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Easy Day Trips from Zurich: Hiking to an Afternoon Swim in St. Gallen

May 29, 2014 at 10:58 AM | by | ()

Zurich is one of the top destinations for tourists headed to Switzerland, and as we pointed out, a lot of that has to do with what a great home base it is for exploring the Swiss countryside. This week, we'll take you on a ride out of town for a few easy day trips, starting with St. Gallen near the borders of Germany and Austria.

Get There

St. Gallen is 50 miles from Zurich, accessible by a train ride of just over an hour from the airport or main train station. The fare is approximately $40 one-way and trains run consistently throughout the day. You can purchase tickets at the station or in advance online.

Go to the Library (Seriously)

If you would have bet this writer two years ago that I'd ever write about a library, you could have won quite a bit of money. Popping into the Cathedral Abbey of Saint Gall is an absolute must when visiting St. Gallen. Check out our in-depth piece on it from yesterday to see more photos.

Hike Up the Hill and Take a Dip

Because St. Gallen sits in a small valley, it doesn't take much effort to get a bird's eye view. The southern side of the valley has several staircases and walkways that lead to its summit, and you should definitely set out for a stroll and wander the rural hillsides. Just over the southern crest of the valley is a group of local watering holes/bath houses called “Drei Weieren,” or "three ponds," a popular place for a swim or an afternoon in the sun (or ice skating during the winter). It is free to enjoy and totally a local hangout, so be sure to schedule some time to take it in during your visit.


Bratwursts are one of the traditional foods to eat in Switzerland, and St. Gallen has it's own special type, the Olma Bratwurst. A mixture of pork and veal, it is a white wurst that is grilled to have a crispy brown crust (as compared to other white wursts that are boiled). Look for it at various stands in and around the old town of St. Gallen for 6.50 CHF, or $7.25.

Breathe in the Fairy Tale

Winters are long in Switzerland, but the summer months bring beautiful blue skies and temperatures in the 70s. The scenery you will see is nothing short of what you would expect from a fairy tale: Rolling hills, green pastures, a couple cows, a village tucked into a valley. Old Town St. Gallen also offers that story book feel, with large squares, pastel colors, and symmetric architecture.

[Photos: stiftsbibliothek.ch/Will McGough]

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