Lichtenstein Castle (German: Schloss Lichtenstein), also known as the “Fairy tale castle of Württemberg,” is an 1840s Biedermeier style Gothic Revival castle built on a large rock near Honau, Reutlingen, in the Swabian Jura situated in the Tüblingen region of Baden-Württemberg, Germany.
We set out from our flat in Tübingen on a recent Saturday to hike to Lichtenstein Castle.
After taking a bus and a train to the nearby town of Reutlingen, we realized that the bus we needed to get to our hike was not running that day.
We spent a couple of hours wandering the new town, shopping at market stalls and finding lunch at a kebob shop, before we headed back to Tübingen without seeing the castle.
On Sunday, we began again in Tübingen.
Side note: The phrase: “To begin again in Tübingen” is repeated with ridiculous frequency among us, and for reasons I can’t explain, has become a silly private joke, which honestly wasn’t ever really funny, but we still laugh.
we began again on Sunday and this time when we reached Reutlingen, the bus to the forest came.
And what a bus! This cute, impeccably restored Mercedes vintage bus is the vehicle that carries you up into the Swabian Alps (Schwäbische Alb in German).
(Swabia is the area of Germany where we live. I just learned this by the way.)
We were the only passengers on the bus for most of the thirty minute ride. Also, the driver looked about 14 years old.
The bus dropped us in the middle of the forest at a place called Nebelhöhle, a remote parking lot from which a network of beautiful trails wind through the hills.
We followed a well-marked loop that led to Lichtenstein Castle.
It was a misty day and I kept losing the boys and my friend, Nicola in the fog when I stopped to take photos.
Beware of cliffs in the fog. Yikes.
We were damp with this mist, but it makes for beautiful, storybook walking.
I was grateful for my boots as we tromped up and down hills, through leaves and mud.
Near the castle we entered these walkways that were lined with endless piles of neatly stacked firewood.
The castle must use a lot of firewood.
Just before you get to the castle is this lovely restaurant and beer garden. We were all cold and damp, so we stopped in here for a hot drink before continuing up to the castle. They were very busy with Sunday lunch reservations, but they were super kind to let us occupy a table as long as we agreed to vacate it by the time the 1:30 diners arrived. I mention this because it’s the second or third time we have stopped in at a place where the tables were all reserved but someone let us come in and have a coffee or a quick treat. In general, we are finding the service folks at restaurants and coffee shops in Swabia to be super kind and helpful like that.
After we were all warm inside from hot tea, hot coffee and hot chocolate with piles of cream, we headed on up to Schloss Lichtenstein.
The castle is not really super huge, but it is gorgeous.
The bridge over the old moat and the ivy covered walls are pretty fairytale like.
It looks exactly like a castle is supposed to look if you have never before seen one. Turrets and rounded walls that have spots for sentries.
The biggest tower rises out of this rock on the cliff.
There are lots of places you could fall off a cliff, so I enjoyed being at this castle with children who aren’t teeny tiny. They ran around the grounds and posted themselves at various lookout points.
Simon’s favorite part was a machine in which you could insert a penny (and a euro) and have it flattened with an imprint of the castle onto the penny.
And this is an example of how you can never predict what your kids are going to enjoy when you take them on a hike to a magnificent old structure that is dangling on the edge of a cliff.
I loved all the details. The shields of armor, the little crosses and balls and points on top of the pointy towers.
The outbuildings that were maybe for servants or gardeners.
I loved how the castle looked slightly creepy in the fog.
And I loved walking around and exploring it with my friend.
And the flowers. I always love the flowers.
Back through the woods, we walked a different way to our remote vintage bus stop, but before it arrived, we had lunch in a cutie little hut in the forest.
Of course lunch was Ben’s favorite part of the day. (Always)
We had traditional Swabian dishes, these big noodle pockets filled with meat and vegetables and drenched in different sauces. Mine was a mushroom sauce. It was delish, as most things are after you have been walking in a damp forest all day.
Then we hopped on our cutie vintage bus to make the long trek back to Tübingen. It took longer to get home, as we had to change buses a couple more times.
When we got home, Taido told us that if we had driven to the castle from our flat it would have take a little over half an hour to get there. And this my friends, is the great adventure of not owning a car. Our Tübingen bus passes made all our travel to and from the castle free to us (on the weekends), so it is economical.
I said to the boys that I think the all-day, much slower journey of getting to the castle made us appreciate seeing it that much more. Even more so because it actually took us two attempts to get there.
The jury is still out on whether they agree with me.
PS. If you are in Germany and want to plan your own hike to Lichtenstein Castle, I highly recommend the site Rome2Rio for plotting journeys of any kind between places with which you are unfamiliar, which for me includes all of Germany! Here’s how our journey looked on Rome2Rio.