13 Beautiful Must-See Castles In Bavaria, Germany

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I knew there were castles in Germany, but I didn’t realize just how many German castles still exist! Germany is said to have the most castles in the world, with grand palaces, medieval fortresses, and fairy-tale castles sprinkled throughout the entire country. I loved my three-week road trip through Germany and spent a lot of time exploring its medieval villages, quaint towns, and lovely river valleys. I saw a lot of castles (Eltz Castle and Lichtenstein Castle are two favorites not in Bavaria) but realized it would take months to get to them all! 

Bavaria is a state in southeastern Germany, known for its peaceful countryside, romantic villages, and stunning castles, all encased with a joyful, relaxed, and carefree lifestyle, setting it apart from many other German States. Bavaria is home to some of the most impressive castles, set in some beautiful scenery surrounded by the Bavarian Alps. There are at least 45 castles in Bavaria, including palaces and residences that are open to the public. 

Here are 13 beautiful castles in Bavaria not to be missed!

Würzburg Residence

The Würzburg residence is one of the most magnificent palaces I’ve ever seen, situated along Germany’s romantic road in the fantastically charming town of Würzburg. The palace was built in the 18th century and has many stunning rooms with opulent interiors, grand chandeliers, and magnificent frescoes by the Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. The residence is the epitome of Baroque architecture and is considered one of the finest examples of Baroque palaces in Europe.

It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, recognized for its outstanding universal value as a Baroque palace and for its influence on European palace architecture. You can tour the Würzburg Residence inside and out to explore its lavish rooms, including the Imperial Hall, the White Hall, the Mirror Cabinet, and the Court Chapel, as part of a guided tour or as a self-guided tour. Also, don’t forget to walk around its lavish exterior gardens. It’s a stunning landmark in Bavaria well worth the entry fee!

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Nymphenburg Palace

Located in Munich, Germany, Nymphenburg Palace was built in the 18th century as a summer residence for the Bavarian Electors. Construction began in 1664 and was completed over several generations. It was originally designed as a baroque palace, but rococo and neoclassical features were added in later years.

This royal palace boasts extensive baroque architecture and vast, beautifully landscaped gardens. In fact, it’s the second-largest green space in Munich. Inside the castle, the Great Hall (also known as Steinerner Saal), with its cycle of frescoes, and the Gallery of Beauties, the former living quarters of Queen Caroline, are worth exploring. The palace complex also includes several museums, such as the Marstallmuseum and the Porcelain Museum.

Nymphenburg Palace is open to the public, but you’ll need a ticket to enter. Once you’re in, you can roam the beautiful gardens, palace, and onsite museums. 

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Herrenchiemsee Palace

Herrenchiemsee Palace, located on Herreninsel, an island in the Chiemsee lake in Bavaria, was another of King Ludwig II’s ambitious projects. This structure was meant to be a replica of the Palace of Versailles, and construction began in 1878 but was never fully completed due to Ludwig’s death in 1886.

The palace’s Great Hall of Mirrors is a grand imitation of the famous hall in Versailles, and the gardens also reflect French formal garden design. The King’s Bedroom and the staterooms are richly decorated and display Ludwig’s extravagant tastes. In the King’s Small Apartment, you’ll notice the French rococo-style architecture. 

These castle ruins are open to the public, but you’ll need a ticket. Keep in mind that this complex is on an island, so you’ll need boat transportation there and back. Guided tours of the palace and the onsite cathedral are available. 

Burghausen Castle

Burghausen Castle, situated near the Austrian border, is the longest castle complex in the world, with a length of over 1,000 meters! It dates back to the 11th century and was expanded in the 13th century under the Dukes of Bavaria.

This castle is well-known for its extensive fortifications, multiple courtyards, and well-preserved medieval architecture. The views from the castle over the Salzach River and the town of Burghausen are stunning.

The castle is open to the public. While entry to the grounds is free, there are fees for visiting the museums and specific areas within the castle.

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Nuremberg Castle

Nuremberg Castle, located in the city of Nuremberg, encompasses a group of medieval fortified buildings dating back to the 11th century. It played a crucial role in the Holy Roman Empire, serving as the main imperial residence.

This complex has three main sections: the Imperial Castle (Kaiserburg), the Burgrave’s Castle, and the buildings of the Free Imperial City. These buildings were first erected around the year 1000.

Sinwell Tower, a tall and narrow tower, is the most notable feature of this castle. The Deep Well served as the castle’s water source, while the Double Chapel, two chapels stacked on top of each other, represents the hierarchical systems of the Middle Ages.

The castle is open to the public, and tickets are required for entry. The admission fee includes access to the museum and guided tours of the castle’s historic rooms and towers. It’s one of the best castles in Bavaria!

Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle, located in Heidelberg, dates back to the early 13th century and attracts nearly a million visitors yearly. It was a residence of the Electors Palatine and has played a significant role in German history, particularly during the Thirty Years’ War.

The castle is one of the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. While you’re here, be sure to check out the Heidelberg Tun (which happens to be the largest wine barrel in the world) and the beautiful castle gardens, also known as the Hortus Palatinus.

This castle is open to the public. Tickets are required for entry; they include access to the palace, the palace garden, and the German Apothecary Museum. Guided tours are also available.

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Mespelbrunn Castle

Located in the Spessart forest, Mespelbrunn Castle is a late medieval castle surrounded by a moat. Built in the early 15th century, it has been the residence of the family of Count Ingelheim since 1412. In the 1930s, this family was pressured to open the castle to the public due to economic pressures, but they still reside in the southern wing of this structure.

This real-life fairy-tale castle has well-preserved medieval and Renaissance architecture, picturesque gardens, moat, and scenic surroundings.

Access to the interior of this castle requires a guided tour – be sure to purchase your tickets in advance. However, the exterior and gardens can be viewed without a tour!

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Harburg Castle 

Burg Harburg is a medieval fortress dating back to the 11th century. It is one of the oldest and largest castles in Southern Germany originally built by the Counts of Oettingen. It has a unique design style with red and yellow X shutters along with a fortified wall and dungeon. The castle is built on a ridge overlooking the Wörnitz River and offers lovely views of the town from its battlements. 

It’s the perfect stop on a Romantic Road road trip, perfect for anyone who loves medieval history and villages filled with character. The courtyard, cafe, and gift shop are open to self-tour, while the interior requires a separate tour ticket. It’s worth the price of admission, though, and is a great way to spend a few hours if you find yourself near Harburg. 

Schleissheim Palace

Schleissheim Palace, located in Oberschleißheim near Munich, consists of three palaces: Old Schleissheim Palace, New Schleissheim Palace, and Lustheim Palace. The complex was developed over the 17th and 18th centuries as a summer residence for the Bavarian rulers in the House of Wittelsbach.

The New Palace is the most impressive of the three, boasting baroque architecture, lavishly decorated staterooms, and an extensive collection of baroque paintings. The palace gardens, with their French-style design, are also worth visiting. 

This complex is open to the public, and tickets are required to visit the interiors of the palaces. If you don’t want to buy tickets, the gardens can be visited free of charge. 

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Seehof Palace

Located near Bamberg, Bavaria, Seehof Palace was built during the late 17th century as a summer residence for the Bamberg Prince-Bishops. It’s one of my favorite German castles in Bavaria, with its decorative exterior and acres of green space.

The building has four corner pavilions, each with a short, eight-sided tower on top. These towers have noticeable slate roofs with decorative ball ornaments. This palace also features grand state rooms, including the White Hall, and beautifully landscaped gardens with fountains, statues, and a grand cascade. This castle is an excellent example of early Baroque architecture.

Seehof Palace is open to the public, and tickets are required to visit the interior rooms by guided tour only, but you can visit the gardens free of charge. 

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Linderhof Palace

Built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, Linderhof Palace was completed in 1878, and it’s the smallest of Ludwig’s three royal palaces. Located in Ettal, Germany, this structure was inspired by the French King’s residence at Versailles, reflecting his admiration for the French monarchy and King Louis XIV in particular.

Schloss Linderhof is best known for its ornate Rococo architecture, elaborate gardens, and the Venus Grotto, an artificial cave inspired by Wagner’s opera “Tannhäuser.” While you’re here, be sure to check out the Hall of Mirrors and the King’s Bedroom – two of the most opulent rooms in this castle.

Linderhof Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is open to the public, but you must purchase a ticket to enter. Guided tours are available, providing information on the palace’s history.

A castle on a hill surrounded in green trees.

Neuschwanstein Castle 

This famous castle is one of the most visited castles in the world (the most visited castle in the world is Prague Castle). It’s the one that inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella Castles and can be reached by horse-drawn carriage-how fitting. 

Schloss Neuschwanstein was built by King Ludwig II as a retreat where he could live out his days as a true royal. He envisioned building a castle fit for a king and took design inspiration from many architectural styles, including Romanesque, Gothic, and Byzantine. Although the castle was never finished, you would not know it from the outside.

Its silhouette is dominated by circular and pointed towers and turrets, with towering spires and plenty of arches and balconies. Shortly after the Fairy Tale King died, Neuschwanstein was opened to the public. The castle is now visited by over a million people each year. Even if you do not get a ticket to tour the inside of the castle, it’s still worth the trip. Its placement nestled among trees at the foothills of the Bavarian Alps is stunning! 

Hohenschwangau Castle 

The fairytale castle of Schloss Hohenschwangau sits among the picturesque Alpine foothills of Bavaria, surrounded by lush forests overlooking the turquoise Alpsee Lake. It’s just a short distance from Fussen, within the village of Hohenschwanhau and next to Neuschwanstein castle. This castle has a rich history dating back to the 12th century; it is the childhood home of Ludwig II, the king of Bavaria. It was rebuilt and expanded several times over the centuries and now exudes a Gothic style with pointed arches, towers, and battlements. 

Guided tours are available for visitors who want to enjoy its ornate interior and learn more about the history and significance of this royal residence. While you are there, walk the pathway to Neuschwanstein castle for stunning views of Hohenschwangau and Alpsee lake at sunset

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With so many magnificent castles to choose from, it will be hard to see them all in one trip! Enjoy your time in Germany, and if these castles are not enough, consider visiting the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, where there are more than 500 castles, including Cochem Castle, Sooneck Castle, Hohenzollern, and Rheinstein Castles.

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