Cinematic inspiration, mysterious deaths and ghosts are just some of thrilling aspects of exploring Germany’s tens of thousands of castles. Here are the best to visit during your German castle hunting adventure.
Neuschwanstein Castle in Hohenschwangau, Bavaria
Neuschwanstein Castle was the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty's castle
One of the country’s most iconic castles, Neuschwanstein Castle, has a short but interesting history. Commissioned by King Ludwig II in 1868, his goal was to create a place where he could retreat from society and enjoy the solitude he believed would await him within the castle walls. Unfortunately, he slept just 11 nights in the castle before his mysterious death in 1886. As the castle wasn’t even close to completion and was riddled with debt, it was opened to the public just weeks after the King’s death. Now more than 1.4 million people visit this fairy-tale castle each year.
Hotel Müller is conveniently-situated between Neuschwanstein Castle and the smaller Hohenschwangau Castle.
Heidelberg Castle in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg
Heidelberg Castle is the most recognizable part of the city skyline
Heidelberg Castle is built on a hill in the Northern part of the city, making it a fixture of the Heidelberg skyline. Considered one of the important Renaissance structures north of the Alps, the castle was almost completely rebuilt during the 19th century after sustaining damage from the War of the Grand Alliance and being hit by lightning not once but twice. Since then, word of the castle has spread, now attracting visitors from all over the world. Mark Twain even wrote about the castle in his 1880 book A Tramp Abroad.
Situated at the foot of the Heidelberg Castle, Hotel am Schloss offers a buffet breakfast which you can eat on the patio with an unobstructed view of the castle.
Hohenzollern Castle in Hechingen, Baden-Württemberg
Hohenzollern Castle is the third castle to be built on Mount Hohenzollern
Mount Hohenzollern has been home to three hilltop castles, only one of which still stands today. Since its inception, Hohenzollern Castle has been the residence of the Imperial House of Hohenzollern. The House of Hohenzollern is a dynasty made of up of royalty, emperors and electors of Hohenzollern, Brandenburg, Prussia, the German Empire and Romania. The castle is still privately owned, but the grounds see more than 350,000 visitors per year, making it one of the most-visited castles in Germany. Hohenzollern Castle has also been used as the set for a number of films and tv shows, including the 2016 film A Cure for Wellness.
With a long-standing reputation for quality accommodation and cuisine, Hotel Brielhof is within walking distance of Hohenzollern Castle.
Eltz Castle in Wierschem, Rhineland-Palatinate
Part of Eltz Castle is still a private residence today
Eltz Castle is one of only two castles on the left bank of the Rhine within the Rhineland-Palatinate region that have never been destroyed. It is also a Ganerbenburg – a castle that belongs to a community of joint heirs. The physical building is divided into several parts, each owned by an individual family. This was done as a cost-saving measure, allowing the families to pool resources and share a defensive front while still having their own quarters within. Today, two of the families homes are open to the public from April to October, while the third family’s home is still a private residence.
Schwerin Castle in Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Schwerin Castle can be found on an island in the city's main lake
In the heart of Schwerin’s main lake, the Schweriner See, you will find a small island on which sits the Schwerin Castle. Nicknamed ‘Neuschwanstein of the North’, Schwerin Castle is designated as a World Heritage Site. The castle itself is used as the residence for the parliament of the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state, but can still be visited by guests throughout the year. While you’re there, keep your eyes out for the Petermännchen, a ghost that roams the castle halls. Said to be no more than a few feet tall, it is often seen wearing 17th-century cavalier’s clothing.
The elegant Hotel Niederländischer Hof is located on the shores of the city’s Pfaffenteich lake and is comfortable walking distance from Schwerin Castle.