St. Gallen and Appenzell, Switzerland and suggestions for itinerary

Continuing work on our Switzerland itinerary. We are five people, two adults and kids 13, 11, 11, traveling for 13 days in Switzerland. 1Fly to Genevastay night in Lausanne 2Lausanneday trip to Gruyeres and Cailler chocolate factory, evening in Geneva 3Lausannelake cruise to Chillon, Chateau, walk promenade to Montreux, train to Martigny (we are dog nuts, so go to St. Bernard museum) 4Interlakentrain Montreux to Interlaken, afternoon cruise to Brienz, tour Ballenberg 5Interlakenday trip to Bern, Murten, and Avenches (if time allows) 6InterlakenJungfraujoch and hikes in area (weather permitting) 7Interlakenday trip to Zermatt, Gornergrat and hikes in area (weather permitting) 8InterlakenSchilthorn or Allmendhubel, hikes in area 9Luganotrain via Lucerne to Lugano, (see Bellinzona chateau?) cruise lake and hike area 10-ChurBernina Express bus Lugano to Tirano, train to St. Moritz, continue to Chur for night 11-Lucernetrain Chur to St. Gallen, explore Appenzell, end in Lucerne 12-Lucerneexplore city, do Pilatus, museums and monuments
13-explore Lucerne in am, train to Basel, afternoon flight to Amsterdam Okay, so, given this itinerary, I am asking about how to best spend my day in the Northeast. My plan was to go to St. Gallen, check out the Abbey and then train to Appenzell. We will be there on a Monday so all the museums are closed (confirmed this on the internet) and we won't have a car. I am wondering if Appenzell is worth the bother (it seems super cute, but not very convenient to us on a train), or if I should head somewhere else instead. I would LOVE to hear your ideas and the feedback on the intinerary. I realize it is fairly jam-packed, but that is our reality. I am trying to get to all the corners of this amazing country, but there really isn't enough time to see it all. Thank you!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
20078 posts

Laura, That's an extremely ambitious Itinerary, and it tired me out just reading it. IMO, it's simply FAR too much for such a short time frame and the transportation costs will probably be significant. Hopefully one of the others will be able to offer some suggestions. Good luck and happy travels!

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10073 posts

Agree with Ken, this is a lot of traveling back and forth. I would recommend slimming it down by at least, choosing Zermatt or the Berner Oberland, not both. I personally like Zermatt slightly more than the Berner Oberland, but either is a good choice. The hiking in Zermatt is considerably more strenuous, but once you reach a certain altitude, the high peaks of the Pennine Alps (highest in the country) really take your breath away. Most of the hikes I've seen in the Berner Oberland aren't quite so difficult, and you don't need to ascend quite so high to really maximize your viewing experience (due to the contours of the land and line-of-site issues, other than the Matterhorn, you can't really appreciate how towering most of the mountains above Zermatt are until you ascend high enough to overcome the screening effect of the valley walls). Two key questions we need to know: Do you plan to travel by car or train? And what time of year? I love the mountain resort of Flumserberg in St, Gallen, but I'm not sure a stop here would add anything to your trip. If you're passing through and it's a hot day, consider a swim in the nearby Wallensee.

Posted by Laura
Bellevue, WA
22 posts

Kenthanks for the feedback. It is indeed an ambitious itinerary! Fortunately for us, we are accustomed to such a pace, and it doesn't really bother us. My husband and I, before kids, drove from Seattle to Glacier National Park to Calgary, Banff and Jasper, back to Seattle over Labor Day weekend, about 2000 miles in about 3 days! Nuts!! I have earmarked brief hikes in Zermatt (approx. 1 hour) for the kids to get views of the Matterhorn, presuming she chooses to appear. If she doesn't, we might just hang out in Interlaken area as there is much to do. So, I am not too worried about being exhausted there. We hike around here in the mountains and everyone does well, so hoping that the Jungfrau trip won't bother the kids. My husband and I have done it before so we know we are okay. We have elected to do base cities in Lausanne, Interlaken and Lucerne to avoid the churn of pulling up stakes and getting settled in a new place. With kids that is a ton of work. Hence, the day trip to Zermatt. I am under no illusions that we will get to see and do everything in any of these places, but we are using the Swiss Pass so it is essentially free to go to all these wonderful museums (which we would likely skip if we had to pay out of pocket for each of them) and to take the beautiful train rides. With a 15 day pass it works out to less than $70 per day for each of the 13 days. Dare I say it, that feels cheap! It is likely the only thing that will be cheap for our trip, so I am excited about that. I really want to check out Appenzell, but I am worried that we won't get a good feel of the place without a car. We could head up to the Rheinfall near Zurich instead, but that doesn't seem super compelling to me. Thanks for the tips and keep 'em coming!

Posted by Laura
Bellevue, WA
22 posts

Sorry, forgot to mention timing: last two weeks in July of this year.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
20078 posts

Laura, Thanks for the additional information. Appenzell is a beautiful smaller town with a unique culture, and is certainly worth a visit. However as I recall there are no Museums or other attractions. On my last visit, I was fortunate to be there during a local festival which commemorated the burning of the town 500 years ago (or something like that). It went on for the whole weekend, with medieval soldiers marching about, displays, concerts, etc. Unfortunately the weather wasn't perfect, but it was still enjoyable. Aside from having a look at the shops in Appenzell, you could also take the cable car up to Ebenalp and have a look at the "Wild Church" built onto the side of a mountain. Be sure to post a note in the "Trip Reports" section when you get back. I'd be interested to see how many places on your list you were actually able to get to. Cheers!