For 30 years, our editor Roland Hügi has been exploring Switzerland on two wheels. Note to keen cyclists and mountain bikers: he shares with us his favourite routes throughout the whole country. From the Jura to Engadin, he unveils places of particular beauty and gives tips for inspiration.
Views of Säntis
A few last wisps of mist still hang in the clear air following last night's rain as we set off on our tour from the centre of Teufen village in the canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden. Although cycling on the main road, it isn't busy with motorised traffic and the ride doesn't become an ordeal. Shortly after setting off, we cross the border into Innerrhoden and the view opens up. Compact villages and scattered farmhouses nestle in the hilly landscape formed by glaciers, with Säntis rising up in the background. Together with the other peaks of the Alpstein massif, it will be visible in all its glory on many parts of the tour.
Appenzell cycle tour
Route length: Just under 40 kilometres
Ascent: 840 metres
Duration: 3 hours
Noteworthy: the tour is also suitable for e-bikes.
Entire route to download
The GPX file can easily be opened on Google Earth, using apps like SwitzerlandMobility, Komoot, Outdooractive, the SAC tour website or on your smartwatch (e.g. Polar, Garmin, Suunto, etc).
The basis for planning the tour was the bike map (no. 7, St. Gallen / Appenzell-Toggenburg) at a scale of 1 : 60,000 from Kümmerly + Frey. In addition to all official SwitzerlandMobility routes (nationwide cycling and biking routes), the map also contains numerous VCS (Swiss Association for Transport and Environment) route recommendations on mostly low-traffic roads.
Stopping off in Appenzell
In Haslen, the journey continues on roads where the peace is hardly ever disturbed by the sound of a car engine, past the village of Schlatt towards the main settlement of Appenzell. Rows of colourful houses in the traditional Appenzell style are waiting to be admired – and numerous cafés, pubs and restaurants (especially around the central Landsgemeindeplatz) tempt visitors to take a break. Whatever you do, it's worth taking a little time to let the cantonal capital work its magic on you before continuing on your way – mostly on roads little used by traffic. Shortly after Appenzell, there's a fantastic view of practically the entire length of the Appenzell Alps. Enough to almost make you forget the sweat you've worked up climbing the side road to get here.
Gais is yet another picturesque village, with a neat row of ornate houses lining the main street and a museum showcasing scenes from the past. Outside Gais, the route passes through a side valley in which time seems to have stood still. Past grazing cows, bleating goats and Appenzeller mountain dogs dosing in the sun. No sound of civilisation reaches the ears – all is quiet. In Ruhsitz (point 1,142), there are two options for continuing:
- one is marked out as a mountain bike trail and heads towards Trogen over well maintained but rather steep forest paths.
- A slightly longer route takes riders over the Ruppen Pass (which involves almost no climbing) and is signposted as a normal cycle route.
Immediately after entering the village of Trogen, we reach the most eye-catching point of our journey: the spacious Landsgemeindeplatz, or town square. It is lined by a Baroque church and the stone palaces of the Zellweger dynasty – a family that acquired its wealth in previous centuries through textile trading. A truly impressive group of buildings. With wonderful images in our head, we make our way back to the starting point of Teufen – mostly through a small side valley free of motorised traffic.