Many travellers overlook Fussen as they pass by on their way to the region's most popular tourist attraction, Neuschwanstein Castle, but it offers plenty of things for the visitor to see and do. After spending a few days in Fussen, I've found at least six fabulous reasons why you should visit this charming Bavarian town.
In this Fussen travel guide, you’ll find my recommendations for what to do in Fussen.
Things to do in Fussen, Germany
Stroll around pretty Fussen Altstadt (Fussen Old Town)
One of the first things you should do when you visit Fussen is wander the streets of the Old Town. The pedestrianised Altstadt (Old Town) is a pretty blend of brightly coloured buildings, many of which are adorned with frescoes.
The typical Bavarian architecture and cobblestoned streets gives the town an old world charm (the town is 700 years old, so that might explain it!) whilst it still offers all the services you’d expect in a modern town.
Whilst you’re admiring the architecture, be sure to visit one of the numerous baroque churches, the medieval city walls, and the former Benedictine Abbey of St. Mang.
For something a little different, pop in to the Fussen Museum where you can see one of the finest collections of historical violins and lutes.
Admire the High Castle of Fussen
Next stop on your Fussen sightseeing itinerary should be the High Castle of Fussen, officially called the Hohes Schloss. Once the summer residence of the Lord Bishops of Augsburg, the late-Gothic style Fussen castle features a courtyard adorned with 500 year old trompe l’oiels and an attractive clock tower with a brightly painted facade.
Visit King Ludwig’s royal castles
Everyone loves a fairytale and the story of King Ludwig II of Bavaria is a real-life fairytale from the 1800s - albeit one without a happy ending - and a visit to one of Ludwig’s castles is one of the best things to do near Fussen.
I won’t give you a history lesson on the so-called ‘Mad King’ (you can read about him here) but it’s worth knowing that Ludwig was a romantic who loved opera, French culture (in particular, King Louis XIV) and swans, and he set about spending his generous royal salary building the lavish palaces of Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee. He died tragically at the age of 40.
Whilst they aren’t technically castles in Fussen, Germany, they are so close to the town that they are commonly referred to as Fussen’s castles.
Neuschwanstein Castle, the fairytale-like castle which supposedly inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, attracts thousands of visitors each year but three of Ludwig’s other castles, Hohenschwangau, Herrenchiemsee and Linderhof, are also worth visiting as day trips from Fussen.
Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau (where Ludwig spent his childhood), are situated close to each at Schwangau, just a few kilometres from Fussen. Linderhof, which Ludwig built as his personal hideaway, and Herrenchiemsee, Ludwig’s Versailles-inspired castle, are a little further away but well worth the drive.
TIP: If you’re planning a visit to any of the castles, tickets for entry (which include a guided tour) must be pre-purchased for set entry times. The ‘Konigsschlosser’ ticket, which includes admission to Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee is good value at around €24. The ticket is valid for six months.
If you are short on time, a great option is to take a half day tour of the castles from Fussen. Click here to check prices.
You can also include a horse-drawn carriage ride with your visit to Neuschwanstein. Click here to check details and prices.
Drive along the Romantic Road
Fussen sits at the southern end of one of Germany’s most popular scenic routes, the Romantic Road, so it makes a great base from which to explore the other towns and villages that are dotted along this picturesque stretch of road.
One of the highlights is the pilgrimage church, Wieskirche, a UNESCO World Heritage site that attracts about a million people every year. Built in the early 18th century to house a statue of Christ that was seen to be weeping, the Baroque church is one of the best known in Bavaria. (Parking and entry fees apply).
If you're interested in exploring the Romantic Road further, I highly recommend a visit to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. You can read more about this fairytale town in this article. I've also written a guide to visiting six must-see towns - including Fussen - on the Romantic Road. You can read it here.
TIP: Fussen is also located on the scenic German Alpine Road which crosses Bavaria from Lake Constance in the west to Berchtesgaden in the east.
Enjoy the great outdoors
It’s no surprise that the region’s natural beauty is what attracts so many visitors to Fussen. Things to do include walking, cycling and swimming and with lush green fields, forests, lakes and mountains close by, there are plenty of opportunities to appreciate this beautiful part of Bavaria.
Fussen attracts visitors in droves for its outdoor pursuits but if you like to enjoy nature without working up a sweat you can always take a lake cruise on Lake Forggensee or catch the cable car up to the summit of Mount Tegelberg for 360 degree views of Fussen and surrounds.
If you plan to visit during the cooler months, skiing is one of the most popular things to do in Fussen in winter. The nearby slopes of Tegelberg and Breitenberg offer a variety of runs and cross-country trails. Ice skating and tobogganing are other fun winter activities to enjoy in the area.
There are also a number of well-marked winter hiking trails to enjoy, or for the perfect romantic winter outing, why not take a horse-drawn sleigh ride across snow-covered landscapes?
Suggested outdoor activities include:
- Rent a bike and ride from Fussen to Neuschwanstein - click here for more details
- Bike tour around Forggensee (Lake Forggen) - click here for more details
Visit the nearby towns and villages
Just a short drive from Fussen is the village of Oberammergau, famous for its wood carvers, frescoed* buildings and the Passion Play that the village stages every ten years.
Quieter than Fussen but no less pretty, you could happily spend a few hours wandering the streets of Oberammergau (as we did) admiring the handcrafts of the local artisans. There’s also a Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop in town.
It’s just 45 kilometres from Oberammergau to Fussen, around 50 minutes by car.
*The paintings on these buildings are known as ‘Luftlmalerei’. This three dimensional painting style dates back to the 18th century.
A couple of kilometres further on from Oberammergau is the town of Ettal which you’ll recognise when you see the impressive Benedictine abbey as you enter town. The abbey also houses a brewery and distillery, and opposite is a wonderfully traditional Bavarian pub that serves up delicious meals.
A bit further afield (a further 21 km from Oberammergau) is the resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, at the foot of Germany’s highest mountain, Zugspitze. Its old town is well worth a stroll, Luftlmalerei featuring heavily on the buildings here, too.
If you're making Fussen your base in the area but don't have your own wheels, don't worry. A range of day and half-day tours from Fussen are available that include visits to Oberammergau, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, King Ludwig's castles and Wieskirche. A couple of the most popular day tours from Fussen are:
- Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau Castle tour from Fussen - click here to check prices
- Linderhof Palace, Oberammergau and Wieskirche tour from Fussen - click here to check prices
Tip: If you’re planning on visiting Linderhof Palace by car, Oberammergau, Ettal and Garmisch-Partenkirchen all make convenient stops en route.
Where to stay in Fussen
I stayed at the lovely Schlosskrone Hotel, which is perfectly situated at the end of the Altstadt's main street. This 4* Superior hotel is furnished in the traditional Bavarian style but with all modern amenities to make your stay comfortable.
Other highly rated hotels in Fussen include:
Where to eat in Fussen
Be sure to indulge in afternoon tea at Konditorei Kurcafe next door to (but part of) the Schlosskrone Hotel. The cakes are to die for!
There are heaps of places to eat in the Altstadt, typically serving Bavarian cuisine but other types of cuisine are also available. In warmer weather, the restaurants set up their tables and chairs outside on the pedestrianised main street.
Where is Fussen
Fussen is located in the southern German state of Bavaria. It is 133 kilometres from Munich,109 kilometres from Innsbruck (Austria) and 232 kilometres from Zurich (Switzerland).
How to get to Fussen
The easiest way to reach Fussen is by car. It takes around 1 hour 40 minutes from Munich, 1 hour 25 from Innsbruck and 2 hours 30 from Zurich.
Regular trains travel from Munich to Fussen (2 hour journey time).
By organised day tour:
If you’d prefer to join an organised tour, day trips to Neuschwanstein and Linderhof Castles are also possible from Munich however many of them don’t spend any length of time in Fussen. Click here to browse tours and check prices.
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