If you visit the traditional Swiss village of Appenzell, you should take the opportunity to hike to the Äscher – an amazing restaurant built into the alpine rock wall.
Learn about old traditions in Appenzell and wander to the Äscher a famous Instagram spot
In just under 40 minutes you will ride from St. Gallen (track 11, which is in front of the train station near Coop Pronto) to Appenzell.
Appenzell is a traditional village surrounded by green pastures and the Alpstein mountains. Time seems to have stopped here. The houses are still all in traditional style with nicely painted facades and in the many souvenir shops, you can buy all sorts of typical Swiss items.
The Appenzellers still practice their traditions today. They put on their traditional costumes on special occasions and yodel. On the last Sunday in April, all voters gather in the village square and vote by hand on current issues.
Typical specialties from the region would be a plate with dried meat and cheese (be aware that Appenzeller cheese is very strong) or Siedwurst with Rösti.
Continue to the Äscher
After a refreshment, take the train to Wasserauen (11 minutes). Only do this in the hiking season between May and September. Either you take the gondola up to Ebenalp (10 Fr. with the Swiss Travel Pass) or you hike up to the Seealpsee in about 1.5 hours. The trail starts on the other side of the large car park (a little further into the valley). The path is steep and leads first through a forest, but at the top the view of the surrounding mountain peaks is wonderful. Follow the lake to the right (you can also attach the 30-minute circular trail around the lake on the left side) to find the turnoff to the restaurant Äscher (approx. 1 h). This is a mountain hut that was built perfectly into the rock face.
Take a rest or hike to the top
There, you could treat yourself to a big glass of Rivella or move straight on. The path leads along the rock face and offers breathtaking views over the valley.
You reach the Wildkirchli (a chapel in a cave). A little further you actually enter a cave and cross through it in about 4 minutes. One almost expects to encounter a dwarf or goblin. Upstairs, you are glad to have reached the warmth of the daylight again. Either you go up for 15 more minutes to get to the mountain station of the Ebenalp and then ride down to Wasserauen. If you have ridden up directly by cable car, you can also do the whole hike from top to bottom. However, this is putting a lot of pressure on your knees and upwards would be healthier.
If you still have energy, follow the signs from Ebenalp down to Weissbad. You have already passed this town by train on the way out and can now get back on the train to Appenzell and St. Gallen.
This is an entertaining hike. However, you need a certain fitness and good footwear. It’s doable in sports sneakers but hiking boots would be safer and better for your joints.
If you would like more tips for day trips in Switzerland, check out my Switzerland travel guide. It is available in German, English, and French.