by Paul Wojnicki

“IS this the only way to get from Austria into Germany Daddy?” my four-year-old daughter asks, as we sway on a wooden walkway above the forest canopy, with views of the Bavarian and Austrian Alps at either side of us.

“Er no,” I reply. Thankfully not, for those of us with a lifelong fear of heights. That said, my pulse isn’t racing as fast as it normally would at these heights. Perhaps it’s because the 360 degree views are so spectacular.

And the views become more spectacular during the rest of our three-day visit to Fussen, a small Bavarian town on Austria’s western border with Germany.

First we head to the Tegelberg mountain, two miles or so from the medieval town centre of Fussen. At the foot of the mountain we find a toboggan run that’s free for children aged between three and eight accompanied by an adult. Adult rides cost 4.50 Euros per ride or six rides for 19.00 Euros. Both Harrison, seven, and Ella love the toboggan. Ella squeals in delight ordering me to go faster as we hurtle down. Above us a constant stream of paragliders seem to be coming in to land, then re-packing their chutes for another ascent up the cable car. “Can we do that Daddy?” both kids ask, alluding to the paragliding rather than the cable car. “Er, maybe when you’re a little older,” I reply. Old enough to do it without me!

Despite my fear of heights the kids talk me into a cable car ride, which is worth it for the stunning view of the world famous Neuschwanstein Castle, attracting over 1.5 million visitors each year and said to be the template for Walt Disney’s castle because it looks as though it’s been plucked from a fairy tale. This is a breathtaking way of reaching the mountain top, though not as breathtaking as climbing it must be! At the summit we’re stunned by the views of the mountains and lakes.

Taking the last cable car down we decide to visit Neuschwanstein Castle, now that the day trippers are all leaving on their coaches. The village of Hohenschwangau, which has second stunning castle at the foot of the mountain and an immaculate lake right on the doorstep, is all but empty by seven o clock. It’s astounding to think that despite the staggering beauty of this region that many visitors only come for a few hours to see Neuschwanstein Castle.

It takes us around 40 minutes to climb the road past Neuschwanstein Castle and up toward Marienbrucke, or Queen Mary’s Bridge, which is also famous for its views. Along the way we’re joined by a number of frogs hopping along the empty roadside. When we reach Marienbrucke we find that there are only two other people there; serious photographers judging by their equipment. The last time we were on this bridge in 2018 it was midday and the crowd was like a rugby scrum. The wooden boards that hold up to 400 people at a time, 90 metres above the river, were literally bowing with the weight. Now that we’re alone we have an unobstructed view of the castle, and it’s probably the best view we’ve had so far.

* Getting there: Fussen, is easily reached by car from Innsbruck or Munich, while trains also connect hourly with Munich Airport. Lufthansa fly direct from Manchester to Munich and Easyjet direct from Manchester to Innsbruck (winter only).

Where to stay- Fussen makes a abundance of restaurants, cafes, shops and interesting architecture- including another castle and a former abbey. We stayed at the Best Western Plus which has family rooms for as little as £98.

Fussen is an excellent all year round destination. There are enough attractions to occupy outdoors enthusiasts in all seasons. Families are well catered for and most attractions are cheap. The treetop walk between Austria and Germany cost 5 Euros per adult (children and teens free). As well as the walkway itself there was an excellent nature trail. Other summer attractions include paddle boarding, boat trips, cycling, hiking and swimming in the lakes. Skiing and ice skating are popular in winter.