Off The Beaten Swiss Path Leads To Appenzellerland

It’s been almost two years to that day which we spent in untouched, beautiful Appenzellerland of Switzerland. Our family agrees that it was one the most memorable day of our Swiss trip! It was also a day we spent like a local so you would agree if I tell you, it was also one of the most active days of our Switzerland itinerary!

While I was planning for our very exciting Switzerland trip, I was looking for an off the beaten place. A place in Switzerland where Indian Bollywood movies have not reached yet and we haven’t seen them on the silver screen! If you don’t know there is a popular link between Indians and Switzerland. We have seen our movie stars dancing around all over Switzerland in our Hindi movies, so it’s really a norm for Indians to travel to Switzerland at least once in their lifetime. But what I can’t stand is Indians love to travel to all those exact spots where our actor have danced or ran around trees! Sometimes I doubt which love is bigger for them is that nature’s beauty or those Indian actors who brave to wear weirdest clothes and move in a funniest way to entertain their fans!

But now you can understand why I was so badly looking for a place in Switzerland which is less commercialized and won’t have an Indian restaurant selling samosas! Virtually a place where no Indian has reached till now! 😀
So I came across Appenzell town, at that time I could find few English articles as most of the reviews were in German about this place and found only one family with kids experience in English on Mom tots Zurich (read here). So I decided to add a day trip to Appenzellerland in our itinerary. Thankfully the infrastructure and systems in Switzerland are so good that it was not very difficult to find out how to reach there from Zurich.

How To Reach Appenzell

After an early breakfast in our hotel apartment in Zurich, we reached Zurich Train Depot and made our way into Zurich HB, the main train station. You can use Google map, which gives you exact information including platform numbers of each station and time of arrival and departure. But I preferred to discuss quickly at the information booth at Zurich HB before boarding train towards St. Gallon.

Zurich to Wasserauen by train: 1hr 52 min

Zurich HB – Gossau SG – Wasserauen

The road is scenic throughout. But as soon as you get down at Gossau station the crowd vanishes and all you can see on the way to Wasserauen is the beauty of nature and some very beautiful small villages nestled along the train track. The Appenzell canton is so beautiful that you feel like getting down in between to enjoy the beauty of the surrounding. The train journey is a bit longer but it’s worth taking. By car, you can reach faster. But I would recommend taking the train if you going to hike both Ebenalp and Seealpesee in a day like us. We could take rest in the train on the way back.
Once you reach Wasserauen station, there a beautiful outdoor cafe at the train station. The surrounding is so beautiful that you feel like just sitting there sipping some tea but keep that activity for later when you will reach back the same point after a tiring hike.

 

Cable Car To Ebenalp

Once you reach Wasserauen train station, you can walk up to Ebenalp Cabel Car station in few minutes of walk. Trails from Wasserauen are favorite activities of local people but if you go there on weekdays, it won’t be much crowded you can enjoy beautiful views of the valley, fields and surrounding mountains from the cable car.

We bought return tickets for this cable car as we decided to do Seealpsee trail from base instead of going from Ebenalp. We also kept our stroller at the cable car station, where people generally leave the strollers as Wildkirchli Trail (trail leading to cliff restaurant) is not stroller friendly. Once you reach the top, there is a scenic viewing gallery where you can sit and enjoy the beautiful views. You can also borrow walking sticks from here. From here you can start your short trail to Wildkirchli.

Family Trail On Ebenalp To Wildkirchli

Just outside the cable car station, paragliders take off from the slopes. We did paragliding in Lauterbrunnen but we were glad that our son and my father in law could see how para gliders take off up close. We even saw a funny incident of paragliders bumping into a cow resting on the slopes of the mountain.

The pathway leads to some stairs and then to Wildkirchli Caves. Once you enter the caves it’s dark and a bit chilled inside and some water is dripping around so be careful when you are climbing the stairs down in the cave. There is railing throughout the trial, which our dad found helpful.

You come across a few small wooden houses on this trail, you need to pass through some tiny cottages. We even saw a man working on a wooden cottage with a lot of focus and dedication.

There is an old church built into a smaller cave, we even saw a decorative flower bouquet at the church, later we learned that there was a marriage ceremony held at this church just before we arrived. What a scenic place to take vows and start a lifelong journey.

This was Ruhaan’s first proper mountain trail but he enjoyed it to the fullest. We didn’t expect he would walk all the way at the age of 2 years and the narrow path doesn’t allow younger kids to walk on their own for safety reasons. So most of the times we were carrying Ruhaan. But the colorful wildflowers, paragliders in the sky, some ponies and dogs along the way and beautiful views kept Ruhaan entertained.

From the church in few minutes, you reach Berggasthaus Aescher, the beautiful cliff restaurant.

Lunch At Berggasthaus Aescher

Many people come here for this restaurant, it is definitely one of the most beautiful restaurants we have been to. Because it’s location on the edge of Ebenalp mountain on a cliff and the views you get to see while having a meal make it a unique experience. Plus the fact that you can reach this restaurant only by walking after a cable car, makes it even exclusive.

Here is the link to Aescher Restaurant, though you don’t need to do any bookings here.

The day when we went there, the restaurant was very crowded because of the wedding guests so we couldn’t get a table in the outdoor sitting area. But we couldn’t wait till a table is free, as we had a plan of Seealpsee hike later. So we had our lunch in their wooden cabin. There were views even from inside plus it was safer to sit inside and let Ruhaan loose then just 2 years old. We had a peaceful and relaxed meal. Foodwise you get mainly Swiss food and some Appenzell specialty. We tried some Rosti and their famous Whisky sausages and quite liked it.

After lunch, we walked passed the Restaurant to grab the views of Seealpsee from the mountain and then realized it’s a not to be missed place.

From Aescher restaurant to cable car there is a ascend so it took little longer for our family of three generations to reach back.

Hike to SeeAlpsee

By the time we reached back the cable car station in Wasserauen and picked up our stroller, two members of our family Ruhaan and his grandfather were tired. So we strapped Ruhaan in the stroller and said bye to dad as he decided to stay back at Wasserauen cafe. Later we were glad that he didn’t come, as the hike to Seealpsee was not easy. While searching about Seealpsee on the internet before the trip, I read the trail is stroller friendly, which was as the road was paved. But Some stretches were so steep that it gave us strain in our arms.

Before I talk more about the beauty of Seealpsee, I need to mention this trail is not easy. It is rated moderate but if you are not an active person then you might even find this trail a bit difficult. Our very lightweight stroller been there and is still in good condition, but the steep slopes we found even more tricky while returning back. Our stroller definitely gave us a great workout for our arms! We took longer than the time mentioned on road sign of the trails and even joked that this time is only very active local Swiss people.

 

But is it worth the efforts and pain? Yes Totally! Watch here why it is worth to hike up to Seealpsee!

 

The trail to SeeAlpsee is again beautiful, which goes between two mountains. You start your walk with Ebenalp mountain on one side, a stream of alpine water on the other side, across the fields and the sound cow bells give you a constant company. The stream origins from the Seealpsee lake so it feels very special that you are walking towards the source.

We refilled our reusable water bottles at the water fountain of fresh alpine water.

As the trails start going up the jungle of alpine trees gets thicker. On this trail, there is far lesser crowd than Ebenalp. Most of the people we met, talked and waved on the way were locals from surrounding towns and cities. One even mentioned to us that they don’t get to see much of Indian families visiting here. I am sure we Indians are lazy by nature!

I and my husband were taking turns to push the stroller on the way to Seealpsee, but I hardly touched the stroller on the way back on steep slopes. It was a huge challenge to control the stroller with our son sleeping in it.

The last stretches of the trail towards Seealpsee are particularly difficult where slopes feel like verticle. So after we lost our breath and even faith from the road signs, we entered a small town, where mostly there are hotels and some houses. Then came that very memorable sight of SeeAlpsee, which carved in our hearts like a most precious picture.

It was so peaceful at Seealpsee. The reflection of the snow-capped Alps, trees in the calm lake, chirping birds, the sound of cow bells, fresh alpine air, surrounding mountains and thick greenery! Nothing but the Heaven on the Earth! We just peacefully walked around the lake without a word and took in as much beauty in our hearts, which no camera can capture!

Then we headed to a lakeside restaurant with an outdoor sitting area for the drink. The sun was just setting so the air was getting a bit chilled. This place is so mesmerizing that anywhere you look there is a beauty! After some relaxed time, we headed back to Wasserauen.

There are quite a few options of hotels and restaurants around Seealpsee and can be great options when you are hiking in this area.

Other Things to Consider in Appenzellerland

On the way back, we took a train to Zurich from St. Gallon. Taking a stop over at St. Gallon can be a good idea. It can be less tiring and there are some interesting things to do in St. Gallon. Though we missed Abbey Library of Saint Gall,  it is worth visiting. This is the oldest library in Switzerland and is situated in St Gallen monastery complex and listed in UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites. Here you can check opening hours of Abbey Library.

On St. Gallon station that night, there was a music band waiting for the train on the platform with us. The band people were getting bored so they decided to practice. They played some beautiful symphonies and it was a great experience of attending a live concert of Swiss music at St. Gallon’s train station!

We wished we had more time in Apenzellarland than just a day trip. But we had more days booked in Launterbrunen and Lucern, read here. But I would highly recommend a visit to Appenzell Canton. The population in Appenzell is so little, you can just roam around all these green grasslands, mountains as if they are all your private properties.

 

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2 Comments on "Off The Beaten Swiss Path Leads To Appenzellerland"

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This is truly the ultimate nature trip 🙂 I fell deeply in love with the Swiss alps the first time we went there 3 years ago. We hope to be back soon.

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