As I watched the plumes of smoke rise from the chimnies and curl against the deep-blue sky, I couldn't have felt more relaxed, even though I felt like a walking ice block, thanks to the freezing temperatures. It was my first day in the breathtaking city of St. Gallen, Switzerland.
Known by many fashion lovers for its buoyant textile industry (St. Gallen produces embroidery for a wealth of international designers), this petite and perfectly formed town has charm in spades. From its renowned ornate bay windows ‘orioles’, which used to signify people’s wealth, to stunning historical buildings, there are an abundance of gems waiting to be found around each corner.
Must-see architectural wonders in St. Gallen include: The Abbey Cathedral of St Gallen, a Baroque masterpiece, the 15th century Church of St. Lawrence, and the Abbey Library of Saint Gall, a UNESCO World Heritage site. If more modern architecture is your thing, then ensure you visit the Pfalz of St. Gallen, home of the cellar vaults, which were converted into unique meeting rooms in 1999 by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The entrance features a spectacular modern gate with a large curved arch, that's simply screaming for an Instagram photo.
The best way to experience St. Gallen is a 1-hour guided tour of the historic old town with its romantic alleyways. When in St. Gallen, you must try a St. Galler Bratwurst - a crisply grilled sausage made from veal that's traditionally enjoyed with a 'burli' (bread roll). Afterwards, grab a legendary hot chocolate at the Chocolaterie Koelbener Cafe Pelikan, perfect for warming you up on a cold winter's day.
When it comes time to retire for the evening, if you're looking for a unique place that won't break the bank, stay at Hotel Vadian, a budget hotel that gives its proceeds to support its care home for those less fortunate.
If you have time to venture further afield during your visit, the rutral area around St. Gallen is gorgeous and perfect for those seeking outdoor pursuits, given its wonderful hiking and cycling routes that boast never-ending views over Lake Constance and the surrounding mountains.
With so much to see and do, one thing's for certain, you'll be spoilt for choice in this magical town!
For more information visit:
Key dates to visit:
The International Buskers Festival (featuring contemporary street arts): 12-13 May 2017
St. Gallen Festival (arts festival): 2017 dates TBC
St. Gallen Open Air Festival (outdoor music festival): 29 Jun- 2 July
*During my visit I was hosted by the Tourist Board of Lake Constance and Hotel Vadian
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