When planning a trip to Germany, visiting a castle is pretty much inevitable at some point–there are more than 20-thousand of them, after all, and even a Castle Road route.
In fact, the Bavarian castles are so world-renowned that one of them even served as the inspiration for a famous Disney castle, so how do you even begin to choose which ones to see?
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Fortunately for those basing themselves in the state of Bavaria, it’s easy to see the best castles near Munich, Germany since there are more than a dozen fortresses perched in and around the city.
Hit the road for a day of castle hopping, and take in everything from the medieval charm of Burgauhsen Castle to the hilltop wonder of Neuschwanstein Castle while soaking up the scenery of quaint villages and shimmering lakes framed by green, rolling hillsides.
From the top spots to the best day trips, here’s everything you need to know about visiting the castles of Munich.
90 minute drive from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle
Over a million people visit Neuschwanstein Castle each year, which is one of the most famous on the entire planet as it’s what Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle was modelled after. Featuring towers, turrets, frescoes and throne hall, it’s the epitome of a fairytale castle.
Perched high on a hill and surrounded by stunning scenery, it’s absolutely mind-blowing that something of that size was built by hand in the first place. Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be one of the guys who had to haul all the bricks to the top of the hill!
Visitors are free to tour around the grounds of this clifftop castle commissioned by King Ludwig II, or head inside to check out the rooms as part of a guided tour.
Admission is €15 for adults and free for those under 18. However, they must be bought online ahead of time for a specific time or in the nearby village of Hohenschwangau, which is also where you’ll park.
Read this before you go for important details on the different options for getting up to the castle entrance, as passenger vehicles are not permitted.
Book a top-rated Neuschwanstein castle tour from Munich:
90 minute drive from Munich
Hohenschwangau Castle is a breathtaking 19th-century castle located in the picturesque village Hohenschwangau, near the base of Neuschwanstein Castle. The castle was built on the ruins of a medieval fortress and was King Ludwig II’s childhood home.
This famous castle near Munich has a rich and fascinating history, and remains an important cultural landmark in Bavaria which was constructed it in the 19th century as a summer retreat for the royal family.
The castle’s neo-Gothic architecture is quite a sight, with intricate carvings and beautiful frescoes adorning its walls.
Today, Hohenschwangau Castle is open to visitors and provides guided tours of its lavishly decorated interior. Guests can explore the royal bedrooms, music room and drawing room, as well as a museum showcasing the King’s life and legacy.
Entry to Hohenschwangau Castle is by guided tour only, and it’s best to book tickets in advance during the busy summer season. Admission is €15 for adults, free for those under 18 and the castle is open daily except for major holidays.
Book this this combo tour which also goes to Neuschwanstein Castle and has the option to go on an alpine bike ride.
70 minute drive from Munich
Another fantastic day trip from Munich is to pay a visit to Schloss Linderhof. Linderhof Palace’s expansive grounds feature a bright white palace, fountains, lots of green space and statues–a nod to its inspiration, the Palace of Versailles.
The terraced gardens and park make for lovely photo-ops, and the palace is surrounded by huge mountains covered in bright green trees and the steep rock face.
Be sure to take in the Temple of Venus, which is perched on a hill opposite the palace. The Greek temple features a life-size figure of the goddess, made entirely out of marble.
If you want to head inside you must book a guided tour, which are conducted in German or English and last about half an hour. Admission is €10 for the palace and park buildings.
Book a guided tour from Munich to Schloss Linderhof:
30 minute drive or train ride from Munich
Nymphenburg Palace is a stunning Baroque palace on the outskirts of Munich, which was built as a summer residence for the Bavarian royal family in the late 17th century.
Various renovations and additions have been made over the years including creating the beautiful Nymphenburg Park, and the palace remains one of the region’s most popular tourist destinations.
Visitors of this Munich castle can explore the opulent interior, including the famous Marstallmuseum which houses an impressive collection of royal coaches and sleighs.
The palace also features several beautiful gardens and parks, such as the English Garden, home to a stunning array of exotic plants and trees.
While the best time to visit Nymphenburg Palace is during the summer months when the gardens and parks are in full bloom, visitors can enjoy winter activities such as ice skating in the park during colder months and there are also classical music concerts in the evening.
Pre-book tickets to Nymphenburg Palace:
20 minute drive or 40 minute train ride from central Munich
Schleissheim Palace is a striking Baroque palace in Oberschleissheim just outside Munich, which commissioned in the early 18th century by Bavarian Elector Max Emanuel to display his power and wealth.
Today, Schleissheim Palace is a museum and cultural centre showcasing Bavarian art and culture with three main buildings: the Old Palace, the New Palace, and the Schleissheim Palace Theater.
The Old Palace was initially built as a hunting lodge for the Bavarian Electors in the 17th century, while the New Palace is the most impressive of the three buildings, completed in 1725 with opulent interiors and stunning gardens. The Schleissheim Palace Theater dates back to 1729, making it one of the oldest surviving theatres in Europe and visitors can still attend performances there today. Click here for pricing
Schleissheim Palace is located about 20 kilometres north of Munich, making it easily accessible by public transportation or car. Visitors can take the S1 train from Munich to Oberschleissheim station and then walk or take a short bus ride to the palace.
The price of admission to the palace complex depends on which buildings visitors wish to visit. A combined ticket for the Old Palace and the New Palace costs €8, and the Schleissheim Palace Theater is €4.
Guided tours are available in both English and German to provide visitors with a deeper understanding of the palace’s rich history and cultural significance.
Residence Palace, also known as Residenz, is a magnificent palace in the heart of Munich, Germany near the Marienplatz.
The palace, originally built in the 16th century as the home of the Bavarian monarchs, has been expanded over the years and is now one of the largest and most opulent palaces in Europe.
The palace exhibits a mix of architectural styles, including Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, and Neoclassical with impressive halls, lavish chambers, and stunning gardens.
Special features include the Antiquarium which is one of the largest Renaissance halls in Europe, and the Treasury which houses a vast collection of royal jewels, crowns, and other priceless objects. The palace continues to host various cultural events such as concerts and exhibitions throughout the year in the same hall Mozart used to play in, and visitors can book tickets to an hour-long concert on Thursday and Saturday nights.
Book one of these tours which includes the Residence Palace:
1 hour drive, 2 hour train ride from Munich
Herrenchiemsee Palace is a fascinating example of the extravagant lifestyle of King Ludwig II.
Construction of the palace on Herreninsel island near the Austrian border was finished in 1885, and was meant to serve as a testament to absolute monarchy and pay homage to the “Sun King,” Louis XIV of France.
King Ludwig II devoted a substantial amount of his fortune towards the palace’s creation, though it was not completed before his death in 1886.
The palace is an architectural masterpiece featuring grand halls, ornate decorations, and a lovely park with fountains and gardens. Visitors can explore the palace’s luxurious state apartments, such as the Hall of Mirrors and the Throne Room, as well as the king’s private living quarters.
The palace’s interior is stunning, with opulent furniture, tapestries, and chandeliers that reflect the grandeur of the era.
To get to Herrenchiemsee Palace, take a train from Munich to Prien am Chiemsee, then a short boat ride to the island.
The journey takes about 90 minutes in total, and can be combined with a visit to Salzburg.
Book a tour to Herrenchiemsee Palace:
2 hour drive from Munich, 3 hour train
The storybook city of Passau, Germany is on the border of Austria, the confluence of three rivers, and home to a grand fortress perched high on a hill overlooking it all: Veste Oberhaus.
Built in 1219 by the bishops of Passau, it draws from gothic, renaissance and baroque influences, and is ranked as one of Europe’s largest and best-preserved fortresses.
Learn about its transformation from medieval castle to Renaissance palace to a modern fortress during a guided tour, and cap it off with a visit to St George’s chapel and the Linde Battery for panoramic views of the city.
READ MORE: Things to do in Passau, Germany: An unexpected surprise
90 minute drive from Munich
This knight’s castle is dramatically perched over the Altmühl river valley near Regensburg, and dates back to the 1200s.
Notable spots include the large Gothic hall on the ground floor, the 31-metre keep, and the permanent exhibition ‘Prunn Castle and the Nibelungenlied’ which can all be explored during a guided tour.
3 hours to drive from Munich
If you’re planning a trip to Bavaria, make sure to add the Würzburg Residence to your itinerary.
This incredible palace in the city of Würzburg is a true masterpiece of Baroque architecture and art, and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Visitors to the 18th century spectacle can admire its stunning ballroom, the Chapel of the Holy Family and beautiful gardens. The palace also houses an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, and tapestries.
While the Würzburg Residence is a must-see destination year-round, it is especially beautiful during the summer months when the gardens are in full bloom. It’s also common to combine a visit here with the Marienberg Fortress nearby.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
3 hours by car or train from Munich
While there technically isn’t a castle here anymore, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is definitely worth a stop as it’s one of the most charming towns in the entire country.
Centuries-old fortifications, a medieval town centre, half-timbered homes and a real night watchman are just some of the highlights of a trip here, as well as Rothenburg Imperial Castle in what is now called the Castle Garden.
After an earthquake destroyed the castle in 1356, stones from the ruins were used to build the city walls seen today.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of the most popular spots along the so-called Romantic Road, and tours like this day trip from Munich include transportation, time to walk around the town and a stop at the 11th century Harburg Castle. Click here for pricing
Imperial Castle of Nuremberg
2 hours from Munich by car, 70 minutes by train
The Imperial Castle of Nuremberg is perched high on a hill, fortified by the 13th century walls and defensive towers that surround the charming Old Town of this popular German city which is known for its incredible Christmas market.
The medieval castle dates back to the Middle Ages, has a moat (as you do), and visitors can wander along the fortress’ winding stone pathways which link spots like the well house and museum.
The castle is also where to find best view in the entire city, and throngs of tourists jockey for position along the walls to catch a mesmerizing glimpse of Nuremberg spread out below.
Book this guided tour from Munich to Nuremberg, which includes the train ride, a guided walking tour and an optional visit to the Nazi Documentation Center. Click here for pricing
90 minutes from Munich by car and train
Visiting this castle outside of Munich will also add another country to your tally, since Hoheensalzburg Fortress is in Salzburg, Austria.
With bragging rights as the biggest fully preserved castle in Central Europe, the fortress is perched 506 metres high on a hill overlooking the entire city.
It’s considered one of the best things to see in Salzburg thanks to its medieval rooms, courtyard, and the Prince’s Chambers which is one of Europe’s most well-preserved secular Gothic buildings.
The fortress is open daily, and accessed by hiking up for taking the Fortress Funicular, a cable railway that’s been in operation since 1892. Admission costs €14 (including the funicular ride), and you’ll get to enjoy 360-degree panoramic views.
If you’re there on a Sunday, you can also watch a performance by the tower brass players from the trumpet tower at 11:45 am, when baroque fanfares and festive processions ring down to the old town.
Fun add-ons include a three-course dinner in the fortress with a classical music concert, and combining this fortress tour with with sightseeing cruise down the River Salzach.
Tips for visiting the castles near Munich, Germany
How to get to the castles: The best option is to rent a car, to allow for as much time as you want to spend at each castle and the ability to visit a handful of them in a single day.
However, many of them can also easily be visited by train. Buy a discounted Bayern ticket, which allows for unlimited train travel within Bavaria–even over to Salzburg. It can be used on all local and regional trains, and gets even cheaper if you’re travelling with a larger group.
Book one of these top-ranked Munich castle tours:
Map of the closest castles around Munich, Germany
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The viewing platform was closed for the winter at Neuschwanstein when I went as it was too icy but I thought it was really beautiful regardless, in the pretty white snow! If I’d have had a bit more time, I’d have loved to have seen the Linderhof too 🙂
That’s what I love about Europe, it’s pretty in EVERY. SINGLE. SEASON! Glad you enjoyed your time there 🙂