Germany is known for its fairytale castles…magical castles that look like they came straight out of a storybook. This article contains the most beautiful fairytale castles, perfect for fairy tale enthusiasts! Visit these magnificent castles and step into a magical world where you can let your imagination run free with thoughts of princesses, knights, and dragons. Fantasy aside, visitors to Germany’s castles get a historic glimpse into the very real kings and queens who once lived in them.
Whether medieval fortress or royal residence, these German castles all have stunning architecture, loads of history, and tons of fodder for your imagination!
Table of Contents
Enchanting Fairytale Castles in Germany
Popular architectural styles:
- Romanesque Style castles with: rounded arches, thick castle walls, sturdy towers, battlements, and turrets.
- Gothic Style Castles with: pointed arches, dramatic spires, moats and mighty iron portcullis.
- Renaissance Style castles with: grandeur, elegance, and beautiful gardens.
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Fun fact: What are the definitions of Schloss and Burg? Schloss means Palace in German, while Burg means castle, but the line’s pretty blurry if you ask me!
Let’s get started! Here are 17 of the most famous fairytale castles in Germany:
Neuschwanstein Castle (Schloss Neuschwanstein)
Nothing exudes fairytale like this perfectly fanciful 19th century castle, which was dreamed to life by the romantic Swan King, King Ludwig II of Bavaria (Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm). Walt Disney was inspired to model not one but two of their castles on the famous Neuschwanstein castle. Sleeping Beauty castle and Cinderella’s castle in the animated Disney classics both bear a resemblance to Neuschwanstein.
The castle is located in southern Germany on Germany’s Romantic Road, near the city of Füssen with the mighty Bavarian Alps as its backdrop, and is an easy day trip from Munich. Today, this castle that conjures up visions of princesses and elegant sleek swans, is one of the most visited castles in Germany, if not the entire world!
Book a day tour on Get Your Guide:
- Neuschwanstein: daytrips from Munich
- Neuschwanstein & Linderhof Palace combo from Munich
- Neuschwanstein Private tour from Munich
- Neuschwanstein & Linderhof Palace from Füssen (includes skip-the-line and horse-drawn carriage ride)
Is the interior castle tour worth it? I see this question asked a lot. In my opinion, yes, it is worth it. Not only do you get to see the lavish interior rooms of the castle such as the exquisite throne room with its detailed wall paintings, the dining room, drawing room, The king’s bedchambers and more, but you also get the fascinating story of Ludwig’s life.(The tour is on the third and fourth floors. The second floor was never finished.)
Mad King Ludwig? Eccentric, maybe. Mad, I don’t believe so. Ludwig is often referred to as “Mad King Ludwig.” His enemies plotted against him, their intent, to have him declared insane. Born at Nymphenburg Palace with a silver spoon in his mouth, his life in the end was a tragic fairytale. Richard Wagner, a close friend of the kings, was unfortunately correct in his assessment after their first meeting. He wrote: “Alas, he is so handsome and wise, soulful and lovely, that I fear that his life must melt away in this vulgar world like a fleeting dream of the gods.” Read more about Ludwig’s tragic story in my Neuschwanstein article.
Hohenschwangau Castle (Schloss Hohenschwangau)
On the opposite hill from Neuschwanstein, and just a short walk away, is the perfect little knight’s castle in a sunny shade of yellow. Hohenschwangau was built in the 19th century by King Maximilian II, King of Bavaria and father to King Ludwig II, and was the summer residence and boyhood home of the Swan King. One can imagine Ludwig as a boy peering across the distance, his imagination turning as he made plans to build there the most loveliest castle in all the world.
Get a combination ticket and see BOTH castles: How to visit Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein and for a very special experience, visit these famous castles in winter! Neuschwanstein Castle Winter Guide.
Skip the shuttle bus or uphill climb and make your visit a romantic and magical one by adding a horse-drawn carriage ride to your visit. Both Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles offer this service, leaving from the parking lot area. You can get full details in the “get more information” of either castle.
Eltz Castle (Burg Eltz)
There is just something most appealing about this perfect little 12th century castle that has remained virtually undisturbed, tucked away in a dense 300-acre fairy forest for nearly 900 years. Once a part of the Holy Roman Empire, a trip to Eltz Castle, which has been in the possession of the same family through its entire existence, is a trip back to the Middle Ages! You are simply going to adore its decidedly fanciful fairy tale exterior and don’t miss out on the trails that wind their way through that fairy forest!
Eltz Castle impressed the fantasy writers for “Game of Thrones.” They used the castle as the model for the House of Lannister’s castle.
Get more information: Ultimate Burg Eltz Castle Guide
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Hohenzollern Castle (Burg Hohenzollern)
This massive Gothic Revival fortification is located in the Swabian Alps near Stuttgart in southern Germany. The original 11th century castle was destroyed long ago. The current structure is from the 19th century. With over 350,000 visitors per year, Hohenzollern Castle is one of the most visited castles in Germany. This is the closest castle on the list to the Black Forest, consider visiting since you’re so close!
website: Burg Hohenzollern
Book a day tour on Get Your Guide:
- Hohenzollern Castle: Full-Day Tour from Frankfurt
Lichtenstein Castle (Schloss Lichtenstein)
Romantic Lichtenstein Castle is without a doubt something that surely was inspired by a storybook fairytale. This tiny 19th century cliff side castle situated high above the little town of Liechtenstein, is in a category all to itself. This little dream castle is a must see! Lichtenstein is privately owned but for an entrance fee visitors can tour the lavish interiors.
website: Schloss Lichtenstein
Schwerin Castle (Schloss Schwerin)
is a stunning palace located in the city of Schwerin Germany. The palace is situated on an island in the city’s main lake, Lake Schwerin, and it’s like something out of your favorite children’s book. The Gothic style castle was built in the 19th century and has been used for various purposes throughout the history of the castle, including as a school for nursery school teachers, a hospital, and as a museum. Today, it is the seat of the state parliament of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern but visitors have the opportunity to take a guided tour. Explore the castle’s stunning architecture, beautiful gardens, and impressive art collection.
website: MV Schloesser
Reichsburg Castle (Reichsburg Cochem)
Sometimes referred to as Cochem Castle, this Gothic beauty sits majestically on top of a hill overlooking Cochem and the Mosel (Moselle) River. There are few castles as cute as this 11th century Gothic Revival beauty! Reichsburg Cochem Castle is the quintessential “every child’s dream” castle! One night when I spotted it sitting atop a hill overlooking Cochem and the Mosel River I felt quite sure that I was seeing Hogwarts in all its radiant glory.
website: Reichsburg Cochem
Satzvey Castle (Schloss Satzvey)
Straight out of the pages of a storybook, this 12th century medieval castle is located in the Rhineland region of Western Germany and has a moat and fanciful turrets! Less well known that some of the most famous castles on this list, Satzvey Castle is a true hidden gem. The castle hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including medieval markets, fantasy days, and Christmas markets. Visitors can take guided tours of the castle, enjoy the beautiful gardens, and attend one of the many events hosted at the castle throughout the year. My favorite pick, the Witch market…it’s frighteningly fantastic! Stop in and get your witch’s broom driving license!
website: Schloss Satzvey
Drachenburg Castle (Schloss Drachenburg)
Drachenburg Castle is a privately owned 19th century palace that sits on the east bank of the Rhine River, south of the city of Bonn. Visitors can explore the beautiful gardens located on the castle grounds. Inside marvel at the stunning architecture, art collection, and original furnishings for the period. The castle also hosts various events throughout the year, including concerts and exhibitions. This castle is a real stunner! Don’t miss it!
website: Schloss Drachenburg
Book a day tour on Get Your Guide:
- Private day trip to Drachenburg from Cologne
Marienburg Castle (Schloss Marienburg)
This Neo-Gothic style castle is located in Pattensen, a small town near Hanover Germany. The castle was built in the 19th century by King George V of Hanover as a gift to his wife, Queen Marie. Situated atop a hill, it’s surrounded by beautiful gardens and forests. Marienburg Castle is known for its stunning architecture including many whimsical turrets. Visitors can explore the castle’s beautiful interiors, art collection, and impressive architecture. Restoration work is planned for this castle so check opening information before you head out to Marienburg.
website: Schloss Marienburg
Pfalzgrafenstein Castle (Burg Pfalzgrafenstein)
This historic toll castle is located on a small island in the middle of the beautiful Rhine River, near the town of Kaub, Germany. The castle was built in the 14th century and was used to collect toll from passing ships on the river. Pfalzgrafenstein Castle is known for its unique and picturesque setting and is regarded as one of the most beautiful castles on the Rhine. Access to the castle is by ferry only, which adds to the castle’s charm and mystique.
The Rhine River valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the best ways to see the castles along the Rhine River is by boat. If you do a cruise between Bacharach and Sankt Goar you’ll sail right past this fanciful castle and what a vantage you’ll get! Looking for the best castles on the Rhine River? check out this list of the most impressive selection of castles on the Rhine!
Google Listing: Pfalzgrafenstein
Rheinstein Castle (Romantik-Schloß Burg Rheinstein)
This Storybook perfect little castle was originally built in 1316. It is immaculate, compact, and almost homey. Reminiscent of the perfect little knight’s castle, enchanting Burg Rheinstein Castle is perfectly located on a steep slope of the Bingen Forest, overlooking the Rhine River. Its location high on the hill offers Panoramic views of the river Rhine which flows lazily through the Rhine River Valley below.
The Rheinstein Castle complex has a beautiful courtyard with a lush garden and a working portcullis and drawbridge which are typical of medieval castles. Don’t miss the 500-year-old grapevine that still produces grapes and the small chapel onsite.
Get full details: Rheinstein Castle Guide
Heidelberg Castle (Schloss Heidelberg)
Heidelberg Castle is a beautiful and imposing 13th century Gothic Renaissance castle ruin that stands guard high above the city of Heidelberg in southwest Germany. The castle is perched on a hill 300 feet above the city and is a combination of several buildings surrounding an inner courtyard that was put together with a haphazard look. Each building in the higgledy-piggledy complex highlights a different period of German architecture. The castle was first mentioned in 1196 and has a long and storied history, having been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times over the centuries. Visitors can explore the castle ruins, take guided tours, and enjoy the stunning views of the city and surrounding countryside.
website: Schloss Heidelberg
Book a day tour on Get Your Guide:
- Day Tour to Heidelberg Castle from Frankfurt
- Heidelberg Castle & Rhine River Combination Tour from Frankfurt
- Heidelberg Castle & Rothenburg Day tour from Frankfurt
Braunfels Castle (Schloss Braunfels)
13th Century Braunfels Castle is a pleasing mixture of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. Located atop a hill in the town of Braunfels, the castle’s scenic surroundings and panoramic views of the Lahn Valley add to its allure. The castle is inhabited by the family that has lived within for centuries. Tours take visitors through the Knight’s Hall, Staterooms, courtyard, and more. The property surrounding the castle is flush with wildlife so make time to wander the grounds on your visit.
website: Schloss Braunfels
Burghausen Castle (Burg zu Burghausen)
The 12th century Bergausen Castle is a medieval fortress located in the town of Berghausen Germany, Upper Bavaria. This one’s for those whose fantasies are less fanciful and a tad more rustic, but it’s a must-see! Over the centuries the castle has undergone various expansions and renovations and today is not only the longest castle complex in Europe, but also the longest in the world! Perched high above the Salzach river on a long ridge, its location affords visitors breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
website: Burg Burghausen
Schloss Mespelbrunn, another hidden gem, is a picturesque late-medieval / early-Renaissance moated castle located in the Spessart forest in Bavaria. Renowned for its idyllic setting, it seems to float atop the water! A romantic design to be sure!
Only the round tower remains from the 15th century, the remainder of the structure being mainly built in the Renaissance style in the 16th century. This German castle has remained in the possession of the same family for over 600 years.
website: Schloss Mespelbrunn
My idea of a fairy tale castle has fanciful turrets, moats, and iron portcullis but yours may be a grand palace! Construction of the castle started in the year 1745. Opulent Sanssouci Palace, is a rococo palace located in Potsdam, Germany and is often considered a rival to Versailles. In the 18th century the massive structure served as a summer palace for Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. Sanssouci, which means “without a care” in French, reflects the king’s desire for a tranquil and carefree environment.
The palace and its surrounding park are now a UNESCO World Heritage site and continue to attract visitors from around the world who come to admire its elegance and historical significance.
website: Schloss Sanssouci
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Map of Fairytale Castles in Germany
From Bavaria to Rhineland-Palatinate to Baden-Württemberg and beyond! Germany’s fairytale castles are sure to impress! Use this map of Fairytale castles in Germany to plan your next road trip!
If you don’t have a car, you can use public transportation to reach most if not all of these castles. Germany is serviced by an impressive network of rail and bus routes. To seamlessly plan your train and bus transportation in Germany use the Deutsche Bahn DB app/website or Rome2Rio.
Tips for visiting fairytale castles in Germany
Here are some travel tips for visiting fairy tale castles Germany:
Best Time to Visit
Spring and Fall: The best time to visit fairytale castles is either spring or fall, known as shoulder season. The weather is generally mild, gardens are in bloom, the summer crowds have not yet descended, and most attractions are in full swing. My favorite time to visit is either September, when grape vines are loaded down with grapes, or October when temperatures are cooler.
Summer: In the summer months (high-season) hordes of crowds descend upon Germany’s castles. Instead of admiring the frescos and gilded interiors, you may find yourself viewing the tops of your fellow tourists heads. Ques can be long so advance tickets, when offered, are almost requisite.
Winter: In winter (low season) the crowds, outside of the Christmas Market season, have disappeared but many attractions are closed. However, IF the castle is open in the winter, it will likely be decked out in its finest holiday decor. Magical!
Note: if you have your heart set on seeing one of these amazing attractions do check with the official website for the most current and accurate information on opening times.
The general rule of thumb for avoiding the worst crowds at popular castles are:
- Visit early morning or late in the day (i.e., the first castle tour or last castle tour of the day)
- Weekdays are often less crowded than weekends.
- Travel in the shoulder or off season
The Brothers Grimm & The German Fairy Tale Road
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, known as the brothers Grimm, were German storytellers who went around collecting and compiling fairytales from local villagers and peasants. They are credited with preserving some of the world’s most famous fairy tales such as, Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Little Red Riding Hood.
The German Fairy Tale Road
The German Fairy Tale Road, also known as the Deutsche Märchenstraße, is a 600-kilometer tourist route in Germany that runs from Hanau in central Germany to Bremen in northern Germany. The route is made up of cities, towns, and hamlets in four states and is not actually a single road. All of its sites are connected by association with the works of Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm. The route features many castles, museums, and other attractions related to fairy tales, making it a popular destination for families and fairy tale enthusiasts.
frequently asked questions
What is the famous German fairytale castle?
Neuschwanstein is most famous fairy tale castle
not only in Germany but in all of the world. More than 1.3 million people visit annually, with as many as 6,000 per day in the summer.
Where is the fairy tale castle in Germany?
The most famous fairytale castles in Germany: Neuschwanstein, near Füssen is often referred to THE fairy tale castle because of it’s fanciful design and because it has been the inspiration for Disney’s animated classic movies Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. Other famous fairytale castles in Germany include: Burg Eltz Castle (Wierschem), and Hohenzollern Castle (near Stuttgart.)
What castle in Germany is like Disney?
You are probably referring to Neuschwanstein Castle. This castle with its many fanciful turrets was the inspiration for the castles in both Disney animated classics Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.
Want to hear more about my travels around Germany and the rest of our amazing planet? You may be interested in my Germany page and be sure to submit your email address to my subscriber sign up at the end of the page to be the first to know when a new blog publishes!