Ultimate Guide to Hiking Near Neuschwanstein Castle

Germany has lots of trails, but the hiking near Neuschwanstein Castle is really one of the fairest routes in the land. The castle’s beautifully designed architecture and perfect geographical placement make it a must-visit on any Bavaria itinerary. However, its well-established spot on Germany’s tourist trail makes it a crowded spot. How can you minimize the stress? Go early and go on foot.

Hiking near Neuschwanstein Castle is absolutely stunning. There are alpine lakes, the river Pöllat with multiple waterfalls and gorge areas, cozy forests, the cute town of Füssen, and of course, incredible views over southern Bavaria. Best of all, hiking in the area will help you to avoid the masses and find a little of the fairytale charm this area is so well known for.

I visited the castle during the coronavirus pandemic and although it wasn’t crazy busy, there were still people everywhere. For this reason, we didn’t go inside, but the hiking more than made up for that in my opinion!

neuschwanstein castle in bavaria

Why You Should Go Hiking Near Neuschwanstein Castle

No matter how you slice it, this is a busy tourist attraction. However, you can get away from the huge crowds by exploring a little bit on foot. Hiking up to the castle will help you avoid hot and cramped tour buses while further exploring on foot will bring you to places that the majority of tourists neglect to explore. The Panoramablick Schwangau, the Marienbrücke, and the Neuschwanstein Viewpoint are all reachable only by foot.

Hiking near Neuschwanstein Castle will also give you more flexibility and save you a little bit of cash. And of course, it’s the most eco-friendly option. 

small church fields and lake in bavaria

What are the trails like?

In general, hiking around Neuschwanstein Castle is very easy. Although some areas have inclines, the trails are comparatively short and doable for anyone with a decent fitness level. The vast majority of trails in the area are also family-friendly and dog-friendly.

The Best Neuschwanstein Castle Hiking Trails 

Since the trails are so short, it’s possible to tackle more than one route in a day. We personally did a version of the Neuschwanstein Loop and Alpsee Loop (see below) and enjoyed them both.

woman on a hiking trail in the forest

Neuschwanstein – Out and Back

This is the classic hike to the castle. There are a few different paths up the hill, some paved and others mostly dirt or stairs. Some also just choose to walk along the main road that the buses and carriages take. It’s not the most scenic option, but it will get you to the castle and back down again.

Distance: 5 km

Time Needed: 2 hours

Elevation Gain: 230 m

Hike Type: Out and Back

Level: Easy/Moderate

Click here for the map.

Neuschwanstein Loop

If you’re going to hike to Neuschwanstein Castle, you might as well do the loop route instead of the out-and-back. I think it’s way better because you get to see the Pöllatschlucht (Pöllat river canyon) which is completely beautiful. Definitely hike up to the castle first, head across the Marienbrücke for some great views, and then hike down through the canyon and back to the town of Hohenschwangau.

Distance: 5 km

Time Needed: 3 hours

Elevation Gain: 230 m

Hike Type: Circuit

Level: Easy/Moderate

Click here for the map.

bridge over a waterfall in bavaria

Alpsee Loop

The Alpsee is the most popular lake in the area and for good reason. It’s a pristine alpine watering hole with deep, cold water and a pretty coastline. The shore is a popular sunbathing spot in the summer and it’s also possible to get out on the water by renting a boat. Circumnavigating the lake on foot is perhaps the best way to see both the lake itself and some of the gorgeous surrounding scenery.

Distance: 5 km

Time Needed: 2 hours

Elevation Gain: 140 m

Hike Type: Circuit

Level: Easy

Click here for the map.

Schwansee Loop

This is a mini version of the Alpsee Loop, but beautiful nonetheless. The Schwansee (Swan Lake) is just to the north of the Alpsee and is a lot less popular, so it’s a good alternative if you want to avoid crowds. The best part of this loop is the boardwalks that cross over marshy areas and make for great photo ops.

Distance: 3 km

Time Needed: 1.5 hours

Elevation Gain: 60 m

Hike Type: Circuit

Level: Easy

Click here for a map.

river gorge with cliffside walking path and woman looking

Tegelberg to Hohenschwangau

If you’re looking for a bit of a longer hike in the area, hiking from Tegelberg to Hohenschwangau (or even the other way around) might be the perfect fit. Take the cable car to Tegelberg and then hike downhill with views of Neuschwanstein getting ever closer. I read that there are some eroded sections along this trail, so I’d suggest wearing hiking boots on this one.

Distance: 7 km

Time Needed: 3 hours

Elevation Gain: 900 m

Hike Type: End to End

Level: Moderate

Click here for the map.

My Experience on the Neuschwanstein Hiking Trails

Overall, I really enjoyed our Neuschwanstein hike. It did feel a bit touristy despite being on the trail, but it was worth it to see one of Germany’s most famous landmarks.

After parking our car in a lot in Hohenschwangau (super easy and affordable, by the way,) we headed up to the castle by starting at this point, right next to the Königlicher Imbiss restaurant. From there, it was a 20-minute uphill journey to reach the castle. All routes were very clearly marked along the way.

We took a few photos at the Neuschwanstein Skywalk and the Panoramablick Schwangau before continuing on to the Marienbrücke, the famous bridge with the best views in the house. Even though we were visiting during the pandemic, we still had to wait about five or ten minutes before we were allowed onto the bridge. 

After taking some photos while barely social distancing, we got to the other side and continued up to the final panorama point. I loved watching the paragliders from up here! Fair warning though, there are some sketchy drop-offs around this spot, so be extra careful if you’re scrambling up an incline for a photo. This is the only place where it feels like actual hiking. That being said, I did the whole thing in running sneakers and felt perfectly secure the whole time.

neuschwanstein castle with woman overlooking

To finish the hike, we walked back across the Marienbrücke and then kept to the right, descending down into the Pöllat canyon. We passed multiple waterfalls and river rapids by way of metal steps that were hammered into the rock walls.

When we returned to our starting point, we also decided to take a little walk near the Alpsee, although we didn’t do the entire loop. Instead, we stopped for a wade in the water, a relaxing cooldown after the end of a hot day.

Hiking Neuschwanstein and the surrounding area was the perfect warm-up hike for the routes we would later tackle on our Bavaria trip such as the Alpspitze and Hocheck. This is a great half-day or full-day outing that’s appropriate for most fitness levels and is definitely worth the climb for the amazing views that sprang straight out of a storybook.

waterfall in bavaria with woman stone cliffs

August 31, 2020

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