This daytime bus tour sweeps you around Lake Zürich and through the countryside of northern Switzerland, taking in the quintessential aspects of Alpine culture along the way. You’ll visit a Swiss chocolate outlet, tour a storied cheesemaking factory, then summit a mountain in the Appenzeller Alps for a view of four different countries. Finish the day in Appenzell, a brightly painted village that richly demonstrates the region’s traditions.
The tour heads down from Zürich’s Sihlquai bus station to the Lindt and Sprüngli outlet, then through the close-cropped grassy hills of the countryside to the Appenzeller cheese factory.
Afterward, you’ll take a cable car to the top of Hoher Kasten, where you can soak in the mountain views, then enjoy a stroll or lunch at the revolving restaurant at the summit.
The tour finishes in Appenzell, where you’ll have some free time to walk the streets among vivid traditional houses and sample more Swiss delicacies before heading back to Zürich.
Make your way to the bus station in town, then head off down the western lake shore the locals affectionately dub the Silver Coast. On your morning bus ride, you’ll be able to gaze across Lake Zürich as you approach your first destination of the day — the Lindt & Sprüngli outlet. You can take some time to find some gifts before the tour heads deeper into the northern Swiss countryside.
The ride out of the city winds around the lake and then out into increasingly rural villages and meadows, dotted with grazing cows. You can watch the landscape as it shifts from flat grazing pastures into hillier country with smaller and smaller settlements as you approach the northern edge of the mountains, known as the Appenzeller Alps.
The next stop is the Appenzell cheese factory in Stein, where one of the signature cheeses of the region is made. You’ll have a chance to taste what its makers call ‘the strongest cheese in Switzerland’ at various stages of the ageing process. A short trail through the museum will then take you on a journey of traditional cheese-making.
Fortified with strong cheese, you’ll make your way into high altitudes on the next part of your trip. From the village of Brülisau, board a gondola for a glide up to the peak of Hoher Kasten, an ascent that gives you one of the best views of the area.
From the top, you can see into Austria, France and Lichtenstein, as well as a panorama of the Alps themselves. With the weather as variable as it is, be sure to bring warm layers. Whatever the weather, there are sights that fill the senses: a grey-white sky over near-black pines, sharp sunlight pouring from a deep blue sky onto bright green slopes or snowy peaks above a valley filled with clouds.
At the summit, you can also get lunch at the revolving restaurant if you desire, or take a short walk on the footpaths, which bloom with vibrant wildflowers in the summer months.
Your tour’s descent from the mountain leads down into the village of Appenzell. With its brightly painted houses, cheesemaking pride and tradition of yodelling and alphorn playing, the town is a bastion of Swiss Alpine culture. During your free time there, you might taste a traditional sweet biscuit at a bakery or sample the local beer.
The bus returns to Zürich by 7pm.