This one-day hike in Bavaria starts and ends at Füssen train station. It is a 30 km walk, half of it on flat dirt paths and the other half on rugged, steeper, mountainous terrain.
The whole loop should take around 12 hours at a comfortable, but alert pace. The time does not include taking the tours of the castles.
You will walk through Füssen old town, pass by Schwansee lake, Hohenschwanghau Castle, admire the Neuschwanstein castle from the Marienbrücke bridge, climb on top of Branderschofen, the summit of Tegelberg, descend towards the Alpsee lake by passing right near the Neuschwanstein castle, surround the Alpsee lake and head back to the Füssen train station.
A good portion of the hike will be on the European Long Distance Path E4.
Getting to Füssen
By car, Munich to Füssen is a 2-hour drive (133 km).
There are trains that leave from Munich to Füssen every hour. The trip takes about 2 hours and the ticket costs around 23 EUR one-way. Consult the train schedule here.
The Neuschwanstein Castle
Neuschwanstein is a beautfiul neo-romanesque castle located in the superb surroundings of the municipality of Schwangau.
The castle was build in the second half of the 19th century and was intended to be the private residence of Ludwig II, king of Bavaria. Unfortunately, the king died before the construction was fully completed.
The most famous photos of the castle are taken from the Marienbrücke bridge, over the Pöllat Gorge.
From Hohenschwangau you will reach Marienbrücke after a 40 minutes walk on a wide forest road.
Crossing the Marienbrücke bridge is free, you don’t need any tickets. This is a good thing, but long lines may form and you will have to wait for about 30 minutes (up to one hour if you are unlucky) to get on the bridge.
It is a good time to take a rest and have a snack.
Once you get on the Marienbrücke bridge, you will realize it is extremely crowded and you won’t be able to take your time to enjoy the views since you are constantly pushed by the people behind you.
However, if you cross the Marienbrücke bridge and walk for about 15 minutes through the path in the forest, you will reach some even better lookouts from where you can peacefully enjoy the views over the Neuschwanstein Castle.
Marienbrücke to Branderschofen
The ascend from Marienbrücke bridge to Branderschofen peak (1881 m) requires a bit of vigorous effort, but the good news is that there’s a beer garden near the summit and the views from there are amazing.
You will have to ascend 800 meters in 5 km on a rather steep and rocky forest path, which can take from 2-3 hours, depending on how fit you are.
There are some steeper portions secured with chains fixed on the rock, but it’s nothing dangerous.
The Alpsee Lake
A 5 km long picturesque path circles the Alpsee lake. The lake is up to 62 meters deep.
You will need comfortable hiking shoes and clothes to keep you warm on Tegelberg, where it can get really cold since you will reach the altitude of 1881 meters at Branderschofen Peak.
Don’t forget to take enough water, sun screen and a rain coat.