Germany with Kids: Visiting Fairy Tale Castles
How many of us have dreamt of visiting castles (or even living in one) when we were younger? Royal homes have always fascinated me ever since I was a little girl. Fortunately, my family also loves visiting castles and palaces wherever we go. So, we couldn’t pass up castle hopping during our recent trip to Europe.
Germany has hundreds of castles but the most popular ones are King Ludwig II’s castles. Ludwig II was a young king who ruled Bavaria for over 20 years in the 1800s. The eccentric king built extravagant and remote castles, namely Neuschwanstein, Linderhoff and Herrenchiemsee, that looked like they came out of the pages of fairy tale books. He was later declared insane and drowned under mysterious circumstances, but he certainly left a lasting legacy.
The castles’ interiors can only be explored through guided tours and no photography is allowed. Tours scheduled on specific times last roughly 45 minutes and offered in various languages. Book your tickets online before visiting and get there as early as possible.
The most famous of these castles is Neuschwanstein. It has been a childhood dream of mine to visit this fairy tale castle. We all gasped in awe seeing it from a distance. It really was as spectacular as we had imagined with its turrets, towers and spires. The castle is located inside a national park and surrounded with lush forest, crystal clear lakes and verdant mountains.
Set on a rocky point on a hilltop, there are various ways to get to the castle. You can hike uphill, take a horse-drawn carriage or ride the bus. We chose the bus. There’s still some steep walking even after that. But, it was all worth it to see gorgeous panoramic views surrounding it.
Linderhoff is the smallest of Ludwig’s castles, similar to a villa. It’s also the only completed one. We missed the tour, but my kids enjoyed exploring the castle grounds. The enormous park-like grounds surrounding the castle were well-maintained. We loved the terraced garden with fountains surrounded by gold statues.
There were plenty of open spaces for kids to run around and unwind. Linderhoff also had a man-made cave, music pavilion, Moroccan house and chapel. It was easy to see why Ludwig loved this place and its tranquil setting.
It almost felt dreamlike visiting an island castle on Bavaria’s largest lake. The short ferry ride provided picturesque scenery in anticipation of seeing the castle. Ludwig was fascinated with France’s King Louis XIV and paid homage by creating a replica of the Palace of Versailles. Herrenchiemsee’s fountains and grounds were stunning.
The finished rooms were some of the most lavish and ornate interiors we’ve ever seen. Ludwig only spent nine days here. It is only a third of the originally planned castle. We loved the Great Hall of Mirrors which was once illuminated by 2,188 candles at night.
There are many attractions to see in this part of Germany but these castles are certainly worth the day trips. Castles are something the whole family can enjoy. They do more than fulfill childhood fantasies; they also offer a glimpse into history, grand architecture and the royalty’s opulence.
We used Hilton Munich City as our base and explored these Bavarian castles on day trips.
Know Before You Go
- The historic Olympiastadion Berlin is where Jesse Owens won four gold medals during the Nazi Germany era.
- The East Side Gallery was originally an area of Berlin Wall for amateur art symbolizing oppression; now, it is an art exhibit.
- The Aachener Dom is an icon of German history. It features the Aachen Cathedral, where German royalty used it as a coronation area for over 600 years.