Rapperswil is a town on the east side of Lake Zürich in Switzerland’s canton of St. Gallen. The lakeside location and surrounding rolling hillsides create a picturesque riviera-like feel, while the town combines history and culture with a thriving outdoor lifestyle.
Rapperswil is widely referred to as the “Town of Roses”’ or “Rosenstadt”, thanks to the 15,000 rose plants that grow in its parks and public areas. However, its beauty is not simply restricted to these colorful blooms; Rapperswil is a historic town that harks back to the Middle Ages. In the old town, or Alstadt, visitors can explore winding car-free alleyways ancient stone structures, scenic wooden bridges, and chapels—notably the wooden bridge that links Rapperswil to Hurden and its incorporated chapel, Heilig Hüsli.
The 13th-century castle Schloss Rapperswil also contributes to the town’s medieval charm. Located on a peninsula, it towers over the lake—offering panoramic views of the Alpine scenery. Another interesting facet of Rapperswil’s history is its circus connection; the town has been the headquarters of the Circus Knie since 1919. Circus Knie operates a children’s zoo on-site with over 300 different animals. Rapperswil is also ideally located for multi-day guided tours of the region.
Things to know before you go
- Varied cultural sights and wider excursion opportunities make Rapperswil a very family-friendly destination.
- The pedestrian wooden bridge that crosses the lake to Hurden is the longest of its type in Switzerland, it’s also wheelchair-accessible. *To see the roses, visit between June and October.
- At the end of June each year, Rapperswil hosts a blues and jazz festival.
How to get there
Rapperswil is easily accessible by public transport, making it ideal for day trips. Zürich is approximately a 36-minutes away by train, while the journey to St. Gallen takes under 60 minutes. Alternatively, stop off as part of an independent or guided driving tour of the region, or a boat tour of Lake Zürich.
When to get there
Rapperswil can be visited all-year-round, depending on the type of scenery and experience desired. During the warmer months, the surrounding mountains are ideal for walking and hiking During the winter the area becomes a popular ski region.
Take a Day Trip to Zürich
Take a day trip from Rapperswil to Zürich, which can be reached in less than 60 minutes by train or car. Switzerland’s second-largest city offers plenty of historical charm. Wander the picturesque winding lanes of the medieval old town, then admire Lake Zürich from the waterfront parks and promenades. There are also plenty of cultural attractions—including museums, churches, and one of Europe’s finest zoos.
- Ballenberg, Swiss Open-Air Museum
- Rhone Glacier
- Lake Brienz (Brienzersee)
- Grimsel Pass
- Grindelwald First
- Schynige Platte
- Harder Kulm
- Adventure Park Interlaken (Seilpark Interlaken)
- Wengen-Männlichen Aerial Cableway
- St. Beatus Caves (St. Beatus-Höhlen)
- Jungfraujoch Sphinx Observatory (Sphinx-Observatorium)
- Lake Thun (Thunersee)
- Aletsch Glacier