Experts estimate that Germany is home to as many as 20,000 castles! Now, not all of these grandiose buildings have been preserved–in fact, some lay in ruins. Nonetheless, there are still hundreds of castles and palaces open for tourism in the country. With this in mind, we review the 17 most beautiful fairytale castles in Germany to add to your bucket list.
Hopefully, this list will help you choose which historic residences and fortresses to visit during your vacation. We’ve also included a map of castles in Germany at the end so you can see where each of these palaces is located! Hint: the majority are in Southern and Western Germany. You may even want to plan a road trip to see as many of these German castles as possible.
Pro tip: remember that there are two main words in German for “castle”: Burg and Schloss. Burg is usually more of a fortress, while Schloss describes a palace–a place where people lived. However, this division isn’t always so strict in practice!
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Number one on this list is Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, Germany. This fairytale castle in Bavaria is one of Germany’s most popular tourist attractions, receiving over 1.3 million visitors each year. Additionally, Neuschwanstein was the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Interestingly enough, King Ludwig II commissioned this schloss as his romantic interpretation of a medieval knight’s castle. He also dedicated it to the life and work of Richard Wagner. Unfortunately, the king’s odd behavior and massive spending during this lifetime earned him the nickname “Mad King Ludwig.”
Located along the Romantic Road in Bavaria, Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the best day trips from Munich. However, it’s important to note that you need to book tickets via the official website to see the interior. Additionally, no photography or filming is allowed in the castle. Once inside, you’ll explore 14 of King Ludwig II’s rooms, including his Throne Room, bedroom, and the Singer’s Hall.
Opening hours: April to October 15 from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. or October 16 to December 31 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed on December 24, 25, and 31 and January 1.
Entrance fee: €15 + €2.50 online service fee.
Guided day tours from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle:
- Neuschwanstein Castle and Linderhof Palace Day Tour from Munich
- Neuschwanstein Castle Full-Day Trip from Munich
- Day Trip from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle via Train
Burg Eltz is a medieval castle above the Moselle River in Wierschem, Germany. Moreover, it’s one of three castles on the left bank of the Rhine River in Rhineland-Palatinate to never have been destroyed. In fact, this Instagram famous castle in Germany has been an ancestral home to the same family since the 12th century.
Two different routes lead to Eltz Castle from the parking lot: a private road leading you past a viewpoint and a footpath leading you on a scenic walk through the Eltz Forest. Additionally, there is a shuttle bus that stops next to Antonius Chapel (cost: €2).
Although visiting the castle grounds is free, you can only see the inside on a paid guided tour. If you’d like to take the tour in English, you’ll need to ask for the schedule at the ticket desk. Luckily, most visitors wait less than 30 minutes for their guided experience to begin.
During your guided tour, you’ll learn about Eltz Castle’s history and see the Dressing Room, the Study, the Knights’ Hall, and more. Remember that your ticket also gives you access to the treasury/armory exhibition. We suggest allowing approximately 2.5 hours for your visit to Burg Eltz.
Opening hours: Daily from 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. from late March/early April to early November (depending on weather conditions).
Entrance fee: €12 (bring cash!).
Hohenzollern Castle is located on top of Mount Hohenzollern in South Germany, near the Black Forest. Furthermore, it’s one of three castles that have been built in this location. The first was constructed in the 11th century, while the second was built in the 15th century and ultimately fell into disrepair in the 18th century.
King Frederick William IV of Prussia commissioned the third and current castle between 1846 and 1867 to enhance his family’s reputation. Nowadays, Hohenzollern is one of the best German castles, welcoming over 350,000 visitors annually. Moreover, it’s still privately owned by the House of Hohenzollern.
This fairytale castle in Germany is a popular day trip from Stuttgart, and the 31-mile (50 km) drive should take about an hour. After you park, you can either take a walking path (approx. 25 minutes) to Eagle’s Gate or wait for the shuttle bus. Although Hohenzollern doesn’t offer guided tours in person, it does have an audio guide that you can access via the Castle app.
Opening hours: Daily from 10:00 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
Entrance fee: €22 (no guided tours available).
This 19th-century castle located in the Swabian Jura mountain range is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Germany. It was inspired by the 1826 novel Lichtenstein and was built in the Gothic Revival style between 1840 and 1842. Although this makes Lichtenstein Castle relatively young, you can find the ruins of an older medieval castle a short walk away.
Since “the fairy tale castle of Württemberg” is more of a hidden gem, the property only offers guided tours in German. However, a brochure is available that explains all of the information on the guided tour in English. Note that photography is not allowed inside the castle.
Lichtenstein Castle is an excellent option for a day trip from Stuttgart. Ideally, you could even squeeze in visiting Lichtenstein and Hohenzollern Castle in one day from the city.
Opening hours: March from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., April through October from 9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m., November through December from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. (closed December 24-26), and closed January through February.
Entrance fee: €12 for a guided tour, €4 for the castle courtyard only.
The village of Hohenschwangau is home to two of the most famous castles in Germany. Although Neuschwanstein Castle is undoubtedly more popular among tourists, Hohenschwangau Castle is still 100% worth the visit. In fact, King Ludwig II spent large portions of his childhood at this summer palace and hunting residence.
Luckily, this neo-gothic-style castle escaped both World War I and World War II with no damage. On the official castle tour, you’ll be able to see the Hall of Heroes (banquet hall), the Hall of the Swan Knight, the Music Room, and more. The closest parking lot to Hohenschwangau is P4, and the walk to the castle from here should take around 20-30 minutes.
Opening hours: April to October 15th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and October 16 through December 31 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Closed December 24, 25, 31, and January 1st.
Entrance fee: €21 + €2.50 online service fee. One of my best travel tips is purchasing a combination ticket called “Kings-Ticket,” which covers your Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein Castle entrance for €32 + a €5 online service fee.
Drachenburg (“Dragon’s Castle”) is actually a private home that was styled as a palace, built in the 19th century for a wealthy banker, Stephan von Sarter. Unfortunately, von Sarter passed away before he was able to move into this new residence. In the aftermath, Drachenburg passed from owner to owner and even experienced heavy damage during World War II.
Eventually, the State of North-Rhine, Westphalia, took over the home and initiated an extensive restoration project. At present, the castle is open to visitors and offers fantastic views of the Rhine and the surrounding area. Apparently, you can even spot the Cologne Cathedral in the distance on a clear day! Since Schloss Drachenburg is situated in Königswinter, it is possible to visit this villa on a day trip from Cologne.
Opening hours: March from 12-5 p.m., April to May 1 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., closed from May 2-10, May 11-Nov 1 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., and from November 2-December from 12-5 p.m. (closed December 24 and 31). Closed in January and February.
Entrance fee: €7.
Schwerin Castle is an easy day trip from Hamburg. Nicknamed the “Neuschwanstein of the North,” this German fairytale castle sits on an island in Lake Schwerin, in the city of Schwerin. Throughout history, it served as the residence for the dukes and grand dukes of Mecklenburg. However, Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II is responsible for the reconstruction that led Schwerin Castle to appear the way it does today.
The completed Schwerin Castle has 653 rooms, of which the most impressive are likely the Throne Room and the Dining Room. At present, part of this German landmark is used for government purposes, while the other part serves as a museum. Additionally, Schwerin Castle is on the list to become a World Heritage Site. It is widely considered an important example of the romantic Historicist architectural style in Europe.
Opening hours: April 15 to October 14 Tue–Sun 10 a.m.–6 p.m, October 15 to April 14 Tue–Sun 10 a.m.–5 p.m. The castle park and garden are open year-round.
Entrance fee: €8.50.
If you travel to Munich, you can’t miss visiting Nymphenburg, the “Palace of the Nymphs.” This Baroque-style palace served as the primary summer residence for Bavarian Kings of the House of Wittelsbach. Additionally, it features a 490+ acre park(200 hectares) with green lawns, water features, pavilions, and lakes where you can watch swans float.
Unfortunately, there are no guided tours of this historical building. Nonetheless, you can rent an audio guide for €2.50 per person. Inside Nymphenburg, my favorite room is the Great Hall, home to frescos framed by original rococo stucco work. This room has essentially remained untouched since 1758.
Another highlight is King Ludwig I’s Gallery of Beauties, where you’ll find 36 portraits by court painter Joseph Karl Stieler. The king commissioned these paintings of beautiful women from all social classes in Munich. In this same wing of the palace, you can also see where King Ludwig II of Bavaria was born: the Queen’s Bedchamber.
Opening hours: April to October 15 from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. October 16 to March from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed December 24, 25, and 31, January 1, and Shrove Tuesday.
Entrance fee: €8.
Schloss Heidelberg dates all the way back to the 13th century. While historians are unsure of its exact construction date, we know that this palace was mentioned for the first time in 1225. Moreover, Heidelberg Castle was a noteworthy building in the Holy Roman Empire until it was attacked and destroyed by the French in the Thirty Years’ War.
At present, the Heidelberg Castle ruins receive approximately one million visitors each year. Moreover, this historic site is considered one of the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps.
Heidelberg Castle sits 260 feet (80 m) above the historic town of Heidelberg, Germany, on Königstuhl mountain. Therefore, you’ll need to either walk to the top or take the funicular to reach the palace entrance. Note that you can only visit the inside of Schloss Heidelberg on a guided tour.
Opening hours: Monday through Sunday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (last admission at 4:30 p.m.).
Entrance fee: €9. This fee includes entry to the Funicular Railway, Courtyard, Great Tun, and German Apothecary Museum. Guided tours of Heidelberg Castle cost an additional €6.
Cochem Castle (Reichsburg Castle)
The Cochem Imperial castle was first built around the year 1000 by a palatinate count. Unfortunately, French King Louis XIV destroyed the original castle during the Nine Years’ War in the 17th century. After almost 200 years, Louis Ravené purchased the Cochem Castle grounds in 1868. Subsequently, he chose to reconstruct the home in the Gothic Revival style, which was popular among wealthy Germans at the time.
If you visit Cochem Castle today, you can take a 40-minute guided tour and see the Ravené family’s impressive Renaissance and Baroque furniture collection. The property offers guided tours in English daily between 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Moreover, photography and filming are permitted if you don’t use flash or a tripod.
Note that Cochem Castle sits on a hilltop over 330 feet (100m) above the Moselle River. Furthermore, it doesn’t have parking. So, you’ll need to factor in walking about 15-30 minutes from the small town of Cochem to the castle entrance. Cochem Castle is about two hours from Cologne and just over two hours from Frankfurt, making it a great day trip from either city.
Opening hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Entrance fee: €7.
Mespelbrunn Castle is more of a hidden gem, located in the Spessart forest between Frankfurt and Würzburg. This moated castle actually began as a simple house built in the early 15th century by a knight. Interestingly, the only part that remains from its original structure is the round tower–the rest of the castle is built in the Renaissance style.
At present, Schloss Mespelbrunn is considered one of the best castles in Germany. It’s privately owned and has even remained in the same family for over 600 years. Although the family still lives in the southern wing of the castle, you can visit the main rooms on a guided tour. Just remember that the tour is only in German, so you’ll want to grab the information brochure in English to be able to follow along! The entire tour takes about 40 minutes, and the last tour begins at 4:30 p.m.
Opening hours: April 1 to November 1 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Entrance fee: €6 (tour included) + €2 for parking.
Wartburg Castle is one of the best medieval castles in Germany, originally built around 1067. It overlooks the town of Eisenach, providing incredible views of the surrounding area. Moreover, it was the first German castle to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, described as an outstanding monument of the feudal period in central Europe.
This castle is also well-known as the place where Martin Luther composed his German translation of the New Testament in the early 16th century. On your visit, you’ll be able to see rooms such as the Palas (Great Hall), the Banqueting Hall, and the Luther Room.
Although there are no guided tours at the moment, Wartburg Castle does offer an audio guide that you can download on your phone. From the parking lot, you’ll need to walk about 0.3 miles or take the shuttle bus to the castle entrance.
Opening hours: Daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last admission).
Entrance fee: €12. You can pay an additional €2 for a photography permit (no flash or tripods allowed).
Marksburg Castle, sitting above the town of Braubach, is one of the best fairy tale castles in Germany. In fact, it’s part of the Rhine Gorge UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the only hilltop castle in this area to have never been destroyed. It was built around 1117 as a medieval fortress to protect the town below.
This impressive stronghold has been well preserved, with many of its buildings dating back to the 13th through 15th centuries. You can only access the inside of Marksburg Castle on a guided tour, which lasts about 50 minutes. English guided tours are available every day during the summer season at 1 p.m. On your visit, you’ll see the great hall, the bedchamber, the chapel, the armory, and a beautiful view of the Rhine.
Opening hours: Daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Entrance fee: €11 (includes guided tour).
Located in Upper Bavaria, Burghausen Castle is the longest castle complex in the world. In fact, it measures a whopping 3,448 feet and 2 inches long (1,051.02 meters). Although this particular hill was settled as early as the Bronze Age, the current Burghausen Castle didn’t exist until the Lower Bavarian dukes began to use this castle as their second residence.
Work to expand the original structure into a massive gothic castle complex began in 1255! If you visit Burghausen Castle today, you can experience the main castle with the inner courtyard and five outer courtyards. Inside the State Castle Museum, you can tour the Ducal apartment, St. Elisabeth’s Chapel, and the State Gallery of Burghausen, containing 56 Bavarian paintings. Plus, don’t miss the viewing platform on the roof of the Palas!
Opening hours: April through October 3 from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. October 4 through March from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Closed December 24, 25, 31, January 1, and Shrove Tuesday.
Entrance fee: €5.
Sanssouci Palace is in Potsdam, Germany, making it a popular day trip from Berlin. Prussian King Frederick the Great commissioned this Rococo-style residence in 1745 to be used as his summer palace. Ultimately, it became his favorite home, and he considered Sanssouci a place of personal refuge.
For this reason, the name “Sans souci” means “no worries” or “carefree” in French. While this yellow palace and its surrounding gardens are often compared to Versailles–its nickname is “Prussian Versailles”–Sanssouci is significantly smaller.
In fact, Frederick the Great’s preferred palace was really a one-floor villa with ten main rooms. However, it’s still 100% worth a visit to the gardens and the elegant rooms inside the palace.
Opening hours: April 1 to October 31, Tuesdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed on Mondays). November 1 to March 31, Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (closed on Mondays).
Entrance fee: €14 (includes audio guide).
Guided day tours from Berlin to Potsdam:
- Sanssouci Palace Guided Tour from Berlin
- Potsdam Half-Day Tour from Berlin
- Gardens & Palaces of Potsdam Bike Tour from Berlin
Burg Rheinstein, located in Trechtingshausen, is one of the most beautiful castles in Germany. It was initially built around 1316/1317 and was used as a toll castle along the Rhine River. However, by the time of the Nine Years’ War, the castle fell into disrepair. Burg Rheinstein was left in ruins until it was purchased by Prince Frederick of Prussia in 1838 and rebuilt in the style of 19th-century Romanticism.
If you visit this German castle, a big plus is that you do not have to take a guided tour and can explore the property at your leisure. Some highlights include the working drawbridge and portcullis, authentic armor from the 15th century, and the vineyards. In fact, Burg Rheinstein’s courtyard is called the “Burgundy Garden” thanks to the grapevines that have produced grapes here for over 500 years.
Walking through the castle at a leisurely pace should take about an hour! Plus, Burg Rheinstein makes a great day trip from either Mainz (30 minutes away) or Frankfurt (just over an hour’s drive).
Opening hours: Daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (last admission 5:00 p.m.).
Entrance fee: €7 for adults, €3.50 for children (5-14 years).
Wernigerode Castle is located in the Harz mountains in Saxony-Anhalt, overlooking the town of Wernigerode. It was initially constructed as a Medieval hilltop fortress in the 12th century. However, after being badly damaged during the Thirty Years’ War, this German fairy tale castle was re-built in a Neo-Romantic style known as historicism–similar to the famous Neuschwanstein Castle.
This schloss has been open to tourists since 1930, and you can visit nearly 50 furnished rooms inside. Moreover, the property also features three garden and park areas (Lustgarten, Tiergarten, and Terrassengärten). Make sure to bring your camera, because you’ll also have an incredible view of Wernigerode and the mountains in the surrounding area!
Opening hours: Daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Entrance fee: €7 for adults, €3.50 for children.
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