Don’t know, what the top 5 things to do in Zurich are?
You’ve come to the right place to find out! Zurich, Switzerland, used to be the centre of my life for 15 years. I studied, lived and worked here. It is a great city to explore and enjoy life. You just need a bit more cash than at other places. 🙂
Explore the old city on foot
The best time to do this is from May to mid October. Start at Central and walk into Niederdorf. As you stroll along the streets, feel free to explore side alleys or to sit down somewhere to relax and drink a coffee.
After about 1 kilometre of walking more or less straight through the Niederdorfstrasse you’ll arrive at the Grossmünster, the biggest church of Zurich (see more below). Walk on and pass along the Café Odeon, where gay people like to meet, but the non-gay are also very welcome.
Bigger map view
After crossing the Quaibrücke, which marks the border between the lake of Zurich and the Limmat river you’ll arrive at the pier, where you can go on a lake cruise, if you wish. Walking on you will pass the Bauschänzli, which is another great place to sip a drink, and the ladies swimming baths, that in the night transforms into the barefoot bar, welcoming men as well. Next you will pass along the Fraumünster church, which is famous for its Chagall windows.
Just before you arrive at the place that leads onto the Gemüsebrücke, which is also worth a look, turn left into the Thermengasse to have a look at the remains of a Roman bath. Walk up the small narrowing alley to see the St. Peter church with the biggest clock face of Europe. After walking through some more alleys of Zurich old town, you’ll arrive at the Lindenhof (see more below).
Afterwards walk through the Rennweg, which marks the beginning of the Bahnhofstrasse shopping area. Then turn into Bahnhofstrasse and walk to the restaurant Zeughauskeller. Don’t forget to admire the expensive boutiques and bank buildings inbetween. The Zeughauskeller, a long time institution of Zurich, offers a huge choice of sausages, that should be eaten along with their delicious potato salad.
St. Peter church
For more information visit the tourist information centre inside the main railway station or visit the official Zurich tourism site.
Stroll along the lake of Zurich
The morning option
If you wish to enjoy the morning sun start at Bürkliplatz. After walking along the General Guisan Quai you’ll enter a park, called Arboretum, with lots of trees. At the end of it you’ll find the Enge swimming baths. You may have a swim there, if you wish. If you just want to do a short walk, turn at this point.
After crossing a not so lovely parking space you’ll see the Quai 61 club and restaurant, where the Zurich crowds like to meet for an after-work beer or meal. If you walk on you’ll arrive at the Mythenquai swimming baths. During the season you can’t walk through without paying the entrance fee, so just walk around it along the street, as there is another park behind it. If you walk even further you’ll come across a shipyard, where the official lake cruise ships are maintained. Behind the shipyard after one more lawn you’ll finally arrive at the Rote Fabrik cultural centre, that used to be a silk factory before.
The evening option
In summer time the sun doesn’t set before 8pm. So that gives you plenty of time for an afternoon/evening stroll. Start at Bellevue and mix with the crowds at the promenade where many gather on beautiful days to eat lunch or dinner, to discuss, feed the swans and ducks, etc. Further in the back you’ll find the Utoquai swimming baths, in case you feel the urge to swim and want to have a locker for your belongings. Further in the back a park area starts. First you’ll encounter a restaurant and kiosk for the small hunger. This also marks the end of the short walk.
If you walk further you’ll come across the big Blatterwiese lawn. In the back of it you’ll find a small but beautiful Chinese garden donated to Zurich by the Chinese partner city of Kunming. If you want to see the garden, you have to pay an entrance fee. Walking on you’ll find another lawn, the Zürichhorn pier and the lakeside restaurant. Behind the restaurant are the Tiefenbrunnen swimming baths with more huge lawns to relax and sunbath.
Of course both options can be done any time of the day as well.
Climb the Grossmünster
If you’re not afraid of small stone spiral stairs, climb up the public tower of the Grossmünster church and enjoy a breathtaking sight. But be warned, that during summer season the tower is just open from 10 am to 5 pm and the last chance to go up is at 4:30 pm!
The Grossmünster church was constructed between 1100 to 1220 AD and its shape and layout has been constantly changed ever since. This church was the location where the Swiss reformation started.
How to get there: See in 1 “Explore the old city on foot”
This is probably the most notorious area of Zurich. Although it has been tamed over the last 20 years, you can still encounter a fascinating mix here. Brothels, cabarets and bars, where you can encounter women of the oldest trade of the world, alternate with trendy bars and nice restaurants, where you can try foods from all over the world. And as long as you stay on Langstrasse and don’t walk too far into lonely side roads it is also perfectly safe for men and women day and night.
How to get there: Take the tram to Limmatplatz and start your walk there until you arrive at Helvetiaplatz, where you’ll find another tram station for your way back.
This historic place used to be a Roman customs fortress and nowadays is a good viewpoint to watch across the Limmat. There are guided tours showing you the Roman remains below the surface. Ask for this at the tourist information in the main railway station.
How to get there: See in 1 Explore the old city on foot
View from the Lindenhof: In the right background you can see the Grossmünster church.
- For another good viewpoint visit the Polyterrasse and access it with the historic Polybahn, that starts from Central.
- Get more informations what to do at the tourist information centre inside the main railway station.
- Go partying hardcore in Zurich West. The main area starts at the tram station “Escher Wyss Platz” and extends to the tram stations “Fischerweg” of Line 17 and “Toni-Areal” of Line 4.
- Another trendy area called “Im Viadukt” is best reached from the tram station “Dammweg” one stop before “Escher Wyss Platz”. From there just follow the Viadukt (the rail track overpass) until you see the shops and restaurants.
- Museums: There are countless of them in Zurich. For the history of Zurich and Switzerland visit the Landesmuseum right next to the main railway station.
How to get to Zurich
The Zurich airport is well connected with many international destinations. Zurich has a big main railway station with connections to many other European cities. In the proximity of the main railway station, there also is a bus terminal (opposite Limmatstrasse 23) with bus connections to many European cities, that sometimes are cheaper than the train.