A couple of weeks ago, Jeremy’s parents came over to Europe and I planned a little road trip. The week had a pretty simple agenda: beer, brats, and castles. The research phase of the road trip was actually the hardest, as Germany is absolutely stuffed with castles and there’s no way we could see them all in a week.
I knew Neuschwanstein (Cinderella’s Castle) and Hohenschwangau were non-negotiables, and that 4 adults and a dog in the car all day was a big ask, so I chose 1 or 2 castles per day and we’d work around those.
Our first day was set to start at Eltz Castle. On the way there, we’d stumbled on a winery set up above the river, with row after row and row of golden yellow vines. I was a bit surprised to see so many fall colors, and our house was actually situated in a perfect spot, surrounded by apple orchards and small, family owned vineyards.
Once we got to Eltz, I fell in love. It turned out to be my very favorite castle of the whole trip. It was raining and gloomy and I didn’t want to walk in the rain, so I forced Jeremy to drive all the way up to the castle entrance. I have no idea if this is really allowed, but there was a road down to Eltz, there was no one else around, and the views were phenomenal. The crappy weather meant we were the only 4 people there.
After Eltz, we headed on to Marksburg. The weather wasn’t getting any better, which made me sort of grumpy, but it was nice not to be surrounded by people. On the way home, we kept spotting castles off in the distance and hanging out our sunroof to take photos. I’m sure any cars behind us thought we were nuts!
The next morning, we were happy to find better weather. We set out south to Hohenzollern Castle, where we took a tour.
Problem was, this time of year it’s not too busy and they only offered tours in German, so we took one. You should have seen the 4 of us wandering around this castle wearing protective slippers and not understanding a word the guide said, but laughing when everyone else did to try and fit in! No photos are allowed in Hohenzollern, but when you’re the rogue American in the back, you can get away with a couple of quick snaps.
After our tour, we drove on to Lichtenstein Castle. It had started to snow, and the castle grounds with a thin layer of white were magical. This was Jeremy’s favorite castle of the trip.
The last day of castles was reserved for the long drive to Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. These two are in far south Germany by the Austrian border, so we decided to hit them when we were on the way to Salzburg.
The two castles are essentially right across the street, so you really can’t see one without the other. There’s tons of parking at the bottom of the castles, and you can either hoof it up the hill, or take a horse drawn carriage to the top.
Seeing the town and the castles in the snow was really special, such a gorgeous scene.
One thing that was disappointing for me is the path to Marienbrücke, which is the prime Neuschwanstein viewing spot, was closed due to weather. The path was iced over and the bridge wasn’t cleared, so they weren’t allowing people to go to it. I pitched a mini fit, but it was made better by taking a walk around the lake at the edge of town.
There are hundreds, maybe thousands of other castles in Germany to see, and they are usually well marked. I think it’d be so fun to come back in the summer, rent a convertible, and just follow the signs for castles until you’re just sick of it. If you’re planning something like that (LUCKY YOU!), I’d say don’t skip Eltz, Lichtenstein, or Neuschwanstein. Those were our family favorites!