Hohenzollern Castle & Zeller Horn Viewpoint

Hohenzollern Castle Best Viewpoint
Hohenzollern Castle Best Viewpoint

By Vicky · Published Oct. 11th, 2022 · Updated Mar. 23rd, 2023

Walk through the woods from Hohenzollern Castle to Zeller Horn, a hill with the best views of the castle and the countryside.

Hohenzollern Castle Walking Map

Get the route by downloading the .gpx or .kml file below. For navigation with Maps.me on your mobile phone, simply download the .kml file and open to add it to the Maps.me bookmarks.

Hohenzollern Castle Location

This walk starts from Car Park P2 at Hohenzollern Castle. It’s 30 minutes south of Tübingen and roughly 1 hour south of Stuttgart. Car Park P2 is slightly lower down the hill from Car Park P1, but you can park for free in P2 even if you don’t plan to visit inside the castle.

If you do want to visit inside, you can park in Car Park P1 only if you have bought your tickets online in advance. Else you must also park in P2. For this walk from Hohenzollern Castle to Zeller Horn Viewpoint, it doesn’t matter which one you park in.

Tips for Hohenzollern Castle & Zeller Horn Viewpoint

  • Hohenzollern Castle opens from 10 am every day with a few exceptions. The show rooms close at 6pm, while the courtyard closes at 6:30pm.
  • Tickets are expensive, at 22/12/10 per adult/student/child.
  • If you have an AlbCard you can enter the castle for free. You can get an AlbCard by staying at specific hotels in the region.
  • If you have a camera with zoom, it’s definitely worth bringing it on this hike.
  • If you like castles, visit Schloss Lichenstein, a fairytale castle 40 minutes drive away.
  • Also nearby are the delightful towns of Rottenburg am Neckar and Tübingen.
  • Find other great hikes on our Germany Hiking Page.

Car Park to Hohenzollern Castle

From the car park, head out and left up a fairly steep path directly towards the castle. In a few hundred metres you’ll pass parking P1, where you can buy tickets for the castle if you haven’t bought them online. For this walk, you don’t need to enter the castle, and you actually get the best views of Hohenzollern Castle from Zeller Horn Viewpointof where this hike leads. Next to the ticket office there are toilets, a gift shop, vending machines and some tables.

Path from the car park
Path from the car park to the castle
Steep path shortcut to Hohenzollern Castle
Steep path shortcut

Continue upwards on the path towards the castle and you’ll soon meet the road. The walking path used to continue around the left (north) side of Hohenzollern Castle but this has been closed for a while now (autumn 2022). When the path is closed, you have to walk up along the road. The only traffic is two shuttle buses so it’s not busy.

Just before the next bend in the road, you’ll see a hiking trail signpost on the left, with Zeller Horn marked. You’ll take this on the way back down after walking to the castle gates. Around the corner you can take a short, steep path to miss out another zigzag in the road.

Hohenzollern Castle

Views while walking up to Hohenzollern Castle
Views up to the castle
Inside the first gate in Germany
From inside the first gate

From the top of the little path, you’ll have good views up to Hohenzollern Castle, towering above. Continue onwards and around the corner you’ll reach a portcullis and gateway to the castle. Even without a ticket, you can walk through this arch and up the road as it forms a little spiral.

At the next gate you can only proceed with a ticket. If you’re not going in, admire the castle from here – you can see some very large walls and turrets at the top. Leave the castle the way you came.

Hohenzollern Castle History

Hohenzollern Castle is owned by the Hohenzollern Family, a royal German dynasty that still exists today. The name Hohenzollern was first mentioned in 1061 and they proceeded to become an ever more important family in Swabia and Prussia. From 1871 to 1918 the Emperors of Germany were members of the Hohenzollern family, the last being Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Hohenzollern Castle in Swabia, southern Germany

Hohenzollern Castle as you see it today is the third iteration of castles built here, on top of Hohenzollern Hill. The first castle was built in the 11th century and was destroyed roughly 400 years later after a 10-month-long siege. The second, larger castle was constructed from 1454 to 1461. In the 18th century, it fell into disrepair since it no longer had military strategic value.

The current castle was built between 1846 and 1867 in a mix of Gothic Revival (a style popular in the Victorian Times) and Loire Chateaux architecture. Inside the castle, there are now some items of historical significance including crowns, weapons and important documents.

Walking to Zeller Horn

Walk back down the road, down the small steep path and very soon you’ll see the signpost pointing the way to Zeller Horn on your left. There are not signs at every junction and it can be confusing in the wood, so either a local hiking map or the app Maps.Me is recommended to save you from getting lost.

Walking through the woods on the route from Hohenzollern Castle to Zeller Horn Viewpoint
Track through the woods on a walk

The path heads downwards before you turn left at the bottom. Continue walking down through the wood and head straight across when you meet the next track. Continue onwards and soon you’ll reach a large junction where several gravel tracks meet.

We chose to walk right (south) from here along one of the tracks to form a loop. At the next junction, take the left fork which leads gradually up and along a hillside. The next feature to look out for is a small building, in winter used as a refuge for cross-country skiers.

From here, the main ascent beings. Head right and then take the left fork. You’ll come back down the right fork. Going this way around allows for the best views of the castle. The path zig-zags steeply upwards and eventually, you’ll see a small wooden building up to your left and some stone steps in front of you. Head up the steps to Zeller Horn Viewpoint.

Zeller Horn Viewpoint

Zeller Horn Viewpoint, the best view of Hohenzollern Castle
View from Zeller Horn

The best views of Hohenzollern Castle are from Zeller Horn Viewpoint. This means it can be busy here, even though walking through the woodland you probably won’t see many people. There are amazing views of the castle from here, and it’s a great place to sit down and spend a while relaxing.

If you don’t want to walk as far as this hike, the easiest route to Zeller Horn Viewpoint is 2.5 km with just 40 metres climb. It starts from a car park at Berghotel Zollersteighof, which is a 25-minute drive from the Hohenzollern Castle car parks.

Walking back

Walking back to Hohenzollern Castle
Walking back to Hohenzollern Castle from Zeller Horn Viewpoint

When you’re ready to leave, head slightly back from the viewpoint and right down a small path. Continue down to the right through the open meadow. There are more great views of the castle as you walk through this field. Soon you’ll reach a track. Head right and just into the forest. Turn left here along a small path around a fallen tree. This route leads diagonally downwards and back to the ski hut.

At the ski hut, head straight downwards to the very small car park, and past it towards Maria Zell Chapel. This is a small white chapel in the middle of the wood with a few benches and roses in the garden. Turn left at the chapel walls and follow the path as it bends across a river. At the next track turn right and take the next fork.

Walking back towards Hohenzollern Castle from Zeller Horn Viewpoint
Walking back towards Hohenzollern Castle
Track almost back at the car park
Track almost back at the car park

Wiggle your way through the many tracks and paths here to reach a fairly large track heading left, gradually up a hill. Continue along this track and take the left fork, which gradually bends around the hill and back to car park P2. This is the end of the walk from Hohenzollern Castle to Zeller Horn Viewpoint.

Guidebooks to explore more of Germany

If you want to see a smaller, fairytale castle 40 minutes away, check out the amazing Lichtenstein Castle. Also in the neighbourhood is the historic city of Tübingen and the cute medieval town of Rottenburg am Neckar. If you enjoy hiking, check out our other hikes in Germany.

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