Known as Switzerland’s largest city and one of Europe’s main financial and industrial capitals, Zurich is well-known in economic and cultural terms. It’s also good to note that Zurich has a lot to offer to tourists. There’s the alpine mountains, the narrow alleys and quirky shops, the museums and renaissance buildings just to name a few. Before booking that flight to Switzerland, here is a list of some of the things you can do when you decide to have fun in Zurich.
Walk down Bahnofstrasse
This is a street popular with visitors as it is known as one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world. Walking down this 1200-meter street gives you a glimpse of how the rich and famous live – with underground bank vaults and elite shops that sell anything you can imagine. The lower half of the street (starting from the main train station), is filled with usual high street brands. Most of the luxury brands are located at the upper end of the street, close to the head of the lake. Take notice of the fountains, public art, trees and distinguished buildings that add to the look and ambience of this busy street.
Eat Swiss food
Source: Michael Lauridsen
One of the first dishes you have to try in Zurich is fondue – one of the most recognized and most delicious Swiss dishes. This was invented as a way to use stale bread and aged cheese in the cold winter when fresh produce was unavailable.Visit one of the many shops that offer fondue or go on a cheese fondue cruise along the lake. If you’re a vegetarian, don’t miss the chance to eat at the world’s oldest vegetarian restaurant. Hiltl has over 500 dishes when you choose to either order from the ala carte restaurant or try the buffet. Just remember that every gram will count in the buffet as they weigh your food to determine the cost of your meal. To end on a sweet note, don’t forget to pass by ConfiserieSprungli, the confectioner’s café that is a favorite of locals and tourists. Feast your eyes on truffles (made fresh everyday), bonbons, cakes and their signature macarons called Luxemburgerli. Thirsty? Quench your thirst by drinking from one of over 1200 unique fountains located around the city. No need to purchase bottled water as these fountains spew drinkable water 24 hours a day. Just stick your bottle or cup under the stream of water, and there you have it!
Explore the Old Town
Source: Dennis Jarvis
If you want to see old-school European architecture and purchase traditional Swiss products, then a few hours in Alstadt is what you need. Stroll through the narrow cobbled streets, view the 19th century buildings and walk uphill to Lindenhof park to get a glimpse of the city. You can also visit St. Peter’s Church which stands on a little hill south of Lindenhof. This is the oldest parish church in Zurich that has a mix of Romanesque and Baroque architecture. Don’t pass up the chance to see the world famous Chagall windows at Fraumunster Church. This is a set of five stained glass windows, created by Marc Chagall, that bathe the chapel in a rainbow of light. Each window depicts a different Christian story which makes it one of Zurich’s most popular tourist attractions.
Take a train up Uetliberg
Located in the southwest portion of Zurich, Uetliberg is the most northerly summit of the Albis ridge and it rises to an altitude of 871 meters. Take the Uetlibergbahn, a mountain railroad, from the main station to the upper station where it is a 10-minute walk to the summit. Spend time at the observation point to see the best views of Zurich and get panoramic photos from all directions. If you visit during the daytime, you get a view across the Valais, Bernese and Glarus Alps with the Black Forest to the north and the Santis to the east. You can opt to take a cable car down to Adliswil to get even more photo-worthy scenes to end the mountain adventure.
Go museum hopping
There are a handful of museums that you can visit in Zurich. You can start with the BelleriveMusuem that houses the broad collections of applied arts from various historical periods. There are works of modern ceramics, textiles, marionettes by 20th century artists, even a collection of 200 historic musical instruments. Visit the Swiss National Museum, a castle-like building that showcases the cultural history of Switzerland. It has the most important collection of Swiss historic and cultural artifacts – more than 820,00 of them. This museum features everything from medieval to religious frescoes, weapons and Swiss clockmaking dating back to the 4th century BC. Cap off the museum tour with a stop at Kunsthaus. This is one of Europe’s top art museums which is run by the Zurich Society of Arts It has large collections of works by several artists like Van Gogh, Monet and Chagall. Expect to find a whole series of rooms dedicated to Alberto Giacometti, a Swiss artist and sculptor.
Visit Zurich Zoo
Source: Michael Bernath
Considered by travel experts as one of the top zoos in Europe, Zurich zoo has more than 2000 animals and 360 different species from many geographic areas. Animals live as close to their own environments as possible – with snow leopards amid the Himalayan landscape, penguins swimming in chilly water, and flying foxes situated in a canopy walk amid 13,000 square meter of tropical rainforest.
Soak in a thermal spa
Get pure relaxation when you decide to spend a few hours in Thermalbad& Spa, where the water varies from 35 to 41 degrees Celsius. It is located in an old brewery and you can either choose to soak in the wooden tubs of the thermal baths, take in the view from the rooftop pool, or have an Irish-Roman spa ritual – complete with steam baths and shallow pools. Take note that it gets crowded on weekends, so make it a point to arrive early.
Hop on a boat
Ride one of the flat boats at Limmatschiffahrt to get a different view of the city – from the bottom up. These boats are built to pass below the seven bridges over the Limmat and these can take up to 51 passengers. It can get crowded when the boat begins its one-hour trip at Landesmuseum station, so make sure to check departure times and arrive early. Make it a romantic dinner cruise by boarding one of the Dreamboats. Take your pick of fondue, barbecue or vegetarian as you depart from Burkliplatz. Food and a good view of the city – a perfect way to end a fun trip to Zurich.