The jaw-dropping beauty of the Swiss Alps often gives the impression of vast spaces that one has to traverse to reach a good view. But this is compact Switzerland where the mountains are right on the doorstep. With the extensive network of trains and buses of the Swiss Travel System you could be whisked from city to mountain top in double-quick time, placing you right in the midst of a picture-perfect alpine moment.
From the gateway of Zurich airport, the graceful cobble-stoned streets of pretty St Gallen are a mere hour’s ride away by train. The 1,400-year-old town is compactly laid out and made for easy exploration on foot. Lined by stately old buildings in wood and stone with charming balconies and window seats, this is the quintessential Alpine town.
St Gallen is small enough for to be visited easily on your own but if you prefer the company of a guided tour, there are one-hour walking tours of the old town which start from an inexpensive CHF12 per person.
Stadtlounge (Image credit to Rosmarie Voegtli)
You’ll find it hard to miss Red Square or Stadtlounge, where entire streets are covered in red polymer. Hang out in a quirky yet inviting large-scale outdoor living room, replete with big seating areas and curvy lamps where rounded sculptural shapes playfully revitalise the town’s public spaces.
From the hip to the spiritual, spend time spend time contemplating life beneath the delicate lace-like details of the soaring ceilings in the St Gallen Cathedral. Light, airy and almost ethereal, the Cathedral’s cool and beautiful Baroque interior is a good place for a break amid all the walking. Nearby, the hushed halls of the famed historic Abbey Library of St Gall give a good peek into thousands of intricately and beautifully hand-painted books, all painstakingly copied by the monks and scribes of hundreds of years ago. This World Heritage Site with its richly wood-panelled walls is the oldest library in Switzerland and widely considered to be among the most beautiful monastic libraries in the world.
Fashion fans make a beeline for the Textile Museum. The famed St Gallen lace, much sought after by fashion houses in Europe, is on display here, as are many interesting and colourful fashion collections.
Lake Constance (Image credit to Jamison Young)
A short scenic train ride from St Gallen brings you to Rorschach and the Forum Wurth with its collection of world-class modern art with seasonal collections such as famed sculptor Botero’s cheeky collection of Botera Sutra. But with beautiful Lake Constance nearby, the main attraction would be the serene lakeside strolls, a reminder that in Switzerland, one is never far from a postcard-worthy view.
Cover Image: Rachel Tan