The area around Lake Constance, thanks to a particularly mild climate, has allowed the development of an ancient and varied wine tradition over the centuries. This largely flat area is therefore ideal for a pleasant walk in spring, summer and even autumn, when the vineyards on the hillsides change their colours and get ready for winter. In this article we discover this wonderful region by following the vineyard path from Oberneunforn to Frauenfeld. Along the way, we will also visit the ancient Ittingen Charterhouse and its gardens!
We love... the Thurgau Wine Trail!
The very first warm days of spring make us want to stay outdoors and get back to nature. That’s why we decided to take advantage of the long Easter weekend to plan a break around Lake Constance, between Switzerland and Germany, visiting Schaffhausen and the impressive Rhine Falls, the flower island of Mainau and the small village of Meersburg. However, among the many things to do and see in the area, we couldn’t miss a day outdoors! So we decided to explore the wine trail from Oberneunforn to Frauenfeld. This approximately 14 km route leads through the hills of vineyards of the area and offers a magnificent view of the Thur valley and the Alps in the distance. On the way, we also made a short stop at the ancient Ittingen Charterhouse to visit its gardens and the small shop with local products and handicrafts. So, here is our itinerary and some useful tips!
Arriving by public transport
The route we propose is easily accessible by public transport. Starting from the major Swiss cities, we suggest you reach Zurich station and from there continue to Andelfingen with the train S12. From Andelfingen, Postbus number 605 will take you to the stop “Oberneunforn, Dorf”, where our route begins. For travellers coming from Bern, a good alternative is the direct train to Freuenfeld. Here, you can either take bus 822 to “Oberneunforn, Gemeindehaus” or simply start the hike from there and walk the route in the opposite direction.
Tickets and travel options can be found through the SBB website or the SBB App, which we still recommend you use to check schedules and line operations.
Arriving by car
The route we propose can also be reached by car, but we strongly recommend that you choose public transport. There are no parking spaces around the starting point of the route, the bus stop “Oberneunforn, Dorf”. So, if you really can’t do without a car, we recommend walking the route in the opposite direction starting from the area around Freuenfeld train station, where there are several parking options. Another option is to shorten the route by about an hour and walk from the Ittingen Charterhouse, where there is a large car park. Of course, as this is a linear route, in both cases you will need to carefully plan your return journey by public transport in order to reach your starting point and get your car back.
Hike overview & map
The hike we propose is a linear route that starts at the train stop “Oberneunforn, Dorf” and, following a well-marked and almost entirely flat hiking trail, reaches the Freuenfeld train station, where it ends. About halfway along the route, you will come across the former Ittingen Charterhouse, where you can take a short break and visit the small shop with local products and handicrafts. The route is about 14.5 km long, but it is quite easy and can be covered in just under 4 hours. Along the route there are a couple of restaurants or, alternatively, several shaded benches where you can eat your picnic lunch. With the exception of those inside the Charterhouse of Ittingen, we did not encounter any public toilets.
From Oberneunforn to the Restaurant Aussicht in Iselisberg
The Post bus 605 takes us to the bus stop “Oberneunforn, Dorf”. The day is sunny but a little colder and windier than expected. So we are looking forward to starting our walk to warm up a bit! From the bus stop, the path is well marked and you will have no difficulty in following it. But if you are looking for a landmark to get your way, then look up and look for the white bell tower of the small local church. The Kirchgasse, which passes in front of it, is in fact the starting point of our walk! From there, it’s just under 100 meters to the right and then left along Fahrhofstrasse, an asphalt road surrounded by cultivated fields. The hiking trail begins just 500 metres further on, at the end of this road. Here starts the official route, a gravel path surrounded by forest on the left and sloping vineyards on the right. In the background, the wide valley of the Thur river and the snow-covered Alps! What a beauty! We continue for about one and a half kilometres, when the forest on our left begins to thin out and gives space to a wide valley. From here we continue along a road surrounded by multi-coloured fields: some freshly mowed, some emerald green and others yellow due to the blossoming rapeseed. Not surprisingly, this section of the trail is probably the one that gave us the best shots! Three and a half kilometers further on, the official path continues to the right, but we are a little hungry and decide to follow the signs to the Restaurant Aussicht in Iselisberg, which can be reached by a short diversions. The restaurant, with its colorful outdoor terrace, is adorable. We really fell in love with it! You can opt for a coffee, a cake, a drink or a light lunch. The products are all local and, as far as possible, produced directly on the farm. So if you come to this area, don’t miss the chance to have lunch here, especially on a sunny day!
From Iselisberg to the Ittingen Charterhouse
Well satisfied with lunch and rested, we continue our walk towards the second stage of our excursion: the Ittingen Charterhouse. After leaving the terrace of the Restaurant Aussicht, a road leads downhill to the official hiking trail. From this point, the vineyards begin to give way to wide meadows, flower-filled fields and blossoming fruit trees.
Just one and a half kilometers later, the path enters a dense wood and emerges after another kilometers and a half. We then reach the large car park of the Ittingen Charterhouse, which is already visible from the forest. To enter the Charterhouse, we cross the car park and use the side entrance.
The Charterhouse, the oldest part of which seems to date back to the 12th century, is a truly fascinating place. However, don’t expect to meet monks or religious people in its gardens! Today it houses an hotel, a seminar centre, the Restaurant Mühle and a small shop selling local products such as cheese, wine, beer and handicrafts. But the Charterhouse is also one of the region’s major cultural centres and houses the Art Museum of Canton Thurgau, the Ittinger Museum (which allows you to learn about the history of the place and visit its ancient rooms and facilities) and various cultural events and concerts in spring and summer.
We suggest to plan about one hour to visit the indoor and outdoor areas and about half an hour if you decide to opt for visiting only the gardens and outdoor areas. The garden is open during the day and can be visited free of charge, while the other structures, as well as the small shop, have opening times that can vary according to the season. You can find them at this link. For admission to the indoor areas (Art Museum of Canton Thurgau and Ittinger Museum) you must of course purchase a ticket (CHF 10.00 / adult).
From Ittingen Charterhouse to Freuenfeld
We leave the Ittingen Charterhouse by the main entrance and follow the path to our left. Here, a large cultivation of flowering fruit trees hides the Carthusian monastery and its historic buildings. Approximately 250 metres later, the path turns right and begins a rapid descent towards the Thur river, which we reach one and a half kilometers later and cross over a road bridge. Once over the bridge, a long walk begins along the edge of a water channel to Freuenfeld. With a bit of luck, you may encounter some beavers here, or at least recognise their tracks in the trees! To reach the station in Freuenfeld you have to walk about two and a half kilometers on level ground. But be careful, as the path is also a cycle path and is quite busy on public holidays.
If you’re planning to combine this hike with a visit to the area, perhaps staying overnight in the region, we recommend Hotel-Restaurant Schloss Schwandegg in Waltalingen. This old castle, which has been renovated and converted for hospitality, offers good accommodation and above all an excellent restaurant and friendly, knowledgeable staff. The hotel, which we also chose as our base for this hike, is easily reached by public transport from Freuenfeld at the end of the hike.
You can’t walk the wine trail and not try the excellent local wines! So if you have time, we recommend a visit to the Keller Winery in Waltalingen, which is normally open from Monday to Saturday, and a tasting of the excellent white wine produced from the ancient vineyards that grow around the castle!