When a photo of Berggasthaus Aescher, a hotel built into the side of a mountain in the Swiss alps I knew I had to go. Berggasthaus, one of the most unique hotels in Switzerland sits atop Ebenalp, a small, somewhat unassuming yet stunningly beautiful mountain in the Appenzeller region. This magical Instagram worthy little piece of Switzerland is accessible either by cable car or a very steep hike. It turns out that visiting this magical place is a delight for all the senses. If you enjoy astounding natural beauty then this little hidden gem deserves a spot on your bucket list. Get ready for a day of adventure on Wasserauen Ebenalp alpine mountain!
Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli in Schwende, Wasserauen Ebenalp Mountain Switzerland
at the top of Wasserauen Ebenalp Mountain:
Friends, this is a one stop shop if you are looking spend a day away from the crowds in Switzerland surrounded by stunning scenery. Ride the Ebenalp Cable car to the top where you’ll find Instagram worthy ways to spend a day such as these:
- Wildkirchli church, where people to this day attend church in a cave. You can catch their angelic music on Sundays!
- Ebenalp Restaurant and hotel, at Aescher Ebealp a cozy place to have a snack or a meal before you head down the mountain.
- Some of the best Appenzell hiking as you wind your way down the mountain to Seealpsee Lake and Seealpsee hotel. (Ebeanalp Wandern und Seealpsee Wanderung!)
- Ebenalp Seealpsee Lake, a perfect little Emerald Green alpine lake.
Let’s get started so you don’t miss any of it!
How to get up Ebenalp mountain
Fortunately, if you plan to do any Appenzell hiking lifts that whisk you up the mountain are abundant in the area! First thing in the morning we headed for the Ebenalp Cable Car for transport up the mountain. For 20 Swiss Franc, they will take you up the mountain. (31 CHF for a return trip, but we decided to walk back down the mountain) Afraid of heights? Yeah, me too, but I was determined to get up that mountain. I just closed my eyes and in no time at all was safely and efficiently deposited at the top!
plan for fog
There are direction signs at the top, but basically just head for the trail going down the mountain. Unfortunately, our reward for an early start was fog at the top, lots of fog. Those picturesque panoramic views that we had hoped for were at the moment eluding us. We headed for the Berggasthaus Aescher hotel and restaurant, which is tucked away in the side of Wasserauen Ebenalp Mountain.
Ebenalp Aescher Hotel on the top of Ebenalp Mountain
At the time they were not taking overnight guests, but the Aescher Ebenalp restaurant at the top was open for refreshments. (As of the date this article was written, it appears that the Aescher Ebenalp Hotel is accepting overnight guests again! check their site for the latest information for a chance to overnight in one of the most unique hotels in Switzerland!
Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli in Schwende, Switzerland
Ebenalp Restaurant: refreshments at the top
The Aescher Ebenalp restaurant at the top was open for refreshments. The locals told us that the fog would likely clear off around noon, so we settled down in the dining area of the Ebenalp Restaurant to wait it out. My husband and his sister ordered a warm liqueur coffee (Kaffee-shot) and we tried the Rösti, a potato dish similar to hash browns, smothered in creamy melted Appenzeller cheese (it can be quite pungent but tastes great!)
As we sat enjoying our refreshments, our day suddenly turned into something quiet MAGICAL. A large group of locals filled the dining area when we arrived so we were seated in an isolated overflow. At some point we heard singing coming from the other room. It was a beautiful sound, somewhere between a hymn and a yodel. Someone kindly opened the door to the overflow, to make sure we could hear the delightful sound. We soon discovered that this was their choir practice and that they were soon headed to the Wildkirchli church….a church IN A CAVE! ON A MOUNTAIN! At that moment I felt very fortunate that we happened to be in this spot on a Sunday. It truly was a once in a lifetime experience.
(Thank you Angela M. Kunze for sharing these videos with me.)
Since the fog had not yet cleared and we had time to kill, we decided to attend church services. Wildkirchli Cave Church is 400-years old; monks worshiped here centuries ago. The service was in German, and although we couldn’t understand what was being said, that just added to this unique cultural experience. With their singing voices now warmed up, the choir again sang praises high up on that beautiful mountain.
Ebenalp Hiking (Ebenalp wandern!)
Wandern means hike in German. It’s probably no coincidence that the word for hike in German sounds like the English word wander. This little mountain was made for wandering and you’ll see from this map that there are many different trails to wander. You can use this hiking map to help you plan your route down the mountain. Eventually the fog clear off and down the mountain we went headed to the picturesque Seealpsee lake, and eventually back to our hotel in Wasserauen on our our Ebenalp wandern.
Like many Appenzell hiking trails, these were a little treacherous, steep, and wet, but the views were astonishingly beautiful. Bring your hiking poles for help with stability.
Ebenalp Seealpsee Lake
I think Alpine lakes are the very best lakes. Due to the cold conditions they are clearer and take on magical colors compared to other lakes. We finally made it to Seealpsee Lake and as you can see, it is breathtaking. You may have noticed in the map that there is a path that winds around the lake for your Seealpsee Wanderung enjoyment!
There are a couple of choices for places to stay on Wasserauen Ebenalp.
We booked rooms at Hotel Alpenrose, an adorable little alpine hotel at the base of Ebenalp Mountain. It’s right down the road from the Ebenalp Cable Car, which is your transport up the mountain. Nearly dark when we arrived, we were immediately delighted by the sounds of running water from melting snow cascading down the mountain.
Despite our late arrival, we were made welcome by the friendly staff at the hotel and although the restaurant was about to close, they offered us the opportunity to order food. This is where we had our first experience with the creamy but quite pungent Appenzeller cheese. We were somewhat put off by the smell but the Swiss love it! Try it if you dare.
Our room was large with a balcony facing the mountain. The air was chilly at this altitude, yet we still managed to keep the balcony door cracked most of the night to let in that crisp mountain air and listen to the water run off of the mountain. A hardy breakfast was included in the room rate.
Seealpsee Hotel accommodations
If you would rather stay up a bit higher, there is a hotel/restaurant on Seealpsee lake, Berggasthaus Seealpsee Hotel. According to their website it “can only be reached on foot from Wasserauen via a well-developed hiking trail in about 50 minutes.” OR if you don’t mind carrying an overnight bag you could make it a stopover on your hike town from Ebenalp.
This little mountain has it all! One of the most unique hotels in Switzerland, plenty of Appenzell hiking, a most unusual church, Ebenalp Seealpsee a beautiful alpine lake straight out of a Swiss painting, and plenty of opportunities for refreshments so make a whole day out of it!
a little about Switzerland
Switzerland is like a piece of heaven on earth, and you will pay for the privilege of seeing it. It is quite expensive compared to some of the surrounding countries. However, such is its astounding beauty and complete and total peacefulness, you won’t mind the expense at all!!! Switzerland is, without a doubt, one of the top locations in the entire world, and I am ever envious of those who are so fortunate as to call it home.
find more destinations for your itinerary
If you’re in this area you’ll find yourself very close to Germany. Germany has an abundance of amazing places that you simply must add to your travel wish list. Check out my Germany page for epic destination ideas to add to your next trip!
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