Seealpsee is one of the most beautiful alpine lakes in Switzerland and can be found in the Alpstein region of Appenzell. The lake can be reached in under an hour from Wasserauen Train Station or with more strenuous hiking routes throughout Alpstein. This ease of accessibility of the Seealpsee hike and the moderate incline make it one of the most popular attractions in the Alpstein and Appenzell regions.
SEEALPSEE LAKE: THE COMPLETE GUIDE
The Seealpsee is a breathtaking natural wonder situated in the Swiss Alps, creating a picturesque ambiance like that of a fairy tale. The lake is nestled in the Alpstein range, located in the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden, and is widely recognized as one of the most exquisite mountain lakes in Switzerland. The lake’s clear waters reflect the surrounding mountain peaks, and the green pastures extend up to the shoreline. It’s an ideal destination for hiking, picnicking, and swimming during the warmer months, offering a peaceful getaway for those seeking tranquility and the unspoiled beauty of nature. For adventurous hikers, the trail leading up to the Ebenalp is challenging and rewarding, with the opportunity to visit the renowned Wildkirchli cave and the Aescher cliffside guesthouse.
I personally visited Seealpsee on three different occasions. The photos in this guide will be a mix of all three visits. Multiple visits also help to understand everything on offer and give you the best information about how to get to Seealpsee and the best time to visit.
- My first visit was in the summer when I hiked up to Ascher, Ebenalp and then down through the forest to Seealpsee. You can read that blog post here.
- The second visit was part of the ‘Alpstein 3 Lakes Hike’, which includes Samtisersee and Falensee. You can read that blog post here.
- The final visit was the final stop on my Alpstein Loop hike, which was a great way to finish my favorite overnight adventure in Switzerland.
YOU WILL ALSO LIKE MY APPENZELL HIKING GUIDE: 9 AWESOME HIKES IN APPENZELL, SWITZERLAND
HOW TO GET TO SEEALPSEE LAKE
Wasserauen Train Station is the starting point for the Seealpsee hike and is easily accessible by train or car. Wasserauen is in the northeast of Switzerland near the Liechtenstein border. Luckily, Switzerland is a relatively small country so you can reach the town of Wasserauen from most places including Zurich (2-hr journey by car). There is no major city nearby with journeys of 2+ hours from Chur, Lucerne, and Bern to reach Wasserauen. I was based in the Appenzell district when doing this hike so it was just a 15-minute train journey for me.
If you have the Swiss Half-Card you will receive a huge discount on your tickets. I bought mine when I arrived in Switzerland and it has saved me over a thousand dollars throughout my trip.
TRAIL INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE SEEALPSEE HIKE
The Seealpsee hike begins in Wasserauen for all of the possible routes. I’ll detail the most direct/popular route, and the second most direct/forest route and then touch on other possibilities to include Seealpsee in your Alpstein hiking itinerary.
- The first option is a straight shot from Wasserauen Train Station to Seealpsee. There is a paved road almost the whole way to Seealpsee. If you are at Wasserauen and follow the road you will walk on an easy route for 2.9km (searchable on Google Maps) and reach the Seealpsee Mountain Hut/Restaurant within an hour. This is a good option if you are enjoying a nice stroll, some exercise and are keen to see
- The second option is to take a left turn shortly after leaving Wasserauen and follow the forest route to Seealpsee. This is my favorite way to reach Seealpsee because you pass by a waterfall and get to explore the forest, caves, and an elevated trail rather than the straight gravel road. Look for the sign to ‘Seealpsee’ on your left shortly before leaving Wasserauen.
- The other way to reach Seealpsee is to continue on once you reach Ascher and hike down through the steep forest trail. Alternatively, you could be coming across from Bollenwees to Meglisalp and then venture down to Seealpsee. Lots of trails finish or start at Seealpsee so you can create a route that incorporates this beautiful lake into your itinerary.
SEEALPSEE LAKE HIKE: WHAT TO EXPECT
As I detailed above, the Seealpsee Lake hike can be done in a few ways. The ‘best’ direct way (in my opinion) is the forest hike which passes by a waterfall on an immersive trail beneath the trees.
The ‘regular’ direct route is still beautiful but on a paved almost path the entire way. At the end of the trail just before Seealpsee, you will get a great backdrop of the ridges and Santis as you near the lake.
The other popular option is to pass by Ascher and then hike down through the forest (number 8 on the map above). This isn’t a direct route but a great combination for a day of hiking.
Once you arrive at Seealpse, there are lots of different activities to do and places to visit at Seealpsee and you really can spend a whole day here or you could just be admiring the lake as you pass through. Below I’ll detail all of the different attractions and activities at Seealpsee.
- The Seealpsee Berghaus is a great place to stop in for a meal or a coffee. With lots of outdoor seating that has tremendous views of the lake, this is the ultimate chill-out spot in Alpstein.
- Taking a rowboat out on the lake costs just $5 for 30 minutes and you can pay at the Seealpsee Berghaus. It’s a pretty fun activity and a memory that will stick with you for a lifetime.
- Walking around the entire lake is just under 2 kilometers and is incredibly scenic. As you walk around the lake you will get different reflections, backdrops, and views so it is a great way to find your favorite spot of the Seealpsee.
- There are lots of spots for picnics on the grass and in the summer many people will even swim! Don’t be afraid to set up a spot next to the lake for a few hours and enjoy the sunshine and maybe a cold swim!
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT SEEALPSEE
- Cattle Grazing: In the summer, you might see herds of cows roaming the alpine meadows around Seealpsee. These cows spend the warmer months in the high-altitude pastures, part of the traditional Swiss practice of ‘Alpwirtschaft’, which has shaped the landscape and cultural identity of the region.
- Fishing Opportunities: While it’s common to see people swimming or boating in Seealpsee during warmer months, the lake is also home to several species of trout, making it a fantastic location for fishing.
- Guesthouse with a History: Aescher, a 170-year-old guesthouse perched on the edge of a sheer cliff high above Seealpsee, is accessible via a hiking trail from the lake. This guesthouse was made famous when featured on the cover of the National Geographic book “Destinations of a Lifetime”.
- Incredible Hiking Territory: The trail up to the Ebenalp cliff from Seealpsee passes through the Wildkirchli caves, once inhabited by prehistoric humans. After exploring the caves, you emerge to a sweeping panoramic view that includes Seealpsee.
- Inspiration for Artists: The idyllic beauty of Seealpsee has been an inspiration for many artists and photographers. The way the lake mirrors the snow-capped peaks of Alpstein, especially on a clear day, makes for a picture-perfect scene. This photogenic location attracts thousands of nature photographers and painters each year, all hoping to capture a bit of its magic.
BEST TIME TO VISIT SEEALPSEE
The best time to visit Seealpsee depends on what activities you’re interested in and your tolerance for different weather conditions.
- Summer (June to August): This is the most popular time to visit as the weather is usually warm and sunny. The lake is at its most beautiful, perfect for hiking, picnicking, and photography. The waters of the lake also warm up, making it suitable for swimming.
- Autumn (September to November): The fall season brings vibrant foliage adding a different hue to the landscape. This is also a great time for hiking and experiencing the beauty of the place as the weather is still relatively mild.
- Winter (December to February): Winters are usually quite cold and the area is blanketed in snow, turning the region into a winter wonderland. While the area is less accessible during winter, for those into winter sports, this time of year offers opportunities for snowshoeing or winter hiking.
- Spring (March to May): Spring brings with it a burst of fresh greenery and wildflowers, making it another good time for a visit, especially if you’re interested in flora.
OTHER LAKES NEARBY SEEALPSEE
The Swiss Alps are home to many breathtakingly beautiful lakes. In proximity to Seealpsee, you’ll find a few other significant bodies of water:
- Sämtisersee: Located in the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden, this mountain lake is located at the base of the Alpstein range and is a popular spot for hikers and nature lovers.
- Fählensee: This is a larger lake located to the north of Seealpsee. Surrounded by impressive mountain peaks, Fählensee is known for its turquoise water and the fantastic hiking trail that circumnavigates it.
- Lake Constance (Bodensee): A bit farther away but still within a couple of hours’ drive, Lake Constance borders Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. It’s one of the largest lakes in Europe and offers a wide variety of water activities, historical attractions, and charming towns to explore.
- Walensee: Located in the canton of St. Gallen, Walensee is a larger lake known for its deep-blue water and steep, mountainous shores. There are several beautiful hiking trails in the area and a few small, charming towns along the lake’s shores.
SWISS TRAVEL PASS or HALF-FARE CARD
OPTION 1: Buy the Swiss Half Fare Card: Switzerland trains, buses, and cable cars are EXPENSIVE! I found the best way to get around cheaply was to buy the Swiss Half-Fare Card before I arrived. It gives you 50% off every regular train, bus, and even many cable cars. It only costs $150 USD but pays itself off in just a few days with many train tickets in Switzerland costing close to $100 alone. If you are staying for more than 5 days, I suggest buying the Swiss Half-Fare Card.
OPTION 2: Buy the Swiss Travel Pass: The second option is to get the Swiss Travel Pass, which gives you unlimited train, bus, and (many) cable car rides but it’s pretty expensive at around $100 USD per day so if you don’t travel each day it isn’t worth it.
OPTION 3: Buy the FLEXI Swiss Travel Pass: The final (BEST) option is to get the FLEXI Swiss Travel Pass, which allows you to buy 8 days’ worth of transit but you can choose the night before if you want to activate the next day. That way you don’t need to travel every day to get your money’s worth, you can just activate the FLEXI Swiss Travel Pass on the days when you are doing sizeable transits. My advice is to book the Swiss Half-Fare Card or the FLEXI Swiss Travel Pass in advance before your trip so it’s ready to go when you arrive.
MY SWITZERLAND HIKING GUIDES
I spent 100 days hiking in Switzerland and created a guide for different regions around the country. You can click on one of my Switzerland hiking guides below to help you plan your trip.
- The Complete Guide: 50 AWESOME HIKES IN IN SWITZERLAND
- The Via Ferrata Guide: 4 EPIC SWITZERLAND VIA FERRATA COURSES
- Lauterbrunnen Guide: 10 AWESOME HIKES NEAR LAUTERBRUNNEN
- Interlaken Guide: 15 AWESOME HIKES IN INTERLAKEN
- Grindelwald Guide: 12 AWESOME HIKES NEAR GRINDELWALD:
- Mürren Guide: 7 AWESOME HIKES IN MURREN
- Appenzell Guide: 9 AWESOME HIKES NEAR APPENZELL
- Chur Guide: 7 AWESOME HIKES NEAR CHUR