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Appenzell in Switzerland - delicacies and direct democracy

In co-operation with Switzerland Tourism

Appenzell in Switzerland is really not much more than a rural village with amazingly good cheese. Or is it? Appenzell and Appenzellerland wowed us with the imaginatively decorated houses, the countless restaurants with local specialities, the rolling green landscape, the dramatic Hoher Kasten mountain and - not least - the ancient traditions of direct democracy in the town square instead of regular municipal elections.


To Appenzell in Switzerland

We drove from Schaffhausen, where we saw the dramatic Rhine Falls, to Appenzell along the Grand Tour of Switzerland, which included driving along Lake Constance.

Var ligger Appenzell?

Appenzellerland ligger i den nordöstra delen av Schweiz när Tyskland och är väldigt mycket tysktalande, och består av gröna kullar och pittoreska små byar. Här och var strövar de stora bruna korna, och allt som oftast hör man ljudet från deras tydliga bjällror.


Village of Appenzell

In the middle of the Appenzellerland is the village of Appenzell, which is famous for its delicious Appenzeller cheese - one of our absolute favourite cheeses. What we didn't know before is that this village consists of colourful houses decorated with different paintings.

Appenzell house
Each painting illustrates a month in Appenzell
Appenzell hus
The most central street in the village - there are no cars here.

The tradition of the paintings is not really that old. It started in the 1930s when a villager had paintings done on his house, and then everyone else wanted to do the same. Another thing we didn't know about is the political system, which is different, to say the least.

Appenzell butik

Direct democracy - in the square

In Appenzell, people don't vote as usual with an envelope in a ballot box. Once a year, all residents gather in the main square of the village and vote by show of hands. This is how the local politicians are elected and other major issues are decided.

To prove that they are eligible to vote, and thus enter the square on election day, men bring the sword that all boys in Appenzell receive on their 18th birthday. Women must instead bring a form they receive in the letterbox. However, this is a fairly recent invention. Women in Appenzell only gained the right to vote in local elections in 1991.

Appenzell torg
Once a year, the square in Appenzell is filled with dressed-up men with swords, and dressed-up women with forms ...

Coparading through the city

We were lucky enough to be in Appenzell on one of the days when the cows come back from summer grazing. The men who take care of the cows walk with them down from the mountains, in their traditional clothes. And of course they go through the town centre!

Kor Appenzell
Kor Schweiz

Cheese and other local specialities

Appenzell is of course best known for its Appenzeller cheese, but in the cheese shop we realised that there are also quite a few other alpine cheeses to choose from. Appenzell also has its own brewery and further local specialities include mineral water, filled soft gingerbread and liqueurs.

Ostar Appenzell
Not easy to choose among all the good cheeses!
Bryggeri Appenzell
Beer from the local brewery

Dinner at the Marktplatz restaurant

I Appenzellerland finns runt 600 restauranger, och med tanke på att området bara består av 26 byar betyder det i genomsnitt 23 restauranger per by! Vi åt middag på restaurang Marktplatz, och blev verkligen positivt överraskade.

As well as being served really good food, we also had a nice chat with owner Armin Weishaupt, who has lived both here and there in the world before returning to his beloved Appenzell.
Restaurang Marktplatz Appenzell

We started with a small soup each, and then continued with a veal dish each. For this we of course wanted to try beer from the local brewery, and it got a very good rating from us. Finally, there was ice cream and local liqueur. What a fantastic dinner!

Curry soup with apple chunks - we have to make this at home!
Fylld kalvschnitzel
Stuffed veal cutlet with vegetables and chips
Likör från Appenzeller
Liqueur from Appenzeller

Camping Jakobsbad

We stayed at Camping Jakobsbad, which is located just outside Appenzell. We experienced this campsite as relatively simple, but with an idyllic location with the beautiful mountains around. The only sound we heard in the evening, from a distance, was the sound of the cows barking.

Camping Appenzell

To the top of the Hoher Kasten mountain

Det finns faktiskt ännu mer att berätta om Appenzell! Innan det var dags för oss att lämna Appenzellerland körde vi till  Brülisau, där vi tog kabinbana upp till berget Hoher Kasten. Här uppifrån har man helt fantastic views in all directions. You can walk around the top, allowing you to look out in all directions.

Appenzell utsikt
utsikt alptopp

Hiking in the mountains is very popular here. Many people take the cable car up, hike a distance and then sit down at a restaurant. During the summer months, no less than 14 restaurants in the mountains are open.

Appenzell berg
Berg Appenzell

Rotating restaurant at the top

Högst upp på toppen av Hoher Kasten finns den roterande restaurangen Drehrestaurant, och här passade vi på att äta lunch. Man sätter sig vid bordet med en utsikt, och efter en halvtimme har man en helt annan utsikt. Kul! Vi bad att få det mest schweiziska på menyn, så det blev vit korv med oststuvade makaroner och äppelmos, samt ölmarinerad rostbiff med pasta. Gott och trevligt!

vit korv

This was our last destination in Switzerland, and we have now rolled on into Germany. We're planning to write a post about travelling with a motorhome in Switzerland when we get home, if that might be of interest?

roterande restaurang

Video from Appenzell, Switzerland

Peter has put together a film from Appenzell, Switzerland. Please check it out!

All our top tips about Switzerland. Click on the image!

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