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12 Best Things To Do in Appenzell Region, Switzerland

Last Updated on April 8, 2024 by Admin

Sönd willkomm – welcome to Appenzell, as they say. When I think of the Appenzell region in Switzerland, I think of mountains and tradition.  It is a very traditional place where its people tightly hold on to their own customs, festivals, costumes, and language. The people who live there are also very loyal and proud of it.

In this article, we will discuss the Appenzell Region. What are the best things to do in the Appenzell Region? What are the best places to visit in the Appenzell Region?

Appenzell Region

The Appenzell Region (or Appenzellerland in German) has a mix of jagged, tall mountains in the Alpstein mountain range and gently rolling hills where the villages are located. It is a typically overlooked part of Switzerland, despite the relatively known mountains of Säntis and Ebenalp. Nonetheless, it should not be missed.

Appenzell may not have the awe-inspiring alpine setting of Zermatt or the world-famous Jungfrau region, but it is incredibly special. It is a place that one could certainly imagine returning to again and again.

Without further ado, here is a list of the 12 best things to do in the Appenzell Region of Switzerland.

1. Säntis

Image of Säntis from Kronberg by TouringSwitzerland.com

If I was only allowed to choose one thing to do in Appenzell, 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.

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.

The Säntis cable car runs from Schwägalp and 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. Those with a GA card and Half-fare card have discounts.

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.

In winter, when Säntis is covered in snow, you can hike through the snowy landscape or experience the lantern path next to Säntis – the hotel. There are downhill runs on Mount Säntis but these are not marked nor prepared and only recommended for experienced skiers.

I wholeheartedly recommend Säntis to visitors to the Appenzell region. There is no doubt that it is worth checking out.


2. Berggasthaus Äscher, Ebenalp

Image of Berggastahaus Äscher by TouringSwitzerland.com

One of the best things to do in the Appenzell region is to visit Berggasthaus Äscher-Wildkirchli. It is a restaurant located just below the Ebenalp, at 1,640 meters. In the years following its selection on the cover of National Geographic’s bestselling book, the restaurant consistently saw around 200,000 visitors per year.

Berggasthaus Äscher-Wildkirchi can trace its origins back to 1846. The current building was built for monks in 1860. Initially, visitors to the Aescher meadow were hosted by hermits and herdsmen. Due to its historic importance, Berggasthaus Äscher is a protected site.

Indeed, it is unusual for a restaurant to be located right next to the cliff edge overlooking a pristine lake and rocky mountains. Berggasthaus Äscher-Wildkirchi is also known for its atmosphere, hospitality, and charm. 

If you would like to read more about the Äscher restaurant, check out our article: Aescher: Famous Restaurant at the Cliff Edge of Ebenalp.


3. Appenzell Village

Image of Appenzell village by TouringSwitzerland.com

While in the Appenzell region, you absolutely must visit Appenzell village because of its colorful buildings and dainty shops. Aside from the interesting boutiques, they also have several sweet shops and bakeries.

The main street (Hauptgasse in German) is the epitome of the region’s traditional roots. The Appenzell region is very protective of its traditions, music, art, and culture. Appenzell Village showcases this well with the well-kept and beautiful building facades, the goods that they sell, and the museum on the main street.

If you would like to read more about Appenzell Village, check out our article: Is Appenzell Worth Visiting?


4. Saxer Lücke

Image of Saxer Lücke by Walter Frehner from Pixabay

Saxer Lücke is a 1,649-meter-high mountain located in the Alpstein massif. It is wonderful to visit because it has these jagged rocky bits reminiscent of the Italian Dolomites.

Saxer Lücke is easily accessible with the Staubern cable car. From the mountain station, you can simply follow the signs to Saxer Lücke. It is around 3 kilometers long until you reach the ridge viewpoint. I would highly recommend wearing proper shoes for this excursion because even though the trail is well-marked, it is a mountain trail and not just a simple walking trail.

From Saxer Lücke, you can make a quick stop in Fälensee nearby too.


5. Wildkirchi Caves

Image of Bones found in the Wildkirchi Caves by TouringSwitzerland.com

As you descend from Ebenalp, you will encounter the Prehistoric Wildkirchli Caves. Neanderthals used these caves for hunting before our time. Wildkirchli caves are a series of interconnected caves located in the Alpstein massif between 1,477 and 1,500 meters above sea level.

In the 19th century, cave bears, chamois, and Capricorns were discovered here. The first excavations were conducted by Emil Bächler. Between 600 and 800 cave bear remains were found that date back to 100,000 years ago. 

Compared to brown bears, cave bears were larger. Generally, the animals were vegetarians, had high foreheads, and lacked natural enemies. Cave bears used to live up to 35 years. Many bones were found in caves because cave bears hibernated there during the winter. The species has already gone extinct. Their sudden demise more than 25,000 years ago remains a mystery. Climate change is one possible explanation. 

There were also remains of cave lions, leopards, and hyenas. The cave lion is similar to the African lion we know today, but it is larger. The lions that lived in the caves of Wildkirchli were believed to be old and sick lions who needed to rest. 


6. Kronberg

Image taken in Kronberg by TouringSwitzerland.com

Kronberg is a family-friendly mountain destination in the Appenzell region. It only goes up to 1,663 meters compared to the 2,501 meters of Säntis. Nevertheless, there are plenty of things to do while there as well.

For those who wish to go up to Kronberg Mountain, you can do so by cable car. From above, you have fantastic views of the Alpstein massif until Lake Constance. There are plenty of easy trails to choose from in this popular excursion destination. These trails are far easier than the mountain trails that can be reached from Ebenalp.   

For those who wish to hike, they have well-prepared trails: short circular trails, themed trails, a barefoot trail as well as a treasure hunt for families. You can get a treasure hunt set for CHF 15.- from the entrance.

Rope Park, Playground, Toboggan at the Valley

The majority of activities will appeal to young children. Located at the bottom of the mountain is a Rope Park and Fairy Tale Playground (Märliwelt in German). Both the rope park and the fairy tale playground charge admission. 

It is also possible to access a 1-kilometer-long toboggan run from here.  The rope park has 25 ziplines and 1,210 meters of ropes with varying levels of difficulty for young children and adults alike.  On the other hand, the Fairy Tale playground is a world where Arnika and Jakobi play in water and sand.

If you would like to learn more about Kronberg, check out this article – Kronberg: 5 Best Things To Do (With Epic Hiking Trails).


7. Herisau

Image of the Post Office of Herisau from Wikimedia

There is a small, beautiful region in Appenzell called Herisau where the cantonal government and parliament are located. Its main hamlet and the houses around the central square are all listed as heritage sites of national significance.

Even though it is not the most touristy village in the Appenzell region, it is worth a quick visit if you are already in the area.


8. Schwellbrunn

Image of Schwellbrunn by Hans Nater from flickr

One of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland, Schwellbrunn deserves every bit of praise. It is the highest village in Appenzell and offers fantastic views of the Alpstein massif.

Schwellbrunn is a popular destination for excursions and leisure activities with lots of businesses and services, as well as a 16th-century church. In winter, you can find some family-friendly ski lifts here.


9. Hiking the Eggen High Trail or Barefoot Trail

Image of the Kneipp, Barefoot Trail by TouringSwitzerland.com

There are numerous captivating hiking trails in the Appenzell region. Two notable ones include the Eggen High Trail and the Barefoot Trail from Jakobsbad to Gontenbad.

  • The Eggen High Trail is a classic trail in the Appenzell region. You will have a short but steep climb up to Schäflisegg. From there, you can stop by the A. Vogel medicinal herb garden, and then enjoy the fantastic views of the Appenzell region. Toward the end of your trip, you can make a stop at the Waldegg Restaurant. With perfect views of Säntis, this is a special themed restaurant that you will surely remember.
  • The Appenzell Barefoot Trail is a delightful 5.30-kilometer adventure from Jakobsbad to Gontenbad (or the other way around). Perfect for all ages and skill levels, this unconventional hike offers a sensory journey through gravel, wood chips, rolling hills, and the scenic Appenzell region, promising a memorable and enjoyable outing for nature enthusiasts and curious explorers alike.

If you would like to learn more about the Appenzell Barefoot Trail, you can check out Feet First: Exploring the Appenzell Barefoot Trail.


10.Appenzeller Cheese Factory (Appenzeller Schaukäserei)

Image of Appenzeller Cheese from Wikimedia

One of the most popular products known in the entire country from the Appenzell Region is cheese. And in the Appenzeller Schaukäserei or Appenzeller Cheese Factory, you can discover what it means to produce this incredibly yummy cheese.

Here, you’ll discover more about Appenzeller® Cheese and why it holds the title of the “most flavorful cheese” from Switzerland. You’ll also have the opportunity to craft your own herb blend and take it home with you. Additionally, you’ll get to explore the cheese cellar where up to 12,500 wheels of cheese are stored.

Open daily for 364 days a year, you can take part in a self-guided tour of the cheese factory to learn more about how cheese is produced from fresh local milk. They also have a large playground where children can play to their heart’s content.

If you would like to take home some of their cheese, they also have a cheese shop from where you can choose from over 80 different types of cheese. You can expect not only a variety of Swiss cheeses but also specialty fondue offerings.

If you would like to join a premium small-group tour to Appenzell to learn about Swiss customs and traditions, cheese production, and chocolate making, as well as visit Appenzell and Hoher Kasten, you can book a ticket at GetYourGuideZürich: Appenzell Day-Trip with Cheese & Chocolate Tastings.


11. Museum of Appenzell Traditions

Image from the Museum of Appenzell Traditions by TouringSwitzerland.com

Urnäsch is a small, picturesque village where Appenzell’s traditions remain alive. To get a better understanding of how they keep their traditions alive, I recommend visiting the Museum of Appenzell Traditions or Appenzeller Brauchtumsmuseum Urnäsch.

The museum displays costumes for the carnival as well as traditional clothes. Their homes are even displayed, as well as how intricately they decorate them. Their intricate work does make them proud. Their products show not only high craftsmanship but also attention to detail and a sense of aesthetics. It is a unique characteristic of Appenzell that you cannot see elsewhere in Switzerland.   

If you would like to learn more about the Museum of Appenzell Traditions, you can check out our article – Museum of Appenzell Traditions: What to Expect.


12. Seealpsee

Image of Seealpsee from Ebenalp by TouringSwitzerland.com

And to wrap up what you should visit in the Appenzell region, we have Seealpsee Lake. This is such a beautiful and tranquil lake that you can reach from Wasserauen. At an elevation of 1,143 meters, it has such a nice color and is clean.

Seealpsee is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Appenzell Region and it’s easy to understand why.

Seealpsee is around a 50-minute walk from the parking lot. You can even rent a small boat if you wish. You can also reach Seealpsee from Ebenalp.


Final Thoughts: Best Things To Do in Appenzell Region

We hope that you enjoyed some of the best things that you can do in the Appenzell region. This is not all there is to do there. They do have lots of trails and small villages worth visiting. But these are just the highlights and best-rated things to do in the Appenzell region.

To summarize, some of the best mountains to visit in Appenzell are Säntis, Ebenalp, Saxer Lücke, Kronberg, and Hoher Kasten. And some of the beautiful towns or villages to visit include Appenzell, Herisau, and Schwellbrunn. For culinary experiences, visit the Waldegg Restaurant after doing the Eggen High Trail or drop by the Appenzeller Cheese Factory. You can also visit the lakes of Seealpsee and Fälensee. Another interesting place to visit is the Museum of Appenzell Traditions to learn more about the locals and their traditions.

In case you have visited all of the places above and would like to find other excursions, here is a quick list that you may use:

  • Museum Appenzell – A cultural and historical museum of the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden that focuses on Appenzell hand embroidery, traditional costumes, and folk art.
  • Kunsthalle Appenzell and Kunstmuseum Appenzell – two museums that focus on contemporary art.
  • Brauqüöll Appenzell – Discover how Appenzell beer and Säntis Malt whiskey are made by visiting this brewery.
  • Zunfthaus Appenzell – Local craftsmen and artists provide information about their activities and offer exclusive items on sale.
  • Hallenbad Appenzell – This family-friendly swimming pool area has four pools including a children’s paddling pool with a slide. They also have a boulder wall, a hot tub, a Finnish sauna, and a bio sauna.
  • Hoher Kasten – You can reach Hoher Kasten at 1,794 meters above sea level by cable car. At the summit, you will enjoy fantastic views of Eastern Switzerland and beyond as well as an alpine garden with over 300 plants. They also have a revolving restaurant with a 360°-Panorama that is open from April until February.
  • Alp Sigel – Two gondolas can bring you to Alp Sigel between May and October. Five families farm the alp during the summer months.

We have truly enjoyed visiting Appenzell Region and can’t wait to return. We hope that you find something useful from our list.

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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.