When looking for things to do an hour outside of Zurich, we discovered some hidden gems and created your Girlfriend Guide to “Following Napoleon’s Footsteps to Happiness” in Eastern Switzerland.
This summer, the convenience of discovering Switzerland by bicycle is all the rage and we took the opportunity to pick up an electric bicycle at the Kreuzlingen Bahnhof and do an independent cycle tour along Lake Constance, where it is now clear why this region is called a cyclist’s paradise.
Our first stop was the Gottlieber chocolate factory and Seecafé. Since 1928, the Gottlieber Hüppen (chocolate filled wafter rolls) have been a delicacy in Switzerland and famously enjoyed by Napoléon III and his mother, Queen Hortense Bonaparte who lived from 1817 to 1837 at the nearby Arenenberg Castle. The location was open to the public in 2005 and is the perfect stop for a coffee or lunch along the lake.
The majestic Napoleon Museum is housed in Arenenberg Castle, situated on one of the most beautiful hilltops within the region of Lake Constance. Since 1816, it was the residence of Hortense de Beauharnais, stepdaughter of Napoleon I and mother to Napoleon III, the last emperor of France. The former residence in exile is now a museum open to the public with well-preserved living situation decorated according to the style of the French empire, along with an immaculate modern gift shop.
In addition to the beautiful castle with museum where we highly recommend a guided tour for full historical value and appreciation of the details you are witnessing, there are well manicured gardens for a romantic stroll, hotel, local bistro and modern seminar and meeting rooms. The destination could be very unique for an offsite corporate event!
Zuri Girl Tip: There is a guided tour of the palace every Sunday at 14.00 from March until November. Details and opening hours can be found here.
The Bubble Hotel
One of the most unique attractions offered by Canton Thurgau is the opportunity to sleep in a Bubble Hotel! With 5 locations to choose from, we stayed overnight in the bubble hotel vis-a-vis the Seehotel Schiff Mannenbach. While one is not quite sure what to expect before arrival, we can guarantee the experience is well worth the adventure!
Essentially, there are 5 bubble hotel locations to choose from between the months of April – October. Although they are intended for two people to sleep in, if traveling as a family you can have your young child sleep with you. Upon arrival, you are escorted to the outdoor “glamping” accommodation, and given a key to a private guest room where you can store luggage, use the restroom in privacy and shower. There is truly no experience comparable to sleeping under the stars and waking up with the crack of dawn in the great outdoors.
Zuri Girl Tip: Just next door to the property we stayed at is Lago Mio Pizzeria Ristorante where the parma ham was freshly sliced and the pizza crust is baked to perfection…truly one of the best and most surprising pizzerias in Switzerland!
The next morning, we drove 30 minutes from our hotel to Kartause Ittingen – a unique cultural and seminar center situated on 66 hectares of land. Once a former monastery, the property is now home to 68 hotel rooms, 25 seminar and conference rooms (ideal for 4 – 450 participants), a unique historial museum with modern exhibitions, tranquil garden and countless cycling and walking paths for peaceful self-reflection in nature.
Zuri Girl Tip: Consider doing a private tour of the Ittinger Museum and Monestary Church. Here, you will notice how similarly the church resembles the most impressive baroque cathedral in Switzerland, the Abbey of St. Gallen, as they share the same architect.
Just 15 minutes from the border of Canton Thurgau you will find the newly opened Maestrani’s Chocolarium in Flawil. Here, they have brought to life the all encompassing experience of how happiness gets into chocolate…because we all know that chocolate makes you happy!
Beginning with an inspirational cinema quality video about the history of this family owned company and the process of chocolate production, the secret door opens to reveal a modern day “Willy Wonka” experience, complete with 100 meter long chocolate machine! Here, small and big kids alike can touch, spin, view and taste all things Minor and Munz…the two most famous brands under the Maestrani name.
Zuri Girl Tip: At the end of the tour, you can make your own bar of chocolate to take home, simply choose from white, milk or dark chocolate…or a combination of your favorites!
Zuri Girl Tip…we combined this visit to Thurgau with a visit to Rhine Falls & Schaffhausen for a full weekend getaway exploring the beautiful region that Eastern Switzerland has to offer.
UPDATE: After the publishing of this article, we discovered you can go fishing with a local fisherman in the morning, and dine in his family restaurant, the Seegarten-Ermatingen that evening and the restaurant is located near the Napoleon Museum. Definitely an idea to add to your Swiss Bucket List.
Overnight accommodation and organized city tour was generously sponsored by Switzerland Tourism