One morning I woke up with a strong urge for an epic mountain adventure. I’m sure you understand – after the situation with COVID, I had to cancel my dream vacation in Finland. All-day long I sat on my ass in the living room, and I needed to ventilate.
Since I don’t usually choose the cheapest destinations, and I’ve never been to Switzerland before, the choice was clear. People around me have always praised this marvelous country, told stories of how fairytale the local landscape is. So I started my research on the best places in Switzerland. At first glance, the area of Zermatt and Lauterbrunnen looked amazing, but soon I found an even better location – the lake Seealpsee in the area of Appenzell in eastern Switzerland. God, I was amazed!
The best hike trails in Switzerland? Seealpsee! – contents:
Why is Lake Seealpsee the best place in Switzerland for hikers
The beautiful Lake Seealpsee is located in the Alpstein mountain range in the region of Appenzell at 1143 meters above sea level. The magical lake Seealpsee is set in a picturesque mountain valley, where, apart from one mountain hut, is practically nothing that could disturb the local natural scenery. The turquoise blue lake is crystal clear and you can even swim here in summer if you are brave enough. From above, it looks like a glittering gem that someone planted in the heart of the wild mountains. And that’s the unique combination.
As you stand in the valley by the lake, the mountain tops rise steeply above your heads from all sides. You can also see the top of Säntis mountain (2502 m). And yet, that’s not all. Some of these mountain ridges are so sharp that you will hardly find similar ones anywhere else in the world. Colorful flowers bloom everywhere and you can hear the bells of grazing cows and sheep from all corners. In short, a crazy fairy tale.
Stunning Schäfler mountain peak
In fact, this is probably the main reason why I came here. At an altitude of 1925 m, you will find a view that is hard to imagine. Think of the mountains as a blunt pencil. And now take a sharpener and make a needle out of a pencil. Now insert those needles into the ground one by one. Yes. You will see such peaks here! You can even walk along these ridges! But I do not recommend it in strong winds – a steep fall a mile down would be waiting for you. And best of all, you can stay right on the top of the Schäfler mountain! You won’t take a shower in the Schäfler mountain hut (but you can wash your ass in a tub like in the old days! 😃) and you won’t catch the wi-fi signal either, but that’s a small price to pay on what an amazing place you’ll be. A must for mountain lovers!
The charming village of Meglisalp
No one has mentioned this place anywhere. How is it possible? I don’t understand why. Meglisalp is a small village above the Lake Seealpsee – in its own “mini valley” at an altitude of about 1500 m. It is difficult to choose the right words to describe its charm. Here you will find several small gems – wooden houses with a beautiful stone church and a mountain hut, where they cook at a top-level (To be honest, I’ve never eaten better food in my life – no kidding!). And of course, you can sleep here. And I have not yet mentioned a few hundred meters high waterfalls, which flows from there into the valley to the lake. If you ever want to feel like you’re in the Land of the Hobbits on steroids, this is it. Indescribably cozy and beautiful place.
What is the best hike track around Seealpsee Lake
Hike trails around the lake can vary greatly in length and difficulty. However, each variant can be achieved in a single day! Two things are essential. If you are going on a trip from the village of Wasserauen (which I assume), you need to consider whether you want to reach the top of the highest mountain Säntis (2,502 m) + whether you want to take the opening hike to the mountain Ebenalp (1,640 m), where most people first take the cable car, which is located directly at the train station Wasserauen. However, count on the fact that even if you choose the cable car and miss a visit to Mount Säntis, it is still a trip for at least 10 – 12 hours. You can find a map of hiking trails here, but take the given times with great reserve.
Since I like to take photos, my hikes usually take longer. So which hiking trail did I choose? The first day I took the cable car to Ebenalp, and it took only a 2-hour hike to the top of the Schäfler mountain, where I slept. On the way be sure to pay a visit to the Wildkirchli caves and the mountain inn Aescher. The next day I choose the Schäfler – Mesmer – Meglisalp – Seealpsee – Wasserauen circuit. This hike took me almost 8 hours! But that’s because I walked in the rainy weather and every time I could, I spent it in the inn.
I recommend you to plan your trip similarly. On the first day, take the cable car to Ebenalp and have a relaxing walk to Schäfler, where you just spend the night! You won’t get a better view from anywhere else. What more could you want than to see the sunrise and sunset from here. And the next day plan a hiking circuit like me – if the weather is nice, extend it by visiting the top of Säntis. So 2 days should be enough for the whole trip. If you plan to spend more days here, split the circle and spend the night in Meglisalp or at the end of the trail at the inn on Lake Seealpsee, you won’t regret it!
Wildkirchli Caves & Aescher mountain inn
These are two small highlights in the area that you definitely shouldn’t miss. Both are located a 15-minute walk from Ebenalp at an altitude of around 1,500 m. Although the Wildkirchli caves are small, they have a breathtaking atmosphere, plus there is no charge for entry. The first humans (Neanderthals) lived here 40,000 BC! As soon as you walk through the caves and walk a few meters over a wooden bridge along a rock wall, you will discover the unique mountain inn Aescher. Why unique? This inn is partly built into the rock! Surely you’ve seen it many times before in a photo. If you want, you can sleep here, which can be a great experience (but 130 Eur per person 🤷♂️). Unfortunately, it is a big tourist attraction, so expect a large crowd of people. To avoid huge crowds, and be able to take a picture of this mountain inn, be there at sunrise. I was ready with my camera here at half-past six in the morning…
How to get to Lake Seealpsee
The location you want to travel is the small village of Wasserauen, located just a few kilometers from the town of Appenzell. This village is an imaginary gateway to the world of wonders. You can get here both by car (there is a large parking lot), by train or bus. From this village, it is only an hour’s walk to Lake Seealpsee.
Do you want to go to the tops of the mountains first and without big effort? You will find a cable car directly to the top of the Ebenalp mountain (1640 m) – the cable car journey takes only a few minutes.
The only question remains – how to get to the village of Wasserauen. I recommend flying to the nearby city of Zurich, the largest city in Switzerland. A direct train to Wasserauen runs every few minutes directly from the airport. The journey is comfortable and takes about 2 hours.
Where to stay at Lake Seealpsee
Let’s talk about the best places to spend the night. As you probably already know, number one for me is Schäfler. Yes, there is no shower, hot water, wi-fi and you don’t even get the room keys! 😂 The kitchen is also limited but decent. I know a lot of flaws. But it is an inn at the highest altitude of all (except Säntis) and is located right on the craziest mountain peaks I’ve ever seen. Literally, I have never experienced such a view anywhere in the world. And you don’t even have to leave the room! You have everything you need already there, just look from the window.
I do not recommend Mesmer or Ebenalp. Don’t get me wrong, Mesmer is fine, but you can’t compare it with Meglisalp, where the cuisine is top-notch, and the valley is much more beautiful. Ebenalp has a good location and the best views of the Wasserauen valley and offers practically everything (unlike Schäfler) you need. But you can feel that they have “free” traffic here if you understand me. The inn is located right next to the cable car, so practically everyone goes here. The level of the kitchen is very low, while the prices are high. Disappointment.
The third great choice is the inn on the Lake Seealpsee. I’m sure it would be a great choice, but I didn’t have the opportunity to spend the night here (they were full). Directly from the inn’s large terrace, you have the best possible view of the lake with the pompous mountain peaks in the background. But you can also go fishing or rent a boat here. Just perfect. I will definitely sleep here next time, and take a picture of the lake during sunrise!
The best tips for visiting Seealpsee in Switzerland!
- Remember that this is generally a very popular area! As for accommodation capacity, it is very limited. It is necessary to book accommodation for a few weeks in advance! If you have a low budget, most inns also offer dormitories at much lower prices!
- I would also like to point out that it is extremely expensive in Switzerland. The average meal here costs around 20 Euros and night in a inn for one person around 70 Euros. Try to use dormitories and buy some food in advance at the market if you are traveling on a low budget.
- Spend at least 2-3 days here.
- If the weather gets bad (like it happened to me – 24h nonstop storm), be prepared. Carry a raincoat, proper shoes, etc.
- If you have the courage, try paragliding from the Ebenalp mountain! Believe me, it’s hard to find a better place than right here.