The 12 Best Castles in Germany to add to your Bucket List

(Last Updated On: January 28, 2018)

Germany has a rich and compelling history and a great way to explore its intriguing past is to visit its castles and forts. Germany has some of the gorgeous fairytale castles and these castles with its turrets, towers, and ramparts set in a stunning landscape are sure to transport you into a time warp.

The Disney castles have always been our childhood favorites. And when we grew up to be fascinated with traveling we got an opportunity to explore these fairytale castles in real and Neuschwanstein Castle is one of them.

Neuschwanstein Castle

The Neuschwanstein Castle was commissioned by the reclusive Bavarian King Ludwig II as a retreat to escape the real world affairs. The architecture and interior decorations are inspired by the characters in the operas of the renowned composer Richard Wagner whom King Ludwig II admired. The castle with turrets and towers perched on a hill amidst the verdant landscape has been an inspiration for the Disney castle of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and the ‘Cinderella’. The guided tour that walks you through the rooms and lavish interior of the castle lasts for 30 minutes.

Famous Castles in Germany - Neuschwanstein Castle

The castle can be visited on a day trip from Munich, a train from Munich to the Fussen town and then a bus from Fussen will get you to the base of the castle into the Hohenschwangau village which has the ticket office. From here you can either choose to take a horse carriage, a shuttle or just hike your way up to the castle which takes around 40 minutes. Do not miss the picture perfect view of the castle from the Marienbrucke (bridge) where the shuttle drops you. If you have more time you should definitely plan a visit to the charming town of Fussen.

Hohenschwangau Castle

Hohenschwangau Castle or Schloss Hohenschwangau is a 19th-century neogothic palace built by King Maximilian II of Bavaria. The palace that sits on a hill in a breathtaking landscape surrounded by lush Alpine forest and the two lakes of Alpsee and Schwansee served as a summer palace of the royal family where Ludwig II (son of King Maximilian II) who built the Neuschwanstein Castle spent most of his childhood. The Hohenschwangau Castle is located in the Hohenschwangau village near Fussen town. The tour of the castle walks through the royal apartments and staterooms decorated with murals and colorful paintings. Guided tours and audio guided tours of the castle is available in several languages.

Famous Castles in Germany - Hohenschwangau Castle

A day trip to the Hohenschwangau Castle along with Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the top things to do in Munich when you are done exploring the Munich City. Combined tickets are available for Neuschwanstein Castle, Hohenschwangau Castle, and Museum of Bavarian Kings.

Nuremberg Castle

The old town of Nuremberg with its historic buildings and half-timbered houses looks like its taken straight from a page of the history. And the imperial castle of Nuremberg perched on a hill overlooking this wonderful cityscape is something not to miss on a visit to Nuremberg City. The castle is a complex of medieval buildings comprising of a courtyard, imperial palace apartments decorated with 16th and 17th-century paintings and tapestries, and Romanesque chapel and several towers of which the 13th-century Sinwell Tower can be climbed for a splendid bird’s eye view of the city. The palace holds a permanent exhibition on the history of the castle and the city of Nuremberg from medieval times along with a photo exhibition of the castle after its destruction in the WWII.

Famous Castles in Germany - Nuremberg Castle

The most interesting feature of the palace is the Deep Well, which is said to be the only source of water for the castle in times of siege. The palace interior and the museum can be explored with an audio guided tour but a visit to the Deep Well is only possible with a guided tour. The castle grounds also offers a wonderful panorama of the city rooftops.

Heidelberg Castle

The Heidelberg Castle is a complex of buildings nestled in the lush forest of Konigstuhl hill and towers over the old town of the city of Heidelberg. The Heidelberg Castle once an imposing gothic structure with originally dating back to the 13th century has been plundered, rebuilt and destructed several times and lies partially in ruins. The Heidelberg castle part of the popular ‘Castle Road’ in Germany draws visitors for its intriguing history and the architecture of castle buildings each representing a different era of German architecture.

Famous Castles in Germany - Heidelberg Castle

The terraces of the castle gardens which are free to enter offer incredible views of the old town, the Neckar River, and the valley. One can take a guided tour of the sumptuous rooms of the castle and walk through the turbulent history of the castle. The other popular draw of the castle is the Heidelberg Tun or the ‘World’s Largest Wine Barrel’ built in 1751 as storage when wine was paid as taxes by the wine growers. The castle can be either reached by foot or by a funicular railway that connects the Kornmarkt in the city to the summit of the Konigstuhl hill.

Eltz Castle

by Wandering Wheatleys

Located about 150 kilometers west of Frankfurt and 105 kilometers south of Cologne you’ll find our favorite castle in all of Germany – Burg Eltz. This 850-year-old medieval castle sits high in the hills above the Elzbach River just outside of the town of Münstermaifeld in Western Germany. This castle surrounded by the lush and beautiful Eltz Forest should be on top of your list of must-see things in Germany. The castle is referred to as a “Ganerbenburg” because it belonged to a community of joint heirs and they were made up of different families. It was divided into several parts and over 100 members of the owners’ families occupied the rooms of the castle. Today it is still owned by a branch of the Eltz family that lived there in the 12th century. It is one of the few European castles that escaped destruction despite an eventful history. Also, a restoration project from 2009 until 2012 repaired the roof and overall structure of Berg Eltz so that it can continue to lure tourists from all over the world!

Famous Castles in Germany - Eltz Castle
There is a large parking lot where visitors can park smaller cars for €2,00 and motorhomes for €4,00. From the parking lot, visitors can choose to walk the ~ 1-mile path through Eltz Forest to the castle or take the shuttle for €2,00/person. The castle is open to the public daily from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm from April through the end of October and visitors can take a guided tour on the castle interior and the treasury for €10,00/person. Tours begin every 10-15 minutes and take about 40 minutes. There is no charge to wander around the castle grounds or to enjoy the cafe inside the castle walls.

Hohenzollern Castle

by Wonderful Wanderings

Visiting Burg Hohenzollern in the German Swabian Alps was pretty interesting. The castle or fortress is literally located on top of a hill and you either have to hike your way up there or take the shuttle from the parking lot down below. Make sure to dress warm – even in summer – because the winds can be utterly vile here. As a matter of fact, it gets so cold in this castle that nobody ever made it their permanent residency. It has been a temporary residency, though, and that shows when you take a tour through the richly decorated rooms. You have to do this with a guide but are free to roam the outer castle grounds by yourself.

Famous Castles in Germany - Hohenzollern Castle

You also can’t take photos inside, but you can outside and I highly recommend you bring a proper camera to shoot the amazing views you get from the castle walls. In summer, you can also enjoy lunch, a snack or a coffee here on the courtyard terrace. It was a bit too chilly for that when I was visiting, so do let me know how it was if you decide to grab a bite here!

Moritzburg Castle

by Happiness Travels Here

Moritzburg castle sits on an island in the center of a man-made lake. The lemon yellow, clean lines, and smooth curves give the exterior of the baroque palace a femininity. Built as a recreational and hunting lodge in the 16th century the inside does not follow the same aesthetic. Rich dark tapestries and embossed leather wallpaper adorn the walls in the smaller rooms and dozens of stag head hunting trophies hang in the dining hall. One of the most impressive collections of red deer antler in the world.
Each year on the last weekend in October a hunting and fishing festival celebrates the heritage of the castle. Amongst the music and festivities, the lake is drained ready for the winter. Fresh fish are scooped out on mass from the lake to feed the thousands of visitors.

Famous Castles in Germany - Moritzburg Castle

Thought of as the true Cinderella’s palace by the locals. The movie “Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel” (Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella), a German-Czech Cinderella story was filmed here in 1973. The movie still plays on German television each Christmas and a Cinderella exhibition runs in the castle each winter. A short distance from Dresden the castle can be reached by car or public transport. But much more fun is to take the Dresden steam train from Radebeul, passing through vineyards, forest, and farmland the journey is very scenic.

Wartburg Castle

by Travelnuity

Situated near the town of Eisenach in the center of Germany, Wartburg Castle looks every bit the classic castle and has no shortage of fascinating stories around it. For starters, when it was initially built in the 11th century, its original owner was reported to have sprinkled a handful of earth from his own lands upon the site, so that he could declare to the king that he built the castle on “his own soil”. Its most famous occupant has been Martin Luther, who took refuge in the castle for a few months after being excommunicated and translated the New Testament from Ancient Greek to German during his stay. The room where he worked can still be visited, although the furniture is not original.
Elsewhere on a tour of the castle are frescoes devoted to St Elizabeth of Hungary, who lived in the castle for most of her life after marrying its ruler at a young age. Renown for her charitable works, after her husband was killed in the crusades she too died at the young age of 24 and was canonized only 5 years later.

Famous Castles in Germany - Wartburg Castle

Much of the present day castle was rebuilt in the 19th century, intended to look like the popular ideal of a medieval castle, although parts date to the 11th century. If traveling by train, it’s an easy bus ride to its hilltop location, or a long walk (best done back downhill). While the grounds and surrounding wood are free to visit, I recommend taking a tour to visit the interior rooms, including the grand banquet hall.

Burghausen Castle

by Rachels Ruminations

My favorite castle in Germany is Burghausen. It isn’t the most ostentatious, and it certainly isn’t the most well-known. It is, however, absolutely beautiful as only a well-preserved medieval castle can be. It’s also the longest castle in the world, extending for over a kilometer along the ridge of a hill: a string of courtyards with the castle structures arranged around the edges. The construction of Burghausen began in 1255 by the Dukes of Bavaria-Landshut, who expanded it gradually over the next two centuries. The fortifications were strengthened in the 1500s to defend it against the Ottomans. Renovations in the 19th and 20th centuries and partial privatization have left it an absolutely charming place to visit. As you first enter, Burghausen looks more like a medieval town than a castle.

Famous Castles in Germany - Burghausen Castle

Progressing through the series of courtyards, you’ll see that the buildings increasingly meet your expectations about what a castle should look like: turreted and moated, with cobbled pavement, crenelated walls, and a stone keep. At the same time, every gateway, every courtyard, every wall you peek over will offer new views of the castle itself or the green, hilly countryside on all sides. Below, you can see the village of Burghausen, also lovely and worth a visit. Make sure to explore the museum in the innermost courtyard, where you can climb a stairway to the roof for a 360-degree view. You can read more about the Lovely Burghausen Castle.

Wernberg Castle

by Reflections Enroute

Like so many family-owned castles in Germany, Castle Wernberg has also been converted into a world-class hotel. Unlike so many others, however, Castle Wernberg was done right. A truly boutique, a luxury hotel complete with spa and Michelin star restaurant, Castle Wernberg is the perfect romantic stay for couples traveling along the Via Carolina. Even though it’s small, this hilltop Schloss (palace) still has its drawbridge closing the huge gap from the moat below. The best part about visiting this small castle is the food.

Famous Castles in Germany - Wernberg Castle

There are two restaurants on site, both run by a 2-star Michelin chef. The food is beyond amazing. We had an early dinner with four main courses and two desserts, and since it was truffle season, which was the highlight. Don’t worry, Castle Wernberg is worthwhile stopping over just for a few hours as well. With plenty of outdoor activities, like golf and hiking, you can enjoy a great day out for a fantastic lunch.

Vischering Castle

by Gypsy With a Day Job

Vischering Castle is one of the unique castles in Germany, perhaps the world  In the most specific terms, it is a double-moated, three-story castle, built in a horseshoe shape.  Such terminology belies the essence of the castle. Burg Vischering appears to rise from the water, like a pillar, powerful and elegant. The castle was commissioned by the Catholic Church, and the Bishop of Muenster, in 1271.  It would be the seat of the Bishop’s administrative assistant, a position of nobility that was passed through heredity, known as the Droste, in this case, the Droste zu Vischering Family.  It was built for strategic defense, with thick sandstone walls, two moats supplied by the River Stever, and an outer defensive courtyard completed with gateways, shooting ranges, and a lower defensive wall. After withstanding all attacks for 250 years, the castle was damaged by fire.  It was rebuilt upon the original foundations, with a more comfortable and elegant lifestyle in mind.  Gables, windows, and decorative accents were added.  The distinction of the original stones and those used for rebuilding can clearly be seen  Somehow this combination of stones, styles, and colors gives the castle an eclectic charm.

Famous Castles in Germany - Vischering Castle

Currently, the castle is being renovated for its 750th anniversary, and inside tours are not possible.  Visitors can still explore the defensive courtyards and outbuildings, which is well worth the time.  One enters through the drawbridge, which in itself is impressive.  There is also a museum, with some child-friendly exhibits. The grounds between the moats make a pleasant walk, and signs along the way give detailed information about the castle history.  Grab some fresh bread at the castle bakery, and make it an afternoon.

Hornberg Castle

by International Hotdish

Tucked in the hills of the Black Forest, the village of Hornberg is a sleepy, quiet town, quintessential of slow country life in rural Germany. And the more you explore, the closer you’ll arrive at one of the village’s crowning feature: Hornberg castle. Since my last name is Hornberg, I was ecstatic to be able to visit the village and castle. Located on the high ground, the castle offers booming views of the surrounding valley. Built in the 11th century, the castle has passed through many hands and seen plenty of adventure. It now stands as a museum and hotel, for those who wish to spend the night in an authentic castle.

Famous Castles in Germany - Hornberg Castle

The castle isn’t complete, having sustained damage over the centuries. But the ruins still provide an eerie feeling of history. Mined from the local hills, the castle is made of typical castle materials: stone and wood. That which does remain is taken care of the restored regularly. The main structure is a tower, which you can enter and climb – just remember to bring a camera for the views on top. And when you’re finished exploring, stop by the adjacent restaurant (same owners) and enjoy a meal or beverage.

We are sure these castles have inspired you to plan a trip to Germany. How many of these castles are already on your bucket list?

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One thought on “The 12 Best Castles in Germany to add to your Bucket List

  • February 19, 2018 at 3:58 am
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    What a fun list! I visited Neuschwanstein, Linderhof, and Hohenschwangau a few years ago with some friends, who ended up getting engaged overlooking Neuschwanstein. I definitely need to make it back and check out some more castles. I’d love to see Hohenzollern. Pity you can’t take pictures inside, but the outside looks like it’s super photogenic!

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