Often disregarded for being “just a business destination”, Zurich is one of our favorite cities in Switzerland. It offers an array of world class museums, excellent hospitality, beautiful architecture at every turn, fantastic shopping, trendy food concepts, and a unique cosmopolitan liveliness which you will rarely find anywhere else in the country. But beyond the city center, there’s a whole region to explore which is often overlooked by travelers, with a number of places easy to get to by train or car, and well worth the journey either way. Here are our top three favorite day trips from Zurich.
Whether you travel by e-bike, train, boat or car, Rapperswil is just a short journey away to the other side of Lake Zurich and just like that, you find yourself exploring the gem of another canton… that of St. Gallen, to be precise. Rapperswil is a charming medieval town, famous for its castle on the hill, from which you can see all the way to the canton of Glarus. Flower lovers will also find their paradise here, with the 15’000 plants that bloom around the city from June to October every year. It’s a great little town to explore by foot, and enjoy a lovely lunch in the sun before heading back to Zurich in the late afternoon.
Just a half hour by train from Zurich’s train station, Schaffhausen is a name often known by watch enthusiasts (as it is the home to the prestigious brand IWC) but also for its world-famous Rhine Falls, Europe’s largest waterfall. Or perhaps you know it as being the only bit of Switzerland which was hit by the bombs during World War 2, as it was mistaken for being in Germany.
The car-free town is a “must” on the list for anyone interested in history and architecture, and who will be stunned by Schaffhausen’s baroque houses, German-influences and 170 oriel windows. No trip to Schaffhausen is complete without walking to the top of the Munot fortress, built in 1564, where you’ll enjoy gorgeous views over the city and its vineyards.
3.Stein Am Rhein
Our favorite find of the year, and one of the most beautiful villages we’ve ever seen. Stein am Rhein is an absolute gem, often missed by travelers in the region. You can either visit it on its own as a day trip from Zurich, or on a sunny day, why not e-bike along the scenic route from Schaffhausen? If it’s more of a lazy day you’re looking for, you can also hop on a river boat cruise that connects the two towns!
Either way, you can’t help but fall in love with its gingerbread houses, the unique art on the buildings, its romantic cobbled streets and its river promenade. And don’t miss a gourmet lunch at the Hohenklingen Castle, located up above, overlooking all this beauty. You’ll probably feel like you stepped into a fairytale, just like we did.
Insider Tip: leave a little earlier, and make time to visit Zurich’s unspoiled and dreamy wine country, with stops in the villages of Stammheim and Marthalen. There’s not myriads of things to do, but it’s just so beautiful to see.
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