With about 7,000 inhabitants, Appenzell is the political, economic and cultural center of Appenzell Innerrhoden, the smallest Swiss canton. The car-free village beckons with pretty lanes and a myriad of small stores and boutiques that are ideal for shopping and browsing. The facades of the buildings are decorated with frescoes. Appenzell Museum, which is in the town hall, shows a cross section of Appenzell’s history and culture.
A dense network of hiking trails crisscrosses the hilly landscape of Appenzell. The Alpstein region with 2500-meter-high rock formations lends itself to challenging hiking tours and climbing trips. Approximately 200 kilometers of cross-country tracks and three popular ski areas beckon in the winter.
Nowhere else in Switzerland is the transformation from the hilly landscapes of the Swiss mittelland to the rock-dominated Alpine world so full of surprise as in the Alpstein region. Mighty rock formations tower loftily to over 2500 metres in height – seemingly from nowhere.
A cableway operates between Wasserauen and the Ebenalp (1644 m) – the gateway to the hiking region of the Alpstein – and the “Wildkirchli” cave chapel, which appears to claw dramatically to the rock, can be reached on foot in only 15 minutes by walking through an initially gentle landscape and two caverns. But the position of the Aescher hostelry, captured a thousand times on postcards, is even more spectacular, having been built precariously into the rock face.
The Ebenalp is also a paragliding paradise and starting point for the hike up onto the Säntis summit. Mind you, the ascent up onto the Säntis by cableway from Schwägalp is far less strenuous!
Appenzell benefits from a particularly dense network of rambling trails, including ‘experience trails’ such as the barefoot trail near Gonten, a trail which enables you to experience nature, and the circular chapel trails. Further walking regions in Appenzell: the Kronberg (1663m), which can be reached by cableway from Jakobsbad, and the Hohe Kasten (1795m), whose summit offers magnificent views down into the Rhine valley.
Those visitors seeking noise, hustle and bustle, and crowded ski pistes will be disappointed in Appenzell’s winter manifestation. The hilly pre-Alpine landscape and the mighty Alpstein take on the appearance of a snowy-white winter fairytale. Winter walking and cross-country skiing are very widespread in the hilly Appenzell landscapes. A wide network of around 200 km of cross-country ski trails extends through Appenzell. Kronberg, Hoher Kasten and Ebenalp-Schwende are popular ski areas with families in winter.
- Säntis – at 2502 metres, the highest summit of the Alpstein massif with superb sweeping views of six countries.
- Village of Appenzell – houses characteristically adorned by murals in the car-free eastern town sector, also many smart shops.
- Liener Museum and “Ziegelhütte” Art Gallery – housed in a modern design by the Zurich-based architects Gigon/Guyer, the museum and art gallery are dedicated to the paintings of Carl Liner senior and junior, as well as contemporary artwork.
- Ebenalp with “Wildkirchli” – the gentle landscape suddenly becomes dramatic; the “Wildkirchli” cave chapel and nearby Aescher hostelry claw to the rock face.
- Hoher Kasten – lookout and hill walking mountain (1795m) served by a cableway from Brülisau. Panoramic views across the Appenzeller landscape and into the Rhine valley, Alpine garden with 192 Alpine species.
- Provincial assembly in Appenzell – in keeping with age-old tradition, cantonal votes are cast and decisions reached in the open-air. (April).
- ”Ländlerfest” in Appenzell – folk music festival with Appenzell stringed-instrument music (normally two violins, cello, dulcimer and double bass) and folk dancing (August).
- ’Chlaus’ market – pre-Christmas Sunday market in Appenzell (December).