Special Collaboration: Real-Life Castles Cinderella Would Envy

Many of us grew up seeing the commercials on TV - happy little children with broad smiles, arms outstretched, running down an empty Main Street to storm Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World, where a host of princesses and fairy tale characters await to greet them like long lost royal friends. Didn't we all want to be those kids?

Truth of the matter is, Main Street is stunningly crowded, there's a hour-long wait to meet those characters, the castle is really just facade and forced perspective illusion housing a restaurant so exclusive that you may need to take out a mortgage to pay your tab... after you spend a small fortune just to get in to the park itself. OUCH!

Yes, with adulthood comes a little loss of the disillusionment of enchanted lands all to ourselves, especially when we see that price tag. Not everyone can (or should) break the bank to make a pilgrimage to "the most magical place on earth". In fact, some of us wannabe kings and queens would rather adventure off to something with a bit more reality, substance, and dare I say... honesty? And our little princes and princesses can still feel every bit as royally received. In some cases, perhaps even more so!

For a little inspiration, we've collaborated with some fabulous travel bloggers from around the globe to learn a little more about real-life castles that even Cinderella herself would be envious of! Travel inspiration, anyone? And awaaaaay we go.................

Blarney Castle is located in the small town of the same name in County Cork in Ireland. It is a hugely popular tourist attraction and is a castle Cinderella would be jealous of. Blarney Castle is a medieval stronghold and dates from the 15th century, although the site dates from a few centuries before. Although it is a ruined castle, much of it is accessible and thousands of visitors climb its 100 steps to the top of the Keep where you will find the Stone of Eloquence, otherwise known as the Blarney Stone.

Blarney Castle, as mentioned, originates from the 12th century when a wooden house was erected on the site. In the 13th century this was replaced by a stone fortification which stood for over 200 years before it was destroyed by a fire. The Lord of Muscry, a branch of the great MacCarthy Mor dynasty, the Kings of Desmond, rebuilt the castle. After several wars Sir James St John Jefferyes, governor of Cork City in the early 1700’s bought the castle and made it his family’s home. The Keep of Blarney Castle has not been inhabited since the 1800’s when Members of the Jefferyes family built a mansion on the grounds of the castle, Blarney House, where their descendants still reside.
Blarney Castle is most famous for the Blarney Stone and for over 200 years poets, world statesmen, literary giants and those from the screen have flocked with other tourists to kiss the Blarney Stone. Traditionally, visitors were held by their ankles and lowered headfirst over the battlements in order kiss the stone. Nowadays, visitors hold onto rails and lean backwards to kiss the stone. And the point of this? It is said that if you kiss the stone you will be bestowed with the gift of Eloquence. In Ireland, we say you are bestowed the gift of the gab and will never be lost for words again.

Now while the Blarney Stone is a huge draw for visitors, this is not the only reason to visit Blarney Castle. The Keep is just a small part of the wider estate and you should really dedicate a whole day to exploring it. The gardens are extensive with many smaller gardens such as the poison garden holding poisonous plants (be cautious of children in this area) and the fern garden, a beautiful section of the grounds filled with stunning ferns.
There are two waterfalls in opposite directions, a children’s playground, a lake and several walks through different gardens. Some of the other gardens include two small arboretums, a herbaceous garden and rose pergola, a Himalayan walk, and two private gardens associated with Blarney House. Several stone formations also lie in the grounds with names such as Druid’s circle and the Wishing Steps.
You can visit Blarney House but only during the months between June and August. The rest of the estate including the Castle, Rock Close Gardens and Lakeland Walk are open all year, except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Blarney Castle makes a great day trip from Dublin, but just be aware that it will take 3-4 hours to reach from Dublin, so an early start is best. If you are saying closer, perhaps in Cork City, you should aim to arrive at opening and head straight to the top of the Keep to kiss the Stone before the tour buses arrive. This will leave you free to explore the grounds at your leisure. Blarney Castle is a must if you are visiting Ireland.

Photo: Passports And Adventures • Blog: Travel Around Ireland Facebook

The Czech Republic is famous for its castles, the country has hundreds of them and many are UNESCO heritage sites. One of the stunning castles from the country's collection is the Bouzov Castle in the Moravia region, close to Olomouc town. The Gothic-style castle from the 14th century looks like from a fairytale book, it has a tower, an impressive gates, an ornate staircase, everything is very detailed and well preserved. The castle was the residence of the Order of Teutonic Knights, a military and religious order of German knights that played an important role in Eastern Europe during the Middle Ages.

Even with all the conflicts and wars in Europe throughout the years, the castle has never been ruined and that makes it special and unique. The castle was restored by the Habsburg Family in the 19th century and adding new features to it and giving to the castle a more Renaissance look.

The castle offers guided tours and you can visit the rooms, the kitchen and the Neo-Gothic Chapel with a Gothic altar decorated with the tombstones of the Masters of the Order. Along with the chapel, other unmissable areas of Bouzov Castle are the Castle Armoury, the Gothic Hall, the watchtower and the cellars. A visit to the cellars is especially interesting for the kids, as they can see the exhibition Dragons and Dragonslayers that showcase the life-size fairytale dragons and the knights who fought them. Plus, at the end of the visit, the kids receive a ‘Knight Certificated’.

Despite being a magnificent castle with a rich history, Bouzov is not one of the most visited castles in the Czech republic. The reason is that the castle is quite far from the Czech Republic's main touristic cities and there is no public transportation connecting the nearby towns to the castle. But these two details shouldn’t put you off, Bouzov Castle is worth a visit and you're probably gonna spend at least half a day there. 

The castle is open to the public in March and November, from 11 am to 1 pm on weekdays and from 10 am to 4 pm on weekends. You must book the tour in advance on the official website and bear in mind that the tour is in Czech only. I did the tour and enjoyed it a lot even not speaking the language. My recommendation is to do a quick research before going there so you can follow the tour and more or less know what they will be talking about. 

A visit to Bouzov Castle is one of the top things to do in Olomouc, a nearby city that also deserves to be explored. The hotel I've stayed in Olomouc arranged the driver who took me to the castle, waited for my visit and then drove me back to Olomouc.  

Photo: Love and Road • Blog: LoveandRoad Instagram

Caerlaverock Castle is a stunning 13th Century castle located in South West Scotland in the Dumfries and Galloway region.

The castle’s distinctive triangle structure makes it quite unique. The castle is a partial ruin due to a history of conflict. However, enough of the castle’s structure remains to make it well worth a visit. The information displays throughout the castle give an impression of how people lived there. Its moat is still visible and full. You can also see a fascinating series of intricate carvings on one of its interior walls.

Caerlaverock was the seat of the Maxwell family for hundreds of years. The family built the castle to be an impenetrable fortress at a key defensive position for Scotland. You can still see evidence of this in the castle’s structure. The high corner towers and defensive slotted windows loom over the tall gateway. The castle’s defensive walls stood close to the coast of England. This was a potential point of attack during the Wars of Independence.

The castle’s walls have been shaken by several sieges. In 1300 King Edward I besieged the castle with a large army. A poem written at the time gives a dramatic account. Edward’s forces consisted of a large number of knights and soldiers and they attacked the castle with large catapults. The poem makes it possible to get an idea of the ferocity of the attack. A display in the visitor centre includes an interesting video about the siege. The castle’s defenders gave up the castle after withstanding two days of bombardment. The invaders then discovered that just sixty men had been defending it.

The Maxwell family regained ownership of the castle later. They continued to add further defensive features to the structure. During the abdication of Mary, Queen of Scots in the sixteenth-century, the castle was attacked again. In later years the castle became a more peaceful site. The Maxwells restored it to be a luxurious mansion house. The castle became one that Cinderella and other characters from magical children’s books would have been jealous of!

During the early seventeenth-century, the family built the Nithsdale Lodging which featured ornate architecture and finishings. You can see the Renaissance carvings from this period today and they are a fascinating feature. The carvings depict interactions between Divine Love and Human Love. There are also scenes featuring ancient gods of myths and legends, Prometheus and Neptune.

The castle suffered further sieges and attacks. During the late seventeenth-century, the Covenanter armies destroyed a great deal of its structure. On that occasion, the castle withstood a 13-week-siege.

Even after such a history of violence and conflict, Caerlaverock castle today has a romantic and fairy-tale quality. The castle’s beautiful redbrick walls nestle between rolling countryside and a woodland which leads down to the coast. The coastal wetlands are now nature reserves and sanctuaries for birds and other wildlife. You can take a walk through the nature reserve. And from there you can look across the Solway Firth and see the coast of England.

Caerlaverock Castle’s stunning architecture and surroundings have meant it has been a popular film location. It was the setting for the film The Decoy Bride starring former Dr Who, David Tennant.

Historic Scotland maintains Caerlaverock Castle and there is an admission fee to visit. The castle is quite remote. However, facilities on the site include a cafe, a shop, toilets and car parking.

Photo: Angela StaplefordBlog: Reading Inspiration Pinterest

Chateau d'Usse is one of the most beautiful chateaux of France's Loire Valley. It is said to be the inspiration behind Sleeping Beauty's castle. The author of the book, Charles Perault, stayed at Chateau d'Usse when he was writing Sleeping Beauty. Usse also was one of the castles that inspired Walt Disney in creating the Disney castles.

Before it was a fairytale castle, Chateau d'Usse was first established in the 11th century as a stronghold. Since then, it's gone through many rebuilds. It wasn't until the 16-17th centuries that the castle at Usse was finished in its current form.

One of the highlights of visiting Chateau d'Usse is seeing the tower that tells the story of Sleeping Beauty. As you walk through the tower, in each room there is a scene from the book set up using mannequins and props to illustrate what is happening. It makes it a fantastic castle to visit with children but it's also fun for adults to explore and see the different tableaus.

Sleeping Beauty aside, the main part of the chateau has been reserved to see historical paintings and furnishings. There's a rather grand staircase and extravagant fixtures. Another highlight at Usse is the display of historical dresses and clothing that is exhibited on a rotating basis.

After exploring the chateau, there are a few things to explore on the grounds. There is a small chapel as well as caves that act as a wine cellar and a small garden. You do have to pay to tour the chateau however, you can see the castle from across the road if you only care to see the outside.  

Photo: Brianna, Curious Travel BugBlog: Curious Travel Bug Instagram

The Coral Castle is located just outside of Miami, in Homestead, Florida. One of the most unorthodox "castles" in existence, it was built by one man over the span of nearly 30 years. Edward Leedskalnin single-handedly carved over 1,100 tons of coral rock, and his process remains a baffling mystery. Ed was a slight man with primitive tools and no real mechanized equipment, and he worked by the cover of darkness.

The Coral Castle was Ed's tribute to his true love, Agnes Scuffs, whom he simply referred to as "Sweet Sixteen". Agnes was ten years younger than Ed, and she left him the day before their wedding in 1913 because of the age difference. Ed never recovered from his heartbreak, and he always hoped he would have the chance to show Agnes the castle he built in her honor, for the family he had hoped they would create. In the meantime, Ed spent his days working, and occasionally offering tours to visitors for ten or twenty-five cents. In December of 1951 Ed became ill. He put a sign on the door of his Castle saying “going to the hospital,” took a bus to Jackson Memorial in Miami and died three days later in his sleep at the age of 64. 

All the little details of the Coral Castle are steeped in brilliance and it's truly impressive when you consider some of the stand-out highlights within the coral gates, where Ed lived for many years. Each morning, Ed would fill the tub with well water. By mid-afternoon, the sun had warmed the water enough to make for a comfortable bath. A piece of slate served as his mirror. The bedroom, with twin beds for himself and Sweet Sixteen, children's beds, and a rocking cradle, is nestled beside the bathroom. A trio of carved chairs are strategically placed to provide a centralized reading area. Ed would shift position between the three chairs to follow the direct sunlight, so there is a morning chair, a noon chair, and an afternoon chair. 

The "Florida Table" is carved in the shape and proportion of the State of Florida, complete with Lake Okeechobee in the form of a built-in bowl. The table is surrounded by carved rocking chairs weighing about 1,000 pounds each. The first rocking chair Ed created sits proudly atop a large block of coral beside his unique sundial. The sundial keeps time from 9AM - 4PM, because Ed was not interested in keeping time beyond "working man's hours". 

With approximately 243 tons of coral, the tower is a two-story structure that served as Ed's living quarters and tool room. 16 steps lead upstairs to the ramshackle but functional living area while Ed's original hand-made tools are meticulously displayed downstairs.

Carved from three pieces of coral, the Moon Fountain features large representations of the first and last quarters of the moon and a full moon centerpiece. The North Wall, behind the Moon Fountain, is comprised of three separate blocks of coral. The centerpiece is the single heaviest piece within the castle - 60,000 pounds. Ed referred to this piece as the Crown. On the east wall, Ed carved representations of planets like Mars and Saturn alongside a 20-foot tall crescent moon. Ed's two-piece coral telescope system includes an outer piece beyond the castle wall that aligns with an eyepiece in the wall. The two pieces line up to find the North Star - Polaris. This system allowed Ed to create his strikingly accurate sundial.

Open every day, the Coral Castle Museum welcomes visitors from around the world to explore this enchanting South Florida destination. The Coral Castle was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. See our Coral Castle video tour here.

Photo: Dawn SabatoBlog: Ready Explorer Instagram

Herstmonceux Castle is located in Herstmonceux, East Sussex. It’s around an hour South East of London by car. It is one of the best castles in Sussex and one of the prettiest castles in England by far. It is easily combined with a day trip to Eastbourne, Brighton or Hastings.

If you love the idea of a moat and bridge, then Herstmonceux Castle is for you. Once the home of Ilona de Herst and her husband Ingelram de Monceux, the castle and the surrounding township has taken name from a melding of their surnames. Built in 1441, it was the largest privately owned home at the time. It is quite unique as it is built in red brick. This was popular in France, Ingleram’s mother country, but not Britain at the time.

Over the years the castle has been owned by a number of people and at one time it was slated to be redeveloped into a hotel and golf course. The locals banded together against this idea and today the site is owned and run by the Canadian Queen’s University.

The grounds are open daily, however tours inside of the castle need to be booked in advance. If you visit outside of tour times, there is still plenty to see. The arched bridge over the moat is open to the public and looks incredible in photos. Make sure to pay attention to the impressive wooden double doors and the unique doorknocker.

The grounds are a combination of fields, woodlands and manicured gardens. The manicured gardens are particularly serene. They feature a series of themed gardens featuring hedgerows and traditional plantings such as roses and quince trees. Take your time walking through the gardens. They feature beautiful arborial archways, wrought iron doors and benches to rest relax.

The view from the manicured gardens to the castle is particularly spectacular. It’s easy to cast yourself back in time and imagine the grandeur of the castle when it was operating as a home.

During Fall, the castle’s oak trees are particularly spectacular. There are thickets of them nearby the moat that frame the castle spectacularly. On a still day, the moat casts the most spectacular mirror image of the fluffy clouds above. Herstmonceux Castle is photogenic if nothing else.

Outside of the castle the grounds are home to a small museum and coffee shop. Take the time to explore the museum and learn about the original owner’s of the castle. You’ll be intrigued by the castle’s history and its development over time.

Allow 2-3 hours to properly explore the castle, a little more if you’re undertaking a tour.

Photo: Laura RobinsonBlog: Passport Collective Instagram

Cinderella has a beautiful castle, but she would be jealous of one that lies just 45 minutes north of Copenhagen. It’s called Kronborg Slot, or Kronborg Castle, and it has a fascinating real-life history along with an exciting literary past. In real life, it helped the Kingdom of Denmark amass wealth and riches and it’s where the most romantic Danish King lived with his Queen. In literature, it was the setting of Shakespeare’s great revenge tragedy, Hamlet. Less famous, it’s the home to a mystical figure from Arthurian legend, Holger Danske or Ogier the Dane.

Let’s begin with the real-life importance of this castle and why Cinderella would be green with envy over Kronborg Castle. It’s located in the charming town of Helsingor, situated at the narrowed sea passage between Denmark and Sweden. During most of its early history, the land across the Sound was also Denmark. In fact, most of southern Sweden was part of the Danish kingdom. The wise kings of Denmark controlled this important seaway from The North Sea into the Baltic Sea. With a well-fortified castle on both sides of the Sound, the Danish kings charged a “Sound fee” for merchants sailing through the waterway. Prince Charming may have a royal title, but the money that came with owning this castle was unmatched in the Danish Golden age.

King Frederik II built Kronborg Castle for his wife, Queen Sophia. Her pride was raising her family of 8 children, but a close second was throwing elaborate balls. Cinderella would be envious of the parties that Queen Sophie threw in Northern Europe’s largest ballroom. It’s 60 meters long with marble floors, towering ceilings, and the walls were covered with elaborate tapestries. Royals from all over Europe would visit Kronborg for Queen Sophie’s balls, and most of them could stay past midnight.

Kronborg also appears in Hamlet, the play by William Shakespeare. In fact, it’s the setting of the play. It’s said that Shakespeare’s acting troupe once visited the castle from London. They performed for a royal ball and it so inspired Shakespeare that he immortalized the castle in Hamlet. The most famous line in the play, “There’s something rotten in Denmark…” pays homage to the setting - Kronborg Castle.

The last reason Cinderella would be jealous of Kronborg Castle is the legendary inhabitant of the subterranean level. Kronborg was built over the site of a medieval fort and it’s said that Holger Danske (Ogier the Dane) rests beneath the castle. Holger Danske has appeared in British, French and Danish literary works as a gentle warrior who fought for King Arthur and Charlemagne and Gorm the Old, the first king of Denmark. Legend states that Holger is sleeping beneath Kronborg Castle, but if Denmark needs to be rescued, he will awaken to save his homeland.

So Cinderella has a lot to be jealous of with Kronborg Castle. A money-making location, fabulous Royal Balls, a castle that inspired William Shakespeare and is home to a sleeping warrior that protects the entire kingdom.

Photo: Derek HartmanBlog: Everything Copenhagen Instagram

Nestled in the far north-eastern corner of England, along the Scottish border, lies the county of Northumberland. It’s close position to Scotland and the unrest on both sides of the borderline during medieval times has resulted in Northumberland having the highest number of castles of all the English counties.

Langley Castle is one of them; built in the 14th century by Thomas De Lucy, it changed hands several times between various members of nobility until 1749. The final owners, the Earls of Derwentwater, James and Charles, were charged with high treason and executed at the Tower of London in 1715 and 1746 respectively. The castle was then confiscated by the crown and gifted to the Royal Hospital for Seamen in Greenwich, London.

In 1882, the castle was purchased by a local historian, Cadwallader Bates. At this point, the castle was virtually a ruin and Cadwallader and his wife, Josephine, dedicated their time to it’s restoration until it was fit to be their family home. Cadwallader unfortunately never saw the works completed before passing away in 1902, but Josephine managed to see this dream out for the both of them, living there until her death thirty years later.

In the Second World War, the castle transformed again to become an army barracks, then a girls boarding school. It was then purchased again in 1986 by it’s current owner, an MIT professor based in Boston, Dr. Stuart Madnick. He transformed Langley Castle into the luxury hotel it is today, one of the only genuine medieval castles in England to still welcome overnight guests.

There are nine “feature” bedrooms inside the castle, each named after a person or place that has been integral to Langley’s history, as well as a further eighteen rooms in the restored coach house and stables in the grounds. While updated with the latest modern amenities you would expect in a luxury hotel, the décor is still distinctly medieval, with suits of armour, oil paintings and heavy, plush furnishings. Staying here makes you feel like you have stepped back in time and you don’t have to use much imagination to pretend you are lord or lady of the castle!

The ambience is truly magical, so much so that J.K Rowling of Harry Potter fame has stayed here, allegedly looking for inspiration for one her books. 

If you stay in one of the rooms in the castle itself, you can expect to be treated to features such as a four poster bed, high ceilings and huge, open, stone fireplaces. Watch out for the ghost though, the castle is believed by some to be haunted by a “Grey Lady”. She is rumoured to be the widow of the original owner, Thomas De Lucy, who threw herself out of a window after hearing of his death in battle.

There is also an award-winning restaurant on site for both locals and hotel guests which serves delicious and classic British food. Upstairs in the grand drawing room, you can make your visit even more traditionally English by partaking in afternoon tea, complete with finger sandwiches, scones and if you’re feeling particularly indulgent, some champagne!

Langley Castle is very invested in sharing its history with all who wish to know it and offers a guided tour of the castle and battements daily at 10:15am. This is complimentary for guests of the hotel and £4.95 for those that are not (there is no charge for children). Here you will learn about the full history of both the castle and the surrounding area, see inside the chapel hidden in one of the turrets and enjoy the amazing views across the English countryside from the top of the castle.

Photo: Rachael GunnBlog: Champagne on Arrival Instagram

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago Japan was full of castles. Hundreds of them. However, during the Meiji period (roughly 1868-1912) in Japan, power was vested away from the wealthy samurai. To try and create more equality within the country, land was handed back to the state and many of the castles and symbols of wealth were destroyed. Fire, earthquake and the passage of time have led to the demise of others - and today in modern Japan there are only 12 completely original castle keeps left. Matsue is one of them.

You might not have heard of Matsue before, after all it’s not on the normal western tourist circuit of 
Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, but Matsue is a town toward the central north of Honshu, the main island of Japan. And, while it might not be a day trip from those normal cities, it’s easy to reach by train.

Matsue is a town rich in samurai history and the castle, built in 1611, towers over it. Located in a 
beautiful tree-filled park, Matsue Castle is only five storeys, but it’s high on a hill giving it a 360 degree vantage point over Matsue and the surrounding area – and some rather great views from the top when you get inside. That viewpoint however, is only part of its protection, it’s also surrounded by thick black walls and a huge moat – but it’s when you get inside that things turn really interesting.

As with many things in Japan, the first thing you’ll do when you enter Matsue Castle is remove your 
shoes to protect the original wooden floors – the second is marvel that it looks much smaller inside, than out - a testament to how thick the walls are; then you start to climb. Up and up the narrow wooden staircase between each floor. As you get higher and higher, the climb gets harder – it’s not that you’re unfit, but the castle was made with the steps getting higher and narrower the closer to the top you get to try and slow down any invaders that did breach the castle walls.  

You’ll also notice the castle is black. It’s not clear exactly why that is, but it’s said that another surviving Japanese castle, Matsumoto, was painted black to create a sense of fear in the heart of any attackers – so it’s possible was created with the same image in mind.

Despite being so well prepared for battle, no fights, wars or invaders ever came to Matsue Castle, 
which is probably another reason why it’s so well preserved today. To add to its ‘must-see’ credentials in 2015 it was named one of the National Treasures of Japan.

Matsue Castle is fully open to the public for tours, seven days a week from 8.30 (closing times vary 
by season). You can explore the castle and a small museum on site that contains displays of Japanese armour and weapons. It’s also possible to walk around the grounds, where you’ll find three small shrines and, in cherry blossom season, the castle grounds are suggested as one of the best places to see the flowers in the whole of Japan.  You can also sail around the moat on a boat tour. 

To get to Matsue Castle, you need to take the train to Matsue Station, it’s a short walk or bus ride 
from there. To see what else to do on a trip to Matsue, visit this post on Cool Things to do in Matsue.

Photo: Helen FosterBlog: Destination>Differentville Instagram

Neuschwanstein Castle is a fairytale Cinderelleresque palace, built on a craggy outcrop in Bavaria. The deep south of Germany is known for its magnificent castles and Neuschwanstein surely tops them all, with its Rapunzel turrets and romantic history.

Completed in 1892, Kind Ludwig II who commissioned and designed this lavish Romanesque castle, had already died.  Ludwig only ever saw his final masterpiece, his planned retreat from public life as a building site.  It is ironic that now 1.4m visitors a year come to visit this most special of places, which would have provided the shy and mysterious Ludwig with the privacy and peace he craved.

Neuschwanstein is built on the ruins of two smaller castles, Vorder and Hinterhohenschwangau.  At its’ inception, Neuschwanstein was called New Hohenschwangau, it only became Neuschwanstein after King Ludwig's death.  The castle was to be reconstructed in the style of the ‘old’ German knights castles and be equipped with modern technical features such as hot air heating, running water and flushing water closets.

Construction on the mountain-side was complex and took much longer than expected.  Builders often worked day and night to implement the King’s instructions and meet his often ill-judged deadlines.  Ludwig moved into Neuschwanstein in 1884 but to all intents and purposes, the castle was still a building site.  Ludwig died in 1886 having been declared insane and divested of his sovereign role.

With its elevated position and stunning surroundings, this graceful Castle is a must-see if you’re visiting southern Germany, a surprisingly beautiful country. (Please link here to https://thegapdecaders.com/germany)  The opulent interiors and inventive features will draw you in to the dream world of the King Ludwig II, in which he believed his kingship was ‘by the grace of God’.

Neuschwanstein is open daily other than 24/25/31 December and 1 January.  The castle is at its busiest between July and September, during these times it is highly advisable to book your tickets on-line www.ticket-center-hohenschwangau.de.  A small number of tickets are reserved each day for purchase at the door, however these are often sold out by 10am and involve a potentially long queue from 8am to secure one.  You must take a guided tour offered in English or German or make use of an audio guide for other languages.  The tour lasts around 30 minutes inside the castle, during which you will see the King’s beautiful state rooms and apartments.  You should be aware that due to the construction of the castle and its position, ongoing maintenance and restoration may involve some parts of the building being inaccessible.

You cannot park at the site of the castle, but around 1.5km away.  This involves a 40 minute walk up a fairly steep road to the castle, or if you prefer a horse-drawn carriage.  The carriage will take you to around 450m away from the entrance, from which you must walk.  The gradient are is around 15%.   You may also take a bus to the stop above the castle.  From here a 500m footpath leads down on a 12-19% gradient to the castle.  There is no escaping the need to tackle some sort of gradient, either uphill or down and you should be aware of this before visiting.

There are a number of restaurants and cafe’s for refreshments as well as a gift shop.  Why not make a day trip of a visit to Neuschwanstein Castle, lunch and then a slow meander along the path to the Marienbrücke bridge, suspended high above the Pollät gorge, for a different perspective on this most fairytale of castles.

Photo: Johannes Plenio UnsplashBlog: The Gap Decaders Facebook