About Poellat Gorge Waterfall
The Poellat Gorge Waterfall (or Pöllatschlucht Wasserfall in German) should have been one of the most breathtaking waterfalls in all of Germany. Indeed, it had the fortunate location sitting right by the world famous Neuschwanstein Castle (the very inspiration of most of the Disney castles) as well as right beneath Maria’s Bridge (Marienbrücke).
In fact, we never knew that such a combination of castle and waterfall existed until we went to Disney’s California Adventure one day and saw an aerial view of this place in the ride Soaring Over The World. Ever since we saw that, we just had to make it a point to come here.
Unfortunately, getting a good view of this waterfall was very difficult mostly because of the photo restrictions placed on tourists. Basically, practically anywhere inside the Neuschwanstein Castle, taking pictures was not allowed. And that was a shame because the best spots to view the Poellat Gorge Waterfall with the Marienbrucke were from within the Neuschwanstein Castle looking out the windows. The higher up the castle you go, the better the views became as obstructions became less of a problem.
The only place to “legally” take a picture of the Poellat Gorge Waterfall with the Marienbrucke was from a crowded balcony on the west side of the castle at the end of the paid tour. However, that only yielded a very unsatisfying view of the Poellat Gorge Waterfall (as it was mostly covered up by trees below it) though the views further west towards the Alpsee and the Hohenschwangau Castle backed by mountains was a decent consolation prize.
I really wished there was a better spot to view the waterfall from the south side of the castle, but work on completing the Neuschwanstein Castle stopped on June 13, 1886 when King Ludwig II died (under very suspicious circumstances) thereby halting any further financing work on his fantasy castles. So any hope of such a development happening is kaputt. Regardless, the reduced scenic rating I’m giving to this waterfall was a direct result of the diminished ability to enjoy it given these restrictions.
Anyhow, any of the better photos we happened to take and show on this page were the result of sneaking in a photo of the waterfall from a gift shop after the end of the paid tour or through the window of one of the hallways on the way towards the kitchen basement and out of the castle itself. It was difficult with a DSLR camera due to the presence of steel bars on the windows, but with a smaller lens on iPhones, it was definitely more feasible to do this.
There was a trail going into the Poellat Gorge from the bottom, but it was closed indefinitely since before our visit in 2018 as a result of landslides. Drones were prohibited so getting perhaps the best shots of the area in this manner (much like what we saw in Soaring Over The World) were also out of the question (assuming you came equipped for it to even test the authorities). So as far as getting satisfying frontal views of the Poellat Gorge Waterfalls, the options were limited indeed.
In any case, our visit of this waterfall pretty much boiled down to a visit of the Neuschwanstein Castle. Purchasing tickets for this very touristy attraction in advance was a must. Once the proof of purchase was procured and redeemed for real tickets at the ticket office, then we had to do a long thirty-minute or longer hike up from the general car park area towards the foot of the Neuschwanstein Castle.
If sweating it out on an uphill hike along the road was unpalatable, there were also shuttles and horse-drawn carriages doing most of the work to get through most of the physical demands. Then, we had to walk to the automated turnstiles where we had to wait until the time of our ticket corresponded with the time of day. Then, we had 15 minutes to get through the turnstiles before the ticket would become invalid and the turnstiles wouldn’t let us through.
Afterwards, we then took the roughly hour-long guided tour of the Neuschwanstein Castle, which for us ended at a very elegant dining hall at the very top floor of the castle. It was here that I felt the best views of the Poellat Gorge Waterfall could be obtained had we been allowed to take pictures out the windows from this room.
We were then escorted down several flights of steps before being deposited into a gift shop with more opportunities to see the Poellat Gorge Waterfall and Marienbrucke (though the gift shop workers don’t appreciate people taking pictures in the shop). Once out of the gift shop, we were then able to walk between a theater (playing make-believe of what might have happened had Ludwig been allowed to complete all of his fantasy castle projects) as well as a cafe towards a columned balcony area.
As mentioned earlier, this was the only sanctioned area to take pictures towards the Poellat Gorge Waterfall and Marienbrucke. This balcony was also well-situated for looking further west at the Alpsee and the Schloss Hohenschwangau backed by the Bavarian Alps. Eventually after having our fill of this part of the castle, we then went down more stairs and hallways before finally being deposited outside the Neuschwanstein Castle.
While many people end off their tour here, it was worth the additional 15- to 20-minute walk uphill to the Marienbrucke itself. Once on the bridge, we had to exercise quite a bit of patience and persistence as the bridge was frequently overcrowded with people (particularly from the tour bus crowds). The crowds dwindle significantly towards the far end of the bridge.
From atop the bridge, we were able to peer down at some upper cascades of the Pöllat Stream as well as over the top of the main waterfall further downstream. This bridge was primarily the best place to view the Neuschwanstein Castle with the Hohenschwangau Valley in the background, which was why it was so crowded with tourists.
That said, I did manage to hike beyond the bridge and seek out higher vantage points that would reveal both castles (Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau) as well as Alpsee and the Bavarian Alps all in one shot. But in order to pull that off, a long and steep hike requiring at least an hour round trip was necessary. Since I didn’t have enough water with me (given the backpack restrictions on a castle tour preventing us from bringing adequate water), I went as far as I could before returning without suffering too much from dehydration.
All told, it took us the entire day to visit both the Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein Castles as we arrived at the car parks at 8:30am and we didn’t return to the car until about 5:30pm. This included a lunch break as well as all the walking that was involved. I’m sure you can shave off maybe two hours by not doing the Hohenschwangau Castle tour, but if you’re already here, you mind as well check it out. Besides, it felt less crowded and more intimate than the very touristy Neuschwanstein Castle (though it was that way for good reason).
Experiencing the Pöllat Gorge Waterfalls is pretty much synonymous with doing the Neuschwanstein Castle Tour. Therefore, we had to park in one of several huge parking lots at the bottom of the hills supporting both the Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles. It’s hard to miss this place because there are armies of tour buses and private vehicles making their way here in addition to brown signs for “königsschlösser” (King’s Castles).
Since we made our drive from Oberkirch on the western shores of Weißee, we’ll describe our driving route from there.
So heading east on the B310 Road for about 3km, we then turned right onto Kemptener Straße. Then we followed this street for just under 3km before taking the fourth exit at the roundabout for Glückstraße then veering right at the fork for Ottostraße. At the next roundabout, we took the first exit before following the curve of the Luitpoldstraße before taking the first exit at the roundabout at the Denkmal Luitpold (Prinzregentenplatz).
We then followed this street east as it became the B16 (Kaiser Maximilian Platz), and we then continued following the signs onto the St2008 and ultimately to the Parkstraße as we’d ultimately make it to the P1 car park after around 3.6km from the Denkmal Luitpold.
Overall, this short drive took us about 15 minutes including all the traffic and traffic lights. Note that there were other car parks that were closer than the one we ended up parking at, but in the grand scheme of things, an extra 300m or so of walking didn’t make too much of a difference on an all-day excursion.
For geographical context, Füssen was about 17km (under 30 minutes drive) north of Reutte, Austria, 61km (an hour drive) west of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, about 100km (about 1 hour 15 minutes drive) east of Lindau, 113km (over 90 minutes drive) northwest of Innsbruck, Austria, and 127km (over 90 minutes drive) southwest of Munich.
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