top of page

Switzerland: 3-Day Hike around the Säntis

Updated: Mar 1

Alpstein Decelerated

The 27-kilometre circular hike at Alpstein in Switzerland with the ascent of the highest peak Säntis 2,502 m above sea level leads through green, flower-covered alpine pastures, past velvet-brown Swiss cows, up to rugged mountain peaks and blue mountain lakes.

descent from the Säntis via the Lisengrat in Switzerland

Glacier fields, high-altitude paths and also an exposed (but well-secured) ridge hike offer everything that makes a mountain tour. On the leisurely 3-day tour, you stay overnight in rustic mountain inns and have enough time to see all the highlights along the way ... and still get there and back by train.

-Factor: ♡♡♡♡♡

Start: Bahnhof Wasserauen 868 Hm

Time: 12:30 Stunde

Length: 27 km

Difference in altitude: 1850 Hm. up and down

Mountain Huts: Various huts in the Alpstein offer rustic dining options

Difficulty: red - middle

DAY BY DAY Description and GPS data Säntis Hike

Day 1: Wasserauen railway station 868 hm. - Berggasthaus Schäfler 1,920 hm., 6.5 km, 1010 hm. Up, 360 down

Day 1 I saved the GPS Data on Outdooractive - may be you have to change the language to english in the app

Day 2: Berggasthaus Schäfler - Seealpsee 1.141 Hm - via Öhrligrueb, Säntis 2.502m, Lisengrat, Rotsteinpass 2.119m, Meglisalp 1.520 Hm., 15 km, 800 Hm. up 1570 down

Day 2 I saved the GPS Data on Outdooractive - may be you have to change the language to english in the app

Day 3: Seealpsee - Wasserauen station 868 m., 5 km, 90 m. up 370 m. down

Day 3 I saved the GPS Data on Outdooractive - may be you have to change the language to english in the app

Swiss picture book scenery

The landscape of the Alpstein corresponds to everything I associate with Switzerland: green, flower-covered alpine pastures, velvet-brown Swiss cows, rugged mountain peaks and blue mountain lakes.

In addition to these idyllic clichés, our tour included exposed ridge walks, rustic wood-clad mountain inns, perfect sunrises and sunsets, the overwhelming backdrop of Seealpsee and one or two other surprises ... In between, we felt like we were in a home movie in which one highlight follows the other.

Sometimes good things have to wait. We had wanted to do this tour for a few years but somehow something always came up - but then my girlfriend called me: "Tell me, do you have anything planned for next weekend? And: Oh miracle! My calendar was empty. And the weather forecast was fantastic. The starting point Wasserauen is perfectly reachable by train and so we met at the station at noon.

Day 1: Wasserauen station 868 hm. - Schäfler mountain inn 1,920 hm.

Since we think our lives are stressful enough as it is, our motto for the next three days was not so much to cover as many kilometres as possible as quickly as possible, but to do a leisurely tour on which we had enough time to take a look at all the highlights along the way. At that time, we could not have imagined that there would actually be so many highlights. So we didn't take the cable car up to Ebenalp, rush up to Säntis and then take the direct route back down again, but did it all on foot.

The famous Berg-Gasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli

Our first planned stop was the Berg-Gasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli, which looks spectacular built like a bird's nest in a cave on a steep wall.

Berg-Gasthaus/mountain hut Aescher-Wildkirchli Switzerland is world famous

In the past, hermits meditated here, and in the distant past - a mere 92,000 years ago - cave bears lived here. The caves, of which the guesthouse is built in and around one, became really world-famous through prehistoric finds of cavemen such as worked stones, tools and bones - this means that the Neanderthals also lived in the Alpstein mountains in the period from 50,000 to 30,000 BC. So we are in the best of company and set off to explore the area, fortified in a civilised way by coffee and cake.

From here, the hiking trail leads into the interior of the mountain. The tunnel winds almost 150m through the three parts of the cave, which are now illuminated. Like two little Phoenixes, we reach the other side of the mountain and the Ebenalb. There, not we, but hang-gliders take to the skies and sail towards the Rhine valley. Since we don't want to lose the 800 metres of altitude we have gained so far and still have 300 to climb, we walk along the grassy ridge to our first overnight stop, the Schäfler mountain inn.

Clouds pile up from the south and break like surf against the walls of the Alpstein. Only now and then does it break and we catch a glimpse of the Altenalptürm (2,031 m), Öhrlikopf (2,193 m), Hochnideri (2,246 m) and Girenspitz (2,448 m). The Säntis (2,502 m) towers above all the peaks, easily recognisable by its high antenna - the summit destination of our second day. With high mountains, only one thing helps - solid food, and so we first make ourselves comfortable with soup and cheese noodles in the hut. But just as with smokers and food in a restaurant, it is the same with photographers and the sun: As soon as the food is on the table in front of me, the sun breaks out of the clouds and I leave everything behind so as not to miss the sight. Who needs warm food when you can watch a cool sunset?

"Anseilstrikli available in the restaurant".

The clouds are moving away, leaving only a soft haze on the middle of the mountainside. In front of us are the gentle green hills of Appenzellerland below and the rugged limestone peaks of the mountains further up. Our planned hiking trail for the next morning looks almost impassable as it winds - clearly visible - along the steep slope. "From here only for experienced mountain walkers" is clearly written on a red sign and just below it: "Anseilstrikli available in the restaurant". Heike and I swallow at first - Anseilstrikli sounds kind of sweet, but we really hope we won't need any when we set off the next morning.

Day 2: Berggasthaus Schäfler - Seealpsee

Our worries are unfounded. The path is exposed but secured in difficult places.

Hiking down a ladder to the peak Säntis in Switzerland. The rugged peaks of the Swiss Alps form a perfect background for a hike.

Above us shines a cloudless sky and below us green meadows and the deep blue of the Seealpsee far below, the destination of our hike today. But there are still a few hours of hiking and a few metres of altitude in between. Whereby ... the paths and views are so exhilarating that "lustwandeln" would better describe the whole thing. Wild flowers grow by the wayside, now and then we see chamois in the distance and hear marmots whistling to warn their mates of our presence.

The Öhrligrueb seems like a small microcosm in the increasingly rugged mountains: protected by half-height rocks, it is much warmer and greener. The difference between the north and south sides is immense, as I realise when Heike suddenly attacks me with snowballs from a hidden snow field, while I am comfortably enjoying the view of the Blau Schnee - the remnant of the glacier below the Säntis - between flowering gentians. Shortly after, the only steep section of the day begins: first gravelly and then over the snowfields of the glacier. A couple of ibexes don't let us get tired at all, because they are walking in the same direction on the other side of the Blau Schnee ... and of course we have to keep up with them. We still don't know how to get to the summit, because it looks impregnable ... until we see the small dots ... people ... below the cable car:

The famous ladder to heaven - Himmelsleiter!

A passage secured by climbing aids leads over the last ascent. As the hiking trail from Schwägalp follows the same route shortly before, there is sometimes a traffic jam here on sunny weekends. In 2011, some small platforms were built to make it easier for the climbers to cross. We are lucky: there is less traffic during the week. An old Swiss man stands in the middle of the unsecured rock slab and grins at us, "Grüezi mitenand! You're almost there!" he says as he descends like a sheep. The summit itself is more or less an anti-climax. After the solitude of the hike, we are disturbed by the crowds of people coming up in the gondola, and the buildings don't exactly get a beauty prize either. The Lisengrat connects the Säntis with the Roststein Pass and was for a long time a reference tour for the difficulty level T4, but since it has been better prepared and equipped with considerably more wire ropes, it is now marked red and white. Halfway up we meet a couple. The woman curses in Spanish at a particularly exposed spot. Heike speaks Spanish and chats with her. The lady comes from Peru "He is crazy to bring me here" she says about her Swiss husband.

"If I come down here alive, I'll divorce him!"

We can see that she is not entirely serious by the fact that they are both laughing. For us, this section is something like an adventure playground for adults: steep, exposed, exciting, but thanks to the wire ropes and climbing aids, never scary. From the Rosteinpass, the descent of over 1,000 metres in altitude begins via the picturesque Meglisalp to the Seealpsee. In the mountain inn of the same name, we first treat ourselves to an Appenzeller beer. The Dunkel Lager is adorned with a label that just matches our view: the grandiose backdrop over the lake, over the mountains up to the Säntis. Even our tired bones relax with happiness.

Day 3: Seealpsee - Wasserauen railway station 868 hm

Of course we could have descended the 1.5 hours to Wasserauen on the same day ... but what would we have missed then?

Rowing Boat Seealpsee Switzerland

On the one hand our last train ... and on the other hand the magic of having the normally much visited Seealpsee (almost) to ourselves in the early morning hours. Already at sunrise, nothing can keep me in the hut: the mountains are glowing, the atmosphere is magical, while I'm hyperventilating and hopping around the lake with my camera and can't get enough of all the beautiful motifs, Heike has already arranged the rowing boat of our accommodation.

Where normally hip influencers pose for their posts, we leisurely row across the lake.

"Look, that's a lot of cows," she says at that moment, "Oh ... a lot, Oh ... I think it's the Almabtrieb"! Indeed, a whole horde of lively cows accompanied by handsome lads in the typical Appenzell splendour of black trousers and red waistcoats with flower-adorned hats trot along the lake. But our Alpine idyll has not yet been crowned here: As soon as we put our feet back on land, we hear the deep sound of an alphorn, the source of which we don't have to search for long. The blower is standing directly on the shore of the bottle-green lake glistening in the sun, the sound is reflected back by the high mountain walls, a few ducks are paddling in the water and the cows are mooing as a background chorus.

Sounds incredibly kitschy? But it wasn't, instead - as Heike writes - it was the highlight of the year!


ARRIVAL: No car, no traffic jams, no gondola - the 3-day round trip with the ascent of the Säntis (2,502) can easily be combined with a train journey, as there is enough time on the first and last day. Do as the chamois, ibexes and marmots do, which you will meet with a bit of luck on this fantastic hike in the Alpstein: go on foot.

View from the mountain hut Schäfler, Seealpsee Swiss Alps

Take the train to Wasserauen station in Switzerland.

You can check the timetables in Switzerland at,, or under "Anreise" at; a corresponding SBB app is also available.

BEST TIME June to September

START Wasserauen railway station 868 hm

LITERATURE Fabian Lippuner, "Appenzellerland - Die schönsten Tal- und Höhenwanderungen", Bergverlag Rother, 2020.


The Schäfler mountain inn: offers double rooms and 70 beds in the camp. From the Schäfler summit 1,925 m above sea level, located directly behind the hut, you have an exceptional panoramic view from Pilatus to Zugspitze and far over Lake Constance. The perfect place for sunrise and sunset.

The Seealpsee mountain guesthouse offers a dream setting on the shores of the Seealpsee. It has 40 beds in comfortable rooms with shower. There's a reason why Seealpsee is so popular and so busy. Those who spend the night here have the scenery all to themselves early in the morning and can enjoy breakfast on the terrace above the lake.

  • Instagram Social Icon
  • YouTube Social  Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon
bottom of page