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8 Best Things to Do in Rapperswil, Switzerland

Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Darla Uhl

A day trip to Rapperswil is suitable for people who just want to get out of Zurich. Rapperswil is a pretty town located 30 km southeast of Zurich. Besides the old town, it has a castle and a promenade by the lake. Because of the roses in the parks, Rapperswil is also called the town of roses (Rosenstadt in German). 

Rapperswil Switzerland
Image of Obersee, Lake Zurich from Rapperswil-Hurden Bridge by TouringSwitzerland.com

The town of Rapperswil is on the border of the cantons of Schwyz, Zurich, and St. Gallen. With 26,000 residents, it’s the second biggest municipality in Lake Zurich and the canton of St. Gallen.  Although it’s part of St. Gallen, it’s closer to Zurich geographically, economically, and culturally. 

Rapperswil is a beautiful lakeside location that’s relaxing and interesting. This is the perfect mix of a small city and nature. It’s also the regional center for Obersee (Upper Lake Zurich). People can work and live here because it’s an urban area. 

1. Visit Rapperswil’s Old Town

Rapperswil Switzerland
Image of Rapperswil’s Old Town and Lake Promenade by TouringSwitzerland.com

Rapperswil’s Old Town is a relaxing place to stroll. The area is full of boutiques, restaurants, and street cafes amidst a Mediterranean vibe. Summertime is a pleasant time to eat outdoors on the busy promenade.

Along with all the restaurants and shops, you’ll see the Town Hall (Rathaus), as well as the Rapperswil Castle (Schloss Rapperswil).

There’s also a medieval church in nearby Jona called the Church of St. Dionys-Wurmsbach (Kapelle St. Dionys). There are late Gothic murals in this medieval church that have been around since 1217. 


2. Take a Dip in Lake Zurich

Rapperswil Switzerland
Image of Lake Zurich from Rapperswil by TouringSwitzerland.com

There are a lot of water activities in Rapperswil. They have a yacht club, a canoe club, and a rowing club. There are also bathing areas there, like Seebadi Rapperswil and Strandbad Stampf. Many bird species live in protected natural areas on the water.

On a beautiful day, people come here also with ships and yachts from other parts of Zurich. From Zurich’s city center, you can also travel by boat to Rapperswil.

In the summer, you’ll probably want to bring your bathing gear in case you want to take a dip. 


3. Enjoy the Mountain Views

Rapperswil Switzerland
Image of the Mountains that you can see from Rapperswil by TouringSwitzerland.com

A nice day gives you a great view of the Alps. Here are the mountains that you can view from Rapperswil Jona to the southeast: Säntis, Altmann, Wildhauser, Schafberg, Schorhüttenberg, Speer, Mattstock, Schännisberg, Unterer Buchberg, Leist, Mürtschenstock, Köppenstock, Tierberg, Bockmattli, Brünnelistock, Hohfläsch, Schienberg, Vrenelistgärtli, Ruchen, and Bächistock.


4. Check Out the Kinderzoo

Kinderzoo in Rapperswil Switzerland
Image of the Penguins at Kinderzoo Rapperswil by TouringSwitzerland.com

Rapperswil’s Kinderzoo is a cute, kid-friendly zoo that kids of all ages will enjoy. Giraffes, elephants, camels, penguins, horses, and lots more make this a memorable place to spend a few hours. Playgrounds and several dining options are also on site.

Kids may be able to ride animals (like ponies, camels, or elephants) for an additional fee and watch a show. The last time we visited, there was a bird show. You can get more information by checking the zoo’s website or brochure.


5. Embark on a Cruise to or from Rapperswil

Image of Ufenau Island near Rapperswil, Switzerland by TouringSwitzerland.com

The ship station is only 350 meters from Rapperswil’s train station. Several cruises departing from Rapperswil are offered by Zürichsee Schifffahrt & Gastro (ZSG).

  • One such cruise is along the Obersee region passing by Pfäffikon SZ, Insel Ufenau, Altendorf, Lachen SZ, and Schmerikon.
  • Another is the 2-hour Lake Zurich trip passing by Insel Ufenau, Richterswil, Wädenswil, Au, Meilen, Herrliberg, Erlenbach, Küsnacht ZH, before ending in Bürkiplatz in Zurich.
  • There is a Lake Zurich Round Trip that passes by Insel Ufenau, Pfäffikon SZ, Richterswil, Wädenswil, Männedorf, Stäfa, and Uerikon.
  • There is also Ufenau Island which you can visit with the Ufenau Shuttle.

You can usually take a cruise from spring to autumn. For more information, visit zsg.ch. 

You can read about how to get to Ufenau Island here: How to Get to Ufenau Island.


6. Take Part in the Local Events

Stock Image of Fireworks by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

As one of Lake Zurich’s largest municipalities, Rapperswil is a convenient place to host events. The following are some of the most well-known events here:

  • Fasnacht Rapperswil: The carnival period takes place typically in February every year.
  • Blues’n’jazz Rapperswil-Jona: The lake promenade is host to an annual music festival attracting international musicians. It is typically held in June.
  • Open Air Film Festival: Open-air movies are showing in the Old Town in mid-July. 
  • Seenachtsfestival: This summer festival happens every three years. Zurich, Rapperswil, and Lachen alternate hosting this festival. You can expect fireworks, music, airplane shows, and market stands.
  • Schlosslauf Rapperswil: A run along the old town and lake promenade for people of all ages. You can choose between shorter and longer tracks.
  • Christmas Market: The old town and lake promenade turn into a beautiful Christmas wonderland in December, with food and gift stands.

7. Walk along the Rapperswil – Hurden Wooden Bridge

Wooden Bridge from Hurden to Rapperswil Switzerland
Image of the Rapperswil to Hurden Wooden Bridge by TouringSwitzerland.com

Rapperswil has an 800 m-long pedestrian wooden bridge that links Hurden to Rapperswil

Lake Zurich’s first wooden footbridge dates back to the Roman Empire. During the reign of Rudolf IV, the Duke of Austria, a wooden bridge was built across the lake from 1358 to 1360. This bridge was used until 1878. 

As Switzerland’s longest wooden bridge, the reconstructed wooden footbridge was opened on 6 April 2001. A walk to the lake and the surrounding mountains, followed by a walk back, is an easy way to enjoy the scenery. 

Alternatively, you can walk to Hurden or Pfäffikon SZ, where you can take the train back to Rapperswil. 


8. Get a taste of Modern Art at Kunst(Zeug)Haus

Art at Kunst(Zeug)Haus Rapperswil
Art Exhibit at Kunst(Zeug)Haus Rapperswil from wikimedia

It’s also worth checking out the Bosshard Collection at Stiftung Kunst(Zeug)Haus. The museum has thousands of pieces of modern art from the private collection of Peter and Elisabeth Bosshard. Changing exhibits and events, plus an art cafe, make it worth a visit. 


How to Get to Rapperswil

There are excellent train connections from Rapperswil to Zurich, Winterthur, St Gallen, Chur, and Lucerne. At least six trains run each hour between Rapperswil and Zurich Hauptbahnhof. 

There are no cars allowed in the old town of Rapperswil, so you will need to park in one of the many parking houses or spots nearby.

TrainRapperswil SG
ShipRapperswil SG (See)
BusRapperswil SG, Bahnhof
Car– Parkhaus See
– City Parkhaus (Merkurstrasse 1, 8640 Rapperswil-Jona)
– Parkplatz (Tiefenaustrasse, 8640 Rapperswil-Jona)
– Parkhaus Manor (Neue Jonastrasse 20, 8640 Rapperswil-Jona)
– Parkhaus Schanz
– Parkhaus Sonnenhof (Center Sonnenhof, Zürcherstrasse 4, 8640 Rapperswil-Jona)

Final Thoughts: Rapperswil, Switzerland

Rapperswil is a beautiful town with plenty to do and beautiful views. Located at the other end of Lake Zurich, it’s also an easy excursion from Zurich city. The Rapperswil Castle, built in the 13th century, dominates the peninsula and offers a scenic view of the alpine landscape.

It gets really busy when there are big events, so parking and traffic might be a problem. It’s advisable to come by train or ship if you can. The train station and ship station are just a few steps from the old town. 

Throughout Rapperswil, you’ll find a wonderful blend of nature, history, and progress. Rapperswil is an excellent day trip for people of all ages, especially during their summer events. 

Resource

  • Rapperswil-Jona: Das Bild der Stadt. Stadtverwaltung Rapperswil-Jona.

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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.

Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.

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