Is Germany’s Lichtenstein Castle Worth A Visit?

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With its stunning hilltop location and romantic architectural design Lichtenstein Castle (Schloss Lichtenstein) is one of the most picturesque and fairy-tale-like castles in Germany. It sits on a rocky promontory overlooking the Swabian Alps, dates back to the 12th century and is definitely worth a visit!.

The first structure on the property, a knight’s castle, was built in 1388. In 1802, a hunting lodge was built on the former’s castle foundation for the King of Württemberg. The property fell into ruins for hundreds of years before it was purchased by Duke Wilhelm of Urach and revitalized over the years into what we see today. 

The current castle was constructed between 1840 and 1842 in a neo-Gothic style, designed to resemble the Duke’s vision of a medieval knight’s castle. It is said that the Duke was inspired by Wilhelm Hauff’s 1826 romantic novel, Lichtenstein, and built the castle to resemble the one mentioned in the novel.

He named it Lichtenstein after the original medieval castle that once stood on the same site.

The name “Lichtenstein” is derived from the German words “licht” meaning “light” and “stein” meaning “stone.” It refers to the pale-colored limestone cliffs on which the castle is built.

A lot like Eltz Castle, Lichtenstein is very scenic and surrounded by beautiful forests. Its placement along the cliff is stunning! I stared at its towers thinking, WOW this castle must have been a pain to build, especially in the 1800s.

Although I arrived just before closing and had to tour the grounds quickly,  Lichtenstein Castle was one of my favorite stops along my 10 day Germany Road trip. 

Getting To The Castle

The best way to get to the castle is by car. There is a car park (parking costs 3 euros) 350 meters away from the castle entrance in front of the castle tavern, (Schloßschenke). 

I recommend downloading offline maps for directions just in case reception is spotty. 

During this European trip, I used Airalo for an electronic sim card that worked beautifully during my 9 weeks in Europe in multiple countries including Germany, The Netherlands and Portugal.

There is no public transportation that leads directly to the castle. There are hiking trails that lead to the castle from nearby towns and bus stops including Nebelhöhle, Bärenhöhl, Traifelberg and Honau, taking 30 minutes to 2 hours one way. 

There is also a bus from the Engstingen train station, Sonnenalbexpress, with multiple routes to the castle from April to October. 

Castle Opening Times

The castle is open during tourist season April-October 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m 

November, December and March the castle is open from 10 a.m – 4 p.m but closes for Christmas. The castle is closed in January and February. 

As always, check the castle’s website for updated opening times. 

Tickets are not available online. You can purchase tickets for Lichtenstein castle at the onsite ticket counter at the main entrance.

Touring The Castle

The castle grounds include guest quarters, a cannon tower, a chapel and horse stables among other things. They are enclosed by walls built in 1848 so the only way to see the castle is to enter the complex.

To gain entrance to the castle grounds, there is a small fee that allows you to go through the courtyard, enjoy the views and enter a few buildings like a chapel at your own pace. The space is pretty small and does not take more than 15 mins to walk around (more time to take photos and enjoy the pretty views).

Inside the castle you can tour two levels to see a few rooms including the armoury, the castle chapel, the drinking parlour and knights hall with medieval furnishings and delicate paintings.

The only way to view the interior of the castle is to join a guided tour. All interior tours are in German and run every 20 mins lasting around 30 minutes. They only offer English speaking tours for groups of 15 or more with advanced reservation.

I opted to skip the tour because I did the German tour at Harburg castle so I could see the interior (and I am glad I did) but since this castle looked small, I didn’t think the 30 minute tour would be worth the 12 euro cost, plus,  you are not allowed to take photos of the inside of the castle. 

In retrospect, I wish I would have paid for the guided tour just to see the inside rooms even if I didn’t understand the language. I later searched the internet for “inside Lichtenstein Castle” and the pictures that came up looked very ornate. There are also a few photos on the castle’s interior on their website

They do give you a pamphlet (available in multiple languages) describing the castle, its history and some of the rooms with your entrance fee, so I bet it would not be too hard to understand what you are looking at.

I wish I had more time to spend at this castle and take advantage of the nearby hiking trails and enjoy the property a little longer. I arrived an hour before closing, coming straight from Hohenzollern Castle. I was starving and ate at the tavern before heading to the castle grounds. The service at the cafe was very well received. They were so accommodating and went out of their way to translate a few menu items in greater detail which I really appreciated. The casual cafe served traditional German food and everything was very tasty! 

Once inside the castle’s courtyard, the attendant let me know they would be closing soon, so I felt rushed and walked around the courtyard quickly. I actually met a few people from Czech and had a lovely conversation with them but also didn’t get to take as many photos as I wanted since closing time was approaching. 

It really doesn’t take a long time to walk around the courtyard. I went into the chapel but the stables and guest’s quarter buildings were closed. The chapel was very beautiful with a blue and gold painted roof. I definitely recommend stopping in. 

You can also go into the cannon tower (Augusten-Tower) with your courtyard entry ticket. I meant to do this but after stopping to chat, I completely forgot before closing time.

Final Thoughts

Overall, even though this castle is a bit off the beaten path, I am really glad I made the effort to come. Even without going inside, I enjoyed the atmosphere and think this castle is worth a stop if you are in the area (or driving from Baden-Baden to Füssen like I was). 

It is less busy than nearby Hohenzollern Castle, which adds to its appeal. It is not overrun with tourists and has a welcoming atmosphere. My only regret, is not having more time to visit Lichtenstein!

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