40 Best Sights in Eastern Switzerland, Switzerland


Fodor's choice
The northernmost peak of the Appenzeller Alps, the 5,380-foot Ebenalp is accessible via cable car from Wasserrauen, 7 km (4 miles) south of Appenzell. At the top is an easy hike that connects to other trails that lead to a mountain lake or loop back to the cable car. Also here is the Wildkirchli, a cave that was home to humans in the Paleolithic era and today houses a large bear skeleton that dates back 90,000 years. Five minutes farther along the trail is the Berggastaus Aescher-Wildkirchli, a mountainside restaurant with eye-popping views of the valley below.


Fodor's choice
The cathedral is an impressive sight. Begun in 1755 and completed in 1766, it is the antithesis of the decadent Abbey Library nearby, although the nave and rotunda are the work of the same architect, Peter Thumb. The scale is outsized and the decor light, bright, and open, despite spectacular excesses of wedding-cake trim.

Mt. Säntis

Fodor's choice
For a pleasurable high-altitude excursion out of Appenzell southwest to the hamlet of Schwägalp, you can ride a cable car that departs every 30 minutes up to the peak of Mt. Säntis. At 8,209 feet, it is the highest in the region, with beautiful views of the Bodensee as well as of the Graubünden and Bernese Alps. The very shape of the summit—an arc of jutting rock that swings up to the jagged peak housing the station—is spectacular.

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Münster zu Allerheiligen

Fodor's choice

This beautiful cathedral, along with its cloister and grounds, dominates the lower city. Founded in 1049, the original cathedral was dedicated in 1064, and the larger one that stands today was built in 1103. Its interior has been restored to Romanesque austerity with a modern aesthetic (hanging architect's lamps, Scandinavian-style pews). The cloister, begun in 1050, combines Romanesque and later-Gothic elements. Memorial plates on the inside wall honor noblemen and civic leaders buried in the cloister's central garden. You'll also pass through the aromatic herb garden, so beautiful that you may feel you've stepped into a tapestry.

The centerpiece of the main courtyard, the cathedral's enormous Schiller Bell, was cast in 1486; it hung in the tower of the cathedral until 1895. Its inscription, vivos—voco/mortuos—plango/fulgura—frango ("I call the living, mourn the dead, stop the lightning"), allegedly inspired the German poet Friedrich von Schiller to write his "Lied von der Glocke" ("Song of the Bell").

Klosterpl. 1, Schaffhausen, Schaffhausen, 8200, Switzerland
sights Details
Rate Includes: Free

Napoleon Museum Thurgau

Fodor's choice
In the village of Salenstein, the Napoleon Museum is housed in a magnificent villa given to the municipality by Empress Eugénie of France in homage to her husband, Napoléon III, who grew up here with his mother, Hortense, sister-in-law of Napoléon I. Today the Schloss Arenenberg serves as a museum, and lovers of decorative arts will prize its ravishing period rooms dating from the Second Empire. Outside is a glorious park studded with ancestral statues as well as a separate seminar center with a small café.


Fodor's choice

The Rheinfall is 492 feet wide, drops some 75 feet in a series of three dramatic leaps, and is split at the center by a bushy crag straight out of a 19th-century landscape painting. The effect—mist, roaring water, jutting rocks—is positively Wagnerian. Goethe saw in the falls the "ocean's source," although today's jaded globe-trotters have been known to find them "cute." A visitor center at the nearby Schloss Laufen includes a souvenir shop, restaurant, playground, and new bridge walkway that lets you see, hear, and get sprayed by the falls.

Rheinfallquai 32, Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Schaffhausen, 8212, Switzerland
sights Details
Rate Includes: SF5 to hike down the falls under Schloss Laufen; otherwise free, From Schaffhausen, the S33 or S9 train takes you to the Rheinfall in 5 mins


Fodor's choice

Although the abbey was largely destroyed in the Reformation and closed down altogether in 1805, its library, built between 1758 and 1767, still holds a collection of more than 170,000 books and manuscripts. To visit the library hall, one of Switzerland's treasures, you are given gray felt slippers to protect the magnificently inlaid wood flooring. The hall is a gorgeous explosion of gilt, frescoes, undulating balconies, and luminously burnished woodwork, mostly walnut and cherry. Its contents, including 1,200-year-old manuscripts, constitute one of the world's oldest and finest scholarly collections. Also on display, incongruously, is an Egyptian mummy dating from about 650 BC. Not to be missed is the giant globe representing the world in 1570, with grossly misproportioned continents. The original was stolen by Zürich about 300 years ago, and in 2009 this reproduction was given to St. Gallen in lieu of the original.

Klosterhof 6d, St. Gallen, Saint Gallen, 9000, Switzerland
sights Details
Rate Includes: SF18, Closed mid-Nov.–early Dec.


The grounds of the abbey and the cathedral border the Altstadt, which demonstrates a healthy symbiosis between scrupulously preserved Renaissance and baroque architecture and a thriving modern shopping scene. The best examples of oriel windows, half-timbering, and frescoes can be seen along Gallusstrasse, Schmiedgasse, Marktgasse, and Spisergasse, all pedestrian streets.


Six kilometers (4 miles) north of Weesen on a winding mountain road lies Amden, perched 3,116 feet above the Walensee in the relatively undiscovered region south of the Churfirsten Mountains.

Appenzeller Volkskunde Museum

This museum displays local arts and crafts, regional costumes, and hand-painted furniture.


With a gravel beach, Strandbad Buchhorn in Arbon makes getting into the water a little rough on tender feet; the nearby swimming pool is much smoother. Amenities: food and drink; showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: sunsets; swimming


Between Romanshorn and Rorschach on Highway 13, Arbon sits on a little promontory jutting out into the Bodensee, surrounded by lovely meadows and orchards. It was a Celtic town before the Romans came in 60 BC and built military fortifications. Evidence of the Romans (who called the place Arbor Felix) can be found in an interesting collection of relics in the late-Gothic St. Martinskirche.
Friedrichshafnerstr. 55a, Romanshorn, Thurgau, 8590, Switzerland

Brauquöll Appenzell Visitor Center

The locally brewed Appenzeller Quöllfrisch—just one of the high-quality beers made by Appenzell's family-owned Brauerei Locher—is an iconic drink in an old-fashioned flip-top bottle and found everywhere across Switzerland. The brewery's excellent shop and visitor center on the Sitter River let you sample local beers, including sweet dunkels, hoppy pilsners, malty chestnut and hemp beers, and even a special beer brewed under a full moon. An interactive English tour offers insight into the unique brewing processes. The company also makes fantastic whiskeys with peat from a bog just outside Appenzell. The staff is exceptionally friendly and will gladly arrange a flight of beers or whiskeys for you.
Brauereipl. 1, Appenzell, Appenzell Innerrhoden, 9050, Switzerland
sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Closed Jan. Closed Sun. and Mon. in Nov., Dec., Feb., and Mar.

Drei Weieren

Atop Freudenberg Hill you'll find Drei Weieren, a relaxing park and swimming area with several refreshing ponds. Swimming is free at the largest pond and each is surrounded by grassy fields, lifeguard stations, and handsome striped changing cabins built in the 1920s. This lofty perch offers a fantastic lookout over the soaring steeples, tiled rooftops, and cow-grazed valleys below.
Bitzistr. 65, St. Gallen, Saint Gallen, 9011, Switzerland
sights Details
Rate Includes: Swimming in the Mannenweiher is free. Admission is charged to the family pond, the Frauenweiher, Take Bus 2 or 8 to Mühlegg from the St. Gallen train station or take the Mühleggbahn


Lined with shops and cafés, this square is a favorite place for young people to stroll, especially in the evening. A large 16th-century fountain-statue of a prosperous burgher, the Metzgerbrunnen, watches over the marketplace. The clock tower's astronomical clock (1564) records not only the time but also solar eclipses, seasons, and the course of the sun through the zodiac. Across the square, a reproduction of the 1535 Mohrenbrunnen (Moor's Fountain) represents Kaspar of the Three Kings. The original fountain is stored in the Museum zu Allerheiligen.
Fronwagpl., Schaffhausen, Schaffhausen, 8200, Switzerland


A pair of lions frames the doorway of the remarkable baroque building, which is the former drinking spot of the Tanners' Guild. A two-handled tanner's knife stretches between the lions. A restaurant now occupies the building.

Haus zum Ritter

The city's finest mansion dates from 1492. Its fresco facade was commissioned by the resident knight, Hans von Waldkirch. Tobias Stimmer covered all three stories with paintings on classical themes, which are now displayed in the Museum zu Allerheiligen; the reproduction of the original was made in the 1930s.
Vorderg. 65, Schaffhausen, Schaffhausen, 8200, Switzerland


Directly above the town stands the 12th-century hilltop castle of Hohenklingen, which offers broad views of the Rhine Valley and the lake beyond. If you need sustenance after your trip up the hill, the castle houses an excellent restaurant. The tranquil vineyard trails up to the castle are a worthwhile diversion.
Hohenklingenstr. 1, Stein am Rhein, Schaffhausen, 8260, Switzerland
sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon., Tues. and late Dec.–early Mar.

Kloster St. Georgen

The Benedictine Kloster St. Georgen, a half-timber structure built in 1007, houses a cloister and a small museum devoted to examples of woodwork and local paintings.


This beach has some sand at the water's edge, though you'll be spreading your towel on the grass. If you don't want to swim in the lake, you can also swim in the lakeside 50-meter swimming pool. Amenities: food and drink; parking (free); showers; toilets. Best for: sunsets; swimming.

KrippenWelt Stein-am-Rhein

Monika Amrein and Alfred Hartl's private collection of krippen (Nativity scenes) from around the world are tastefully displayed on two floors in their 14th-century home. There are more than 550 pieces in the collection, many made from paper, wood, metal, or even mushrooms. There is also a café and gift shop on the main floor.


Just a few steps from the abbey, at the end of the Old Town, is the Mühleggbahn, a self-service funicular that runs up the hillside, offering lovely views of St. Gallen and the Bodensee. Once at the top, take two immediate right turns to the wooden stairs leading to a paved path with park benches. For a single ride only, choose the "Kurzstrecke" button when you buy your ticket.


A 30-minute walk up the steep Mülenenschlucht takes you past the mossy Steinach Gorge, where St. Gallus allegedly befriended a bear in 612. To commemorate St. Gallus's 1,400th birthday in 2012, the city installed a public art exhibit here that includes a self-opening time capsule embedded in a river rock (by German artist Maria Eichhorn) and a haunting neon sign atop the gorge's railroad viaduct (by Welsh artist Bethen Hews). There isn't much signage along the gorge, so pick up a helpful audio guide from the tourist office.

Galluspl., St. Gallen, Saint Gallen, 9000, Switzerland


Built between 1564 and 1589 in full circle form based on an idea by Albrecht Dürer, the massive stone ramparts served as a fortress allowing for the defense of the city on all sides. From its top are splendid Schaffhausen and Rhine Valley views.
Munotstieg, Schaffhausen, Schaffhausen, 8200, Switzerland
sights Details
Rate Includes: Free

Museum Appenzell

Showcasing handicrafts and local traditions, regional history, and an international embroidery collection, the Museum Appenzell provides a good general overview of the area's history and culture. The building itself dates from 1560. An English-language guide is available.
Hauptg. 4, Appenzell, Appenzell Innerrhoden, 9050, Switzerland
sights Details
Rate Includes: SF7, Closed Mon. Nov.–Mar.

Museum für Appenzeller Brauchtum

Costumes, cowbells, and a cheese wagon are on display at the Museum für Appenzeller Brauchtum, along with examples of farmhouse living quarters.

Museum zu Allerheiligen

This excellent museum on the cathedral grounds houses an extensive collection of ancient and medieval historical artifacts. The period rooms are definitely worth a look; they cover 15th- to 19th-century interiors. The best of these is the 15th-century refectory, which was rented out and all but forgotten until its rediscovery in 1924. Museum literature is mainly available in German.


Stein-am-Rhein's Rathaus (Town Hall) is flanked by tight rows of shingled, half-timber town houses, each rivaling the next for the ornateness of its oriels, the flamboyance of its frescoes. The elaborate decor usually illustrates the name of the house: Sonne (Sun), Ochsen (Ox), Weisser Adler (White Eagle), and so on. Most of the artwork dates from the 16th century. The Rathaus itself was built between 1539 and 1542, with the half-timber upper floors added in 1745; look for its fantastical dragon waterspouts, typical of the region.


The lakeside beach in Romanshorn includes a pool and a waterslide, as well as wide swaths of grass to lie on. Amenities: food and drink; parking (fee); showers; toilets. Best for: sunsets; swimming.


About halfway between Kreuzlingen and Rorschach (follow Highway 13 east along the Bodensee) you'll come to the small town of Romanshorn. An industrial town and an important ferry port for Friedrichshafen in Germany, this is also a surprisingly enjoyable resort with fine views of the Swiss and Austrian mountains.
Friedrichshafnerstr. 55a, Romanshorn, Thurgau, 8590, Switzerland