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Located south of Lake Constance, in the Alpstein hills is the little town of Appenzell. It is a charming place and full of well-preserved 16th century buildings, and is also an excellent base from which to explore the two nearby peaks.
Appenzell is awash with beautifully painted houses whose colourful decorations are characteristic to the region; adding to the charm of the town, the inhabitants can sometimes be seen wearing folk costumes. Appenzell is famous for its embroidery shops and baked goods. It is also the yodelling headquarters of Switzerland.
For embroidered goods, check go to the main square known as 'Landsgemeindeplatz', and also along its busy main street, Hauptgasse, but be careful of counterfeits. Genuine goods, decorated with edelweiss and made in local factories, can be found at Margreiter, Hauptgasse 29. Museum Appenzell has an interesting embroidery collection and the Appenzeller Folklore Museum is also worth a visit.
The Swiss are very keen on fitness and there are many sports facilities available to keep you busy, including: tennis and squash courts, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and therapeutic health baths.
Ebenalp and Mount Säntis are both an easy drive from the town and are ideal places for picnicking excursions. They feature some of the most dramatic mountains in eastern Switzerland and both have cable car lifts to their peaks. Mount Säntis offers a panoramic view over eastern Switzerland, including the Grisons, Lake Constance and even Lake Zurich.
Appenzell is easily accessible by car from Zurich along highway A1/E60 and route 8 south. Direct trains from Zurich take two hours and the express option goes via Gossau, where you transfer to a local train. From Zurich Airport, trains go to Effretikon, where you can change to an Appenzell train.