Rapperswil, Switzerland: The Town of Roses

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Medieval buildings with arched windows, painted facades and gable roofs surrounded by rose
gardens, vineyards and a picturesque lake… sounds straight out a fairy tale, right? Well, that is
Rapperswil for you. Located just about 25 miles from the bustling city of Zurich, Rapperswil offers a kaleidoscope of sights spanning history, art, culture, nature and much more. Easily accessible by train, road and even boat, this quaint town that dates back to 5000 years ago is located at the upper end of Lake Zurich and forms for a perfect day trip from the city. Given that it is known for its utterly resplendent rose gardens, there is no time more perfect to visit Rapperswil than Valentine’s week!

Vibrant Waterfront and Promenade

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One of the best ways to travel to Rapperswil from Zurich is by a boat ride that takes about two
hours. Alighting at the waterfront after the panoramic ride, I was taken in by the charm of the
pretty waterfront and the beautiful promenade of this little town. Lined with manicured lawns
which are dotted by intriguing sculptures and statues, a walk along the waterfront is an ideal way to start your exploration of the town. Colourful benches, overflowing flower pots hung on the railings and greenery galore make the walk a pleasant one. If you are fan of water sports boating, kayaking and beach volleyball are just some of the activities you can indulge in. Fishing and birding are yet other things you can enjoy here.

Connecting Rapperswil to the village of Hurden is an 841-meter wooden bridge that is the longest in Switzerland today. This 2.4-meter-wide pedestrian bridge replaces an old walkway that was used by pilgrims in the Middle Ages. Steeped in history the vicinity is home to timber piles that date to the prehistoric period. It also houses an ancient chapel called “Heilig Hüsli” located on a tiny island as you walk towards Hurden. The views are breath-taking to say the least and the walk is an ideal escape from the urban humdrum.

On your way back you can treat yourself to some yummy food or even ice cream in any of the
several stalls that dot the waterfront. Alternatively, there are several cafes and restaurants on the promenade too where you relax and treat yourself to some food and wine before you set out to explore the old town aka Altstadt.

The Charming Old Town of Rapperswil

With oodles of southern charm, Rapperswil’s old town is full of cobbled pathways, ancient buildings, boutique restaurants and heritage vibes. Notable amongst these is the 13th century Rapperswil castle that is perched atop a hill. The second floor of the castle is now home to the unique Polish museum that houses an art gallery, documents the history of Swiss-Polish relationships and presents the Polish influences on Swiss culture. The area is replete with greenery and since it is on an elevation offers panoramic views of the lake and surrounding landscape. You can take a stroll or relax on one of the numerous benches or choose to watch deer in the park nearby; there are plenty of activities for children and adults alike. The old town is also home to the Capuchin’s monastery that was established in 1606. The monastery today belongs to the citizens of this little town.

Rose Gardens

Often known as the rose town, Rapperswil is famous for its extremely attractive rose gardens that are located in the vicinity of the Capuchin’s monastery. The garden has a whopping 16,000 rose bushes which form a colourful carpet in between the vine yards and the lake. A sight to behold these gardens form for a true compelling experience. From bright red, fuchsia, yellow, white and even double coloured species, the rose gardens are an extremely popular attraction with tourists and locals alike. There is also a special section of highly fragrant rose bushes which is actually a garden for the visually challenged. With names of the species and information boards in Braille, this thoughtfully curated garden is a true treat for the senses. These gardens are a wonderful sight and are sure to evoke a sense of joy and bliss in you making it an ideal place to visit with your loved ones.

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Rapperswil is best visited post peak winter and during the onset of the spring and summer season, for it is then that you can view the colours of nature in all its glory.

All pictures courtesy of Rashmi Gopal Rao

For more such articles by this writer, you’ll want to check out Teddy Bear Love: Teddy Bear Museum, Baden