My Favorite Castles in Southern Germany

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There are an incredible 25,000 castles in Germany!

With so many castles it’s difficult to pick out just one favourite. Instead, I’ve picked out my favourite castles in Southern Germany based on different criteria. As you’ll soon see, no two castles are alike:

Favourite Touristy Castle in Germany:  Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg castle in Baden-Württemberg is one of my favorite touristy castles in Germany.

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 lightning strike. And the castle tour is worth fighting the crowds.

Inside Heidelberg Castle visitors can also visit the World’s Largest Apothecary Museum. It showcases over 20,000 pharmaceutical items. You’ll also find the world’s largest wine barrel here.

Travel Tip for Visiting Heidelberg Castle

The crowds reach an all-time peak in July and August. Go at another time of year if possible. If not go early or later in the day.

Favorite Elaborate Castle in Germany:  Herrenchiemsee New Palace

Herrenchiemsee New Palace in Bavaria is the most elaborate castle in Germany I've visited.One of crazy King Ludwig’s castles, the Herrenchiemsee New Palace is the most elaborate. It cost more than the combined total of famed Neuschwanstein and Linderhof.

It’s decadence at its finest. It’s 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.

It makes a great day trip from Munich. And you’ll take a boat to reach it which this tour includes.

Another favourite of mine is King Ludwig’s hunting castle. You’ll have to hike up to see it but the surroundings are stunning.

Favorite Small Castle in Germany:  Lichtenstein Castle

Lichtenstein Castle in Baden-Württemberg is cute hunting castle perched on a cliff.Lichtenstein Castle is sometimes referred to as Neuschwanstein’s Little Brother. 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

Ludwigsburg castle in Baden-Württemberg offers one of the best castle tours in Germany.After a while, many castle tours seem to blur together. But not the Ludwigsburg Palace tour. On the tour, visitors learn all about the secret lives of royalty. That includes Duke Eberhard’s libido which unfortunately was reserved for his mistresses. His poor wife. Or perhaps she was relieved?

 The tour also includes a look at the servant’s quarters. You get a glimpse of 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

Hohenzollern castle in Baden-Württemberg is one of my favorite castles in Germany that you can hike to.There are much easier ways to reach Hohenzollern Castle than a 12km hike. I.e. you could drive 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. It has seen numerous wars including the Thirty Years War. It has 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.

If you want even more of a challenge, then hike to King Ludwig’s Hunting Palace in the German Alps. The views are unbeatable!

Favorite Castle in Munich:  The Residenz

Munich Residenz is my favorite castle in Munich, Bavaria.
The largest ceiling fresco I’ve ever seen is in the Munich 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.

It’s also 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.

You can even attend a concert with dinner in the Residenz. The surest way to feel like royalty!

Castle Ruins in Germany:  Old Castle in Baden-Baden

Castle ruins at Baden-Württemberg are my favorite castle ruins in GermanyI 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 of other castles in Germany, but these are some of my favorites.

What are your favorite castles in Germany? You have more than 24,990 to choose from.

See more places to visit in Germany.

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About Author

Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains Adventure Travel. She's passionate about getting outdoors as often as possible and helping travellers do the same on their vacation in a sustainable way. She's Canadian and grew up in the Canadian Rockies but now lives in Munich, Germany. You can find her skiing or hiking in the mountains most weekends, hanging out with her cat or with her nose in a good book.


April 11, 2012
Oh how I want to visit each and every one of these...especially the little Lichtenstein Castle. Your photography beautifully captures these magnificent fortresses and your experiences! Thanks for sharing!
April 11, 2012
I came across your blog while doing some research for an article I'm writing for work and ended up reading posts for nearly an hour. You have a great style of writing :-) I like the Heidelberg castle too! I just wish it wasn't so touristy. Another great castle is the Burg Guttenburg, mostly because of the Bird of Prey Centre that's there. I love birds of prey :-) From an English girl living in Germany.
April 11, 2012
Lichtenstein castle looks simply amazing. Wow, what a view.
aunt spicy
April 11, 2012
Totally agree with you on Ludwigsburg! Best tour ever! Thanks for the list, there are a few I have not been to yet!
April 11, 2012
Would you believe I did not see a single castle in Germany? They're all so beautiful and I am determined to do a trip down through the centre of the country and see all of these (we checked out all the cities last time).
April 11, 2012
Awesome tips! I have only been to one, but will put the rest on my "must see" list.
April 12, 2012
You know I love my castles in Germany! Reading this shows, I have more work to do. Lovely display. Hohenzollern and Lichtenstein are definitely high on the list.
April 12, 2012
I lived in Heidelberg between 2001-2003, and I've been back to visit many times since 2003. Living in the HD was in fact like a fairy-tale of sorts ... aside from the fact that in history, the Schloß (what some of us expats referred as "the schlob") was sacked a time or two ...
April 12, 2012
So many beautiful castles! We really must travel to Germany soon - my daughters would love it! I'm a little worried about Lichtenstein Castle though - it looks a little precarious on the side of that cliff!
April 12, 2012
I'm planning a summer family trip to Berlin and Munich. Definitely bookmarking this to aid my travel plans, huge castle nerd here. :)
April 12, 2012
Although I' from (and in) Germany, I have visited and explored only about a dozen castles here (but have seen a lot more from a distance of course). Your excellent pictures and descriptions make me want to see more castles. My favorite castles here in my home region Südwestfalen (Southern Westphalia) and Bergisches Land are Burg Altena (with the world's first/oldest youth hostel) and Schloss Burg near Solingen. In Northern Germany: Schloss Herrenhausen near Hannover and Schloss Celle (in downtown Celle).
April 12, 2012
Lichtenstein Castle = WOW! Haven't been there, but looks like a must-see to me. I agree about Heidelberg Castle. It's well worth fighting the crowds to see this amazing place.
April 13, 2012
Those are some great castles in Germany! I've only seen a few castles when I was there. I enjoyed Neuschwanstein but like the look of Lichtenstein as well. However, I wouldn't have wanted a room facing the cliff side. :)
eileen ludwig
April 13, 2012
Love Castles, Been to Heidelberg - Funny my picture this week is about a Castle too. Different country.
Denmark Castle Copenhagen Tivoli | Digital Photography and Multimedia Digital Art: Photo Tips
April 13, 2012
[...] Laurel Robbins writes about German Castles [...]
April 13, 2012
Apart from those of mad King Ludwig, I haven't seen any castles in Germany. Lichtenstein looks excellent - and slightly scary.
April 13, 2012
I might just have to pop back up to Germany to see some of these. Inspiring!
April 13, 2012
Wow, Lichtenstein Castle looks like a fairy tale setting! Beautiful photos, would love to visit them all one day.
April 13, 2012
Ohhh that photo of the Lichenstein Castle makes my stomach drop!
April 14, 2012
Love the castle perched on a cliff, great pics!
April 19, 2012
Wow! Indeed some of these places could become my favorite, too; particularly the Lichtenstein castle. The only "castle" I've been to is the Iolani Palace in Hawaii - incidentally the only place in the USA where royalty actually lived. But that probably is no match to these great places. I have to make it to a European castle one day.
April 19, 2012
I visited all but two of those castles when I lived in Munich in 1991-92. I'll have to dig out my slides of Herrenchiemsee New Palace - photos were allowed to be taken inside then, and I have dozens of slides. My favorite castle? I never met a castle I didn't like, but Neuschwanstein really struck a chord with me - there was a light snow falling and it was simply magical.
April 22, 2012
Hi Laurel, Just stumbled across your blog. I'm an ex-pat living in Burghausen, Germany. This is my second time as an expat here. My husband and I lived in Germany from the late 80's through the mid-90's. Went to the states, started a family, and are now back again for more adventures in Europe. Loved your comments on the German medical system. Forgot totally about the privacy thing. Had my tonsils out many years ago here and was hospitalized for 5 days. Also, your comments on hiking without sighting much wildlife hit home with us as well. We come from the Pacific Northwest and have spent lots of time in Montana and in the Canadian Rockies and miss the possibility of seeing bears or cougars or other wildlife (from a distance, of course). Anyway, on castles, have you visited the castle here in Burghausen, Europe's longest castle? It's quite impressive. Drop me an email if you' re in the area... Anyway, am looking forward to more postings.
September 12, 2012
Hi Hilary, Thanks so much for your comments, it's always nice to hear from other expats. I've heard of Burghausen, but haven't been yet, now I have a good excuse as it would be nice to meet you too.
April 24, 2012
Oh these are fabulous! The only one I've seen is the Heidelberg Castle, but that Lichtenstein Castle is incredible the way it's perched so precariously on that cliff! I'm guessing it wasn't always like that (as in erosion must have worn away the cliff)?
April 26, 2012
Ok, I've seen some of them, but gosh, Lichtenstein Castle looks amazing! Why didn't I know anything about it before?
May 5, 2012
So many great castles. It is almost a tease that they are so close to me and yet so unwieldy to get to without a car. I like the Hohenzollern castle. Especially the history that it was the beginnings of the families that went to start Prussia near Berlin. Germany was sort of born in this area, if you look at it half skewed like that. Ah well, I'll just have to figure out a friend with a car or deal with the convoluted train changes to see them. Thanks for sharing.
May 26, 2012
Lichtenstein Castle is my favorite. It looks like something straight out of Grimm's Fairy Tales!
August 18, 2012
Not sure how to go about this but I need information on how to get from Munich to Lichtenstein via train. Is this doable?
July 9, 2012
Maybe this should help your users. We have just finished work on detailed map of castles in Germany. You can seach by various parameters like date of foundation or type of building. The link is : Hope that helps !
Tonya Boser
February 21, 2013
This was so helpful. Big thanks to the person who posted the map with links to specific castles/locations. That was a great idea.
February 21, 2013
@Tonya - Glad that it was helpful and agreed, the map was very useful.
Crystal @ Little Sightseers
July 19, 2012
We just went to Heidelberg this past weekend to see the fireworks. They only do it 3 times each year. It was a really great show. They light the castle up in red to remember when it was burned down. Lichtenstein Castle is just like a fairy tale. I would LOVE to see that one too!!
Alex @ ifs ands & butts
February 20, 2013
Holy cow - I can't believe there are nearly 25,000! The Heidelberg Castle is not my favorite, but I really would love to get to Lichtenstein Castle!
February 4, 2014
Wow! Those images are just gorgeous! Germany was never on our list but now the time has come!
April 4, 2014
Inspiring! Nice list! A full list of all castles in Germany (NRW) is here:
March 5, 2015
So far, I have visited just one castle in Germany - Schloss Augustusburg. I guess I have a lot to catch up on. :) I would love to visit Hohenzollern Castle and Lichtenstein Castle one day.
March 8, 2015
@Milena - I haven't visited Schloos Augustusburg. So many castles, so little time!
August 21, 2015
Heidelberg is cool. I lived there in the late 80's and had my 11th grade prom inside the Heidelberg castle. Kinda hard to beat that for a prom date!
August 21, 2015
@Scott - WOW! That sounds amazing!
August 28, 2015
Love all those castles!!! I had no idea there were 25,000 in Germany! I know there are thousands but I would have never guessed that high. There are still sooo many to see, it's so exciting! Cheers!
November 17, 2015
State- owned castles (gardens, lakes) in Bavaria:
June 5, 2017
Wow - some truly beautiful castles in Germany! Love Hohenzollern, and can definitely second the recommendation to get there as early as possible. Much more beautiful without the crowds! Schloss Putnitz is also beautiful if you're in the Rostock/Stralsund area.
June 12, 2017
Thanks for the recommendation, will have to check it out.

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