Located on the opposite end of the lake from Zurich (and accessible via S-Bahn rail link), Rapperswil, the famed City of Roses, makes an excellent spring or summer day trip from Switzerland’s largest city. The town owes its nickname to its famous rose gardens, but also on hand are the Rapperswil Castle, the deer park on the Lindenhof and the picturesque Old Town perched atop a rocky hill at the bay of Kempraten.
This quiet harbor town with fantastic rooftops has a history that dates back nearly 900 years, and is a noteworthy destination even during the winter when there isn’t a rose in sight. One popular route during warmer months is to take the train for the 30-minute trip from Zurich in the morning, and then spend a leisurely day exploring the aforementioned sights and partaking in the excellent food and drink available (of particular interest is La Scala, an Italian Mediterranean restaurant famous for its fare and ambiance), before taking a lake steamer back to Zurich (note: the latter do not operate from November to March).
Parties consisting of parents and children can take a stab at amusing and entertaining both by visiting the Circus Museum (the famous Circus Knie is based in Rapperswil), and the Knie’s Kinderzoo.
Also of note is the old wooden bridge across the lake to Hurden, the harbor front, and St. John’s Church, which was originally constructed in the 13th century.