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.
Things to see and do in Fussen, Germany
Fussen’s 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.
Traditional Bavarian food is served up at cafes and restaurants and there are no shortage of bakeries offering a wonderful array of bread and cakes.
High Castle of Fussen
Keeping watch over the town is the Hohes Schloss (High Castle), once the summer residence of the Lord Bishops of Augsburg. The late-Gothic style castle features a courtyard adorned with 500 year old trompe l’oiels and an attractive clock tower with a brightly painted facade. Just below is one of the town’s numerous baroque churches, this one boasting Bavaria’s oldest preserved fresco.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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).
The Bavarian countryside couldn’t get any prettier and with its lush green fields, forests, lakes and mountains close by, there are no shortage of opportunities for walking, cycling, swimming and skiing.
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.
Great base for visiting nearby towns and villages
Just a short drive away (45 km) 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 spentd 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.
*The paintings on these buildings are known as ‘Luftlmalerei’. This three dimensional painting style dates back to the 18th century.
A couple of kilometres 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 (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. Click here to browse the tours and 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, and I wrote a review of the hotel here.
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.
Getting to Fussen
Fussen is located 133 kilometres from Munich (about 1 hour 40 minutes by car), 109 kilometres from Innsbruck and 232 kilometres from Zurich.
If you don’t have a car, trains operate regularly between Munich and Fussen (2 hour journey time). Click here to check rail timetables and current ticket prices.
Day tours to Neuschwanstein and Linderhof Castles are also possible from Munich. Click here to browse tours and check prices.
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