Legend has it that Rapperswil was founded by a Duke of Altendorf. Having crossed the lake to come hunting, the Dukes dogs quickly picked up the scent of a doe. Having seen the fawns, the Duchess pleaded with the Duke to call off the hunt. The hunt off, the Duke and Duchess took lunch on top of the hill. The is said to have come to the Duchess and put her head on the Duchess' lap as a sign of thanks. The Duke took this as a sign from God and decided to build a castle on this place. A deer park stands has stood within the castle grounds since its founding in 1871.
The prominent castle houses a Polish Museum. The Castle housed the Polish National Museum from 1870 until 1927. Since 1975, the top floor of the castle has accomodated an exhibition documenting Polish contribution to western civilization.
Rapperswil has numerous places to eat and drink throughout the old town - not least along the Lake waterfront and in the main square which is dominated by the Schloss. These are the four eateries I can recommend. Rappi is very popular in the summer months when the waterfront is brimming with people - so a little patience, or a late lunch, can necessary.
La Fuente (Hauptplatz 9, CH-8640 Rapperswil) - One of the best restaraunts in Rapperswil - La Fuente does good Portugese / Spanish-style cuisine with an accompanying excellent selection of Iberian wine. In the Hauptplatz, during the summer months outdoor seating affords views of Rapperswil Castle.
Rossli (Hauptplatz 5, CH-8640 Rapperswil) - Good selection of modern dishes and daily menus. Interesting setting as half the restaurant is below street level in a converted cellar while the other half doubles up as a long thin bar. Commendable wine list with some excellent selections and outdoor seating during the summer.
Dieci (Fischmarktplatz 1, CH-8640 Rapperswil) - I'm not normally one for chain restaurants, but Dieci (Fischmarktplatz 1, CH-8640 Rapperswil) does an good line of pizza and pasta dishes. Always popular with the locals for offering decent good at commendable prices before stroll along the Rapperswil waterfront.
La Scala (Marktgasse 23, CH-8640 Rapperswil) - Meditterean cuisine on the Rapperswil waterfront. Dining upstairs on the terrace affords a good view over the waterfront and opportunities for people watching while the bar downstairs offers a variety of drinks in a mock-Classical setting. Food is generally good quality but pricier than most establishments. Good wine list.
Hotel Speer (Untere Banhofstrasse 5, 8640 Rapperswil) - When I first arrived in Switzerland, I stayed at the Hotel Speer while I found somewhere more permanent to live and have stayed there since while I was between apartments. The Hotel Speer is comfortable, affordable and very well located. It's right accross the road from Rapperswil train station and a matter of moments from the Old Town and the waterfront of Lake Zürich. The real selling point of the Hotel Speer , however, is the customer service which the Hämmerle family and their staff have perfected over years of hard work and dedication.
Hotel Schwanen (Seequai 1, CH-8640 Rapperswil) - has a decent reputation - although I've never actually stayed there. It's obvious selling point is that it's on the waterfront, but the Hotel Speer is only a couple of minutes (if that) away. If a room with a view is your thing, then the Hotel Schwanen is for you. If customer service is your thing, I can definately vouch for the Hotel Speer
Mark Sukhija is a travel and wine blogger, photographer, tourism researcher, hat-touting, white-shirt-wearing, New Zealand fantatic and eclipse chaser. Aside from at least annual visits to New Zealand, Mark has seen eclipses in South Australia (2002), Libya (2006), China (2009) and Queensland (2012). After twelve years in Switzerland, Mark moved back to London in 2012. You can follow Mark on Twitter or Facebook