Lying 37km south of Zürich, the small lakefront town of Rapperswil repays a gentle afternoon's exploration and makes a pleasant day trip out of the city. Avoid the modern part of town and lose yourself in the quiet Old Town alleys, which weave around and between a succession of plazas. Prettiest is Fischmarktplatz, not least because it's open to the lake, lined with terrace cafés and has a shaded promenade alongside a little marina. A lane or two back is a Capuchin monastery dating from 1597, with, beside the main gate, a delightful walled rose-garden – one of a handful around town that support Rapperswil's moniker "City of Roses". Alleys climb to the dour thirteenth-century castle, with its small museum (April– Oct daily 1–5pm; Fr.4; Web: www.muzeum-polskie.org ) devoted to Switzerland's Polish community.
The train station stands on the edge of the Old Town; head left and cross the road to reach Fischmarktplatz, where, behind Parkhaus 1 See, is the tourist office (daily 10am–5pm; Nov– March 1–5pm; Tel:0848 811 500, Web: www.zuerichsee.ch ). The most characterful hotel is the attractive Hirschen, Fischmarktplatz 7 (Tel:055 220 61 80, Web: www.hirschen-rapperswil.ch ; Price: Fr.150–250), not far from the characterful, easygoing Jakob, Hauptplatz 11 (Tel:055 220 00 50, Web: www.jakob-hotel.ch ; Price: Fr.150-200). A little way inland near Jona is an HI hostel, Jugendherberge Busskirch, Hessenhofweg 10 (Tel:055 210 99 27, Web: www.youthhostel.ch ), with dorm beds for Fr.32.
Best restaurant is Schloss Rapperswil (Tel:055 210 18 28, Web: www.schloss-restaurant.ch ), with a fine location within the castle and outstanding fish and seafood that has won it a Michelin star; expect Fr.60 for the set lunch, Fr.140 in the evening. Marsala/San Marco, Marktgasse 21 (Tel:055 211 22 24, Web: www.san-marco-rappi.ch ), is a good, mid-priced Italian with a modern ambience, or you could opt for the convivial restaurant within the Jakob hotel on the main square.