Do not miss these famous castles in Germany – especially not the first one

As the seventh most visited country in the entire world, Germany’s tourism industry is booming. While there is a lot to see and do, the country’s famous castles are among its true gems. Cool photos of castles in Germany can always be found online, but it’s infinitely better to visit in person be it travelling solo or in a group.

Most Germany castles were built as symbols of power during the Middle Ages. Some are now preserved museums or even hotels for visitors on Germany holidays.

When touring the castles of Germany, it is helpful to understand the difference between the German words “Burg” and “Schloss”. When a structure is referred to as a “Burg”, that means it likely has a lot of stone walls and is more of a fortress or stronghold. Likewise, a “Schloss” is more of a palace or impressive castle used to represent royalty and/or impress the public and visitors.

Here are the top 10 castles in Germany to visit

Lichtenstein, my personal number one

“Schloss Lichtenstein” offers very impressive views thanks to its position on a tall cliff. It appears more fairytale than medieval, as this newer castle dates back only to the 19th century (its design inspired by the 1826 novel “Lichtenstein” by Wilhelm Hauff). The ruins of the 12th century “Old Lichtenstein” castle are just 500 meters away.

Famous-castles-in-Germany_lichtenstein

For your travel planning

The easiest way to reach the Lichtenstein castle Germany is by driving from the nearby city of Reutlingen or town of Honau. However, visitors can also walk there or take a taxi from the Reutlingen Hbf. train station.

Hohenzollern

“Burg Hohenzollern” is a hilltop castle that once served as the ancestral seat of the Prussian Royal House. Though the site’s history dates back to the 11th century, the current castle was rebuilt in the 1800s and echoes the previous designs.

An advice for you: No trip to the castle is complete without touring the royal chambers. Only then, for example, you will hear about the catastrophic hygiene, that the castle’s inhabitants had to endure.

Famous-castles-in-Germany_hohenzollern-view-from-below

The castle from below

Famous-castles-in-Germany_hohenzollern-courtyard

Its courtyard

For your travel planning

Located south of the town of Stuttgart, the castle can be reached either by bus or train (the stop is Hechingen station) or by car. A shuttle bus then runs between the parking lot and the castle entrance.

There are tours in English, but just two or three per day, so you might have to wait a while if you’re not in a group of 20 or more. Check the times on the website of the Burg Hohenzollern.

Neuschwanstein

King Ludwig’s “Schloss Neuschwanstein” is the number one of famous castles in Germany (my number one is Lichtenstein) and is the best known of the King Ludwig castles, plus it is one of the most-visited castles in Europe. Built in the late 1800s (as a private retreat for the reclusive monarch) on a forested hill with mountains rising in the background, it truly does offer impressive views. This castle’s design later inspired the Disneyland “Sleeping Beauty” castle.

For your travel planning

The nearest town to Neuschwanstein is Fussen Germany, which has a train station that connects to Munich and other cities. It is then easiest to travel to the castle from Fussen by car or bus.

Hohenneuffen

The ruins of the Hohenneuffen castle can appear rather imposing from afar, as this 11th century structure sits high on the slopes of the Swabian Alps. The castle served many purposes over time, including as a defensive fortress. After touring the castle, visitors can enjoy the beer garden and restaurant that occupy part of the site. At the time of my visit everything was being prepared for a wedding party.

Famous-castles-in-Germany_Hohenneuffen

For your travel planning

The Hohenneuffen castle is located above the town of Neuffen, which is about 13 minutes away by car. Some people also choose to walk to the castle, which take almost twice as long but takes a more direct route.

Reichsburg

Also known as the “Cochem” castle due to the town below, Reichsburg is an 11th century structure that sits high on a hilltop. Dine at its restaurant while observing panoramic views of the countryside and the Moselle River, or simply tour the castle and its medieval and neo-Gothic furnishings. I recommend a guided tour to fully understand its history (the castle underwent renovations in the 1800s).

For your travel planning

Most visitors use the shuttle bus that runs to and from the town of Cochem throughout most of the year. Fares and schedules are listed on the Reichsburg castle website.

Mespelbrunn

The Mespelbrunn castle is particularly unique German castle in that it actually began as just a simple house built by a knight in the 15th century. Later additions formed the castle that it is today. While the architecture is beautiful, “Schloss Mespebrunn’s” charm lies in the fact that it was built over water. On certain angles it appears to be floating, and it makes for some fantastic storybook photos.

For your travel planning

The castle lies in the Spessart forest outside of the town on Mespelbrunn. Visitors can get there by car or even by foot if staying locally.

Schwerin

The picturesque Schwerin castle sits on an island in the middle of a large lake, currently serving as a government building and museum. Nevertheless, the structure dates back to the 10th century and was the home of the grand dukes of Mecklenburg for centuries. Along with the lake, its surrounding lawns and tree-lined courtyards provide many opportunities for scenic photos. The castle is also supposedly haunted.

For your travel planning

Drive right up to the castle by car, or take the Regional Express towards Hamburg Hbf to Schwerin Mitte. From there it’s about an 11-minute walk to Schwerin Castle.

Eltz

“Burg Eltz” is unique in that— unlike most other medieval castles— it has never seen battle or been affected by war. Its design looks very much the same as it did back in the 12th century (it is the ancestral home of several noble families) and even includes a lot of the original furnishings and artefacts. Sitting on a large rocky hill and surrounded by forest, it is a sight to behold.

For your travel planning

Eltz sits between Koblenz and Trier, from which public transportation (bus) is available. It can also be hiked to from the Modelkern station.

Heidelberg

This Renaissance castle is considered to be among the most important of its kind north of the Alps. Turned to ruins after various wars and then a lightening strike in 1764, the castle has since seen some rebuilding that feature different architecture themes and styles from various eras. It is surrounded by forest and is larger than many other castles from its time.

Famous-castles-in-Germany_heidelberg-castle

For your travel planning

The city of Heidelberg (below the castle) is well connected to other German cities via public transit. Visitors can drive to the castle by car or hike up to it from town.

Wartburg

Almost appearing more church-like from the outside than castle-like, Wartburg is best known as the place where Martin Luther spent his time translating the Bible during the 16th century, but the building itself actually dates back to the 11th century. The castle is extremely well preserved for a medieval castle, and visitors are able to view most of its interior.

For your travel planning

The Wartburg castle is situated in Eisenach, Germany. There is a shuttle bus that runs up to it, but visitors also have the choice of hiking up a steep (but scenic) trail to reach it.

When is the best travel time?

Germany is a temperate climate with four seasons. Summer (May through September) is generally the most popular due to warm, pleasant weather and more tours being available. If you want to avoid crowds, you better visit Germany from October to April. But be aware, that some of these castles might have reduced opening hours and could be closed completely for a certain time. Check for the opening times in winter to avoid disappointment.

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