Germany sure knows a thing or two about castles. There are more than 20,000 dotted across the country, each one with its own unique story and fairytale setting, just waiting to be discovered.
Schloss Drachenburg is one of the most enchanting German castles of all, with its majestic towers, Disney-esque turrets, and unbeatable views across the Rhine Valley. And the good news is that Schloss Drachenberg is located less than an hour from Cologne, making this the perfect day trip from the city.
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About Schloss Drachenburg
Despite its medieval appearance, Schloss Drachenburg was actually built in the late 1800s by a German banker who designed the castle as his (not-so) humble abode. Throughout the early 20th century, the castle was transformed from a private villa residence into a summer resort, a boys’ boarding school, and subsequently a Nazi elite school during the Second World War. By the end of the war, the castle was occupied by US forces, before becoming a refugee camp. Today, Schloss Drachenberg is a popular tourist attraction and museum, open daily for the public to explore.
Getting to Schloss Drachenburg
Schloss Drachenburg is located on a hilltop just beyond the town of Königswinter, along the banks of the River Rhine. Regional Express (RE) trains run direct from Cologne Central Station (Köln Hauptbahnhof) to Königswinter in just 40 minutes.
One-way tickets cost around €8 and can be purchased from the station but I’d recommend downloading the DB Navigator app instead, where you can check live train times and book your tickets instantly. The app will also come in handy, if you’re planning on using public transport to get around Cologne or if you’re visiting Ehrenfeld – Cologne’s coolest neighbourhood, known for its street art.
Read more: Spotting street art in Ehrenfeld, Cologne
Once you arrive at Königswinter train station, follow signs to ‘Drachenfels’, which will soon bring you to the bottom of a hill. From here, you can either pay €10 to hop on the Drachenfels funicular up to the castle, or you can hike 20-30 minutes to the top. We opted for the latter and were rewarded with gorgeous views of the Rhine Valley and river, along the way. There’s also a cafe/restaurant on the way up, where you can grab a coffee and take a break before exploring the castle.
Visiting Schloss Drachenberg
Schloss Drachenberg is open daily (seasonal opening times apply) and costs €7 to visit and €5 for children. General admission grants you access to the castle grounds and interiors.
Download the free audio-guide app to learn about the history of the castle as you may your way around, or join a guided tour, which lasts around 45 minutes. Private and special tours are also available for a fee and can be booked in advance.
If you do opt for a self-guided tour, highlights include the grand marble staircase, the ornate dining room, and the North Tower, which you can climb for sweeping views of the beautiful Rhine Valley. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Cologne from up here.
Before heading back to Cologne, be sure to make a quick stop at the medieval town of Königswinter, just a few minutes from the station. Check out the charming timber-framed houses and head inside one of the traditional bars for a beer to complete your fairytale German experience.