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Founded by the Irish monk Gallus, St. Gallen lies among the rolling green hills of northeastern Switzerland, between Lake Constance and the mountainous region of Appenzell. It is famous for the St. Gallen Abbey Quarter – a UNESCO World Heritage Site! And although St. Gallen has so many activities to offer, those who spend several days there might still want to take day trips from the city. Below are some suggestions for the best day trips from St. Gallen for those based there.
Typically, these day trips are located one to two hours away from St. Gallen by train.
This article discusses the 10 best day trips from St. Gallen. Let’s go!
10 Best Day Trips from St. Gallen
1. Lake Constance
Located just ten kilometers from St. Gallen, Lake Constance offers an ideal destination for a relaxing and picturesque day trip. With its charming lakeside towns and a wide array of recreational activities, this region provides a refreshing contrast to St. Gallen’s urban landscape and vibrant cultural scene.
Lake Constance (Bodensee) is a 63-kilometer-long lake shared by Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Its total area is impressive – 540 square kilometers. It is the third-largest inland lake in Europe.
The lake consists of three interconnected parts:
- Überlinger See.
And each lake has its tiny island – Reichenau, Lindau, and Mainau.
Arbon, Steckborn, Kreuzlingen, Romanshorn, Rohrschach, and Mannenbach are some examples of charming Swiss towns on Bodensee.
If you would like to plan a day in Lake Constance, you can read our article Wonderful Towns To Visit on Lake Constance.
|Don’t miss these attractions in Lake Constance|
How do you get from St. Gallen to Lake Constance?
Direct train services connect St. Gallen with Romanshorn, Kreuzlingen, Mannenbach, Steckborn, and Rorschach. Additionally, there are direct bus routes connecting St. Gallen with Arbon.
With its colorful and charming houses and rural ambiance, Appenzell is a fantastic day trip from St. Gallen. This traditional region is interesting and unique in the country.
Appenzell Village located in the Appenzell Region (Appenzellerland in German) is an incredibly cute little town with pretty and colorful buildings, interesting boutiques, and sweet shops. It is located south of Lake Constance and surrounded by the Canton of Saint Gallen.
The village name comes from Abbot’s cell, referring to the abbot of the Abbey of Saint Gall.
The main street (Hauptgasse in German) is the epitome of the region’s traditional roots. You can buy some goods from the Convent of Mary of the Angels. Moreover, at the Museum Appenzell, you can delve into the region’s folklore, the art of hand embroidery, as well as its rich history in tourism.
|Don’t miss these attractions in Appenzell|
* Convent of Mary of the Angels
* Museum Appenzell
* Church of St. Mauritius
How do you get from St. Gallen to Appenzell?
Direct train services connect St. Gallen with Appenzell twice an hour.
Zurich’s numerous museums, shops, and activities make it one of the most vibrant day trips from St. Gallen. You can reach Zurich from St. Gallen by train in one hour.
As Switzerland’s largest city, Zurich offers plenty of restaurants, bars, museums, and shops. Here you will also find beautiful churches such as Grossmünster and Fraumünster. My favorite family outing here is the Zoo, which, in my opinion, is the best zoo in the country.
There are many things that you can do in Zurich so if you would like to visit somewhere larger and livelier than St. Gallen, I highly recommend that you give it a try.
If you would like to plan a day in Zurich, you can read our article 25 Best Things To Do In Zurich, Switzerland.
|Don’t miss these attractions in Zurich|
|* Landesmuseum Zurich|
* Grossmünster Church
* Uetliberg Mountain
* Lake Zurich
* Bahnhofstrasse for shopping
How do you get from St. Gallen to Zurich?
There are four direct trains per hour between St. Gallen and Zurich. It takes approximately 58 to 74 minutes to travel from St. Gallen to Zurich by direct train.
Ebenalp, renowned for its Cliff Restaurant, offers one of the most picturesque day trips from St. Gallen. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the serene Seealpsee Lake while you’re here.
In 2015, National Geographic released a book titled “Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World’s Most Amazing Places“. Over the years, it has consistently been a bestseller in the Travel Pictorial Reference books category. This bestselling book takes readers to some of the world’s most breathtaking sights whether they are natural or man-made – islands, cities, forests, and mountains. There is a picture of a cliff-side restaurant on its cover. This restaurant is Berggasthaus Äscher in Ebenalp, Appenzell.
After 15 minutes of descent from Ebenalp, you will encounter the Prehistoric Wildkirchli Caves. Before our time, Neanderthals used these caves as hunting quarters. The Wildkirchli caves are three interlinked caves in the Alpstein massif located between 1,477 to 1,500 meters above sea level.
If you would like to plan a day in Ebenalp, you can check out our article Aescher: Famous Restaurant at the Cliff Edge of Ebenalp.
|Don’t miss these attractions in Ebenalp|
|* Aescher Cliff Restaurant|
* Seealpsee Lake
* Prehistoric Wildkirchli Caves
How do you get from St. Gallen to Ebenalp?
From St. Gallen, take the train to Herisau. In Herisau, change to the connecting train to Wasserauen. In Wasserauen, take the cable car to Ebenalp. It takes approximately 1 hour and 7 minutes to travel from St. Gallen to Ebenalp by public transport.
5. Rhine Falls
Known for its powerful cascades, misty rainbows, and picturesque setting amid rocky cliffs and lush greenery, Rhine Falls is one of Switzerland’s most stunning wonders. Around 72 kilometers away, it will take you an hour and 19 minutes to get to Rhine Falls from St. Gallen by train. Also nearby is Schaffhausen, which is worth a visit.
Europe’s most powerful waterfall is Rheinfall (or Rhine Falls). Rhine Falls is located in Neuhausen in the canton of Schaffhausen. Not only is it beautiful and powerful, but it is also considered the largest in Europe.
Rheinfall has a width of 150 meters and a height of 23 meters. In the summer, 600 m3 (21,189 cubic feet) of water pours over the falls.
Rheinfall is Switzerland’s and Europe’s largest waterfall – and it is definitely worth a visit.
By taking a boat trip up to the Rheinfall rock, you can see this waterfall quite closely. Although it can get quite loud, it is a great experience (I have done it and thoroughly enjoyed it). This rock is accessible via stairs.
|Don’t miss these attractions in Rhine Falls|
|* Rhine Falls|
* Boat Ride
* Smilestones Miniaturwelt
* Stein am Rhein
How do you get from St. Gallen to Rhine Falls?
From St. Gallen, take the train to Winterthur. In Winterthur, change to the connecting train to Neuhausen. In Neuhausen, take the bus to Neuhausen Rheinfall. Alternatively, you could walk from Neuhausen train station to the waterfalls. It takes approximately 1 hour and 18 minutes to travel from St. Gallen to Rhine Falls by public transport.
6. Stein am Rhein
Stein am Rhein, an ideal destination for an easy day trip from St. Gallen, is one of the prettiest towns in Switzerland. It is located approximately one hour and a half away from the city.
The Swiss canton of Schaffhausen includes Stein am Rhein, a pretty historic town. It is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Switzerland.
Stein am Rhein is not merely a picturesque town for strolling and capturing stunning photographs; it offers a wealth of experiences beyond its charming streets. Visitors can delve into history at the Hohenklingen Castle, perched atop a hill with panoramic views of the town below as well as the Rhine River.
Museum Lindwurm invites exploration into the town’s past with its fascinating exhibits (I liked this museum!). For nature enthusiasts, there is a nearby island accessible by a wooden footbridge called Werd Island that offers tranquil walks amidst lush greenery.
Also worth a visit is Saint George’s Abbey – it is one of the best-preserved Medieval monastery complexes. Having been founded around 970 by Duke Burkhart III of Swabia, the abbey underwent renovations in succeeding centuries. The building dates from the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, making it one of the most important Swiss architectural monuments.
|Don’t miss these attractions in Stein am Rhein|
|* Stein am Rhein Old Town|
* Museum Lindwurm
* Saint George’s Abbey
* Hohenklingen Castle
How do you get from St. Gallen to Stein am Rhein?
There are two direct trains per hour between St. Gallen and Stein am Rhein. It takes approximately 1 hour and 24 minutes to travel from St. Gallen to Stein am Rhein by direct train.
Säntis is a great day trip from St. Gallen should you wish to see six countries around you – Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, France, and Italy. It is the highest mountain in the Alpstein Massif and is only 90 minutes away from St. Gallen by public transport.
If I was only allowed to choose one thing to do in the Appenzell region, I would choose to visit Säntis. At 2,501 meters above sea level, Säntis is the top attraction in the Appenzell region, simply for the amazing views that await you once you reach the top. That alone makes it worth your time and effort. It is one of the best day trips that you can choose from St. Gallen.
Säntis is the highest mountain in the Alpstein massif of the Appenzell Alps.
The summit of Säntis is one of the most prominent in the Alps. Whenever visibility is good, you have a chance to see six other countries surrounding Säntis. In addition to Switzerland, you can see Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, France, and Italy.
They offer interesting experiences on Säntis such as sunrise rides, full moon rides, magical night sky, and a variety of meals (breakfast brunch, meat meals). At the summit, you can find out more about the weather, the world of ice, its history, and geology.
There are different hiking trails around Säntis about moorlands, man and environment, forest, and Alpine farming.
|Don’t miss these attractions in Säntis|
|* Hiking Trails in Säntis|
* Säntis Experiences (sunrise rides, full moon rides, magical night sky)
* Lantern Path (winter)
How do you get from St. Gallen to Säntis?
From St. Gallen, take the train to Herisau. In Herisau, change to the connecting train to Urnäsch. In Urnäsch, take bus to Schwägalp, Säntis-Schwebebahn. It takes 56 minutes to go from St. Gallen to Schwägalp. From Schwägalp, you will have to take the cable car up to Säntis.
The Säntis cable car that runs from Schwägalp departs every 30 minutes. It will take you 10 minutes to get from Schwägalp to Säntis. The timings of going up the mountain will be sped up if there are a lot of guests. During the summertime (July and August), sunrise rides are held every Sunday.
A must-see destination for travelers, Lucerne is one of Switzerland’s most beautiful cities, boasting breathtaking views of the lake and mountains, a fascinating history, and a wealth of cultural attractions. Despite the two-hour distance, it’s a worthwhile day trip from St. Gallen.
The city of Lucerne is one of the most popular tourist spots in Switzerland. In Lucerne, you’ll find everything you’d want in a typical Swiss city. The beauty of its fjord-like blue lake, charming old town, and mountains are unbeatable. For those who want to spend some time in Lucerne city, there’s so much to see: the Transport Museum, the Lion Monument, the Rosengart Collection, and Chapel Bridge, just to name a few.
You can get around Lake Lucerne with the Lake Lucerne ship company. Various basins and bays provide exhilarating and changing views of the landscape on the lake – Stansstaad, Weggis, Buochs, Gersau, and Uri.
You can read more about other stunning places to visit near Lucerne such as Bürgenstock, Engelberg, Vitznau, and Weggis in this article 10 Beautiful Places Near Lucerne. And for those who wish to visit the mountains near Lucerne, you can find out about the Closest Mountains To Visit From Lucerne.
|Don’t miss these attractions in Lucerne|
|* Lion Monument|
* Chapel Bridge
* Transport Museum (Verkehrshaus)
* Rosengart Collection
* Glacier Garden
How do you get from St. Gallen to Lucerne?
There are two direct trains per hour between St. Gallen and Lucerne. It takes approximately 2 hours and 16 minutes to travel from St. Gallen to Lucerne by direct train.
One of the most important day trips you can take from St. Gallen is to Bern, Switzerland’s de facto capital, which is 189 kilometers away. It can be reached in 2 hours by train.
Nestled along the banks of the Aare River, Bern offers a variety of attractions for all tastes, whether you enjoy history, art, animals, or simply relaxing in a beautiful setting. It is the federal city of Switzerland. There is much more to discover when you take the time to explore this charming city.
There is no better place in Bern to start your day than the Old Town, located across the Aare River. The Old Town of Bern, which consists of many well-preserved buildings from the medieval era, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. A famous symbol of Bern, which dates back to 1218-1220, can be seen right at the entrance to the Old Town: the Zytglogge.
If you would like to learn more about Bern, check out our article How to Spend 1 Day in Bern, Switzerland.
|Don’t miss these attractions in Bern|
|* UNESCO World Heritage Old City of Bern|
* Parliament Building
* Bern Minster Cathedral
* Historic Museum
* Bern Bear Pit (Bärengraben)
* Bern Zoo (Tierpark Dählhölzli)
* Zentrum Paul Klee
* Museum of Communication
How do you get from St. Gallen to Bern?
There is one direct train per hour between St. Gallen and Bern. You may also take the train to Zurich and from there change to the next train to Bern. It takes approximately two hours to travel between both cities.
Known for its art scene, the Rhine River, and quaint old town, Basel makes a wonderful day trip from St. Gallen. Getting there will take 2 hours, but there are many activities to enjoy.
The city of Basel, along the Rhine River, is situated in northwest Switzerland, quite close to France and Germany. A highly cultural city, it also enjoys excellent weather year-round. It has also been included time and again in the list of most livable cities in the world.
Basel is also known as Switzerland’s cultural capital. It has more than 40 museums, including the Kunstmuseum, the Fondation Beyeler, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Additionally, it hosts Art Basel, an international art fair that attracts thousands of artists, art collectors, and art enthusiasts from Europe, the US, and Asia.
One tradition that you might want to observe is the Basel Carnival Festival. Sometime during February and March, the country’s largest festival starts with what’s called the Morgestraich. It lasts a good 72 hours. As a highly anticipated and important tradition, the Basel Carnival was inscribed in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage back in 2017.
There’s more to Basel than just culture. Also in Basel are world-renowned institutions, like the University of Basel, the Bank of International Settlements, and FC Basel. Some of the biggest pharma companies are based in Basel, like Roche, Novartis, Lonza, and Actelion.
If you would like to plan a day in Basel, you can read our article How to Spend 1 Day in Basel, Switzerland.
|Don’t miss these attractions in Basel|
* Fondation Beyeler
* Museum of Contemporary Art
* Art Basel
* Basel Carnival and Morgestraich (UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage)
* Zoo Basel
How do you get from St. Gallen to Basel?
Summary: Best Day Trips from St. Gallen
For those who are staying for a couple of days in St. Gallen, Switzerland, and wish to venture out to other places, we hope that this list was helpful.
To summarize, if you are looking for large cities with lots of activities, Zurich, Bern, and Basel are great choices. Appenzell, Stein am Rhein and Lucerne are for those who want something a bit smaller and more laid back.
For those looking for water adventures, Lake Constance and the Rhine Falls are perfect options. Lastly, Ebenalp and Säntis offer some of the most picturesque landscapes for photographers, as well as hiking trails for those who wish to enjoy the outdoors.
- How to Spend 1 Day in St. Gallen, Switzerland
- Zurich to St. Gallen Train: All You Need to Know
- Abbey of Saint Gall: UNESCO World Heritage Site in St. Gallen, Switzerland
- 10 Beautiful Towns Near St. Gallen
- 12 Best Things To Do in Appenzell Region, Switzerland
- Is Appenzell Worth Visiting?
- Swiss Alps – The Ultimate Guide
- 10 Most Famous Churches of Switzerland
- The Beautiful Village of Lichtensteig, Switzerland
Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.