Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Where to Take Your Parents for German Castles

My parents never intended to go to Germany. They certainly didn't envision spending so much time in Berlin. They really never thought they might have to watch their future grandchild grow up speaking German (hopefully).

So when we can make concessions, we do what we can. On their last visit to see us in Europe we put in some time to see one of their favorite things: Castles!

Note: Not all locations have been tested on our parents, but I feel pretty certain recommending them after our visit.

Burg Eltz

Castle Tour in Germany

On my parent's first visit to Europe, we never even made it out of the country. That doesn't mean we were disappointed in what the country had to offer in the castle department.

Our first castle was possibly the most glorious. Recommended by our personal travel guru, Rick Steves, this beast of a castle is unusually settled down in a valley. Family owned for over 850 years, it is now shared by three families with part of the castle still available to tour.

What? Burg Eltz
Where? Kastellane, 56294 Wierschem. An hour's drive from the Rhine (less from the Mosel) between Koblenz and Cochem.
How? Tours are available on a 45-minute tour (included in 9 euro entry price)


castles in Germany

This last visit with the P's was the second time we viewed the lovely Reichsburg Cochem
from afar. You see it as you drive along the Mosel from miles away, teasingly peeking around the corners.

We tried driving up to the castle, but its tiny winding streets were a little too much for my champion driving mom. Luckily, that town is crazy charming. Maybe next time we'll make it to the castle, but it is still pretty good just having it in the background.

What? Reichsburg Cochem
Where? Schlossstraße 36, 56812 Cochem
How? Tours of the largest hill-castle on the Mosel are available for 5 euro


palaces in Germany

Berlin isn't often called outright pretty, but Frederick the Great, King of Prussia,'s summer palace in Potsdam really is. The royals sunny home rivals Versailles with a name that means "no worries".

What? Sanssouci
Where? Maulbeerallee, 14469 Potsdam 
How? Walk the grounds for free, or pay to enter the many buildings around the ground for 12 euro


German castle tour
Entry to the castle

German castle tour

One of our favorite German towns, we love the architecture almost as much as the beer. The castle is located high up on a hilltop above the city and offers spectacular views of the rest of the town's gorgeous medieval structures. Mostly destroyed and rebuilt, it is fairly basic but the views are worth the trek.

What? Altenburg (Bamberg attractions in my article)
Where? Altenburg 1, 96049 Bamberg 
How? Walk the grounds for free or get a meal at the restaurant


 castles in Germany

Drachenfels Germany

On our way to Belgium on a beer run (ah, European life) we stopped in Cologne to see our adopted little bro. On a whim, we took a short detour to Schloss Drachenburg on Drachenfels. The castle is a  modern recreation, but it is impressive all on its own with stunning views. The name of the mountain and earlier ruins near the top means "Dragon's Rock" and refers to the story of Siegfried, the hero of the Nibelungenlied, who is said to have killed the dragon Fafnir who lived here and bathed in its blood to become invulnerable. Awesomely gruesome.

For parents (or kids), I highly recommend taking the tram up the mountain. We walked and though doable, the tram is quite charming.

What? Schloss Drachenburg + visitor info
Where? Drachenfelsstrasse 118 53639 Königswinter Germany 
How? Walk up the mountain or take the tram to this mountain perched castle. Admission is 6 euro.

Schloss Charlottenburg

Located out west in Berlin, this is the largest palace in the city. Built at the end of the 17th century, it has been expanded and re-constructed throughout the years and along with the palace has an expansive grounds.

The first time we visited we walked the grounds I marveled at the people jogging the royal gardens as if this were just a normal track. So this is European living, eh? We've ventured out here for visitors, the nearby Picasso museum and Christmas markets, but for some reason I hadn't gotten the parents out here til the last visit. They were impressed with its regal design and I loved the easy to use audio tour. I really am in love with this city and enjoy learning everything about it.

What? Charlottenburg Palace
Where? Spandauer Damm 20-24, 14059 Berlin
How? Walk the grounds for free, or pay to enter the palace for 12 euro (Note the 3 euro fee for pics within the building. I hate that, but am glad my mum got to snap some pics).


 castles in Germany

This 19th century Romanesque Revival palace is a bit of a fake, for all its fanfare. It was the inspiration of Disney's Sleeping Beaty's castle and was meant to be the escape for reclusive Ludwig II of Bavaria. This wasn't the only one of Ludwig's elaborate castles. There has been talk that he was bankrupting the state building palace after palace and his mysterious death in a nearby lake holds a few similarities to politics of today. 

That twisted history didn't mean we didn't want to see it. On the contrary.  On a trip down to Austria, Ljubljana and Bled we made a stop in Füssen to see the castle. And my, oh my is she a beauty.

What? Neuschwanstein
Where? Neuschwansteinstraße 20, 87645 Schwangau
How? This castle has an international draw and waits can be quite long, but for no more than other castles on this list at 12 euro, it is well worth it.

Coburg Castle

On our way back from Bamberg, we thought we could fit in another castle. And what a castle!

Once the refuge of Martin Luther, this Bavaria castle (about 100 km north of Nuremberg) was partially destroyed in WWII but has been meticulously restored. It is one of the largest surviving medieval fortresses in Germany.

What? Veste Coburg (Visitor details on my article)
Where? Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg, D-96450 Coburg, Germany
How? Walking the grounds (complete with views) is free with access to the interior and art museums for 8 euro

Bonus Castles!

Even though we aren't nearly as castle-loving as my parents, we've managed to visit more than a few European castles and palaces.  

  More places we've been...



Rachel said...

Despite the hoards of tourists, Neuschwanstein completely took my breath away. It helps that the views from the top are incredibly on a sunny day too.

As for your bonus castles, I'm a BIG fan of Cardiff castle :-)

~ cheryl said...

You can never see too many castles!

Astrid Kummer said...

Wow, the first one Burg Eltz looks breathtaking. Nice list of castles!

ebe porter said...

Thanks for sharing in the castle love all!

Heather in DE said...

What is up with the parents and the castles? My dad sent me a list of about ten of them before they visited, and wanted to know if any of them were near us. Considering one was on the North Sea, no, no they were not. But we found a few more, and I think we may have even castled them out. Whoops. :)

ebe porter said...

I am happy to take the p's to castles if it keeps them coming back to Berlin & Germany. Well done on wearing out your parents Heather!

Heather in DE said...

Haha, fair enough. I just told a friend the other day that I might have to start squeezing out kids to get them to stay longer. Clearly you've already got that strategy covered! :)

cliff1976 said...

Our annual expat blogger meetup is happening in Nürnberg this year with a side trip of Bamberg -- maybe we'll get to see that castle there. Is it reachable via public transportation? I'm pretty sure most of us are headed to Bamberg via an RB/RE from Nuremberg.

Your article is perhaps just what we need for deciding how to spend our time in Bamberg, thanks!

P.S.: The meetup is in September. Details at -- wanna come along?

ebe porter said...

True stuff Heather. Babies make (grand)parents happy to stay.

Thanks for the note Cliff! So glad to be of help. We usually travel by public transport so having a car was a real luxury getting to the castle. I read that there was a public bus there, but didn't take ti myself. Personally, I would recommend the Spezial-Keller biergarten if weather holds as its view is spectacular and it is a manageable (if bit long) walk from town center.

I am actually 7 months pregnant right now and probably on my last trip before the birth in England, but hope you all have fun!

Vlad said...

Good list of the great castles in Germany

We're Back in Berlin Ja!

We're Back in Berlin Ja!
ebe & ian at Yak-toberfest 2008