There are an incredible 25,000 castles in Germany!
With so many castles it’s difficult to pick out just one favorite, so I’ve picked out my favorite castles in Southern Germany based on different criteria, since no two castles are alike:
Favorite Touristy Castle in Germany: Heidelberg Castle
Yes it’s touristy and on the Japanese tour bus circuit, but this 700 year old castle overlooking the city of Heidelberg has survived fires and a lighting strike and the castle tour is worth fighting the crowds.
Inside Heidelberg Castle visitors can also visit the World’s Largest Apothecary Museum showcasing over 20,000 pharmaceutical items and the world’s largest wine barrel. The crowds reach an all time peak in July and August so go at another time if possible, if not go early or later in the day.
Favorite Elaborate Castle in Germany: Herrenchiemsee New Palace
One of crazy King Ludwig’s castles, the Herrenchiemsee New Palace is the most elaborate, costing more than the combined total of famed Neuschwanstein and Linderhof. It’s decadence at its finest and is even housed on its own island (Herren Island) on the Chiemsee. Photos are not permitted inside, but the exterior hints at the luxury waiting inside. Not surprisingly it’s also a popular castle so it’s best to go off-season when possible.
Favorite Small Castle in Germany: Lichtenstein Castle
Lichtenstein Castle is sometimes referred to as Neuschwanstein’s Little Brother, since they’re both white castles, although Lichtenstein is a much smaller castle, but to be fair it is only a hunting castle. What it lacks up for in size it makes up for by perilously clinging to the edge of a limestone cliff.
Favorite Castle Tour in Germany: Ludwigsburg Palace
After a while many castle tours seem to blur together, but not the Ludwigsburg Palace tour where visitors will learn all about the secret lives of royalty including Duke Eberhard’s libido which unfortunately was reserved for his mistresses and not his wife. The tour also includes a look at the servant’s quarters where you can only imagine how difficult it would be to live in a cold dark room, while everyone else was surrounded by luxury.
Favorite Hike to a Castle in Germany: Hohenzollern Castle
There are much easier ways to reach Hohenzollern Castle than a 12km hike – like driving to the parking lot, but knowing that your destination is a castle is very good motivation to visit one of the most popular castles in Germany. Hohenzollern Castle dates back to the 11th century and has seen numerous wars including the Thirty Years War, fallen into ruin and even suffered from an earthquake. Go early to avoid the crowds and check the schedule in advance if you’re looking for an English tour.
Favorite Castle in Munich: The Residenz
There are two castles in Munich, The Residenz and Schloss Nymphenburg and Schlieissheim Palace located just outside of Munich. Schloss Nyphemburg and Schlieissheim Palace are more impressive on the outside, but I love the interior of The Residenz, and it’s one of the largest castles in Europe. Plus it also houses the Treasury where visitors can look at the crown jewels. The Residenz is conveniently located in downtown Munich.
Castle Ruins in Germany: Old Castle in Baden-Baden
I spent over an hour exploring these castle ruins for which there is no tour nor entrance fee. Despite the nice weather there was only a handful of other visitors there. I loved having free run of the place.
I’ve been to dozens more castles in Germany, but these are some of my favorites.