Art in the afternoon
St. Gallen’s baroque Abbey Cathedral is one of the most beautiful sights in the city, but this summer, you might find yourself paying more attention to the sounds. Since 2004, open-air operas have been performed against the stunning backdrop of the Abbey from the last weekend of June to the first weekend in July. This year’s repertoire consists of two Verdi works, Attila and Requiem. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the cathedral is just a five-minute walk away from the Radisson Blu Hotel St Gallen and also boasts a historic library with an unrivalled collection of mediaeval literature.
This cosy restaurant in St. Gallen’s old town is beloved by locals and returning visitors alike, so tables here are highly sought after. Even in a town famous for fondue, their selection is impressive, ranging from simple Appenzeller cheese with fresh herbs to a more adventurous cheese with mushroom and Kirsch. The bread is freshly baked on the premises – patrons seated at the bar can even watch it coming out of the oven. If you’re planning to visit, it’s best to book well in advance.
The chocolate factory
There are two leading lights of Swiss cuisine: fondue and chocolate. After covering one, it would be unfair to neglect the other. St. Gallen has plenty of boutique chocolate shops, but true devotees should drive the 20 minutes to the picturesque town of Flawil, home of the Maestrani chocolate factory. Guided tours are scheduled every Wednesday, but if you’re happy wandering by yourself you can visit any day from Monday to Saturday.
With a museum dedicated solely to beer bottles, you’d expect to find some stellar breweries in this city. If you follow the locals to Birreria, you won’t be disappointed. Don’t be put off by the heavy rock music blaring out of the speakers: this is the coolest place in town at the moment. They have a huge selection of beers from around the world as well as local brews, while non-beer drinkers can work their way through an extensive cocktail menu.
With the Appenzell Alps ever-present on the horizon, every visitor to St. Gallen really should venture into the mountains at least once. Even less active types can take a cable-car ride up to the top of Mount Säntis, with panoramic views at the top stretching out over six different countries. However, once you’ve explored the Alps to your heart’s content, don’t be surprised if you find yourself returning to the peaceful city of St. Gallen.