Hoher Kasten - Top of Appenzell (AI) | Swiss Tour 2020
Updated: Aug 7
We discovered the panoramic Hoher Kasten mountain near Appenzell from where you can enjoy a fantastic 360° view over 6 countries. What an experience!
We did some research before our visit to Hoher Kasten but we hadn’t fully prepared ourselves for the amazing beauty of the area.
We packed up the car for the start of our holiday on Friday and the first thing that we immediately noticed as we left the motorway is how green the area is, and how beautifully manicured. We arrived at the guest house Rössli which is located in the village of Brülisau and would be our home for the next few days. They didn’t have a family room available but they had put us in two rooms next to each other at the end of a corridor which could be enclosed with a fire door, so we were able to shut the door and the children were safe in the room next door to us. The rooms were spacious and clean with large bathrooms and comfortable beds, and ours had views out over the landscape and river. We set about unpacking our bags and went downstairs for a drink.
There is a lovely spacious terrace at the guest house which was perfect in the warm weather, and the children loved the large play area where they soon discovered some rabbits! Alba loves all animals and was delighted when the manager of the guest house told her she could get inside the enclosure and give them some food! With the children enjoying themselves and Elio comfortably installed in his pushchair, Jean and I could chat to Fabienne from the Hoher Kasten cable cars who organised our trip, and who popped over to give us some more information about Hoher Kasten and to discuss the programme with us. Fabienne is lovely and very knowledgeable and passionate about the area so it was great to learn more about the region. After that we decided to go for a short walk around Brülisau to familiarise ourselves with our incredible new surroundings before dinner.
For our first night, we were eating dinner in the guest house restaurant and we were really excellently looked after. Special thanks has to go to Nadia who was extremely kind and helpful throughout our stay and did such a wonderful job of making sure we had everything we needed, particularly for Elio who had a delicious meal specially prepared for him. The food was great and the children were happy to continue playing until we dragged them off to bed.
The next day was Swiss National Day (1st August) and we were going for a hike so we had a good breakfast at the guest house before we set off for the starting point for our hike which was the restaurant Berggasthaus in Ruhesitz. From here we followed the path through spectacular mountain scenery accompanied by the cows and goats who were happily grazing all around us. The weather was perfect with warm sun and clear skies enabling us to see for miles across Appenzellerland.
Our destination for this hike was the lake Sämtisersee, and after about an hour of walking we arrived at the restaurant Plattenbödeli next to the lake where we stopped to fortify ourselves with a drink and a selection of local meat and cheese before descending to the lake. The path down to the lake was steep and there were lots of gnarly tree roots so we trod carefully and held on tightly to the children but it was worth it when we saw the dazzling view of the lake at the bottom.
There is a rough path around the lake so we found a nice place to stop and happily removed our hiking boots and socks before running down to the waters edge to dip our toes. Jude was really excited to see lots of little dark frogs leaping about in the shallows and spent some time watching them while Alba skipped around him. Elio loved splashing his feet then he and I went to sit in the sun while the others enjoyed the water.
After an hour we decided to head back the way we came and retraced our steps back to the restaurant in Ruhesitz. Fabienne had organised something special for us here which was a decent on scooter back to Brülisau!
When we first saw this on the programme, our immediate thought was that it wouldn’t be possible with three children but we decided to give it a try so we picked out our helmets and Jean rode down with Elio and Jude very slowly, while I was paired with Alba who kept shouting at me to go faster! It was such a nice way to finish the hike with the wind in our hair and the countryside zipping past and it gave the children a bit of a boost after a long walk. We really loved this hike and the pure joy of being in the middle of nature with the sun shining on our faces and the impressive views which greeted us at every turn.
Back down in Brülisau and we had time to get ourselves cleaned up and have a cool drink at the guest house before we headed to the cable car to visit Hoher Kasten for dinner. We put Elio in the pushchair for this part and walked the short distance to the cable car in Brülisau from where the ride up takes about 10 minutes - it's a beautiful way to admire the scenery below. The cable car usually closes at 6pm but the hours were extended until 11pm for the Swiss National Day celebrations so that visitors could celebrate at the summit (they also do late rides when the moon is full for special dinners at the top of Hoher Kasten).
We had a walk around outside when we arrived to take in the astonishing views in the golden evening light before we went in to eat at the self service restaurant. The children found a corner with some toys so they disappeared after dinner so that Jean, Elio and I could finish eating in peace. The view is really extraordinary and we could see the Rhine river stretching out below us.
After a simple dinner, we headed back down to the guest house where they had organised some traditional musical entertainment to celebrate the 1st August. The children made a bee-line for the playground again so Jean and I enjoyed the atmosphere and soon enough we could see fireworks being set off around us which the children (especially Elio) loved.
Following a good nights sleep, we were up early and heading back up to Hoher Kasten for breakfast. This time, we would be eating in the revolving restaurant on the top floor and Fabienne had organised for us to enjoy their breakfast buffet. The weather was a bit cloudy but we could still appreciate the same magnificent views we had seen the night before. The panoramic restaurant allows diners to enjoy views over 6 countries and is a really special way to start the day. After a delicious and varied breakfast, we headed outside again to follow the path around the mountain which is covered in wild flowers with signs telling you their names. There is lots of information about the formation of the mountain and it's development over the years which we found very interesting.
After riding back down to Brülisau, and we took a drive over to Eggli where we would have lunch at the Restaurant Eggli, which is really charming and authentically Swiss with spectacular views of Appenzellerland below.
The decor is cosy and the food was really good, made mostly with local produce. After lunch, we took a walk around the farm where the children could get up close to chickens, goats and donkeys, but Jude and Alba both especially loved the little chicks!
We had some free time on Sunday afternoon and the weather forecast wasn’t great so we decided to visit the cheese factory in Stein. This was a nice rainy day activity but it was very busy as lots of people seemed to have the same idea, so it was hard to get close to some of the exhibits. We also missed the cheese production demonstration as they were just cleaning up from the previous batch which was a shame, but we could see the huge vats below from the viewing area. There was lots to read and see and the children really enjoyed the interactive aspect as they were each given a key on arrival with which they could unlock little doors containing further information and images as we walked round. The cheese storage area is really impressive and we enjoyed learning more about the kinds of herbs used in production although the interactive exhibit for that part was closed due to Covid.
We decided to head back to the guest house where we were planning an early dinner so that the children could enjoy the playground one last time. After about an hour in the garden, the rain arrived so we headed indoors and enjoyed a nice cosy dinner with the torrential rain pouring outside before heading upstairs for an early night, The children all slept really well and woke up feeling sad to be leaving. We had an incredible breakfast and met with Fabienne for a last coffee before we departed.
Our final stop was a visit to the town of Appenzell. We parked the car close to the centre of town and walked down the beautiful main street with its abundance of beautiful shops, restaurants and murals. It’s a very charming town and I imagine it would be a lovely place to spend a sunny day strolling around. It’s also a great place to find some wonderful local products including cheeses, cured meats and some of their famous herb infused cordials and spirits. We stopped at a lovely bakery to pick up some snacks for the car and reluctantly said goodbye to this picturesque town.
We all really loved this fantastic break in a little corner of bucolic paradise. There is such a lovely community feel and access to the incredible scenery is so easy, it made exploring with the children very simple. The area has managed to maintain an authentic identity and we really enjoyed being able to experience first hand the true spirit of beautiful Hoher Kasten.
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Hiking ideas here!