Füssen, a mere 1-1.5 hours train ride south from Munich, is mostly known for the imposing presence of Neuschwanstein Castle overlooking the valley. The Fairy tale Castle is impossible to oversee, but what if I told you that there are plenty of things to do in Füssen that don’t involve the famous castle? This little cobblestoned town in the midst of the Bavarian Alps is a fairy tale on its own account.
General Information about Füssen
To give you a bit of a backstory, it is one of Europe’s oldest cities, with records of a settlement in Füssen dating back to the times of Emperor Augustus. Located along the commercial route that connected the north of Italy and the region’s capital Augusta Vindelicorum (today’s Augsburg), Füssen was the perfect spot to guard the trade route, and the Romans didn’t miss the chance to take advantage of it.
Over the centuries, Füssen has seen highs and lows like most cities in Europe. It became the summer residence of the prince-bishops of Augsburg, and home to a 9th Century Benedictine monastery. Füssen also became famous in the music world for its talented violin and laud makers, who founded the first guild. But wars and illnesses reducing its population to a fraction of what it used to be, which resulted in the decay of the city.
In the late 1800s King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who used to vacation in the area growing up, decided to build the Neuschwanstein Castle on the cliff where it stands today, overseeing Hohenschwangau and Füssen. It was meant to be his home, a retreat in the heart of the Alps, which he funded without the help of public funds but never saw to completion.
Shortly after his death, upon completion, his family opened the doors to the castle to the public which they transformed into a museum, thus helping the region become the highly desired touristic destination it is today. But… what if I told you the castle is and should not be the only highly regarded gem in this corner of Ostallgäu? Here are a few things to do in Füssen other than visiting the castles.
Things to Do in Füssen
#1 Explore the Old Town
This medieval town is a pleasure to stroll along. The cobbled stone streets, the colourful houses, the cute doors and entryways, it would be hard to be more picture perfect. This means, taking a stroll through the old town and getting lost through the alleyways should be the first thing you do right after you check-in into your hotel or hostel.
If you are looking for a place to stay, you can check the historical Hotel Hirsch for a bit of a premium experience or the Old Kings Design Hostel for something a bit more affordable, and if you don’t mind staying outside the city centre, there is always the Youth Hostel for the most affordable option.
#2 Go Hiking
Obviously, looking at the location where the castle was built in, it is impossible not to see the imposing mountain range that surrounds it. The Alps, yes! With peaks and hills of all shapes and sizes, this area is an often overlooked hiking haven, offering trails for all and everyone.
From easy walks like Kalvarienberg with breathtaking views over the Castle valley to Tegelberkopf and the imposing “Säuling” with its 2000-odd metres high and 360 views over Germany and neighbouring Austria.
#3 Take the Cable Car Up to Tegelberg
If you don’t want or can’t go hiking, don’t fret, you can always take the cable car up to Tegelberg and admire the views from up top while enjoying a traditional mountain lunch at the hut. And if when you get to the top decide you do want to go for a hike, after all, you can always attempt to summit the Branderschrofen.
To get to the cable car you can find your way by car or take the public bus from outside the train station in Füssen. But before heading there, make sure you check the opening times, prices, weather and other important information here.
#4 Learn About the History of the Region at the City Museum
The city museum, housed in the old monastery, is as surprising as it is beautiful. With carefully curated exhibitions showcasing the ins and outs of local history and culture it worth a visit both for all the interesting things you will learn about such a seemingly small town. And, the building itself doesn’t hurt the eyes either!
Entry is a mere 6€, however, if you are spending a weekend in Füssen and staying over at one of the many local hotels in the area, you probably received the Füssen Card (Information only in German) which beside free transport in the area, gives you discounts in many of the local attractions like the cable car or the boat tours. If you do have the Füssen Card, the museum will cost only 4€ or 7€ if you purchase a combi-ticket to visit the High-Palace too.
#5 Visit the High Palace in Füssen
Speaking of the devil, while in Füssen you should make time to stop by the High Palace. Do you remember earlier when I mentioned that Füssen was the summer residence of the prince-bishops of Augsburg? Well, they picked the best views in town.
This gothic style building was converted into a gallery in the early 1930s, and from the 1970s to today houses again part of the Bavarian State Collection of paintings, covering the regional art of the 1500s.
And if the Indoor gallery captivated you, you’ll be in for a treat in the courtyard…
#6 Spend the Day at the Lake
Having had your fair share of culture and art, it is time for a relaxing day by the lake. With more than 10 lakes in the surrounding the area, you’ll have plenty to choose from. From swimming in the Alpine lake Schwansee with views of the Neuschwanstein Castle to taking a boat trip on the Forggensee or enjoying a breathtaking sunset by Hopfensee.
You can easily reach all of them by public transport. However, if you feel like taking in the fresh air and the weather allows, you can take a walk or rent a bike in town to follow any of the many cycling routes in the area.
#7 Explore with Your Senses at the “Tal der Sinne”
However, one of the quirkiest things you can and should do while in Füssen is experiencing the “Tal der Sinne” (“Trail of the Senses”). Now you are probably wondering what exactly is a “Trail of the Senses” right? Well, it is a family-friendly accessible experience that invites explorers of all ages to discover nature through the senses.
It involves several stations covering the 5 senses, such as a barefoot path with slush and foot-washing area, herb beds and spring water fountains, and points to observe local flora and fauna to name a few. Definitely a nice little adventure for a relaxed morning.
And one last tip to take up a notch your slow weekend in Füssen, get yourself a portion of Käsespätzle, a regional delicacy best enjoyed after a day in the mountains. It is often described as the alpine version of Mac and Cheese but with real cheese. But beware of the copycats, make sure to go to a place that uses Bergkäse (mountain cheese) and not Emmental, or you’ll be missing on a party for your senses! My recommendation, Hotel Ludwig’s, great quality for the price and you will certainly not go home hungry.