Top 20 Things To Do in St. Gallen 2018
In St. Gallen, history unfolds at every step. The capital city of the Canton with the same name, St. Gallen makes justice to the northern side of Switzerland, welcoming its visitors with impressive views and an abundant culture. Whether you’re looking for sightseeing activities, charming architecture, entertainment or inspiration, this Swiss city of St. Gallen is a great choice.
The official language in St. Gallen and the Canton is German in its Swiss variety. However, most of the 160,000 inhabitants speak a local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect. But don’t be scared if you don’t know German. Most of the locals also speak English so you will be able to easily get around without any problems.
Lying close to the Austrian and German borders, St. Gallen isn’t what you’d call a famous Swiss city. While everybody has heard of Zurich or Geneva, not many are bound to have heard of the city of St. Gallen in Switzerland. But that’s okay, since this is your chance to discover a diamond in the rough and enjoy it without the hustle and bustle of a heavily touristic city. Thus, once you’re done with enjoying what it has to offer, St. Gallen can also become a great base city for taking trips to nearby attractions.
Consider spending around 5 to 7 days in St. Gallen to truly have time to enjoy the sights and discover all the nice attractions that are hidden in the Swiss City and all around the Canton. You can stay at the Oberwaid Hotel St Gallen and enjoy resort-like experiences that will further relax and enchant you with breathtaking views over Lake Constance and views of Austria & Germany. We promise, you’ll have a great time! To make sure of that, we’ve prepared a list of the top 20 things to do in St. Gallen and in the canton, combining activities for all ages and all types of personalities. So, let’s begin the countdown! To St. Gallen!
1. The Convent of St. Gallen and Abbey Library
If we were to choose a single attraction that was most representative to the Swiss city of St. Gallen, that would definitely be the St. Gallen Abbey Convent with its world-famous library. Both the convent and the library have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1983 and continue to impress visitors with their architecture and history.
The Convent of St. Gallen is the perfect place where you can come to enjoy divine organ concerts or simply admire the splendid Baroque architecture. Full of embellishments, it vividly complements the exquisitely carved wooded interior and gives one time to contemplate, reaching spirituality through design.
On the other hand, the crown jewel of the Swiss city of St. Gallen can easily be considered the Abbey Library. Winning the title of “one of the most beautiful libraries in the world”, it impresses both through its Rococo interior decorations and thorough its stunning book collection and invaluable manuscripts, dating as back as the 8th century. Opening hours are from 10:00 to 17:00, Monday to Sunday.
2. Altstadt (St. Gallen Old Town)
If you want to grasp the Swiss essence of St. Gallen and a concentrated taste of Switzerland, its Altstadt, meaning its Old Town Centre, will let you in all the local tastes. Swirling vivid streets, bustling squares, charming coffee shops and boutiques, all await discovery. The entire area is traffic-free, so you will be able to enjoy it all without any bother.
St. Gallen Old Town is perfect for just admiring the colourfully painted oriel windows and the various architecture that unites what was once centuries away. Don’t hesitate to take your time and
take it all in. Sit down at one of the cosy cafes and sip from your favourite beverage as you admire passer by’s. Time will just fly by in the most pleasant way, as you discover the lovely streets of St. Gallen and its charming architecture.
If you’re more of the organised type and don’t really care much about wandering around in discovery, you can go for one of the walking tours organised by the city. These usually take around 2 hours and they will walk you through the most important sights in St. Gallen’s Old Town, including Abbey Cathedral and Library.
3. Wildpark Peter & Paul
One cannot say Switzerland without thinking about hiking and all its glory. And St. Gallen Canton isn’t any different from any other Cantons in Switzerland. So make sure to pack your hiking shoes, as the Wildpark Peter and Paul in St. Gallen awaits you with some pretty amazing trekking paths and local animal-spotting.
The wild-life in St. Gallen’s Wildpark is diverse and fascinating, including species such as the ibex, chamois, lynx, wildcat, deer, wild boar and many other. The park is set in a prealpine landscape that is bound to offer you fascinating views on various hiking paths.
The Wildpark in St. Gallen also has a building that houses informative and interactive materials about the animals residing in the park. In addition, it also puts on display animal-related items such as horns, antiers and hides. So, whenever you’re too tired of walking around in the beautiful nature (we doubt it you will be), come inside for a taste of what you’re missing.
4. Textilemuseum St. Gallen
Also located in St. Gallen’s Old Town, the Textile Museum occupies the “Plazzo Rosso” and gathers a large collection of hand and machine embroideries from Eastern Switzerland, as well as antique fabrics brought from Egipt and lace and fabric prints from all over Europe. A stop at the Textilemuseum in St. Gallen will walk you through the history of fabrics from the Middle Ages up until our present times, showing you both Switzerland’s heritage as well as the world’s.
But the Textilemuseum St. Gallen is more than just a stop and wonder location. Instead, you can actually start embroidering by yourself. Yes, with a needle and thread. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it sounds. The staff at the museum will walk you through the basic so that you’re able to participate in a collective piece of art that’s crowdsourced at the museum by creating a small personal piece or embroidering your initials.
As you can see, a visit at the Textilemuseum St. Gallen is going to teach you both theory and practice, making for a rather surprising and exciting experience.
5. Kunstmuseum St. Gallen
Once you’re done delighting yourself with the architectural art and other outdoor masterpieces, it’s time to step inside to meet the celebrated works from Swiss, German, French and other European artists.
The Kunstmuseum St. Gallen hosts pieces of art that have enchanted people from the late Middle Ages up until the 20th century. As you can imagine, the collections are massive and highly impressive, inviting guests to stroll among centuries of fine art and admire the works of
Renaissance Masters and Impressionism adepts. Come meet Rembrandt, Delacroix, Camille Corot, Monet, Ferdinand Hodler, Max Libermann and many others in the charming city of St. Gallen.
The Kunstmuseum St. Gallen is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm, and it stays open until 8 pm every Wednesday.
6. Naturmuseum St. Gallen
A visit in the Canton of St. Gallen wouldn’t be complete without getting closer to nature. So, no matter how old you, we’re guarantee that you’re going to enjoy a visit at the Naturmuseum St. Gallen. This museum has something interesting for all ages and offer a great interactive chance for the audience to discover the local flora and fauna, all brought together in 2000 square meters. Here, Switzerland’s natural scenery and landscape information will be available for more in-depth knowledge acquisition for all ages.
Wondering what you’ll be able to see here? How about the impressive duck-billed dinosaur fossilised skeleton? Or maybe the glittering minerals and rocks that speak about the landscape and geological history of Switzerland? What’s more, you’ll also be able to indulge your eyes and mind with great technical inventions and energy sources.
Thus, we highly recommend you take a walk in time and the history of Switzerland natural beauty by seeing what the Naturmuseum St. Gallen has to offer: birds, indigenous mammals, plants, insects and also exhibitions of rocks, cartography, prehistoric life, dinosaur skeletons and much more. All in the wonderful canton of St. Gallen, in it’s capital city. Switzerland is truly filled with surprises!
7. Walter Zoo
Who said Switzerland must be filled with serious activities? Here, in St. Gallen and in the entire Canton, fun is always a step away. And at the Walter Zoo, families can have a blast. Adults and kids alike will enjoy seeing hundreds of animal species from all over the world in some of the most modern facilities out there. Even if you’re miles away from the jungle, you’ll be able to gaze at chimpanzees and exotic animals right here, in St. Gallen, Switzerland.
The little ones will definitely have the times of their lives at playgrounds and at the petting zoo, meeting the adorable animals and learning more about them. The Walter Zoo in St. Gallen also offers kids pony and camel rides. And the best thing? Tiger playtime! And as if all these activities weren’t enough, from April to October, the Circus holds fairy tales presentations starting 3 pm daily, except Fridays.
The Walter Zoo also offers numerous opportunities for visitors of St. Gallen to enjoy a delicious barbeque in the specially designed pits which lay in the midst of gorgeous green fields. Here, you’ll get to enjoy the famous Switzerland landscapes, relax and truly admire the St. Gallen Canton and its charming Swiss Capital City.
8. Lake Constance
Switzerland and the majestic Alps are almost synonymous. In the Canton of St. Gallen, the imposing backdrop of these mountains make for stunning sights and wonderful opportunities to trek and cycle. And one of the best cycling trips you could take is the one in search of the wonderful views on Lake Constance.
Lake Constance lies at the northern foot of the Alps and gathers three bodied of water: Obersee (Uper Lake Constance), Untersee (Lower Lake Constance) and a connecting stretch of the Rhine, called the Seerhein. it has Swiss, Austrian and German borders and it is one of the most impressive in Europe. Lake Constance is almost 24 km away from St. Gallen, and for bike aficionados, this makes for a lovely circuit.
If you’re not a big fan of cycling, you can opt for one of the numerous tours that leave from St. Gallen, or even board a bus or train to the nearest town at Lake Constance, Rorschach, also located in the Canton of St. Gallen.
A visit at Lake Constance or in its proximity is guaranteed to offer you some picture-perfect views and a majestic look at the great Alps and the Canton of St. Galley. So when you visit the Swiss city of St. Gallen, don’t restrict yourself to its perimeter, but dare to venture beyond. The sights will be more than worth it!
9. Schützengarten Brewery in St. Gallen
By now, if you will have visited all the places recommended, you’ll be well-deserving of a Swiss beer. And what better one than right from the oldest brewery in Switzerland? Located on Snakt Jakob-Strasse in St. Gallen, the Schützengarten Brewery still produces award winning beers from IPAs to typical German wheat beers and schwarzbiers.
If you’re thirsty for some knowledge, you can join one of the daily tours in German and learn more about the facility and its processes. Once you have more understanding regarding how the brew is brought to perfection, you can also have a loot at the beer bottle museum, which gathers an exhibit of over 3000 bottles from 140 different Swiss beer-makers, as well as antique clay vessels.
Be sure to check the opening hours prior to your arrival, as usually the brewery is closed between lunch hours for a short break.
10. Roter Platz
A visit to St. Gallen should definitely also include Roter Platz, as it is a platz unlike any other. When you first hear about it, it seems like just another office dash shopping area, but listen a little longer and it will become clear that it is anything but.
Actually, Roter Platz resembles more a modern living room. And that is exactly what multimedia artist Pipilotti Rist and architect Carlos Martinez had in mind when they came up with the concept. The platz is covered with red rubber granules and furnished with comfy sofas, chairs, tables, loungers and even a Porsche. Illuminated by ornate luminaries, the plaza is an innovative and truly novel spot, which attracts people of all ages. It can easily be a playground for kids, a relaxing spot for people working near-by and a hip place for youngster gatherings.
So, if you’re into something completely different, allow St. Gallen to introduce you to a new scenery, totally unlike everything else in Switzerland. You’ll be able to relax in a way you have not experienced before, while also mingling in with the locals.
11. St. Laurenzen Kirche
In German, Kirche means Church, thus St. Laurenzen Kirche is the German equivalent of St. Lawrence Church. This Holy place is worth a visit both for its impressive neo-Gothic architecture, but also for the top view over St. Gallen from its tower.
St. Lawrence Church was built in the 15th century, but it under went a reconstruction process in the 19th century, obtaining its present neo-Gothic elements. You can simply plan a visit to admire the well-crafted interior and find a corner of peace, or you can opt to complete the experience with one of the tours of the tower, which are held twice a day, from 10 am and from 3 pm. The most amazing part of the tower tour is the view from the top, which promises to be breathtaking, offering you a complete view over the Old Town, the Abbey Precinct and the whole of St. Gallen that is. And, if you look far away in the distance, you’ll even glimpse at the borders of the Canton.
So when you arrive in St. Gallen, if time allows, include the St. Laurenzen Kirsche on your itinerary. You won’t regret it!
12. Theater St. Gallen
The Theatre in St. Gallen is known as the oldest professional theatre in Switzerland, being a significant part of the Swiss heritage and bearing great importance to inhabitants. Today, the Theatre St. Gallen is a flourishing performing arts centre that offers opera, musical, ballet and theatre shows. It is the only multifunctional venue in the Canton and even Eastern Switzerland, so it gathers a lot of visitors and performance art lovers.
The theatre was initially created by Benedictine monks in the Middle Ages, but has only begun to win in popularity starting the year 18010 when it became professional.
You can simply pay a visit to view the Paillard building which hosts it, located in the museum district, or you can even chose to book tickets at one of the performances, for a more local night. Shows are usually held in German. Theater St. Gallen also hosts shows for children and also has a second venue opened from 2010 at the locomotive depot.
13. Drei Weiren
Drei Weieren, meaning Three Ponds when translated from German, is a great public recreation spot, right in the middle of the city of St. Gallen. The ponds offer a great way to spend the time in the summer, gathering locals who wish to swim and enjoy some quality time. Initially build in the 17th century for the monastery needs and their art nouveau bath houses, the ponds are not open to all. Out of the 5 original ones, only 4 remain today.
If you happen to arrive or visit St. Gallen in the summer months, you can make a well deserve stop at Drei Weiren and enjoy the nice pond landscape, which follows the southern slope of the city. Here, you can enjoy captivating views of the city and also have a blast with a splash, while finding out about the artificial ponds’ historic origins.
The winter months are also nice on the Buebenweiher pond, as when the weather is cold enough, it transforms into a beautiful ice-skating parlor. So grab your skate shoes and bring the whole family for some good old fun in the heart of St. Gallen!
14. Botanical Garden St. Gallen
The Botanical Garden in St. Gallen offers its visitors access to more than 8,00 labelled plants originating from the entire Globe. If you’re passionate about biology or just a nature lover, the
Botanical Garden will keep you entertained and relaxed for hours, just walking among its exhibitions. You can also opt for a tour with a botanical term and dig more into the world of plants.
The Botanical Garden in St. Gallen, more than being an exhibition centre, also focuses on education, allowing visitors to learn more about botanical issues. All public tours are held on the first Sunday of every month at 10.15 am and 3.15 pm.
This is a perfect attraction for those looking for some well deserved relaxation in a beautiful and fascinating environment in St. Gallen, one that does justice to Switzerland.
15. OpenAir St. Gallen 2018
Start 28th of June until the 1st of July, St. Gallen will become a sizzling scene for one of Europe’s biggest rock and electronic music festivals. OpenAir St. Gallen was first organized in 1977 and its popularity only grew in size since. Today, it gathers impressive young crowds and world-renown bands and DJs, being recognised as the most successful festival in Switzerland.
The OpenAir St. Gallen festival is more than a lively music scene, as it also prides itself with a high commitment to sustainability. Its attendees are forward thinking people, environmentally conscious, who share these values through their love for live music and respect for nature.
If you happen to be in St. Gallen during the festival’s period, it’s well worth paying a visit and enjoying yourself with the modern tunes. or, who knows, maybe you’ll even plan a holiday to St. Gallen specifically for this.
16. AFG Arena in St. Gallen
The AFG Arena in St. Gallen is comprised out of two main attractions: the Kybunpark stadium and a shopping area, emerging as a spot that can satisfy the entire family.
The Kybunpark is a modern multi-use stadium which is mostly used for the Swiss Super League games, but it also hosts numerous other sports events and even concerts. With a capacity of 20,000 people, the construction finished in 2008 was specifically built to replace the less modern Espenmoos stadium in St. Gallen.
The shopping venue at AFG Arena offers various shops, both of international brands and of more local producers, making for a pleasant experience, even if you’re just looking to window shop. This is St. Gallen’s main shopping location and it gathers a mix of locals and tourists alike.
17. START Summit 2018
While St. Gallen is amazing for visiting heritage sites and admiring historic architecture, it is also a place where the future happens. So, if you’re earning for something a little bit more up-paced, the Start Summit 2018 might be the place for you.
Start Summit 2018 truly stands out amongst Europe’s conferences, putting Swiss entrepreneurship on the map. With more than 2000 participants, the event will be taking place on the 15th and 16th of March. Gathering relevant stakeholders and tech aficionados, it is an event that speaks about innovation and future possibilities in St. Gallen, Switzerland, Europe and the world.
Whether you want to be directly involved in the event or simply want to expose yourself to new and intriguing ideas and technology. the Start Summit St. Gallen is a great opportunity for you to gain a fresh perspective.
18. Säntispark St. Gallen
Just 15 minutes away from St. Gallen, Säntispark is a leisure spot where you’ll be able to find all the sports facilities your heart could desire: from badminton to mini-gold, squash, tennis, bowling, darts, billiard, air-hockey and many more, along side great swimming pool areas and water slides.
Säntispark near St. Gallen is easily accessible by public bus, allowing for a short and pleasant ride. Located in the Canton of St. Gallen, in Abtwil, the leisure park invites its guests to fun and games, no matter the season. The swimming pools are nicely warmed and allow for a great dip even in the winter months. Here, kids and adults alike can enjoy water splashing fun on a 110 m canyon and various water slides. For those who are looking for a more relaxed experience, the wellness area awaits with spa treatments and great massages. On the other hand, if you want to get back in shape, go right ahead at the fitness facilities and work it out!
No matter what your favourite activity is, it’s pretty certain that you’ll find something to suit your taste at Säntispark. So don’t limit yourself to the premises of St. Gallen city, as the Canton has a lot of great activities to entertain you with as well.
19. Maestrani Chocolate Factory St. Gallen
Located in the Canton of St. Gallen, just 20 minutes away from the city of St. Gallen, this chocolate factory is a dream born in the Swiss Chocolate heaven. And if you’ve ever tasted even a tiny bite of Swiss Chocolate, you know that it’s true nirvana.
Located in Flawil, the Maestrani Chocolate Factory will introduce you into the secrets of chocolate making in Switzerland, every Wednesday afternoon from March through November. You can go for the guided tours and learn exactly how the exquisite chocolate is created, or you can simply opt for just tasting the varieties of chocolates available here, among other popular delicacies. And since it’s all sourced directly from the fabric, the prices will delight you as well.
20. Appenzell Cheese Dairy St. Gallen
Cheese and Switzerland go together like no other. Thus, being in St. Gallen and not having a bite of the deliciousness of the Swiss Cheese is unconceivable. Just board a bus from St. Gallen and head towards Stein, to discover how cheese makers use age-old customs combined with top-notch technologies to create amazing cheese specialties.
Located in the Canton of St. Gallen, Stein is a lovely little city where cheese magic works its wonders. Try some of the stunning local specialties and try all sorts of varieties, while also learning more about the science behind. Who knew cheese could be so fascinating? it can be in St. Gallen!
New experiences await in St Gallen…
So there you have it, the top 20 things that will keep you (and your friends and family) highly entertained in St. Gallen and the canton of St. Gallen. And to make sure you’ll have the best stay in this charming Swiss city, we recommend you book your accommodation at the Oberwaid Hotel in St Gallen. Here you’ll enjoy stunning amenities and exquisite service, complementing your holiday in St. Gallen with luxury and utter relaxation. The facility awaits you with a top-of the art wellness
centre that uses traditional Swiss techniques, as well as a brilliant restaurant where you will be able to enjoy the most amazing local delicacies that are favourites in the canton, as well as
international food. Located in St. Gallen’s outskirts, in a serene location, the hotel will offer you the oasis of silence you’ve been dreaming of.
St. Gallen is waiting for you, alongside the greatness of the Alps, the local delicacies and overall relaxing and exciting activities. Allow yourself to enjoy a vacation that mixes tradition with nature and modern activities. Choose St. Gallen and discover Switzerland from a new and exciting perspective!