Last Updated on July 16, 2021 by Soumya
When we think of fairytale castles in Germany, we often think of Neuschwanstein Castle. Don’t we? Located atop a cliff overlooking a misty river valley and built by a mad king supposedly, Neuschwanstein has inspired our imaginations for a long long time!
But what if I tell you there are several other beautiful palaces and castles in the land of the Germans? Some of them as pretty (if not more) as Neuschwanstein. Will you believe me? I am sure you will when you scroll through this exhaustive list of Magical German Castles!
From the very famous Neuschwanstein to the Versailles of Prussia in Potsdam and the often-missed Hohenschwangau, we have a bunch of stunning fairytale castles in Germany for you to drool over. With medieval walls, fancy turrets, glamorous interiors, and intriguing histories, these German chateaus look and feel straight out of fables.
There are so many beautiful German castles that you can actually do a fairytale castles tour for a week and still not be done will all. Just take your pick and get ready to be amazed.
- 17 Fairytale castles in Germany and Neuschwanstein
- Neuschwanstein Castle
- Schwerin Castle
- Eltz Castle
- Cochem Castle
- Burghausen Castle
- Hohenzollern Castle
- Schloss Sanssouci in Potsdam
- Wurzburg Residenz
- Munich Residenz
- Herrenchiemsee Castle
- Hohenschwangau Castle
- Marienburg Castle
- Wewelsburg Castle
- Lichtenstein Castle
- Rheinstein Castle
- Nymphenburg Palace
- Moritzburg Palace
- Heidelberg Castle
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17 Fairytale castles in Germany and Neuschwanstein
We are going to start this illustrious list with everyone’s favorite, the Neuschwanstein. And then we are going to weave our way through other German castles, some of which are lesser-known and much less visited.
On my first trip to Germany, I could not make it to Neuschwanstein and I had major FOMO over that. Had I known there were so many other fairytale castles in Germany and some right where I was staying, I would not have felt so dejected. I don’t want you guys to have that feeling, so here goes the list.
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A 19th-century Bavarian castle located on the top of a rugged hill complete with conical roofs and cylindrical turrets, Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany is the stuff that dreams are made of.
It was built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria who, in my opinion, was probably one of the most misunderstood monarchs in German history. He was never a king of battle. He was rather a king of drama, art, and architecture. In the end, authorities deposed him as the “Mad King” but he left this beautiful Romanesque-Revival castle for us to remember him by.
Today, Neuschwanstein is one of the most visited and photographed fairytale castles in Germany and the world. And it is not a secret, that Neuschwanstein inspired the famous Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland.
With its romanticized medieval architecture, almost-magical spires and towers, and an aura of mystery and intrigue surrounding its construction and use, Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria is definitely one of Germany’s most beautiful castles that you need to visit.
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More than 1000 years ago a Slavic tribe built the first fortress on the island that is now home to Schwerin Castle. Over the centuries, grand dukes of their times added to it, enhanced, enlarged, and improved it. The mix of architectural styles bears witness to Schwerin Castle’s long history and the preferences of its many occupants.
Since 1990 the state government has maintained their offices inside the castle. You can visit the castle museum and access many palace rooms maintained in original décor.
A café in the castle gardens invites you to dine with a view of the fountain, lake, and an impressive southern façade. Stroll along the park and visit the grotto where aristocrats of the past used to play hide and seek.
Schwerin is an easy day trip from Hamburg, a 1h 30m drive. You can also take a direct train or bus. While you are there do not forget to enjoy a historic walk through Schwerin.
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A charming Eltz Castle (Burg Eltz) is surrounded by dense forests on the magical hillside of the Mosel River Valley. It has been in possession of the Eltz family for the past 800 years. Interestingly enough, the Eltz Castle saw very few military conflicts. That is why, it was never destroyed.
To visit the interior of the castle, you will need to take a guided tour. These excursions run frequently and in many languages. The admission ticket costs EUR 11.
While the indoor tour is lovely, it’s really the exterior that makes this castle special. There are many hiking trails that provide stunning viewpoints that twist and turn through the lush forest along River Eltz. These trails are free to explore and are a highlight of any visit here.
Eltz Castle is a great half-day trip by car from the popular Rhine River Valley cities of Koblenz or Mainz. To make it a full day trip add on the nearby Geierlay Suspension Bridge. This is Germany’s longest suspension bridge and who knew, it was less than 40 minutes away from the this pretty German fairytale castle.
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Perched on the top of a hill overlooking endless hills covered in vineyards, on the Moselle River valley, Cochem Castle is one of those places in Germany that is almost torn out of a fairytale.
Come here for the castle and stay for the tranquility of the area as well as the delicious wine they produce here.
In order to get to the castle, you will stroll through narrow cobbled streets of Cochem village, stop by the main square rounded with colorful buildings, and even taste some local wine and leave with a few bottles. Another option would be to climb a part of the hill covered with trees. The hike which will make feel very close to nature.
Guests visiting the castle can experience a Knight’s Meal or even a Ghost Tour. For the most romantic couples, they even organize wedding ceremonies.
Getting to Cochem is easy by car because the village is less than 2 hours away from Frankfurt and only 1.5 hours away from Cologne on Germany’s Romantic Road.
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Burghausen Castle’s claim to fame is that it one of the longest castles in the world. Extending a bit more than a kilometer along a ridge above Burghausen town, right on the Austrian border, it’s really more of a collection of buildings than a single castle.
Construction of the castle started in 1255 by order of Duke Henry XIII of Lower Bavaria. Then it took centuries of additions – especially walls and other fortifications – to reach today’s length. In its first few centuries it served as a sort of rest home for the Dukes of Bavaria-Landshut to send their rejected wives, mistresses, and any widows in the family.
Upon entering the grounds of this German fairytale castle, you’ll walk up the ridge while passing through a series of courtyards. You’ll see fortifications, towers, gateways, a church, an armory, and a former brewery (Every self-respecting castle should have a brewery!). Then you’ll reach the oldest part of the castle, complete with moat. From both sides the views are beautiful and far-reaching.
Inside the castle museum, climb up to the roof, where you can look back and see the entire extent of the castle’s turreted red roofs along the ridge. Also make sure to stroll around the lovely town of Burghausen below the castle.
You can easily do Burghausen Castle as a day trip from either Munich or from Salzburg, Austria.
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The impressive Hohenzollern Castle rises high above the surrounding countryside on its rock spur in central Baden-Württemberg. It is the ancestral seat of the famous Hohenzollern dynasty who ruled the state of Prussia before German unification.
Like Neuschwanstein Castle in neighboring Bavaria, the current structure has more to do with the romantic fantasies of the 19th century. But unlike its Bavarian counterpart, Hohenzollern is among the lesser-known fairytale castles in Germany.
Hohenzollern Castle was reconstructed from Middle Age remains of the previous fortress by King Frederick William IV of Prussia. He had climbed to the ruins in his younger days and was taken with the family history that the dilapidated fortress represented.
Visitors to the castle can take in the art collections and treasury in the interior rooms. However, many visitors wander outside the castle just to enjoy the views in all directions. It is a popular day trip from Stuttgart, the nearest major city, and usually receives hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.
The castle is a short distance off the A-81 motorway for those who have their own vehicle. Visitors who prefer to use public transport will find a regular train service from the main station in Stuttgart to the nearest town of Hechingen and a local bus service up to the castle grounds.
Schloss Sanssouci in Potsdam
Located only a stone’s throw away from Berlin, Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam is a beautiful German palace that needs to go into your German itinerary. With a bright yellow façade decorated by rich designs and topped by a green dome, the palace almost looks like a pretty wedding cake.
The interiors are even more stunning with ornate floral reliefs adorning each and every corner of the palace’s rooms, halls, and galleries. King Frederick introduced a lot of his personal taste into the Rococo architecture here thus, giving birth to a more ornamented version known as Friedrichian Rococo.
Honestly, Sanssouci is one of Germany’s prettiest fairytale castles that looks and feels like a dainty lady!
The palace is surrounded by a huge terraced park that reminds you of the Versailles Park in Paris. The best part is you don’t even have to pay to explore the park and enjoy a small picnic here.
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Wurzburg was once the capital of the German state of Franconia and Wurzburg Residence was home to the Prince Bishop. Today, it is the main attraction of the city.
Commissioned by the Prince-Bishop of Wurzburg, Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn, the Residence was built in 1744. Its architecture is a confluence of German baroque, French classic, and the Viennese imperial styles.
Upon entering the palace, you will see a grand fresco blanketing the ceiling. Created in 1753 by the Italian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, the fresco is one of the largest in the world and illustrates the greatness of Europe with Wurzburg at its center. It depicts four continents: Europe, America, Asia and Africa, all represented by animals and human allegorical figures.
The Imperial Hall next door is a fine example of Baroque architecture. Its ceiling was also painted by Tiepolo and has fascinating elements of three-dimensional illusion.
As you navigate through a string of splendid rooms enveloped in grandeur, you will arrive in the 18th century Mirror Cabinet. This was where the Prince Bishop flaunted his enormous wealth. The cabinet features kilos worth of gold leaf and lots of exotic illustrations & art.
In 1981, the Wurzburg Residence, with its Court Gardens and Residence Square, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The nearest big city to Wurzburg is Nuremberg (100 km) which is easy to get to, given the long list of low-cost airlines in Europe. From here, you can catch an hour-long train ride and spend a whole day in Wurzburg.
If you have a really packed German itinerary and are unable to make it out of cities to visit these German fairytale castles, I suggest you check out the stunning Munich Residenz.
Located right in the center of Munich city, only a few minutes from Marienplatz, Munich Residenz is a splendid example of Baroque and Rococo opulence. It is the largest urban palace in Germany and consists of more than a hundred rooms, 10 courtyards, a church, a theater, and so much more.
The exterior of Munich Residenz looks like any other glamorous German palace. But the real meat lies inside, in its magnificent rooms and stunning galleries. Some of the absolute must-visit rooms are The Antiquarium (pictured above) with its ornate display of paintings, statues, and decorated lunettes, The Treasury with an enviable collection of jewels, crystals, and ivories, and Cuvilles Theater with some of most beautiful creations of Bavarian Rococo.
Also read: 25 Amazing things to do in Munich Germany
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Herrenchiemsee Castle, located on a small island in the middle of a large lake in southern Bavaria, can be called Mini Versailles as the famous French royal palace was used as a model for its construction. Bavarian king Ludwig II rebuilt an old island monastery into this charming country palace along with manicured gardens and park at the end of the 19th century.
You can reach the pretty Herrenchiemsee Castle only by boat. The ferry takes you from Prien am Chiemsee directly to Herreninsel island in around 20 minutes. Tickets for the guided palace tour can be purchased by the pier on the island.
The palace itself is a marvel. Meticulously decorated and furnished, it will wow you with beauty. An absolute gem is the Mirror Hall that resembles the famous Mirror Hall in Versailles Castle in France.
We highly recommend the Herrenchiemsee Castle as a lovely half-day trip from Munich which is less than an hour to the west.
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Just down the road from the famous Neuschwanstein Castle, the smaller Hohenschwangau Castle is often missed by visitors. This is a pity as, aside from a charming exterior, Hohenschwangau Castle also has a very impressive interior. Plus, the guided tour is interesting and gives a relatively in-depth overview of the history of the castle.
Tucked into the hills, Hohenschwangau Castle has been around since at least the 1200s, and was rebuilt in its current Neo-Gothic form in the 19th Century. Mad King Ludwig (famous for building the neighboring Neuschwanstein Castle) spent his childhood at Hohenschwangau and used it as a summer residence until his death.
Visiting Hohenschwangau is an easy day trip from Munich. Just take the train to Fussen, where you can find regular shuttle buses to Hohenschwangau village. Otherwise, you can drive directly to the village and park in one of four paid car parks.
Tickets are available to purchase in advance online and you can pick them up at the ticket center in Hohenschwangau village. Check the official website here for tickets, tours, and opening hours.
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Marienburg Castle is a gorgeous German Castle. Although it is quite a hidden gem, it is just as beautiful as its well-known counterparts, Neuschwanstein and Eltz castles. Built on top of a hill and surrounded by a forest it looks like it is straight out of a fairy-tale.
The construction of the castle started in 1858 and was completed by 1867. King George V built the castle as a gift for his wife, who wanted a romantic residence to spend her days during summer. However, a year after the castle was completed King George V was sent into exile in Austria.
Marienburg Castle is located 30km from Hannover, just out of the small town of Hildesheim. You can take the train or the bus to Nordstemmen train station from the larger city of Hannover. From the train station, the castle is a 2.7km walk or you can take a taxi.
In the summer months you can take a day tour from Hannover to the castle. However, during winters, tours do not operate. Visiting the castle in Autumn allows you to see the forest come alive with beauty of the colored leaves.
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Not far (about 20km) from the big city of Paderborn, you will find the only triangular castle in Germany in a still closed construction! Between 1603 and 1609, the beautiful Wewelsburg was built in the style of the Weser Renaissance by the prince bishops of Paderborn. It is still a historical place of learning and experience for young and old.
Besides beautiful walks along the castle and through the Almetal, you also have the opportunity to visit the modernized district museum.
Among other things, it gives you an overview of the local and dark history of Wewelsburg during the WW2. It was then that the castle was to be developed by SS politician Heinrich Himmler into an ideological meeting and training center. A permanent exhibition “Ideology and Terror of the SS” also informs you about the cruel deeds that were committed in the nearby concentration camp. This is the perfect example of a German fairytale castle gone wrong!
Today, in addition to the museum, Wewelsburg also houses a youth hostel and a restaurant. You can combine your eventful and educational day trip with an overnight stay in the castle, that you can easily plan for with this comprehensive Germany packing list.
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Set in the picturesque countryside of southern Germany and perched dramatically on the edge of a steep cliff, Lichtenstein Castle is a unique and breathtaking sight. The castle dates back to the 19th century and was built in traditional medieval style which gives it the romantic fairy-tale appearance.
Once you arrive at Lichtenstein Castle, you will have the choice of taking a guided tour for EUR 10 or enter only the courtyard and gardens for EUR 4. The castle views are spectacular from the courtyard. Keep in mind that the tour is currently only offered in German, however if you speak English you’ll receive a brochure that gives you a summary of everything the tour guide explains.
Visiting Lichtenstein Castle can be done as a day trip from Munich but it also makes a great addition to any southern Germany road trip. The castle is located within the state of Baden Wurttemberg which is a 2.5 hour drive from Munich. The impressive Hohenzollern Castle is only 40 minutes away from Lichtenstein Castle. So, you can easily combine the two together.
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Rheinstein Castle sits atop a rocky outcrop, towering over the Rhine River below. It is one of about 40 castles in the UNESCO Heritage listed Rhine Gorge and arguably, the most beautiful.
The medieval castle was built around 1316 but fell into ruins over the years until it was rebuilt by Prince Frederick of Prussia in the 1820s. Since then, it has been visited by many European royalty. Today, it is open for visits and even has a couple of rooms that you can stay in overnight.
Highlights at the castle include the famed Burgundy Garden where a grape vine that’s over 500 years old still produces grapes. There is also an incredible gothic altar piece in the small chapel and, of course, you will get stunning views over the Rhine River far below.
Rheinstein Castle is just a 30-minute drive from Mainz, or an hour from Frankfurt. You can also take a train from Mainz via Bingen to Trechtingshausen and then walk for about 30 minutes to the castle. The other option is to take a Rhine River cruise between Bingen and Koblenz. Boats stop at the castle and you can take the next boat to continue on the cruise after visiting the castle.
You can easily visit the Rheinstein Castle as a half-day trip. But you can also combine it with a cruise or visits to other castles in the Rhine Valley for a full day trip. Or maybe stay overnight – how often do you get a chance to stay in a medieval castle?
The gorgeous Nymphenburg Palace & Gardens are just a half-day trip away from Munich. If you are done with all the amazing places to visit in Munich, I suggest you get a MVV Day Ticket and head to Nymphenburg.
Nymphenburg Palace does not only feature stunning rooms such as the Stone Hall and the Beauty Gallery of King Ludwig but also has an entire ensemble of museums (including a natural history one) and carefully laid out gardens complete with fountains, lakes, streams, and tea houses.
Honestly, the gardens are so beautiful it almost feels like walking through a royal space. Stumbling upon hidden gems like the cute bathing house called Badenburg and a Rococo-styled hunting lodge known as Amalienburg when taking the walk is even more exciting.
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The beautiful Baroque Moritzburg Palace attracts tourists with its fairy-tale appearance and carefully planned surroundings. The estate dates back to 1542 but its heyday fell at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries. It was then managed by August II the Strong, the king of Poland. Moritzburg was an ideal place for his loud games and hunting.
The stately, richly decorated palace surprises above all with its original décor. You will find a collection of distorted deer antlers, wallpapers made of animal skins and a unique king’s bedroom, where both the walls and fabrics on the bed are made of multi-colored feathers.
Moritzburg is as close as it can get to fairytale castles in Germany because this is exactly where the movie “Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella” was shot.
The palace is the perfect destination for a day trip from Dresden which is only 16km away. You can get here by car or public transport: train to Dresden-Neustadt and bus number 477 towards Radeburg Moritzburg.
Visiting the exterior and gardens is free. For a ticket to exhibitions in the palace, you will pay EUR 10 for a normal ticket and EUR 8 for a concessionary one. In the complex you will find a café and restaurant, and you can spend the night in renovated houses in old fortresses.
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Heidelberg Castle is a beautiful palace located in the historic town of Heidelberg in Germany. The castle is an important Renaissance landmark and attracts thousands of international tourists. As many as one million people visit the castle every year.
The castle dates back as far as the 13th century although it is unclear how old the buildings exactly are. Heidelberg Castle was severely damaged by the French in the 17th century and has only partially been reconstructed since then. Even though a lot of it is still in ruins, there is lots to see and do including trips to Barrel Building, Ottheinrich Building, and the Hall of Glass.
The castle sits on the hillside of the Königstuhl mountain. You can walk up or take the funicular if you’re not up for the steep walk.
You can visit from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm every day and the attached museum is open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Guided tours in both English and German are also available daily.