Europe & Britain | Destination Guides

11 stunning Bavarian castles to visit in Germany

While the entire country is dotted with castles and plenty of magical landscapes, to really experience the true royalty of Germany, a trip to Bavaria is a must. Think storybook castles, overlooking the cobblestoned streets of the villages below, so beautiful that you’ll think you’ve jumped right out of the pages of your favourite childhood fairytales.

While there are hundreds of historic castles that decorate the Bavarian countryside, we’ve managed to narrow down to a list of the top 11 stunning Bavarian castles that can’t be missed on your next trip to Germany! Dive into these beautiful UNESCO World Heritage sites and discover the legacy commissioned by “Mad” King Ludwig II of Bavaria.

1. Schloss Neuschwanstein

Neuschwanstein Castle

Re-live all of your Disney-inspired childhood fantasies at Neuschwanstein Castle. Perched atop a rugged hill in southwest Bavaria, this castle was the dream of King Ludwig II, who almost sent the entire country into bankruptcy trying to build the castle. 

Upon first sight of what has been nicknamed the most beautiful castle in the world, you’ll immediately understand why it is also the most visited castle in the world. Oozing with fairytale romance, Neuschwanstein Castle is said to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle.

While the exterior of the castle, set against a majestic Bavarian Alps backdrop might have your jaw permanently struck open in awe, you can also step inside on a guided tour… just expect to be continually bowled over by the castle’s beauty. The interiors remain decorated with original furniture dating back to the 19th century, as well as extravagant ornamentation.

You can visit Schloss Neuschwanstein – the most beautiful Bavarian castle – on Trafalgar’s ‘Best of Germany’ tour, where you’ll tread in the footsteps of the shy King Ludwig II, as well as discover the magical Black Forest countryside that surrounds his fantastical retreat.

Why is it called Neuschwanstein Castle?

Neuschwanstein isn’t the original name that King Ludwig II of Bavaria gave the magnificent castle. It was actually once known as New Hohenschwangau Castle. This name was changed to Neuschwanstein after King Ludwig II’s death. The name means “New Swan Stone” and it reflects the king’s heraldic animal – the swan.

TAKE A TRIP: Best of Germany

2. Hohenschwangau Castle

Despite being overshadowed by its uber glamorous neighbour, Neuschwanstein, a visit to the quaint 19th-century palace, Hohenschwangau Castle should not be missed!

Situated on a hilltop beneath Neuschwanstein, Hohenschwangau Castle was commissioned by King Ludwig II’s father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria. While Neuschwanstein Castle was never used, Hoheschwangau was inhabited and was actually the childhood home of Ludwig II.

Just like its bigger neighbour, you can also visit Hohenschwangau and tour inside the castle, as well as wander through the impressive castle grounds that offer beautiful views of the village below.

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3. Plassenburg Castle

Located in the city of Kulmbach and perched high above the streets below is Plassenburg Castle, one of the best Bavarian castles and by far, one of the most impressive castles in Germany.

The castle was first mentioned in 1135, and has become well known and popular for its extensive collection of more than 300,000 tin soldiers and figurines, which are all set up in historic battle scenes that date back from prehistory to the 20th century.

Similar to most of the Bavarian castles that decorate southern Germany, Plassenburg Castle also has extraordinary views of the city below that can be enjoyed from the castle walls.

4. Linderhof Palace

Situated in southwest Bavaria near the village of Ettal is Linderhof Palace, the smallest of three palaces built and commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and the only castle that he actually lived to see completed.

Nicknamed ‘Little Versailles’, the architecture of Linderhof Palace is said to be heavily influenced by the French castles of the 19th century.

Upon embarking on a tour of the palace you can enjoy the Rococo interiors, which feature numerous pieces of opulent furniture, furnishings and embellishments. Also, be sure not to skip a guided tour of the palace gardens, which come scattered with beautiful water fountains and symmetric lawns.

TAKE A TRIP: Imperial Europe

5. Heidelberg Castle

Once a gothic masterpiece, the ruins of Heidelberg Castle, which sit atop a rocky outcrop above the now-University town of Heidelberg, encountered some turbulent times since the castle’s conception.

The earliest structure was built in the early 14th century, however, was burned by the French army in 1689. Then, following reconstruction, the castle was struck by lightning three times during the mid-18th century and further demolished in the 18th century as the red bricks were used to build new houses in the town.

Unlike many other German castles, Heidelberg Castle never regained its original glory, and still to this day remains in partial ruin. However, these ruins are amongst the most important Renaissance structures in the country, highlighting different periods of German architecture.

You can visit Heidelberg Castle on Trafalgar’s ‘Best of Germany’ guided tour, where you’ll spend time wandering around the Baroque-style Old Town of Heidelberg, with its bustling market squares and colourful facades – the perfect destination for a spot of last minute shopping!

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6. Nuremberg Castle

Whilst not as opulent as some of the other castles that dot the Bavarian landscape, Nuremberg Castle more than makes up for that in history.

Made up of a group of medieval fortified buildings that loom over the old town of Nuremberg, the castle is considered one of Europe’s most fierce medieval fortifications. 

Dating back to the early 1000’s, the city of Nuremberg has been considered one of the most important cities in the region throughout several periods in history. Most notable of which was during the Holy Roman Empire, where each Emperor resided in the castle during their reign, earning the castle the title of the Imperial Castle.

Fast Forward to today, post several restoration works following severe bombings during World War II, Nuremberg Castle consists of three main sections. The most historically significant is the ‘Kaiserburg’, with the remainder of the castle now being used for municipal buildings, including a youth hostel…a chance to sleep in a Bavarian castle!

7. Herrenchiemsee Castle

Located about 60km southeast of Munich is the lavish Herrenchiemsee Castle; the product of King Ludwig II’s wish to have his own version of the Versailles Palace in Germany.

While its location standing on an island in Lake Chiemsee is pretty incredible (the Palace is only accessible by boat), there is little that can prepare you for the beauty and splendor of the opulent castle interiors. Decorated with sparkling golden decor, a porcelain collection, endless artworks and sprawling gardens that are to die for, visiting this beautiful Bavarian castle will transport you to a world you’d only imagined existed within the pages of fairy tales.

While visiting the Palace, which is also known as one of the most picturesque Bavarian castles, it’s also worth exploring the island, which is home to the historical Augustinian Monastery, which houses a museum and two art galleries, as well as beautiful parklands.

READ NEXT: The Most Majestic Castles in Europe

8. Nymphenburg Palace

This 17th-century Baroque palace is located within the Bavarian capital, Munich. Nymphenburg Palace was commissioned by Elector Ferdinand Maria as a summer residence for his wife, Henriette Adelaide, and it was built between 1664 and 1675.

This sprawling complex later became the hunting lodge of the court, and while it is open to visitors the palace still remains the primary residence of the Duke of Bavaria. Those who visit will be met with a baroque façade adorned with intricate sculptures.  Inside find opulent rooms and the famous Hall of Mirrors. There are legends about hidden passages and secret chambers tucked within its walls, adding an air of mystery to this great palace and its grandeur. 

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9. Würzburger Residenz

Located in Upper Bavaria, this exquisite residence was built in the 18th century by an international troupe of architects, painters, sculptors, and stucco workers. One of Germany’s many UNESCO World Heritage sites, at the Würzburger Residenz you’ll find a stunning mix of French château style and Viennese baroque.

On a guided tour of the grounds and palace you can visit 40 rooms and view the largest ceiling fresco in the world, by Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. The magnificent work covers the staircase and walls of the Imperial Hall.

10. Coburg Fortress

Located high on a hill above the town of Coburg, in the Upper Franconia region of Bavaria, Coburg Castle holds a place of great strategic importance. It was first mentioned in a document in 1056, and during the Middle Ages it was enlarged to become one of the biggest castle complexes in Germany.

One of its most famous guests was the reformer Luther, who worked on his translation of the Bible here in 1530. Today you’ll find treasures from the Coburg dukes inside, with one of the most important art and cultural history collections in Germany on display. Expect a copper engraving collection, hunting weapons, and ornate carriages and sleighs. Best of all, find paintings by Lucas Cranach and old German masters including Dürer, Grünewald and Holbein.

TAKE A TRIP: Best of Germany & Austria

11. Burghausen Castle

This medieval castle claims the title of the longest in the world. Yes, Burghausen Castle stretches for more than 1 kilometer (3,280 feet). The Wittelbach family used the space as their second residence between 1255 and 1503 before it became an important military fortification.

Now visitors to the lengthy castle can witness one of the most magnificent examples of late medieval fortifications. Burghausen was once one of the most effective fortresses in Germany, and here you will feel the power and ambitions of the Bavarians dukes in charge.

Have you visited any of these Bavarian castles, or are any of them on your bucket list for the future? Let us know in the comments, or visit our website to learn more about how you can travel Germany with Trafalgar!

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