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If you’re staying in Munich and want to take a day trip to Neuschwanstein, the best way to get there and the nearby Hohenschwangau Castle , is by the regional Bavarian train. It runs every couple of hours, and the trip will take about 2 ½ hours to the nearby town of Fussen. From there, you board the local bus (#73 in the direction Steingaden/Garmisch-Partenkircher or #78 towards Schwangau) for the 10- to 15-minute ride to the castles’ ticket center in the village of Hohenschwangau. You should plan ahead for your return trip to Munich by checking the bus and train schedule, so you don’t end up waiting too long for the bus back to Fussen (and possibly miss your train!)For planning purposes, you should leave Munich about four hours before your scheduled tour time, and be sure to get the regional Bavarian day ticket. One ticket gets you unlimited trips from 9:00 am to 3:00 am the following day (Midnight to 3:00 am the following day on weekends) throughout Munich ’s S-Bahn and U-Bahn, as well as travel on the regional and local Bavarian trains and buses. The beauty of this ticket is that if you’re travelling with family or friends, you can get one ticket good for up to five people for 31 euros (only 29 euros at the automated ticket vending machines) This price is ridiculously low compared to the expense of the many multiple fares this excursion would require for a group of people. You’ll be happy you have the regional ticket, too, when you see other tourists waiting in long lines and fumbling for change every time they have to buy a new ticket.
Neuschwanstein Castle can only be visited as part of a guided tour, which is offered by personnel in German and English; many other languages are available through audio guides. The tour, which in the spring of 2011 cost 12 euros for adults and nothing for children under 18 (bonus!), lasts about half an hour. To get the most out of your visit to Neuschwanstein, you should reserve a day in advance; it’s well worth the small service fee. When you go the web site, http://www.neuschwanstein.de/englisch..., you’ll be able to select a specific tour time and then skip the line by picking up and paying for your tickets at the Hohenschwangau ticket center. Be sure to arrive one hour before your scheduled tour.Once you get to Hohenschwangau, there are three ways to complete the final stretch to Neuschwanstein. You can walk about 30 minutes on a paved, uphill road; hop on a shuttle bus from the Schlosshotel Lisl for a 1.80 euros (1 euro for the return); or for 6 euros (3 euros for the return), enjoy a horse-drawn carriage that departs from the front of Hotel Muller and drops off five minutes from the castle entrance. Note that the shuttle bus does not drop off passengers at the castle entrance; it goes to Marienbrucke (Mary’s Bridge,) and from there it’s a 10-minute walk on a steep downhill to the entrance. Once you get to the castle, groups are efficiently spaced apart, with tour times prominently displayed on electronic signs. Your tour will be called to line up 15 minutes before departure, so there’s no excessive waiting and no need to compete for a good spot in the queue.