St. Gallen – the history-changing legacy of one Irish monk

The city that went down into the history as an important cultural and educational center of Europe, as the center of the embroidery industry of Switzerland, and got universal acclaim thanks to its university, St. Gallen or traditionally St Gall – the capital of the canton of St. Gallen –  is the place that evolved from the lonesome hermitage of Saint Gall, founded in the 7th century, into a large urban agglomeration (with around 160,000 inhabitants) that represents the center of eastern Switzerland and bewitches with spectacular ancient and bold modern architecture, adorned with brightly painted oriel windows, beautiful squares with fountains and lots of famous St. Gallen stairs leading up and down to pretty boutiques and cozy squares with street cafés, located in the picturesque setting between Lake Constance and the mountains of the Appenzell Alps.

Interesting facts about St. Gallen

St. Gallen is one of the most elevated cities in Switzerland

St. Gallen, located in the North-East of Switzerland, lies in a valley at an altitude of approximately 700 meters (2,300 ft) above sea level. Fortunately or not, depending on what kind of activities you look for, the altitude greatly influences the weather. In addition to various winds that rule the territory and constantly “adjust” the temperature and humidity to their liking, the city always receives abundant winter snow. That’s why you may end up snowshoeing amid the striking architecture, even if you haven’t planned to.

The city of St. Gallen stands on piles, kind of like Venice

Why would it be built on piles like Venice, if there’s no water, you would ask? That’s right but only imagine: hundreds of piles support the whole foundation of the train station along with its plaza. It can be explained by the fact that the city lies on an insecure turf ground. This means that in order for the buildings no the valley floor not to fall, they all must be built on piles.

Interestingly, the city center is believed to have been founded by an Irish missionary Gallus, who used the site as a hermitage without any intention of building a city.

St. Gallen is called the “city of a thousand stairs”

The city is located in the valley of the river Steinach, flowing into Lake Constance, between two parallel elevations – Rosenberg in the north and Freudenberg in the south. Because of the specific relief, St. Gallen is called the “city of a thousand stairs”, as a lot of stairs lead from the city center up to Rosenberg and Freudenberg.

St. Gallen is the most radioactive Swiss city

It might seem unbelievable, but St. Gallen was reported to have the highest level of radioactivity of all Swiss cities. Although the daily average of radioactive gamma-rays within the city is about 105 nSv/h, it can reach as high as 195 nSv/h. A similar level of radioactivity is recorded in Jungfraujoch, the area which has the highest level of radioactivity in Switzerland, owing to its high elevation and hence receiving more cosmic rays. This phenomenon of extraordinary amounts of radioactivity in St. Gallen is explained by the accumulating amounts of radioactive products of radon gas during storms. However, there is no explanation of where exactly this radon gas and its products originate. Interestingly, the annual report of the Federal Office of Public Health stated that St. Gallen is in fact located in an area where the level of radon exposure is the lowest.

Saint Gall – the founder of the city

Gallus (c. 550–620 or 640), was an Irish monk who arrived here in 612 AD and built a hermitage by the river Steinach. He is considered the founder of the city and therefore it was named after him.

The origin of Gallus, St. Gall or Gallen has been disputed for years. On the one hand, Gallus’ biographers of the 9th century in Reichenau claim that he came to Europe from Ireland together with Columbanus. On the other hand, in 2010, Hilty suggested that he most probably originated from the Vosges or Alsace region. Furthermore, the same year Schär advanced his idea that Gallus might have actually been of Irish descent but born in the Alsace.

Nonetheless, as stated in the hagiographies of the 9th century, as a young man Gallus studied under Comgall of Bangor Abbey. The Bangor monastery had already become highly-acclaimed for Christian learning. When Gall was studying in Bangor, he was one of the companions of Columbanus, who in 589 set sail for Europe.

At first, Columbanus and his companions, including Gall, set up at Luxeuil in Gaul.  After being exiled by the opponents of Christianity in 610, St. Columban and Gall fled to Alemannia.  Gall accompanied Columbanus to Bregenz but had to stay behind due to his illness when in 612 Columbanus continued his journey to Italy. Gall remained in Arbon, where he was nursed during the time of illness. Later he and several companions set to live in seclusion as hermits in the forests by Lake Constance near the river Steinach. Gall soon became a well-known preacher in the whole of Switzerland. He passed away when he was nine-five years old in Arbon.

A small church was built upon his death, which later turned into the Abbey of St. Gall. The city of St. Gallen was built around it, which sometime later became the capital of the Canton of St. Gallen.

According to a legend, the territory of the monastery was presented to Saint Gall

Starting from the end of the 8th century, Lives of Saint Gall, partially authentic and partially legendary biographies of the saint, were circulated by people. One of the most prominent stories says that Gall delivered Fridiburga, the daughter of King of the Franks, from the demon by which she was possessed. The king, through gratitude, granted an estate at Arbon to Gall, where he was able to found a monastery.

The founders of Bern and St. Gallen share a common thing… a bear

Not the same one, to clear the thing up. But the bear has a symbolic and a mystical meaning to the citizens of St. Gallen. Indeed, the images of St. Gall frequently depict him with a bear alongside? If not, take a closer look. Besides, you have definitely seen that the bear is represented on the city’s coat of arms as well. But why?

One legend has it that as St Gall was traveling in the woods of what is now Switzerland he was sitting one evening warming his hands at a fire. Suddenly a bear came out from the woods and was about to attack Gall when he rebuked the bear, and the latter, perplexed by Gall’s presence, stopped and ran off into the woods. After a while, the bear returned to Gall with firewood to share the warmth with the of the fire. From then onward, till the end of his days, St Gall was accompanied by the bear, which is now can be seen on the coat of arms.

The bear got its golden necklace from Emperor Frederick III

The coat of arms of St. Gallen is a bear wearing a gold necklace standing on its hind legs. The animal didn’t cure anyone of anything like its master to get that, and the appearance of the jewelry has a far less mystical explanation. Emperor Frederick III in 1475 allowed the city to decorate the bear on the town coat of arms with a gold necklace in gratitude for his support in the wars with Burgundy. As simple, as that.

The first woman, who was formally canonized by the Vatican, comes from St. Gallen

A century after Gallus’s death, in about 720, a monastery was built by the Alemannian priest Othmar and was given a name Monasterium sancti Gallonis (Monastery of Saint Gall). Later in 719, the monastery was developed into an abbey under the first abbot Otmar. Two hundred years later it was attacked by Hungarian raiders, who surrounded the town. It is believed that Saint Wiborada, who was later canonized, warned the monks of the upcoming attack after she had seen a vision. The monks and the citizens were able to flee with the abbey treasure, while Wiborada chose to stay behind and was slain by the raiders.

Wegelin & Co – the oldest bank in Switzerland that got into trouble with the USA – is located in St. Gallen

Wegelin & Co. is a now-defunct bank that at the time of its closing was the oldest bank in Switzerland and the 13th oldest in the world. Founded by Caspar Zyli in 1741, the company specialized in private banking and asset management and was renamed Wegelin & Co. in 1893. In fact, over a period of time, the bank’s legal name undergone multiple changes incorporating the names of the senior personally liable partners.

Did you know that in the period of 2002-2010, Wegelin & Co. assisted citizens of the United States in evading taxes on assets which in total amounted to more than $1.2 billion? In 2012, all the non-US activities, assets, clients, and practically all of the staff were transferred to the bank’s subsidiary Notenstein Privatbank. The following year, in a New York court, Wegelin pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiracy assisting over a hundred of Americans to conceal $1.2 billion from the Internal Revenue Service for over a decade. In spite of the fact that the bank’s practice is legal under Swiss law, the Wegelin&Co complied with the demands and paid $57.8 million in fines to the US authorities. At the same time, Wegelin & Co. announced its closure. Nevertheless, the Notenstein Privatbank carries on work with the bank’s former 700 employees, from the former headquarters of Wegelin & Co.

The first embroidery machines were developed in St. Gallen, and even now St. Gallen embroidery is popular with Parisian haute couture designers

St. Gallen was a major of the textile industry. Since the 15th century, St. Gallen has been successful in producing textiles and has maintained a leading position for several centuries. The very first embroidery machines were developed here in the 19th century. In 1910, the St. Gallen embroidery accounted for most of Switzerland’s exports (18%), and more than half of world production. However, the First World War and the Great Depression caused a significant production crisis. Only from the 50s of the 20th century began a certain revival of the industry, but only a small part of the textile industry of the city was able to survive due to the high specialization and production of embroidery machines. But to this day, embroidery from St. Gallen is very popular among the designers all over the world.

How to get to St. Gallen?

By air:

The nearest international airport to St. Gallen is Zurich International Airport. You can get there by a direct train which runs twice an hour and the journey itself takes about an hour.

There are two other airports: the St. Gallen-Altenrhein Airport that connects with Vienna, and the Bodensee-Airport Friedrichshafen.

By train:

St. Gallen is a major hub for northeastern Switzerland, that’s why the city has good transport links to the rest of the country and to neighbouring Germany and Austria. Direct trains to St. Gallen go from the cities of Lausanne, Appenzell, Herisau, St. Margrethen, Schaffhausen, Lucerne, Kreuzlingen, Sargans, Basel and Basel airport and Geneva and Airport.

With the travel time of 1 hour and 10 minutes, trains between St. Gallen and Zurich depart two times every hour. It is also the gate to the Appenzell Alps.

By car:

It is better not to go by car to the city of St. Gallen. Parking is rare and often very expensive. Moreover, the city has only 9 car parks. One car park is located in the underground garage in the Migros mall. However, like many other places in Switzerland, it is closed on Sundays. Moreover, in St. Gallen everything is very close to each other and you can explore it on foot or by bus, so going by car is more trouble than it is worth and you’ll have to pay extra money to keep it at the parking lot. If you, after all, made a decision to go around by car, you should know that the St. Gallen is connected with Zurich, St. Margrethen, Bern, and Geneva by A1 motorway. The city motorway, which was opened in 1987, goes through tunnels, Rosenberg and Stefanshorn, virtually right beneath the city center.

How to get around?

As was said before, it’s very easy to get around on foot and the city has a very understandable layout. The St. Gallen train station is very close to the Old Town (about 500m), where many shops, restaurants, and hotels are located. Because the traffic of the Old Town of St. Gallen is scarce, the best way to explore it in on foot. Nonetheless, the valley floor, in particular, has a well-organized dense bus system and trolleybus network, both run the VBSG. The bus lines go as far as the outskirts of the city and frequent buses are always punctual. You can purchase your bus ticket at either major bus stops or from the vending machine on the bus. For those who go for a more comfortable and private ride, taxis are available at the train station as well as by the Marktplatz in the Old Town. An alternative mode of transport to go around could also be a bike. You can rent a bike at the train station, but make sure you check the opening hours before setting out on a trip.

Due to the city’s close location to the Appenzell mountain area, there are many excellent Postauto connections. There is also St. Gallen S-Bahn system providing overground local trains. If you are planning to embark on a hiking trip in Trogen or  Speicher, the Trogenerbahn is the best way to get there from St. Gallen. Besides, St. Gallen has a funicular linking the city with a suburban recreation area, with the traffic along the cable car opened in 1893.

Where to stay and have a meal?

Both the number of places to stay is very impressive in all price ranges and the number of restaurants including the local “Beizli” in St. Gallen is almost uncountable. Numerous hotels, inns have restaurants, and these restaurants plus other ones offer local, Italian, French, Greek, and even Chinese and Indian dishes. Typical for the city is the so-called Erststock-Beizli.

St. Gallen’s specialties include the Biber, various chocolate sweets made by the confectionaries with great art and, of course, the most popular “St. Gallerin”, the St. Gallen Bratwurst, which has been produced for many hundred years. St. Gallen prides itself on its own brewery which makes at least two types of beer definitely worth trying: “Schwarzer Bär” and “St. Galler Klosterbräu”.

You’ll come across lots of various establishments from cafes to high-class restaurants, but be sure to dine in one of the local restaurants with homemade cooking, where you will be offered delicious local sausages Bratwurst with potatoes Rosti, local Swiss wine or a wonderful beer. Here are a couple of spots where local residents prefer to dine: the Neubad restaurant at Bankgasse 6 and the Goldened Schafli restaurant on Metzgergasse 5. The places are pretty popular, so you better book a table in advance.

St.Gallen also has a lot to offer at a later hour too. Night owls can enjoy themselves in various bars and clubs or try their luck at the Swiss Casinos St.Gallen in a playful atmosphere full of glamor.

Shopping in St. Gallen

The shopping opportunities in St. Gallen are rich. Most shops are close to each other, many in traffic-free streets, such as Multergasse, Spiesergasse or Neugasse.

The area between the Bahnhof (railway station) and the Old Town is called the Marktplatz – also the pedestrian-only street filled with various shops. The area is filled with all sorts of shops: sho shops, perfume shops, clothes shops as well as numerous tea and coffee houses. Whether it is magical antiques, art, and crafts, current fashion or simply a gift for a dear person – a shopping trip through St.Gallen is definitely worth it.

You may get lucky to visit some of the flea markets that are occasionally set up in the Old Town when the weather is nice. Don’t miss a chance to browse the stalls with miscellaneous goods as you may find some really good bargains.

Actually, the markets have always belonged to the traditional and important elements of the city of St.Gallen. For many locals, as well as for tourists, the visit of the permanent flower and vegetable market and various weekly markets in the old town is indispensable.

And after the shopping spree, a culinary break should not be missed. Try the famous local specialty, the St.Gallen Bratwurst, but, please, without mustard. Other specialties from all over the world are prepared as lovingly as the typical local dishes in the picturesque Old Town restaurants of the monastery, affectionately called “Erststockbeizli”. Various other local specialties and traditional Swiss produce can be bought all over the city as well.

What is the weather like in St. Gallen?

St. Gallen is located in a temperate climatic zone with a changeable weather that heavily depends on the direction of the wind. Thanks to the north or north-east wind blowing (especially in the autumn-winter period) cold weather sets in, in most cases with a dense fog, which is facilitated by the proximity of Lake Constance. In winter, the weather often brings a lot of snow to the city, which can lie in shaded areas until April.

In summer, unfortunately, rainfall in St. Gallen is a frequent occurrence too, often including night thunderstorms. But if you think you’re going to chatter teeth from cold, don’t worry, because the southern wind contrary to the previous ones brings sunny and warm weather to the city. Often the change it brings is so drastic that the air temperature can rise from 10 ° C and more in a span of a few hours.

The average air temperature in the city is only 7.4 ° C, in January -1.8 ° C and the average temperature in July is just 16 ° C (it rises higher of course, but not much), which is, probably, not the most comfortable temperature for long sightseeing walks, especially, when it’s drizzling. Indeed, the most precipitation falls in the summer with July being the wettest month, and June and May coming close second and third. So, if you’re planning to go to St. Gallen in summer, be prepared for bad weather and take a lot of warm clothes, umbrellas, and comfy waterproof boots.

What to do and see in St. Gallen?

In St. Gallen you can do a lot of things, no matter whether it is summer or winter, sunny or raining. It’s very hard to squeeze all of the ideas for a fun pastime and sites you should see, but let’s look at the list of the best activities that await you in St. Gallen!

Wander around the Old Town and see all of its attractions!

St. Gallen is a very beautiful city that impresses in any weather and any season, thanks to its picturesque location and strikingly beautiful architecture. The majority of its architectural jewels are located within the Old Town, so be sure to wander a little bit along its winding paved streets, enjoying great views and wonderful specimens of an architecture of different styles and epochs. Once, St. Gallen received the Wakker Prize for having managed to harmonically combine the historic heritage with the modern architectural style.

The first building that’s going to catch your eye is the complex of the Convent of St. Gall with the famous library and abbey, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then the Greek Orthodox Church of St.Constantine and Helena will further impress you with Athonite icons and a stained glass window of the Last Judgement.

Protestant Church Linsebühl, which is an impressive new renaissance building dating from 1897, greatly contrasts with the concrete Catholic church of St. Martin in the Bruggen district, was glaringly modern at that time it was built in 1936. There is also a synagogue, which is the only one in the city, and it is located in the Lake Constance region.  The Synagogue of St. Gallen was built by the architects Tschudy and Chiodera and has since preserved its original state.

Another interesting structure to look at is Tröckneturm Schönenwegen. Built in 1828, the tower served as a place to hang up and dry freshly colored cloth panels. As we have already mentioned textile, don’t pass by without admiring an extraordinary building – the Embroidery Exchange.

Of course, don’t forgo the University of St. Gallen, founded 1898, that has an excellent reputation in the German-speaking world for teaching Business Administration, Economics, and Law.

Besides, you may both admire from the outside and enjoy a performance at the Theater of St. Gallen. You will easily recognize this modern and somewhat extravagant building, where operas, operettas, ballet, musicals, and plays are performed. Perhaps, you would be interested in seeing a concert at a nearby concert hall called Tonhalle St. Gallen. It offers a variety of music styles: classic, symphony, jazz, blues, etc.

After a long winding trip, you can relax at the Stadtlounge (City Lounge) – a pedestrian area near the bank Raiffeisenbanken in the town center, lined with a special red coating and designed to represent a lounge room, but in the street.

St. Gallen has a total of 28 sites that are part of Swiss heritage of national significance. Those include aforementioned the Reformed Church of St. Laurenzenkirche, Abbey of St. Gallen, the Roman Catholic parish church of St. Maria Neudorf, and the former Dominican Abbey of St. Katharina.

Admire the main landmark of St. Gallen – the Abbey of St. Gall!

The Abbey of St. Gall is a historical and architectural monument, without any doubts, the pearl of the city of St. Gallen. Aside from that, one of the oldest libraries in the world, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, hides behind its walls.

The monastery itself was founded in the 7th century by a monk-hermit – Saint Gall. The richest library of that time was collected in the monastery, then an art school was founded, and the best singers taught the technique of Gregorian singing to the monks. For more than 1000 years the monastery has been one of the most influential in Europe, at the level of Notre Dame Cathedral.

Today the monastery is one of the most popular sights of the city and is known far beyond its borders. The buildings of the monastery impress with its splendor both outside and inside. The cathedral, the former main church of the abbey, was erected between 1755 and 1766 by the Austrian architect Johann Michael Bir von Bilstein. The majestic facade of two towers, each of which rises to 68 meters, can be seen from virtually anywhere in the city. Architectural decisions of the cathedral are typical for that time: the elongated building consists of an altar and a richly decorated nave, connected by a central rotunda. On the perimeter are statues of Saints, Madonna and, of course, the founder of the city of St. Gallus. Above the altar there is a rare for the cathedrals detail – a large clock. The Benedictines believed that anyone who casts a glance at the hands of the clock will understand the frailty of this life and will reflect on the fact that every minute brings a person closer to death.

You can visit the monastery from 9 to 18, and, rest assured, you’ll be rendered speechless by the grandeur of this building.

Heal your soul and see more than 2,700-year-old books at the Library of St. Gallen – one of the oldest libraries in the world!

This monastery library with a two-story reading room is a real treasure in the Rococo style, ardently preserved and looked after since the medieval times. The library contains about 170,000 books, some of which, you won’t believe it, are over 2,700 years old! It is noteworthy that the library of the abbey is still in force. Anyone can come and study this or that book, having previously notified the management about their desire. Permission will be given if your interest is professional.

Not only the books are old, the abbey library is the oldest one in Switzerland, it is believed that it was founded in the 9th century and, perhaps, the most interesting in the world. After all, where else will you get a chance to see thousands upon thousands of books and ancient manuscripts, ascend a beautiful wooden staircase to the second floor and touch upon and feel the smell of the antiquity that envelopes you like a fog.

You must follow some rules, though. First of all, you ought to wear huge felt slippers, so as not to spoil the old parquet floor. Next, taking photos is prohibited, and library supervisors zealously monitor tourists and stop any attempts to break the rules. They also now and then shut and open the blinds on the old windows, so that no sunlight could penetrate inside.

Gorgeously decorated rooms, wooden shelves, filled with ancient herbals, textbooks on astronomy and palmistry, the very first handwritten German book – the Latin dictionary – and lots of other ancient manuscripts, awe and seemingly transport you back in time. That’s why every year more than one hundred thousand people come here to admire the great book collection of monks, who believed that reading could heal one’s soul. The proof of that is an inscription in the ancient Greek above the entrance to the library, which says: “Psyches iatreion” that is translated as “apothecary of the soul”.

Visit the castle of Werdenberg and its museum!

The castle of Werdenberg is a perfectly preserved and one of the most impressive medieval castles in the region. After seven centuries the castle continues to play an important role in the life of the city, attracting tourists and serving as a local history museum.

After the death of the founder of the castle, Rudolf von Montfort, the structure belonged to several owners, the last of whom founded a pharmacy here. In 1956, the castle was donated to the canton of St. Gallen and was opened to tourists, becoming a historical museum.

Visitors to the museum can see the ancient buildings of the castle and visit the guard rooms, the dungeon in the basement of the castle. No less interesting, you will find the interior of the premises with furniture of the 19th century, a large collection of weapons and paintings of the 17th-19th centuries. Also, you can climb the battle platform at the very top of the tower and enjoy the views from the castle.

Walk through the Charles Gate!

These gates were built in 1570 and were part of the city defensive wall. According to legend, the first person to pass through the gate was Saint Karl Borromeo. They were called in his honor.

High above the gate, there is an elegant bas-relief with a picture of a crucifix. Under it, between the columns St. Gall and the abbot Otmar are depicted.

Have a rest and enjoy the landscape at Wildpark Peter & Paul and Botanical Garden!

Wildpark Peter & Paul is located on the promising hill of Rotmonten, at the eastern Rosenberg, 780 meters above sea level. The park is integrated into a charming pre-alpine landscape. From different locations, there are extensive views of the Thurgau, Lake Constance, Southern Germany, Vorarlberg and the Alpstein.

Enjoy the rich cultural life!

The St.Gallen event calendar is generously packed. There are numerous interesting and attractive events every year transpiring at regular intervals. The traditional Swiss trade fair for agriculture and nutrition, the Olma, the OpenAir St.Gallen, the oldest and one of the largest open-air festivals in Switzerland held in June, as well as the St.Gallen Festspiele, a festival of classical music, has a fixed place in the course of the year, year after year.

Other established festivities include events such as the St.Galler Christmas Market, the Jazz Festival “New Orleans meets St.Gallen” or the Honky Tonk Festival.

Add in the Children’s Festival, which is a big city festival, with sausages bratwurst, that involves a large part of the population. It originated from old school festivals and is held every three years in May or June in 2012, in 2015 and so on. The next one is in 2018, by the way, so don’t miss it. Don’t forget about CSIO Switzerland International Show-Jumping Event – an event that takes up a special place in the equestrian sport. And become pulled in by Military Tattoo Sankt Gallen – a performance with bagpipes and beautiful choreography with a large number of bands from different countries that takes place in July. Plus, between these recurring events, there are always many new ones.

All in all, whatever you like, you won’t be bored in St. Gallen in any case.

Visit various interesting and unique museums!

St. Gallen is not Zurich or Basel in that department, but comes close behind, as there are plenty of very interesting museums in this city. So devote some time to visit at least a few of them. Historical and Ethnographical Museum in particular display collections of folk art, cultural history, the history of the city and nearby regions as well as ethnographical collections from all over the globe. Definitely put this one on the list, you won’t regret going there, for sure.

If you love art, enjoy paintings and sculptures from the 19th and 20th century at the Art Museum or see the masterpieces of national and international modern art at St. Gallen Art Gallery. Don’t miss the Museum in the Storehouse, where you can find Swiss native art and art brut.

Natural History Museum that you have already read about before showcases the natural history collection.

Definitely, learn more about the textile industry, historical laces, embroidery and cloth at the Textile Museum. This museum is the embodiment of the city’s success, where the best specimens of the famous lace, samples of fabrics and intricate artistic compositions made of textiles are collected. In the museum there are even videos about the details of the process of making fabric.

Lovers of architecture will find the Lapidarium of the Abbey comprised of building blocks from 8th to 17th century very fascinating as well. Plus don’t forget about some more unusual museums like Point Jaune Museum, boasting of collections of Mail Art, Postpostism and ‘Pataphysics, and a very popular among the tourists Beer Bottle Museum, located at the Schützengarten Brewerythe oldest brewery in Switzerland.

Relax at the oldest bathhouse in Switzerland!

The Volksbad St. Gallen is the oldest still in operation indoor public bathhouse in Switzerland. It was opened in 1906 as the second public bathhouse in Switzerland, 42 years after the one in Winterthur, which was however closed in 1915. It was built in the style of a stately burgher house with many decorations by the then architect Albert Pfeiffer. It is located in the Singenbergquartier, between the Old Town, the museum district and today’s hospital.

Get off at Drei Weieren!

The Drei Weieren is a splendid place of tranquility in the middle of the city. The three man-made ponds with art nouveau-bath houses. make it a popular place with young people for an outing and a swimming spot. It can be reached by the Mühleggbahn train. A water park in the day and a place for meeting for a lot of young people, the Drei Weieren is a subject of a lot of complaints by the local residents due to a lot of noise and vandalism. Locals have called the ponds “Lakes with the most THC in the country” because of the frequently seen drug abuse. St. Gallen is a very calm and safe city, but don’t forget about safety measures going there and don’t let your guard down.

Explore the neighborhood: hiking, biking and much more!

Being conveniently located in the Swiss corner bordering Austria, Germany, and the Principality of Liechtenstein makes the city a perfect starting point if you want to go to Appenzellerland with Mount Säntis, or Lake Constance. It does not matter – by rail or by bicycle: the wonders of Lake Constance are accessible via the Lake Constance Cycle Path. The combination of rail ‘n’ bike allows you to make fascinating journeys, imperceptibly crossing borders. And for pedestrians there is an excellent route Bridge Trail through 18 bridges in Sittertobel near St. Gallen: along the way, you will learn a lot of curious about the architecture and design features of each bridge. The St. James route, which takes roughly 6 hours, will lead you from Rorschach to Herisau through St. Gallen.

And Voralpen-Express – more precisely, the 149-kilometer-long branch line crossing the foothills of the Alps – is interesting from a technical point of view, and, of course, cannot help but fascinate everyone with landscapes of Toggenburg, Lake Zürich, and Rothenturm.

Have a well-deserved rest at the Abtwil Säntispark!

This is a diverse recreation center with a water park, a wellness center and a village of saunas. It’s a perfect place to finally let out all the stress and treat your body after long working hours or tiring activities that you have been a part of.

Get speechless by spectacular views of six countries from cable cars and observation decks on top the Säntis!

St. Gallen lies between Lake Constance and the mountains of the Appenzell Alps extend into the cantons of Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Appenzell Innerrhoden, and St. Gallen. Hence, the area provides magnificent recreation places. In the Alpstein range of the Appenzell Alps, some of the local peaks can be reached via cable cars.

The Säntis, the highest mountain in the are, stand at 2502 meters above sea level and is worth getting to its top for the gorgeous views that open up from the summit. It is easy to reach the impressive mountaintop by a cable car that runs throughout the year from Schwägalp. To get to Schwägalp, you can tack bus from Urnäsch or use a car. The mountain is shared by three cantons and soars high, making it a visible landmark. Thus, Säntisblick houses (English: Säntis view) can be seen as far as the Black Forest in Germany. From the observation deck at the top of the Säntis, you can see six countries: France, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and Liechtenstein.