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Traveling from Salzburg to Fussen & Munich

We will be in Salzburg for two nights and would then like to drive to Fussen since we've learned that the drive is very scenic and would like to sightsee and stop along the way. We will spend one night in Fussen and then head to Munich for two nights. Since we will be flying into Salzburg, we would rent a car there, but is it a good idea to drop off in Munich and/or Fussen? I've searched for car rentals options for drop off in Ruette or Fussen and come up dry. We can drive to Munich, but is it wise to rent in Austria and drop in Germany? Or is there a bus to Fussen from Munich? We'd really like to make stops along the way vs. a direct connecting train in Munich.

Posted by
13 posts

Excuse me, I meant "is there a bus from Salzburg to Fussen?"

Posted by
1064 posts

I have been investigating rentals, myself, and the consensus seems to be to rent in Freilassing, on the western edge of Salzburg, just across the border in Germany. It is served by the Salzburg transit system. Hertz is reportedly opening a branch in Fuessen this month, so you could return the vehicle there and take the train in to Munich. You can probably find trains or buses to take you from Salzburg to Fuessen, but expect to make several transfers and spend a lot of extra time in bus and/or train stations.

Posted by
1064 posts

I was surprised to learn that the only road between Salzburg and Fuessen is a scenic drive through the Alps instead of the more direct routes shown on the maps of Bavaria. That is like sending a driver across the top of the Rockies to get from Denver to Colorado Springs. If you choose to drive, check the route on ViaMichelin; it gives estimated drive times and mileage that are nowhere those cited here.

Posted by
19137 posts

The drive along the Deutsche Alpenstrasse from Salzburg to Fuessen does have some scenic sections. I've gone by bus (same roads) from Bad Toelz to Wallgau (last August, it was scenic) and from Oberammergau to Wieskirche (Oct. 2007, it wasn't particularly). I've also gone by bus from Bayrischzell to Schliersee (same route, not particularly scenic) and by rail from Schliersee to Bad Toelz (different route, faster but less scenic).

From Salzburg to Fuessen on the Alpenstrasse is over 400 km (260 mi) and at best would take almost 8 hours, and that's if you never stop to see anything. If you left Salzburg in the morning you probably wouldn't get to Fuessen in time for a castle tour.

According to ViaMichelin, your average speed would be 33 mph, so if you have fantasies of being a race driver, forget it.

I would suggest you take the bus (Watzmann Express) in the morning from the Salzburg Bahnhof to Berchtesgaden. It's nearby. The three best things there are the boat ride on Koenigssee, the Eagles' Nest, and the Dokumentation canter, and you can't do all three in a day. You might do two if you knew exactly where you were going. Then take the train that night from Berchtesgaden to Munich via Freilassing.

Posted by
19137 posts

As for a bus from Munich to Fuessen, the first half (at least) of that trip would be pretty dull. It doesn't really get interesting until you get near Fuessen, with the Alps in the background. You could go by train to Landsberg am Lech. From there, local buses (not the Romantic Road coach) follow the Romantic Road to Fuessen. Better yet, go by train to Schongau and by bus from there. Or, take the train to Murnau and pick up a bus on the last part of the Alpenstrasse into Fuessen, but that part is not particularly scenic.

If you want to see an interesting section of the Alpenstrasse, take the regional train connection from Salzburg (9:18) to Bad Toelz (12:32) via Rosenheim (change) and Holzkirchen (change), then take the bus from Bad Toelz (12:44) to Garmisch-Partenkirchen (14:30) via Kochel am See and Walchensee. That's one of the most scenic parts of the Alpenstrasse. There is another bus from GaP (16:45) to Fuessen (18:59), giving you two hours to see Garmisch and have a late lunch. Or you could have lunch in Bad Toelz and take the 14:44 bus to Garmisch (16:25) and have 20 min. in GaP to catch the same bus to Fuessen.

As for buses on from Salzburg to Fuessen. There is not one direct bus. There are, buses on almost every mile (there isn't one from Stuben to Fall) of the Alpenstrasse, but they are local buses and probably don't follow the road entirely, and there would be a lot of connections. There is no straight-through bus like the Romantic Road Coach, as far as I know.

Posted by
13 posts

Well, now I definitely feel a bit naive. I figured the drive would take perhaps four to five hours max, with stops along the way. Perhaps the train is the fastest way to approach this. We've traveled by car all over Italy and have really enjoyed the small villages and beautiful scenery along the way, with the ability to stop & explore when desired. Hmmm.
I'm wondering if we should just skip Fussen altogether, add an extra day in Salzburg (so 3 nites total) and explore the surrounding area by car before heading to Munich via train. We have a 16 year old son on this trip and we figured King Ludwig's castle would be a big hit with him, but is it worth the extra time and energy? Or can we find equally fascinating things to do and see in the area around Salzburg?

Posted by
2919 posts

Hi Liz,

The drive between Salzburg and Fuessen is less than 5 hours. We've done this drive. Easiest (quicker) way is to combine both highway and secondary roads. We liked going Salzburg to Fuessen via Innsbruck.

If you stay in Salzburg the extra day, go to "Mad" King Ludwig's Neues Schloss (Herrenchiemsee). Spectacular palace one hour from Salzburg. Our favorite (of Ludwig's).

www.herrenchiemsee.de/englisch/n_palace/index.htm

Paul

Posted by
19137 posts

Roy, I never said that the Alpenstrasse was the only road between Salzburg and Fuessen, but I don't think that the faster routes can compare with the Alpenstrasse for scenery. She did say, "we've learned that the drive is very scenic". That would be the Alpenstrasse. I took the map of the Alpenstrasse, and found the time and distance for each segment on ViaMichelin and summed it (7h41m without any stops). ViaMichelin also shows a route somewhat north of the Alpenstrasse, which uses more high speed highways, fewer winding mountain roads, is less scenic, and is faster, about 5+ hours. And if you go by autobahn from Salzburg to Munich and south to Fuessen, it will be faster yet, and boring. That's about the same route the train takes.

If you leave Salzburg by train around 9, you'll make the trip in about 5 hours, with an hour or so stop in Munich for lunch.

Posted by
19137 posts

I went to Herrenchiemsee last August on my way to Salzburg (Freilassing). Yes, it's about an hour from Salzburg to Prien a. Chiemsee, but that's not Herrenchiemsee. From Prien Bahnhof, you can walk or take the steam streetcar to the waterfront, then the boat out to the island. That's about another hour. Once on the island it's about a 20 min walk to the palace (shorter maybe if you pay for a horse drawn carriage).

All in all, I was under-impressed with Herrenchiemsee, primarily because of what it is vs. how hard it is to get to. It's not much different than the Residenz or Schloss Nymphenburg in Munich, both of which are much more accessible.

But, if you have to spend a day getting from Salzburg to Munich, anyway,then why not?

Posted by
2919 posts

Liz,

Concerning Herrenchiemsee... since you are planning on having a car, Herrenchiemsee is very easy. We drove from Berchtesgaden in under an hour and parked right at the boat dock. Got on the boat and 15 minutes later you're on the island. It's an easy and pleasant 20 minute walk to the palace. Simple.

As for driving to Fuessen, I'll be a bit clearer on the route we took. We went from Salzburg through Berchtesgaden, Lofer and St. Johann in Tirol to Worgl and got the A12 to Innsbruck. At Telfs we took the Fern Pass (179) to Fuessen. We thought the drive and scenery was wonderful.

Paul

Posted by
13 posts

Wow, you've all been incredibly helpful. If we do drive to Fussen, I think we'll rent a car in Freilassing & drop off in Fussen - great advice. And I think we'll drive on the main highway to Innsbruck and then the slow road to Fussen - I need to read the maps more thoroughly, however, and study all of your recommendations with map in hand.

I like the idea of visiting the Ludwig's palace; my 16 year old son was disappointed we weren't going to Paris/Versailles. And I'm still considering just adding an extra day in Salzburg and nixing Fussen, simply because of a day's travel time, changing hotels, etc. So would anyone like to weigh in on 3 nites in Salzburg versus 2 nites in Salzburg and one in Fussen?

Here's our current June 2010 itinerary from Seattle, flying into Berlin and out of Prague:

Berlin: 3 nites (cheap 11 euro/ea flight to Salzburg at noon on last day!)
Salzburg: 2 nites
Fussen: 1 nite
Munich: 2 nites & train to Prague
Prague: 2 nites

Posted by
19137 posts

There are three 6 hour rail connections from Munich to Prague which can best be done with a Bayern-Boehmen ticket, €33 for up to three people, from Munich to Plzen, then €6 pP from Plzen to Prague.

Apparently you are wealthy beyond my understanding. All of the rail/bus connections I have shown you could be done for €28 for up to five people with a Bayern-Ticket. You couldn't even pay for gas for a rental car for those routes for €28.

Posted by
2919 posts

You don't need to be wealthy to rent a car. It's simply a matter of preference.

Posted by
1064 posts

Liz: Three nights in Salzburg would not be a bad idea. That would be my choice if Prague were my next destination. Anyway, Salzburg is well worth a longer stay, and you would have more time for daytrips to the Salzkammergut as well as the nearby Bavarian lakes. You could reach several beautiful areas in about an hour by rail or bus from Salzburg and still be back by late afternoon. Car rental might not be worth the hassle or cost in that case. Also, you could take a tour celebrating my favorite silent movie, "The Sound of Music."

Lee: I apparently misinterpreted your message about the Alpenstrasse route. Sorry.

Posted by
14580 posts

Liz,

Since you are going to arrive in Salzburg in the early afternoon, I would say that staying two nights is enough for seeing the city. Spend the next night in Fussen, as you intended.

The two main attractions that should not be missed in Salzburg are Mozart's house (Mozarts Geburtshaus) and that huge fortress, Festung Hohensalzburg, from
which you can get this absolutely fantastic view.

Because you will have a car in Salzburg, after really touring and seeing the old part of the city--it's jammed with tourists--you can see take in some of the surrrounding country side of Salzburg.

If you definitely want to see Fussen, then 2 nights for Salzburg; if you decide to skip Fussen after seeing Salzburg--and it is a city of art--then I would suggest spending a third night.

Posted by
13 posts

Well, you've all been incredibly helpful. We've decided; we're going to stay put in Salzburg, rent a car, stay in the country in close proximity, and visit all of the wonderful sites and scenery in the surrounding area. Thanks very much for your time and expert advice!

Posted by
2 posts

Hello,

New poster here. Just need some expert advice.
I'll be going to Fussen in Dec 20th 2009 and plan to drive to Innsbruck. Do you recommend driving or is there a train from Fussen to Innsbruck? Also, is it true that an international driving permit is necessary to drive in Austria? Please advise and thanks for your time.

Richie

Posted by
8700 posts

Richie,

According to the timetables at www.bahn.de, there is a bus & train route that takes 3hr22min. Go to the site and click on the drop-down flag menu for English. After you get summary timetables for Fuessen (use the German spelling) to Innsbruck, click on the arrow to the left of each departure time to see the connecting points.

According to the Auto Europe site, an IDP is required in Austria. Unless you're planning to return to Germany and drop off the car there, I suggest that you don't rent a car. There is a steep fee for picking up a car in one country and dropping it off in another.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks Tim,

I plan on renting a car once we get to Frankfurt the week before the 20th. This means I will be returning the car back to Germany. I was wondering how the driving conditions (roads or steep roadways ,etc) are in Austria. DO you know if an overnight stay would be sufficient enough to see most of Innsbruck? Thanks again.

Richie

Posted by
8700 posts

I haven't been to either Fuessen or Innsbruck so I can't comment on driving conditions. However, if you go to www.viamichelin.com and ask for driving directions from Fuessen to Innsbruck, you'll see that the shortest route goes over Fernpass which is between Nassereith and Lermoos. Judging from what I see on the map, you won't go up and down as much if you drive via Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Posted by
19137 posts

When I was in Mittenwald this year I made a side trip up to the Seefeld plateau, which is the high point on the rail line between Innsbruck and Garmisch-Partenkirchen. I didn't think that pass looked particularly formidable. (Of course, then, I live in Colorado, with some really formidable passes, and nothing is formidable with the train.) Once you come down from Seefeld to GaP, it's really pretty flat throught the Tirol to Reutte. There is a ridge between Reutte and Fuessen, but it is pretty low and the river might cut through it anyway. If not, you can go around via Pfronten. I know that's not mountainous.

As for Innsbruck, get some guidebooks and look at their website at www.innsbruck.at or, if you can't read German, www.innsbruck.info (less info but in English). See what you would like to see.

I spent an hour or so in the morning walking around town before heading over Brenner Pass to Italy for the day (Italy, check, been there). When I came back, I took the bus to Hall, and it took a lot of time getting out of Innsbruck, so I got to see more of the town. I wasn't that impressed. Too big for me.

Posted by
2919 posts

Hi Richie,

Fuessen to Innsbruck... you have a choice:
via the Ferm Pass (which isn't really steep)
via Garmich and Mittenwald

Both are very scenic (IMO) and both are about 2 hours drive (in good weather).

An overnight stay is enough in my opinion. With a relatively early start and decent weather, you can be in Innsbruck by noon if you want. That would give you almost 2 full days. While in Innsbruck, we enjoyed seeing Schloss Ambras and if you can, take the Norkettenbahn for a birds eye view of the Innsbruck area and the Alps.

www.nordpark.com/en/winter/links-top/home-en.html

For this you can either drive to Hungerburg, which is just above Innsbruck, park and take the cable car or you can take the Hungerburgbahn (funicular) from Innsbruck itself to Hungerberg where you'll get the cable car.

Although you didn't ask, we loved our 3 stays in nearby (6 miles) Hall in Tirol (which we prefer to Innsbruck) at the Gasthof Badl.

www.badl.at

Hope this helps.

Paul

Posted by
19137 posts

Richie,

I see you asked if there is a train route from Fuessen to Innsbruck. Since the train lines mostly radiate out from Munich, an entirely rail connection would mean going through Munich, which would be a rather long trip. However, there is a train line, the Ausserfernbahn through the Tirol, from Pfronten to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and other connections from Garmisch to Innsbruck via Mittenwald and Seefeld. There are approximately half hour bus connections from Fuessen to Pfronten or to Reutte. From either town you can catch that Ausserfernbahn train to Garmisch. You could also take a bus from Fuessen or Hohenschwangau to Garmisch via Oberammergau and the train from there to Innsbruck. If you are at all concerned about the weather, those would be much less stressful trips. There are trains every two hours from Garmisch to Innsbruck, so you could stop in Mittenwald for a couple of hours and catch the next train to Innsbruck.

And, whether you go by bus from Fuessen to Pfronten, Reutte, or Garmisch-Partenkirchen, your travel from Fuessen to the Austrian border near Mittenwald (bus and rail) would be covered by one €28 Bayern-Ticket for the two of you (up to five, actually).