River region from Medieval times that hasn’t been destroyed or re-built over time.

Because of its protected location, Berg Eltz can only be accessed by taxi from nearby Münstermaifeld or with a dream-like 45-minute hike from the train station.   Hiking lets you truly feel the seclusion of this fairytale castle and helps make your first glance a pure Medieval fantasy.  As you pass onto the stone bridge into the huge castle you can feel its history which originally dates back to before the 1100s.  It was in 1157 that the Eltz family acquired the deed to the property and started expanding.  Interestingly, Count and Countess Eltz, who are direct decedents still manage and live on the property today.

If you wish to explore the area further a day trip riding down the Rhine River will let you see dozens of more castles stilling high above the water.  The nearby off-shoot of the Mosel River is also great and leads to one of our favorite Medieval towns in Europe, Cochem.

Seasonality: Please note that the castle is closed from the late Fall until mid-Spring each year.   Castle Website: (HERE).

3. Hochosterwitz Castle (Launsdorf, Austria):

Top Castles In Germany - Hohenzollern Castle
Top Castles In Germany - Hohenzollern Castle

About Hohenzollern Castle: Hohenzollern Castle is one of the most amazing castles in Europe and is bound to inspire images of dragon myths.  The Castle almost doesn’t seem real as it sits high up on a hilltop in the German countryside.  The Prussian Royal family has a house on this hilltop since 1061 AD and a full-on castle since 1267.   The castle has changed styled over the years and even required a complete rebuild in 1423, but the Prussian Royal Family has remained its caretakers.  It is almost unheard of to have the same royal family control a property for so long.

Today the Prince of Prussia and his wife still live in the Hohenzollern, but they keep their fairytale castle open to the public.  We absolutely love the way they do their tours as your guide will be wearing an authentic Medieval outfit.  During the slow season, they even let you roam parts of the Castle without a guide at your own pace.  The family also has Sigmaringen Castle right in the middle of the city of Sigmaringen to fall back on during the months when Hohenzollern gets too busy.  It was in this urban castle where Frederick Miller starting brewing beer for the royal family before moving to the United States to found Miller Beer in 1855.

Getting Here: By rental car, it is a 45-minute drive from Stuttgart plus either a 15-minute shuttle ride or 30-minute steep hike from the parking lot.  By public transportation from Stuttgart by train to Hechingen (0:33), followed by the castle shuttle (0:15) which meets the incoming trains at 11:25 & 1:25 daily (4 additional times on the weekends during peak season).  Remember that it is also close to Lichtenstein Castle so you can see both.  Castle Website:(HERE).

4. Kreuzenstein Castle (Leobendorf, Austria):

Top Castles In Germany - Lichtenstein
Top Castles In Germany - Lichtenstein

About Lichtenstein Castle: Clinging to the edge of a cliff and connected to land by a series of bridges, Lichtenstein Castle is fantastic!  At the beginning of the Middle Ages, the Knights of Lichtenstein built a fortified stronghold in int village.  The fortress was destroyed in a revolt in 1377, and a little over a decade later the local Lord of Lichtenstein decided to build a new cliffside fortress 15 minutes outside of town.  In 1567 the Lord’s family lost their title, and the fortress went into disrepair.  By the 1800s the castle was replaced by a modest hunting lodge which was bought by Count Wilhelm in 1837.  Using the foundation of the Medieval fortress, the Count built the amazing castle you see today.

Getting Here: By rental car, it is 45 minutes from Stuttgart.  By public transportation from Stuttgart it is about 2 hours with the train to Reutlingen (0:40), followed by Bus 400 to Honau (0:30), and a 45-minute walk up to the castle.  Remember that it is also close to Hohenzollern Castle so you can see both.  Castle Website: (HERE).

5. Liechtenstein Castle (Mödling, Austria):

Top Castles In Germany -Schloss Schwerin
Top Castles In Germany -Schloss Schwerin

About Schweriner Castle:  Straight out of a dream, this mega-sized castle sits on an island in the middle of Schwerin Lake.  As Germany’s third largest lake, there has been a fortress here in 973 when Slav tribes settled the area.  With battles between Germanic tribes and noblemen of the romantic location, the castle eventually fell under the rule of local Dukes.

In the 1500s most of the castle was rebuilt, greatly expanding the grounds.  Duke Friedrich Franz II remodeled the castle into what you see today in 1850.  He worked off as much of the original rooms as he could while expanding Schweriner Castle into a grand 653 room palace.  Seeing the castle over the lake and touring the vast gardens are an amazing way to spend part of a day.

Visiting Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm, stays open until 6pm in Summer.  Cost: 6€ per Adult or 10€ for a Family ticket.  Castle Website:(HERE).

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