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?
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.
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.
Cable cars run every 30 minutes. 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.
I wholeheartedly recommend Säntis to visitors to the Appenzell region. There is no doubt that it is worth checking out.
2. Berggasthaus Äscher, Ebenalp
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
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
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
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 lived for 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.
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 the Kronberg mountain, you can do so with the cable car. From up 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 mountains 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.
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 under the 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.
One of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland, Schwellbrunn deserves every bit of praise. It is the highest village in Appenzell and offers absolutely 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. Eggen High Trail and Waldegg Restaurant
The Eggen High Trail is definitely 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.
Towards 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. You can take a look at an old school classroom, cowbells, animals such as goats and rabbits to pet, plus a huge playground outside. This traditional farmhouse is such a treat and definitely worth visiting.
10. Appenzeller Cheese Factory (Appenzeller Schaukäserei)
One of the most popular products known in the entire country from the Appenzell Region is their cheese. And in the Appenzeller Schaukäserei or Appenzeller Cheese Factory, you can discover what it means to produce this incredibly yummy cheese.
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.
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 GetYourGuide – Zürich: Appenzell Day-Trip with Cheese & Chocolate Tastings.
11. Museum of Appenzell Traditions
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.
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.
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.
We have truly enjoyed visiting Appenzell Region and can’t wait to return again. We hope that you find something useful from our list.