These are the best castles in Germany! Gorgeous, picturesque, and full of history but not nearly as crowded as popular Neuschwanstein castle.
*This article was written by BTTM team member Alicia Glassmeyer*
Best Castles In Germany Besides Neuschwanstein
One of the many things on everyone’s European vacation bucket list is to see castles. While there are many places to do this, we think Germany has the best castles in Europe!
There are thousands of castles dotting the German hillsides and we visited a handful of them on our European summer road trip. Here are some of our favorites, and what we consider to be, the best castles in Germany…
Having lived in Heidelberg for a few years, we have been to this castle countless times, and it never gets old. The castle ruins are perched above the beautiful town of Heidelberg, along the Neckar River. Throughout its history, Heidelberg Schloss has been destroyed both by war and lightning, but has been beautifully preserved and offers a lot for visitors to do.
If you’re traveling on a budget you can visit the castle grounds for free by walking up the Burgweg. It’s a slightly steep trek up the hill, but very rewarding. The grounds are lovely and provide excellent views of the city. We think this is a great way to spend a few hours of your time while visiting one of our favorite cities! If you happen to be in town during one of the three castle lighting events in the summer, we recommend you watch it from the alte brucke (old bridge) in town.
If you plan on purchasing a ticket to take a tour of the castle interior, you can take the funicular railway to get up the hill. There are quite a few interesting things to see inside the castle, including the German Apothecary Museum and the world’s largest wine barrel! Information on visiting Schloss Heidelberg can be found here.
Pro Tip: You may also consider a Viator three-hour tour of Heidelberg, which includes a visit to the castle.
If you like gardens, this is the place for you! The palace is surrounded by beautiful baroque gardens, water features, and ornate buildings. The town of Schwetzingen is a short 20 minute drive from Heidelberg and worth a visit.
There is so much to see throughout the gardens and it can easily take half a day to walk the grounds. There are over 100 sculptures, a lovely bath house with a beautifully painted ceiling, the temple of Apollo, and Turkish gardens with a beautiful mosque. You can purchase a tour to visit the interior of the Schwetzingen Palace here.
Unlike most castles in the region, this one remained unscathed throughout the wars and is even still owned by the same family that built it. The castle is roughly two hours east of Frankfurt, but is worth the drive. The setting is peaceful and very scenic.
When you arrive at the castle, you will have to pay for parking and you will be given the option to walk to the castle or take a shuttle for a small fee. We recommend walking to the castle and taking the shuttle back when you are finished (it’s all uphill on the way back).
The walk to the castle takes 10 – 15 minutes and is mostly downhill. You can walk along the road or take a footpath through the forest, either way you are surrounded by trees and the sounds of nature. You don’t see the castle for the first half of the walk, but when you are treated to that first view, you will be amazed.
We definitely recommend taking the tour of this castle since it remains so intact and has original furnishings and so much history. The guides are very informative and you really get a feel for what it would be like to live in a castle. You will see an armoury, ornate furniture, amazing works of art and tapestries, as well as an original kitchen.
The only downside is that you cannot take photos during the tour; the courtyard is charming and the only inner part of the castle that you can photograph. A visit to the treasury is included with your tour and it houses impressive gold and silver treasures collected over eight centuries.
There is a gift shop and cafe right in the castle, so you can spend time having a cup of coffee or a meal while waiting for your tour. Pricing and tour information for Burg Eltz can be found here.
Visually this castle is right out of a story book and, in fact, it was inspired by a novel. Though there is a long history of the Lichtenstein castle that dates back to the 1300s, this particular castle’s construction began in 1840. If you are visiting Germany’s Black Forest region, it is worth the drive to see this charming castle built right on the edge of a cliff overlooking the town of Honau.
There is a 30 minute guided tour available for a reasonable price. We chose to just pay a couple Euro to view the castle grounds and felt that it was well worth our time. It is a beautiful location, with fantastic architecture. We spent just a short time here since we were on a tight schedule, but there are many activities in the area that could make this worth spending at least one full day here.
We noticed there is an adventure park (think zip lining, tree climbing, and ropes obstacle course) directly next to the castle parking lot. If you’re traveling to Germany with children this could be a great activity after touring the castle.
There is also a cafe and restaurant on the grounds so you don’t even have to worry about packing a lunch (just make sure to check the opening hours before you go). If you’re into being outdoorsy, there are multiple hiking trails that begin at the castle. Visit the Schloss Lichtenstein website for more information about tours and/or the adventure park website for all of the activities in the area.
If you think picturesque castle on top of a hill when you think Germany, this is the place for you. We think this is the best castle in the black forest and when you see it for the first time towering over the landscape around it you might just agree. This fortress was reconstructed in 1850 after the original was destroyed in 1423 and it’s successor fell into disrepair in the early 19th century.
We got our first view of Hohenzollern from outside a cute little village named Killer that we drove through on our way from Schloss Lichtenstein. If you do these two castles in a day, you will not regret the beautiful countryside views on your drive.
We recommend taking the route that takes you past the Salmendinger Kapelle in Kornbühl. It is a beautiful little chapel and three crosses on top of a hill. This area was quite possibly the most scenic and peaceful part of our road trip through southern Germany and we honestly did not want to leave!
When you arrive at the parking lot, there is a gift shop where you can purchase your tickets, a cafe, and bathrooms. You can choose a ticket for just the castle complex or you can add on a tour to see the interior rooms.
We chose the castle complex ticket because you get to see the two chapels and the casemates (cellars) without the guided tour and we enjoyed it. You can pay to ride the shuttle from here (which we did) or you can take the walking path that is steep and takes roughly 30 minutes according to the website.
The Hohenzollern castle complex is beautiful! The architecture is amazing, the chapels are gorgeous, there were colorful potted flowers, and ivy climbing up the castle walls. There is a cafe with fantastic garden seating to take in the castle views and since the day was hot we sat and enjoyed some ice cream. Information for planning your trip to Burg Hohenzollern can be found here.
Final Thoughts On The Best Castles In Germany
Germany is a large country and there are many more castles than what we have mentioned here, but we definitely think these are some of the best castles in Germany. If you get a chance to visit Germany, we recommend renting a car and exploring the countryside.
Pro Tip: Get the GPS with your rental car, it can help you navigate the traffic jams or “stau” that you may encounter on your journey. Also, make sure to have your Road Trip Checklist.
Have fun exploring the castles of Germany and let us know which ones are your favorite in the comments below!
About The Author: Alicia is a photographer from Colorado. She loves camping, dogs, and cake. Check out her website for more amazing photography.