Lichtensteig, Switzerland: A Charming Village Worth Exploring

Lichtensteig Guide
Last updated: April 12th, 2023

Perusing the list of the prettiest villages in Switzerland in an effort to find a quaint but charming destination for your next trip would eventually lead you to Lichtensteig. Situated in northeastern Switzerland, the village lies at a crossroads of paths that lead from Zurich, Winterthur, St. Gallen, and Vaduz in Lichtenstein.

It’s easy to reach, it boasts loads of beautiful and interesting attractions, and it’s surrounded by the gorgeous nature of northeastern Switzerland. Those are just a few reasons why this beautiful village should be at the top of your list of the best Swiss destinations, even if you manage to visit it only on a day trip from one of the bigger cities. Keep reading for more reasons to visit Lichtensteig!

History of Lichtensteig

Toggenburg Region
Toggenburg Region

The village of Lichtensteig was founded at the beginning of the 13th century by the Counts of Toggenburg. There are mentions of the village market as early as the 14th century and a confirmation of the right to hold market that was established to be from 1400. The importance of Lichtensteig as a market town only grew over the centuries, eventually leading to the establishment of a textile industry, a weekly livestock market, and six annual markets.

The markets and their importance in trade were one of the key reasons why Lichtensteg was connected to other parts of the country by railway as early as 1870.

In the early 15th century, the presence of a council made up of twelve burghers was also confirmed thanks to the letter issued by lords of Raron. This charming Swiss village is closely tied to St. Gallen Abbey. When the Abbey acquired Toggenburg in the 15th century, the village of Lichtensteig became the official seat of the abbot’s reeve. Lichtensteig’s council supported the Reformation, and the town’s churches were used equally by both Catholics and Reformed.


How to Get to Lichtensteig

The lovely village is easily accessible from most towns in northeastern Switzerland. Lichtensteig is serviced by both regional and local trains so that you can rely on the usual means of public transportation in Switzerland.

If you are able to choose the starting point of the trip, make it St. Gallen. It’s less than 40 minutes by train from the town to Lichtensteig, and you don’t have to make any train changes. It’s approximately an hour and a half from Zurich with a couple of train changes, an hour from Winterthur (with a train change in Wil), and some two hours from Vaduz in Lichtenstein.

Traveling in a personal vehicle is also an option and a much quicker one at that. It’s under an hour from each of the four cities mentioned above.

Things to See & Do in Lichtensteig

Image courtesy of Hans Nater

Toggenburger Museum

Toggenburger Museum
Toggenburger Museum – Image courtesy of Wikimedia

The village of Lichtensteg has a surprisingly rich history that dates back to the early 13th century. The Toggenburger Museum is an excellent place to visit if you want to learn more about the history of the village and the entire Toggenburg region.

The museum’s exhibits paint a very detailed picture of the culture in Toggenberg throughout the years. Some exhibits illustrate the region’s history, with evidence of settlements in the area that are more than 40,000 years old.

Other exhibits showcase the development of the region and Lichtensteig village, through the textile industry and the eventual railway construction. The museum also boasts quite a few art exhibits, as well as musical instruments that are specific to the region of Toggenburg.

The Kägi Shop

Sweet-teeth and chocolate lovers staying in Lichtensteig should make their way to the Kägi Shop as fast as they can. The store spans an area of 162 square meters, most of which is covered with chocolates and other sweets.

Original Kägi chocolates, biscuits, gift boxes, coffee bars, and even third-party items can be found at this wonderful store. The pleasant staff will allow you to try some delicious chocolates, so it should be pretty easy to decide which ones you want to take home with you.

Kägi fret chococolates in supermarket
Kägi fret chococolates in supermarket

In addition to being a Mecca for chocolate lovers in Lichtensteig, the shop also offers quite a bit of information on the production of the chocolates. You can watch informative videos while munching on their delicious products, and see exactly what goes on behind closed doors at the Kägi chocolate factory.

Fredy’s mechanisches Musikmuseum

Fredy's mechanisches Musikmuseum
© 2018 Fredy`s Mechanical Music Museum

Fredy’s mechanisches Musikmuseum is a unique museum in Lichtensteig. The focus of the museum is mechanical musical instruments that date back to the period from 1780 to 1946. There’s everything from a tiny music box to a massive organ, and you can hear the musical sounds produced by these fascinating instruments.

It’s possible to visit the museum only with a guide, and frankly, that’s the only way it should be experienced because you’ll get to learn a lot about the fabulous instruments displayed there. The entrance fee for adults is 14 CHF, and it’s worth noting that individual visitors and groups of up to five people can visit the museum only on the last weekend of the month, from April to December.

For groups of 12 people or more, it is possible to arrange a visit at any time if you just contact them in advance.

Evangelische Kirche Lichtensteig

The Evangelical church of Lichtensteig and the St. Gallus Catholic Church are both worth a quick visit while you’re strolling around the village. The churches don’t fit in that well with the architecture of the old town, which managed to find a way to establish itself on the list of Swiss National Heritages.

St. Gallus Catholic Church was constructed on the site of a former neo-gothic church. It’s a modern church and it feels out of place in a town that was founded in the 13th century. The same can be said of the Evangelical church with its white facade and sharp curves.

Nonetheless, it’s interesting to observe the architectural contrast between the newer buildings and the ancient ones in the historic center of the village, plus I’m willing to bet that the incessant sound of church bells will eventually make you want to see where they’re coming from.

Erlebniswelt Toggenburg

Erlebniswelt Toggenburg
Erlebniswelt Toggenburg – Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Erlebniswelt Toggenburg is a museum/amusement center in Lichtensteig. It’s one of the best tourist attractions in the village, especially for travelers with children. Kids will no doubt love their time in this museum, thanks to the variety of trains, robots, and Lego-style exhibits.

Adults will appreciate the craftsmanship and the time necessary to recreate some of Switzerland’s most famous landmarks in various materials. The collection of old farm machinery and motorcycles is very impressive as well, especially for those in the know.

The entrance fee to this museum is 16 CHF for adults and 8 CHF for children. The museum is open every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10:30 AM.

Where to Stay in Lichtensteig

Lichtensteig is a small village, so the geographical location of your accommodation doesn’t matter very much. No matter where you stay, you’ll be within walking distance of all the tourist attractions in the village.

That being said, it’s worth going over your options for a stay in Lichtensteig, mostly because there aren’t that many of them. Hotel Huber is pretty much your only option if you’re looking for hotels in Lichtensteig, and it’s located right in the heart of Lichtensteig’s historic center. The average price for a night in this hotel is 80 Euros per person, and that includes a delicious breakfast.

There’s also the Destimotel, but that’s a privately owned house with a couple of apartments for rent. You’ll find a few other guesthouses and private apartments in Lichtensteig, and it’s best to book them months in advance because they sell out rather quickly.

Where to Eat in Lichtensteig

Café-Conditorei Hotel Huber
Café-Conditorei Hotel Huber ©

One of the benefits of staying in Hotel Huber is easy access to their conditorei, which is doubtless the best one in Lichtensteig. The hotel boasts an excellent restaurant with staple Swiss cuisine and even better desserts. Restaurant Pfauen is close to Desimotel, and it’s another excellent restaurant with delicious international dishes.

Head to the heart of Lichtensteig’s old town and you’ll find quite a few other restaurants as well. A burger joint, a popular pizzeria, a Spanish restaurant, an Asian restaurant, and a few bistros and cafes can be found on either side of the river. Even in such a small village as Lichtensteig, the evidence of Switzerland’s culinary variety is undeniable, so it’s easy to find everything from a classic Swiss fondue to the best Italian specialties.

Best Time to Visit Lichtensteig

The best time to visit Lichtensteig is between April and October. Ideally, you would skip the summer season (June, July, and August) because it sees the largest crowds and the highest precipitation in the area. April, May, September, and October all boast pleasantly warm weather that’s perfect for exploring and sightseeing during the day, but indoor dinners with hot cups of coffee and tea in the chilly evenings.

The summer is also the wettest season in Lichtensteig, and unexpected rain showers can make it a bit difficult to stick to a planned itinerary. Winters in Lichtensteig are dry but cold. The only reason to travel to Lichtensteig in the winter is if you can manage a trip in mid-December when the Christmas market is in full swing.

Is Lichtensteig Worth Visiting?

Whether Lichtensteig is worth visiting depends on what you’re expecting to see there. If you’re dying to visit a beautiful Swiss village and you want to escape from the big cities for a couple of days, Lichtensteig is absolutely worth a visit. The impressive history of Lichtensteig and the Toggenburg region is absolutely worth exploring, and the museums and other landmarks in the village illustrate it perfectly.

On the other hand, if you prefer exploring big cities with their countless museums, shops, restaurants, and other tourist attractions, this might not be the best destination for you. Especially if you have yet to explore Switzerland’s urban centers like Geneva, Lucerne, Basel, etc.

Courtesy of Wikimedia for the image header.

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