Due to renovation work on the island Ufnau, the island will be closed from 29th August 2016 to (probably) May 2018.
Ufnau Island belongs to the municipality of Freienbach SZ and to Einsiedeln Abbey. The island is situated in a conservation zone and in the moorland area of Frauenwinkel. It only has an area of 11 hectares but is nevertheless home to a remarkable variety of animals and plant life. The low-level moor in the east of the island is a conservation area, all the other areas - woods, meadows and vineyard - are protected landscape areas.
The contemplative path leads from the stopping place for regular boat services along the western side of the island. You can let your gaze linger over the idyllic lakeside landscape or sweep over the meadow towards the vineyard and the two churches on the island. The walk even goes through the woods along the shore and up to the jetty in the south of the island. From there you can make your way to the centre of the island with its licensed house and on up to St. Peter and Paul's church. The path is wheelchair-accessible.
In the early Middle Ages the island of Ufnau was the mother parish of the surrounding lake regions, which gradually broke away from it in the 13th/14th centuries to become independent parishes. St. Martin's Chapel was built in the 7th/8th century and the Peter and Paul parish church in the 12th century.
Kaiser Otto received the island as part of a swap with Säckingen Abbey and donated it to Einsiedeln Abbey in 965. Napoleon expropriated the monasteries during his passage through Switzerland. Ufnau Island was assigned to the canton of Linth, newly created by Napoleon. Since the island was a burden for the canton, it was sold off at an auction. The Rapperswil Curti family acquired the island for 4000 guldens and later gave it back to Einsiedeln Abbey.
During Corpus Christi, the inhabitants of Rapperswil paraded in a procession with boats around the city and to Ufnau Island. A service is still held today on the island during Corpus Christi.
In 1523 the German humanist and reformer Ulrich von Hutten was secretly brought to the island. He was seeking help from the secular priest and healer Klarer.
The secular priest could not do anything else to treat him and prevent his death. So he was obliged to lay him to rest in a hurry since if the presence of the notorious reformer on Ufnau Island became known this would at the very least have cost the priest his job, if not his life.
Ufnau Island can be reached every day (from April to October) on scheduled boat services. You can consult the timetable here.
The restaurant opens daily. It serves fried fish nuggets, salads, grilled food and other dishes. In bad weather it is closed on Monday afternoons after 4.00 pm and the whole of Tuesday. For reservations and information call +41 55 410 12 25.
The Rapperswil-Jona Tourist Information office organises guided tours of the island. They last around three hours and cost CHF 260.00 for a group of up to 20 persons.