Appenzellerland Travel Guide
Appenzellerland is a region in north-eastern Switzerland that embodies pastoral romanticism. Farms are situated on hilly green pastures framed by pockets of forest. As you take in the idyllic landscape dotted with grazing horned Braunvieh cattle, you might think that you’ve landed in the happiest place on earth.
The Alpstein mountain range forms the backdrop of the Appenzell region. Hiking in the Alpstein is magnificent and surprisingly very accessible. Most day-hikes begin or end with a Seilbahn (aerial cableway). As you’re hiking, you’ll be accompanied by the cheerful bell ensemble of the alpine cows and goats. And perhaps most exciting, during your hike, you’ll have an opportunity to drop by local farms and purchase their cheese products. So, in our book, Appenzell is one of the best places in the world to hike.
Let’s talk about cheese. Appenzeller cheese is reason enough to visit. It has a distinct bold taste that is mouth-watering. The cheese is made from fresh milk of alpine cows that only feed on grass, hay and maize plants.
This Swiss region is also rich in its traditions. The procession of cattle to alpine pastures takes place every year from mid-May to June. Alpine herdsmen, clad in traditional costumes, and carrying a milking pail (Fahreimer), lead the bell cows up to the alp for the summer. Side note: the single long golden earring that the men wear is in the shape of a snake, which is an ancient symbol of fertility and a protection against snake bites. During the ascent, the herdsmen sing and yodel. From mid-August to end of September, the descent takes place in a similar fashion. Music is also an important way in which the Appenzeller people uphold their cultural heritage. A traditional quintet is made up of a hammered dulcimer, two violins, a cello, and a double bass. Multi-voice yodeling is another type of music that continues to be practiced.
It’s very easy to romanticize this region as a visitor. However, living in a traditional society has its challenges and downsides too. The women of Switzerland didn’t earn the right to vote until 1970 (very late by European standards). But, the women of Appenzell Innerrhoden weren’t granted the right until 1990 (cringe).
If you’re driving in Switzerland and intend on taking the highways (Autobahnen), make sure to buy a “Swiss motorway sticker” or “vignette” for 40 CHF (approx. 41 USD). It is valid for the whole year. Unlike Austria, there are no 10 day or shorter period options. In Switzerland, the “vignette” can be purchased in petrol stations, post offices, garages, TCS outlets, as well as from the road traffic authorities. More info: here.
This Guide Includes:
- When to Visit Appenzellerland
- What to Experience in Appenzellerland
- What to Eat & Drink in Appenzellerland
- Appenzellerland Resources