St. Gallen Travel Guide
As Swiss cities go, visitors often fail to notice St. Gallen. But that doesn’t mean you should do the same, as this destination has much to offer. From a UNESCO World Heritage Site to amazing bratwursts, there is much to see, do, and eat here.
Begin your time in St. Gallen by paying a visit to Kathedrale St. Gallen. Since the 8th century, this cathedral served as an abbey for the Roman Catholic church. Specifically, it was a Carolingian monastery (and a rather large one at that).
So in 1983, UNESCO granted the church World Heritage status. Once you step inside, you’ll understand immediately – everywhere, you’ll find amazing Baroque design elements. Throughout, you’ll find liberal amounts of gold leaf, which adds to this attraction’s splendour. Best of all, this attraction is free of charge – an amazing break, given how pricey Switzerland is.
Within Kathedrale St. Gallen, you’ll stumble across Stiftsbibliothek – a fantastic attraction in its own right. But in the 10th century, it almost got wiped out when the church caught fire. Miraculously, the library survived, giving present-day visitors a window on the distant past.
In these stacks, you’ll find over 160,000 works. And amazingly, the library allows visitors to pull most of them off the shelves. To properly appreciate this place, but an audio guide when you arrive at the cathedral.
Check out some of Switzerland’s most decorative fabrics at Textile Museum St. Gallen. In this institution, you’ll find over 30,000 pieces of embroideries and textile art. Many come from Eastern Switzerland, but you’ll also find items from elsewhere in Europe and even Ancient Egypt.
Admission to the St. Gallen Textile Museum will set adults back 12 CHF (13.50 USD). While that may sound steep, students get a discount and the ticket itself is made of cloth!
Feel like taking in a show? See what’s playing at Theater St. Gallen. Here, you can catch plays, operas, and other performing arts acts. On average, 390 productions happen here per year, so chances are good that you’ll find something interesting happening here.
If the weather isn’t cooperating, spend some time inside Naturmuseum St. Gallen. As the name suggests, this institution is a natural history museum. Within, you’ll find exhibits that teach visitors about the geology and animal life of the area.
These include models of common creatures, like lynx and wolves. But the biggest model of all is a reconstructed skeleton of the mighty Edmontosaurus. Like the Textile Museum, admittance costs 12 CHF (13.50 USD) for adults. But children up to 16, if adults accompany them, can get in free of charge.
If you have a green thumb, be sure to make room for the St. Gallen Botanical Garden in your itinerary. For over a century, this indoor/outdoor garden complex has brought an entire world of flora to Switzerland. In all, you’ll find 8,000 different species here.
That sum includes tropical and arid plants, as greenhouses provide a biome that ensures their survival. Like Kathedrale St. Gallen, there is no admission charge to this attraction, making it attractive to those on a budget.
Want to check out some animals while in St. Gallen? Drop by Wildpark Peter & Paul during your visit. Throughout this wildlife park, you’ll find deer, wildcats, wild boars, and other animals in generous enclosures.
To walk through this park’s network of parks, give yourself 2-3 hours. And if you’re smarting at the thought of how much this will cost, don’t. This attraction does not charge an admission fee, so it’s a great spot for budget travellers.
Love art and people-watching? Combine your passions with a visit to Roter Platz. The term translates literally to “Red Square” in English. It makes sense – its creators covered this public space entirely in red. That includes benches and tables, making it a wild place to photograph.
What To Eat
At lunch, find a restaurant or street stall that sells St. Galler Bratwurst. Its crafters make this popular sausage using two types of meat – veal and pork. Then, before casing the mixture into pig intestines, they add seasonings like cardamom, coriander, and white pepper. The result is a flavourful sausage that will have you lamenting the last bite you take.
When dinner rolls around, try to find a place that serves Capuns. These are dumplings that feature dried meat at the centre of Spätzle dough and a chard leaf. Cooks then boil these pockets of flavour in gravy, and before serving, garnish them with grated cheese – yum!
As you eat your Capuns, have them with a few slices of St. Galler Brot. This is a dark/darkish bread that pairs best with fresh butter and a hearty meal. So, be sure to track some down while you’re in St. Gallen.