Switzerland’s Treasure making the National Geographic’s Destination of a Lifetime List
When planning a trip to Switzerland, most visitors pick one of the famous cities such as Zurich or Geneva or amazing Swiss Alps destinations like Zermatt or St.Mortiz. Not surprisingly, that was our plan as well, but after stopping for an exciting visit in Zurich we decided to spend few days with our Swiss friends in a little town called St.Gallen. This time, we had no plans for sightseeing and geographic discoveries. Instead, we were looking forward to enjoying great company and getting a taste of a local Swiss life. Little did we know…we were about to witness the most majestic Swiss mountain scenery and lo and behold, experience one of the World’s Most Amazing Places making the National Geographic’s list of Destinations of a Lifetime.
Everything started with a quick morning hike…Whether you are a hiker, mountain lover or none of the above, the trail through the Aplstein mountain range to the Seealspsee lake in Switzerland could be one of the most magical experiences you will ever have. Only 2 hr train ride from Zurich or 40 min car drive from St.Gallen, the enchanting world of Seealpsee Lake leading to the famous site of hotel and restaurant built into a rock awaits. The trail itself is not as challenging as you would expect in the heart of Switzerland. The few steeper paths may take your breath away for a bit so take it slow, but the true breathtaking will happen once you stop to savor the fairy-tale scenery, the lush greenery, the cow-bells ringing and the freshly-made cheese tasting.
TravelPro Tip – for schedule of Swiss trains and ticket prices, check out the official site of Swiss Train System – CBB CFF FFS. However, if you are staying in Switzerland at least 3 days – consider purchasing a Swiss Pass that allows you to travel all over Switzerland by trains, bus and ferry at no additional cost.
Begin your climb in Wasserauen following the Seealspee trail on the gentle hills of Alpestein range. Don’t rush. Take your time as the first 30 min will be getting steeper and steeper, so enjoy the slowly dispersing village landscape, the green rolling hills and homes left behind.
Look around to find yourself in an enchanted-forest like scenery. The tree stumps covered in moss, the waterfalls hidden in between the rocks. Smell the moist, crisp, mountain air…Savor the moment. Very soon, the climb will start softening its edges and allow for a relaxing walk. The tall evergreens will begin disappearing, giving its way to a wide open space and the tall mountain range hiding its peaks in the milky clouds. The rolling greenery of steep mountains unveiled right above and a small path leading to the lake….
TravelPro Tip: Once you finish the 30 min climb you will find a yellow trail sign. There will be several trails winding to the left. However, you will take the path to the right towards Seealspee.
Entering the magical world
If you feel like the fairy-tale world you are entering is not real – don’t worry. You are not the only one in doubt. When walking the path to the Seealpsee lake you will be transformed to a different world, the one from movies and travel books. Let it. Enjoy it. Take in the views of the greenest green mountains unfolding in front of you, contrasted by the rocky, greyish-white summits, the all elusive clouds and the Swiss cows ringing the bells all around you. Yes, it is real….
As you drift in the Swiss dream, you will encounter few mountain cottages. Don’t be shy. Look for signs of Käse. These are local Swiss cheese-makers who spend summer months in the heart of the mountains making cheese. Stop by, get to know them and certainly don’t leave without freshly made goat and cow cheese, so soft and milky that you will not know when it is gone. Save a little for the picnic at the lake.
TravelPro Tip: make sure that you bring cash on your adventure. In the heart of mountains, you may not find credit card options or find them to be expensive. The cash will be like gold and allow to sample local Swiss food.
As you stroll through the hills, all of a sudden you will start seeing the lake peaking in between the mountains. If the temperamental weather allows, you will never forget the shiny blues luring you in.
Here it is. Get closer. Get enchanted by the thrilling emerald greens and unforgettable blues of the lake. The magnitude of mountain ranges surrounding it and you, right there. Just you, the nature and the peaceful music of the wandering cow-bell. This is the time to stop. You didn’t eat all that cheese yet? Did you? Now it’s the time. Settle on the edge of the lake. Taste the creamy delight in the magical world of Seealpsee lake and Swiss mountains.
The Chocolate Break
For a bonus lake experience, stop at the Berggasthaus Forelle overlooking the lake. If the cool breeze from the lake gives you a little chill, wrap it up in a hot Swiss chocolate and watch the lake from the comfort of the cozy and warm escape.
The Final Prize
It will be difficult to leave this magical land. Stay as long as you need to. There is no need to rush but know, that there is a final prize waiting before you finish the hike. Only a 30 min hike from the lake, you will be led to the Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli, the famous hotel and restaurant built into the mountain rock. Here, the most amazing and authentic Swiss experience awaits. There is plenty to choose from the wide selection on the menu but the traditional Rösti (fried potatoes) with pork and egg is my favorite. Pair it with a Swiss beer or wild-berry hot tea and thrilling mountain views and you will be smitten forever.
Goodbyes are hard. But this one doesn’t have to be. Exhausted by the multi-sensory experience, you will head from the restaurant through a short trail through a hidden caves right to Ebenalp, where the cable car awaits to take you down to your original destination at Wasserauen. Enjoy the ride…
Have you found other amazing trails around the world? Would you try this one?
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