Published on: 3 January 2017 | Last updated: 21 August 2018
At a glance
Easy, although the terrain gets a bit more hilly as you approach the Forggensee.
Predominantly on traffic-free cycleways.
Mainly on surfaced roads or cycleways. Note that there is a stretch of unsurfaced cycleway near Roßhaupten and the Forggensee.
In this section you are now getting closer to the Alps, and the views of the mountains open up. The wheatfields give way to alpine meadows and lakes.The main highlights are the beautiful Forggensee (lake) and the town of Füssen on the border with Austria.
The Via Claudia connects with the Forggensee Runde, which, as you’ve probably guessed is a cycle route round the Forggensee lake. The Via Claudia heads for Füssen on the western side of the lake, but you can also follow the Forggensee Runde down the eastern side via Schwangau.
Map and altitude profile
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|Landsberg am Lech – Lechbruck am See||53 kms|
|Lechbruck am See – Füssen||21 kms|
If you’ve been thinking ‘so what about the Roman road?’ now’s your moment. As you come into Epfach look out on your right-hand side for a stretch of the old road. This is one of only two sections that are visible.
Epfach was the old Roman colony of Abodiacum built at the junction between the Via Claudia and the road between Bregenz and Salzburg. Its most famous son is Claudius Paternus Clementianus who rose to become a high-ranking official in the roman empire (among other post he was governor of Sardegna). There’s also a museum in Epfach.
Lechbruck Am See
The Via Claudia continues south from Epfach, through the outskirts of Schongau, to Lechbruck am See on the Lechsee. The Lechsee is beautiful, but a little bit upstaged by the larger Forggensee a little further on. Both lakes are man-made —the result of the damming of the Lech in 1954. The Forggensee is used as a giant reservoir to regulate the flow to the downstream hydro-electric dams. According to Wikipedia (de.wikipedia.org), when the water is low you can see a stretch of the old road. Picture: A section of the Via Claudia across the Forggensee. (Photo source: Wikimedia Commons).
Look out for the Via Claudia Augusta Kunst Park as you come out onto the road near Roßhaupten.
Schloss Neuschwanstein and Schloss Hohenschwangau
The castles were two of the pet projects of King Ludwig of Bavaria and were financed by the king personally, but in doing so he ran up huge debts and eventually provoked a sovereign debt crisis in which his ministers plotted to have him declared insane and ended with his death in mysterious circumstances. For more about the castles see: en.wikipedia.org: Neuschwanstein Castle and en.wikipedia.org: Hohenschwangau Castle.
Visiting the castles
The castle receives 1.4 million visitors a year and in summer there are 6,000 a day. You can only buy tickets from the ticket office on the day. You can reserve tickets online at hohenschwangau.de, but you need to reserve the day before, if not before.
The castles are about 5 kilometres off the Via Claudia route (the D9 cycle route passes closer). My advice would be that if you want to see the castles it means staying a couple of nights in Füssen or around the Forggensee. While you’re in the area you might also do the Forggensee Runde which (as you’ve probably already guessed) goes round the Forggensee.
I decided that I would give the castles a miss. As the song goes, it was just too darn hot.
Füssen is very pretty , but very touristy, and there are parts that are teetering on tacky. The VCA route bypasses the city centre which is mainly a pedestrian-only zone . I think it is worth a short detour – even if you have to push your bike through the pedestrian zone. To my mind the nicest parts were off the main drag and towards the the Kloster Sankt Mang (en.wikipedia.org: Sankt Mang Abbey Füssen) on the southern side of the city centre. As well as the Kloster itself there’s the richly decorated Heilig Geist Spitalkirche (Church of the Holy Ghost).
I don’t have any regrets about missing the castles but I am kicking myself for missing the Füssener Totentanz in the Annakapelle. The totentanz is a danse macabre (dance of death): the theme is that death comes to everyone and the series of painting starts with depictions of Death coming for the Pope and for the King and ends with Death coming for the painter himself).
Coming out of Füssen don’t miss the Lechfall a man-made waterfall built at the end of the 18th century. There’s a viewing platform, and a footbridge over the falls.
Places to stay
Hotels and B&Bs etc
fuessen.de: Radgastgeber. A listing of hotels etc that are certified bike-friendly under the ADFC’s Bett und Bike scheme. You can also use the Bett und Bike search page to generate pdf lists of accommodation or lists of gps waypoints.
In Rieden am Forggensee there’s the Radlerhof am Forggensee
I stayed at the Via Claudia Camping on the Lechsee. It’s a nice site with places for tents overlooking the lake. There are a also couple of sites on the route on the shore of the Forggensee: the Campingplatz Seewang and the Camping Magdalena. There are another three campsites on the other side of the lake around Schwangau, which would be worth considering if you plan on visiting the castles or spending more time in Füssen.
Transport and services
Bike shops on this section of the route
- Schongau: Tandem | Erhart’s Bike Shop | Berg & Radsport Lerf
- Lechbruck am See: Rad Und Ski-Service (Schongauer Straße 23)
- Rieden am Forggensee: Radlerhof am Forggensee
- Füssen: Radsport Zacherl & Müller | Cube Store Füssen | Mikes Bikes
If you know of other bike shops, or you spot a mistake, please let me know.
South of Landsberg there are only two train stations: at Schongau and Füssen.
Tourist information sites
- Landsberg Am Lech
- allgaeu.de. Tourist information for the Allgäu area
- Rieden am Forggensee (de/en/it)
- Füssen (de/en/cn)
- Romantische straße
- fuessen.de: Fahrradtour Forggensee-Runde. I couldn’t find an English version, but this page has gps downloads and some excellent downloadable pdf maps
- allgaeu.de: Radrunde Allgäu. Cycling section of the tourist information site for the Allgäu are. Lots of information, including maps and downloads, about the 450-kilometre circular Radrunde Allgäu
- fuessen.de: Radrunde-Allgäu
Articles in this series
- The Via Claudia in Germany and Austria: Overview
- Via Claudia Part 1: Donauwörth to Landsberg Am Lech
- Via Claudia Part 2: Landsberg am Lech to Füssen
- Via Claudia Part 3: Füssen to Imst
- Via Claudia Part 4: Along the valley of the Inn
- The Via Claudia in Italy: Overview
- Via Claudia Part 5: The Vinschgau
- Via Claudia Part 6: Algund to Trento
- Via Claudia Part 7: Trento to the Lago di Caldonazzo
- Via Claudia 8: San Cristoforo al Lago to Feltre via the Valsugana
- Via Claudia Part 9: the Valsugana cycleway to Bassano del Grappa
- Via Claudia Part 10: San Cristoforo al Lago to Feltre via the Passo Croce d’Aune
- Via Claudia Part 11: Feltre to Treviso
- Via Claudia Part 12: Treviso to Altino (and Venezia)
- Via Claudia Part 13: Trento to Verona and Ostiglia