WHAT TO DO IN APPENZELL AND APPENZELLERLAND
Are you planning your Appenzell trip and wondering about the best things to do in Appenzell / Appenzellerland? Then this post is for you.
Appenzellerland is not the most famous place in Switzerland – however, this does not mean it has nothing to offer. Actually, there is quite a bit to see, and it is one of Switzerland’s most beautiful places
So, while I will mostly talk about what to do in Appenzell, I also want to talk about some main travel tips for your trip to this beautiful place – this includes some background info about the cantons of Appenzell (because there are two of them!).
So, as mentioned in the beginning, we have two cantons (states) of Appenzell. Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Appenzell Innerhoden.
Both cantons are in the north of Germany – close to the border of Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein. Once upon a time (in 1597), with the Counter-Reformation, religious disagreements caused the canton to split into two parts: one called Appenzell Inner-Rhoden (in Germany Appenzell Innerrhoden), where most people were Roman Catholic, and the other called Appenzell Ausser-Rhoden (in German Appenzell Ausserrhoden), where most people were Protestant.
This post is about both Appenzell cantons.
Appenzellerland whereas is the hilly landscape of the Appenzellerland which stretches from Lake Constance in the north up to the Säntis Mountain.
And Appenzell is also the capital town of the canton Appenzell Innerrhoden. However, I will – to make it easy – mostly refer to Appenzell for the whole region just to make it easier.
This might be a bit confusing but for us, as regular visitors, it all does not really matter – all we need to know is that the region of Appenzell is amazing.
IS APPENZELL WORTH VISITING?
Appenzell(erland) is one of Switzerland’s most original parts, with a beautiful tiny town center (Appenzell) and incredible scenery. It is a paradise for any outdoor lover! Yes, Appenzell is definitely worth a visit. I have visited Appenzellerland several times and always love coming back.
At the end, you´ll also find some quick travel tips.
Disclaimer: This post also contains affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission if you book any services/products via my link (at no extra cost to you).
TOP THINGS TO DO IN APPENZELL
Let´s start the first day in Appenzell by visiting Ebenalp Mountain.
VISIT EBENALP MOUNTAIN
Switzerland makes it very easy to reach mountain peaks without much effort as there are many cable cars/funiculars etc. to get you up. This also goes for Ebenalp Mountain.
Ebenalp is the northernmost summit of the Appenzell Alps – in the last few years, it has become incredibly popular for one particular reason, though there are many reasons to get up Ebenalp Moutain.
Start your trip at Wasserauen Train Station (868 meters above sea level) which is located in the northeastern part of Switzerland.
If you enjoy hiking, I would definitely recommend starting with hiking up Ebenalp (about 1,600 meters above sea level). If you are not much into hiking, then get up by cable car – it just takes 6 minutes to get you (almost) to the top. Start your trip from Wasserauen Station which is easily reachable from Appenzell – the town center.
- It will take about 2 hours to get there from Zurich (you probably have to change trains in Gossau).
- From the Appenzell town center, it is about a ten-minute drive (around 7 km) or train ride to Wasserauen Station.
GET UP BY CABLE CAR: So, if you take the cable car, it will take about 6 minutes to get up (almost to the very top). If you really want to get to the summit, you will have to do another 5-minute hike once you get off the cable car.
- The Ebenalp cable car costs around 30€ (return ticket). You can save money with a Swiss Travel Pass (50%) or by hiking one way.
HIKING: You can also hike up – it is a moderate hike though it is quite steep and an amazing experience.
I have visited Ebenalp Mountain twice. The first time, I only used the cable car. Hiking was not my favorite activity back then and I have come to love it only much later.
The second time I got up by cable car and hiked down. Though the hike itself wasn’t very challenging, it was very foggy and steep, and quite scary at times.
Depending on your speed, it should take about 2-3 hours to reach the peak of Ebenalp Mountain.
You will start at Wasserauen Station and then walk uphill through the forest to Bommen. Your first main stop would be the Aescher Guesthouse (other stops will be on the list later). However, if you take a different route, the stops will be in a different order.
Elevation: Wasserauen at 876 meters to Ebenalp at 1644 meters.
There are different paths, so it can be a circular hike. If you hike, I suggest getting up via cable car and then on the hike down to Seealpsee (more on that later).
Stop at Berggasthaus Ebenalp
On the top of Ebenalp, you will find a guest house, “Berggasthaus Ebenalp” at 1644 meters above sea level. It is the perfect place to sleep or, at least, to have a drink/lunch, etc., with great views. I stayed there for one night – it is a very simple yet great place to stay because the views are impressive.
You can overlook Lake Seealp, for example, or you can enjoy the Alpine garden by the guest house. After a coffee there, I would recommend hiking down.
Do Outdoor Sports on Ebenalp Mountain
To date, I visited Ebenalp and Appenzellerland twice. Both times, the weather was not perfectly clear. However, on my first trip, I was still kind of lucky with the weather and despite the fog, I spotted many hang- and paragliders.
Actually, it is not that surprising since it is a paradise for outdoor sports and is well known amongst outdoor lovers. If I had not been there with my dog, I would have made sure to book such a tandem flight as well.
Discover Ebenalp Wildkirchli
From the top of Ebenalp mountain, start hiking down. After about 10-15 minutes, Ebenalp Wildkirchli will be the next stop.
Ebenalp Wildkirchli (about 1,500 meters above sea level) is a prehistoric cave and is free of entry charge. Just a small part is narrow, most of it is easy to pass, and it is just a short walk.
There is some information (in German) that says that visitors were shown around in the 18th century. When the cable cars started operating in 1955, many religious people came to the church in fancy clothes.
Since the entrance was tiny, the clothes would get dirty. So, they blasted the entry to make it bigger and avoid angry visitors.
Rest at Aescher Cliff Switzerland
Then continue your hike down. After another 20 minutes of walking – I finally saw it: The “world´s most interesting restaurant“ (Huffington Post) and probably the most prominent attraction in Appenzellerland. The Aescher!
Depending on your hiking route, the order of stops will be different.The Aescher used to be a hostel, but nowadays, it is not possible to sleep there anymore. However, you can still have drinks or eat typical Swiss food (as a vegetarian, there was little choice, but the Rösti is a good alternative). The inside of the Aescher is simple (with cool toilets though) but it is great to have a break and enjoy lunch with a view. Oh, did I mention it was very foggy on my second trip? If you walk behind the Aescher, you have a beautiful view of Lake Seealpsee.
Hike Down to Seealpsee
On my second trip, I hiked down to Lake Seealpsee (1141 meters above sea level) with a couple of friends. It was fun to meet cows along the way, and then, finally, arrive at the beautiful Lake Seealpsee, which looks much better from a close distance than if looking at it from above.Hiking from the Aescher to Seealpsse took more than an hour. Since it was foggy and wet, the hike was not very easy. I am sure it is much easier on a clearer day (and on a dry day) because it is a quite steep hike. However, it was definitely worth it, as Seealpsee is beautiful!
There are more restaurants at the lake to spoil yourself with some coffee/tea.
It takes another 20 minutes from Lake Seealpsee to the Wasserauen station/parking space, and though it is mostly a paved street, the hike is quite exhausting as it is quite steep.
Definitely make sure to have your toenails shortened – it is quite steep, and if your toenails are not short… it is quite unpleasant. Bring enough water with you. There are restaurants where you can buy water/drinks but I cannot recall having seen a water fountain.
- Depending on whether you hike (at all) or not, this trip to Ebenalp could take between 4-8 hours.
WHAT TO DO IN APPENZELL TOWN CENTER
Here is what to do in the town center of this little place named Appenzell.
Visit the Appenzell Town Center
For the second day in Appenzellerland, I definitely recommend exploring the town center, which is (very) small but charming. Appenzell is probably one of the most colorful and cutest towns, with perfect pretty houses still clearly influenced by Swiss tradition.
The “Hauptgasse“ is the main attraction here, and you can get lost here for a while, though I would also recommend a stroll by the river. I got a bit sick and wanted to get some medicine from the pharmacy – the town is so cute and small that the pharmacy was not open in the morning.
I would recommend visiting one of the charming cafes and restaurants where you can watch the quiet town life of Appenzell. Coming from a bigger city in Germany (Bremen), I am totally not used to this quiet and relaxed lifestyle, and it impresses me every time to see small and original places where it seems time has stopped and everything is so peaceful.
TIP: There are actually some free tours offered for the Appenzell town center but only on certain days, so check the website if you are interested in joining such a tour.
Stroll Along the River
Appenzell town center is pretty, but if you have energy left, I highly recommend leaving the pretty town center and going for nice walks along the river.
APPENZELL TRAVEL TIPS
Here are some quick tips for your Appenzell trip.
Where to Stay in Appenzell / Appenzellerland
The Gasthaus Hotel Hof is perfectly located in the town center (with free parking space), and you could hardly be located more closely to the market square. If you are looking for a friendly, welcoming family-run hotel, this might be a perfect choice. It is quite simple and basic but a good choice. Check out rates here.
If you want something fancier, the Romantik Hotel Säntis might be the perfect choice for you. This 4-star hotel is also located in Appenzell and is a great base to get around Appenzellerland.
How to Get Around AppenzellerLand
Ebenalp Mountain, as well as Appenzell town, is easily accessible via car or public transportation. Parking in Appenzell can be tricky when it is really busy.
However, Appenzell itself is very tiny, so you can walk to explore the town center.
In Wasserauen (cable car station for Ebenalp Mountain) are parking spots, but if you want to be sure to get a good spot, get there early. It is also easy to get there by train.
Swiss Travel Pass
I like to introduce you to the Swiss Travel Pass.
If you use public transportation, I recommend getting a Swiss Travel Pass. Swiss Travel Passes are available for non-Swiss residents and are absolutely amazing. I visit Switzerland often, and most of the time I get one – even if it’s a road trip.
- It allows you to use trains and buses without any extra costs – so basically, you can use almost all trains and buses for free.
- You can also do boat cruises without additional costs.
- It also gives you a 50% discount on most mountain rides (you can get up via cable car/funicular for half of the price, and if you follow my tips, you will need it twice), some mountain excursions – like Mount Rigi near Lucerne – are even included.
The initial prices for a Swiss Travel Pass are quite high – but it pays for itself if you get around via public transportation and are active in Switzerland for more than three or four days. So, check out prices for boats and trains and then calculate if it is a good option for you.
For me, it usually makes sense as I am very active and use public transportation/mountain rides often (even if I road trip Switzerland). I also love boat rides – which means many, many boat cruises for me whenever I have a Swiss Travel Pass. Check out prices for a Swiss Travel Pass here.
BEST TIME TO VISIT APPENZELL / APPENZELLERLAND
- I repeat myself when I say there is no reliability in the weather. It can be rainy and cold in the summer months and warm in spring or fall.
- However, I think it is good to visit between May to September. This is also the season to hike on Ebenalp Mountain.
- Appenzell also hosts many festivals – if you are interested in certain festivals, plan your trip accordingly.
- Winter is also a popular time to visit – and great if you are into winter sports.
WHAT TO PACK FOR APPENZELL
If you are an experienced hiker, you know how to dress and what to pack. However, if you have not been to many mountain peaks yet, keep in mind to dress in layers.
Even if it seems warm and sunny, it might be chilly at the top. You’ll find a full packing list for Switzerland.
I always look out for water fountains and freshwater sources. As far as I can remember, I did not see any, but I might have just missed it. So, there is the Aescher and the Ebenalp Guesthouse and a restaurant at Seealpsee where you can buy drinks and snacks, but I still suggest packing enough water and snacks.
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