If you don't have time to tour Neuschwanstein after your tour of Hohenschwangau, you still might want to consider hiking up to the Marienbrücke. Mary’s Bridge is where many of those classic photos of Neuschwanstein Castle are taken. Named after Queen Mary, mother of King Ludwig II who built the castle, it was built in 1866 and stretches across the gorge near the castle. The bridge is 304 feet high and not only provides wonderfully romantic views of the castle, but overlooks the gorge and the Poellat waterfalls below.
The bridge is well worth the uphill climb to get to it. It does not require a ticket and is free to enjoy. You can reach the bridge by hiking up from Neuschwanstein Castle (allow an extra 20 minutes to hike to it AFTER you get to the castle) or if you have taken the bus to the castle, you will be dropped off near the bridge and can follow the signs. Be sure to allow ample time to get back to the castle in time for your scheduled tour if you have tickets. If you are unsure if you have enough time, go to the bridge AFTER your tour just to be safe.
The bridge is often very, very crowded and lots of people are trying to pose for pictures on the bridge. Just be patient – there’s nothing else you can really do.
One of my favorite things about the bridge area (besides the view!) is the artists that sell their pictures near there. My daughter stopped to speak with one and he was extremely friendly and knowledgeable about the castle and its architecture as well as the surrounding area. These artists often are quite good – but they should be since they are drawing the same castle over and over again. My daughter made a purchase from the artist she spoke with and it was nicely packaged so it would not get messed up. And the price she paid was very reasonable.
You can also catch the bus to Neuschwanstein from near the ticket office for about 2 euros - it will drop you off right near the bridge.
The Marienbrücke is worth the extra climb if you are able to make it up there and don’t mind the crowds (or the height).
If you have been the Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau before or are looking for a new way to explore a well traveled route, then consider hiking from the village of Schwangau to the castle by way of Tegelberg mountain. You can begin at the Tegelberg cablecar in Schwangua which will take you near the top of the mountain to the restaurant that was a former hunting lodge. From there, it is a 2-3 hour hike down to Neuschwanstein Castle. The trail brings you right over the Marienbrücke and down past the castle towards the parking areas. At that point you can catch a bus back to your starting point in Schwangau or meet up with others that opted to explore the castle while you hiked.
Of course, you can do this all in reverse by starting at the castle and heading up without the benefit of the cable car, saving that adventure for the end when you come back down from Tegelberg.
The Tegelberg website has current weather information and other details that will be handy for planning a hike in the area.
Current prices (2012) for the cable car are €11,80 one-way or €18,40 round trip with a slight discount for children.
Hiking Tegelberg is recommended for the physically fit with the right equipment (sturdy shoes, jackets, etc.). Not recommended for children.
If you want a small taste of the trail, then you can walk for a bit past the Marienbrücke – keep going across the bridge and follow the path. You will see signs to Tegelberg along with warning signs to stay on the path and only travel this path in the summertime.
This is a way to see Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau from a vantage point that most visitors don’t see. Allow yourself the day to make the round trip journey.