Best Things To Do in Zurich
Zurich boasts of Dadaism, more than 100 art galleries, several renowned museums (like the Museum of Art and the Swiss National Museum) and world-famous architecture, both old and new. But for those who aren't art enthusiasts, Zurich also offers a number of active pursuits that range from swimming in clean Lake Zurich (in the warm months) to hiking on nearby Uetliberg Mountain. For a more relaxed pace, there's Lindenhof. Local historic treasures include the Minster of Our Lady, Old Town and the Great Minster. And a visit to Zurich wouldn't be complete without checking out the haute-couture shopping along Bahnhofstrasse and the variety of animals housed at Zoo Zurich.
Updated July 29, 2020
- #1View all Photos#1 in Zurich1.2 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND1.2 miles to city centerFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Backing lower Lake Zurich is a tangle of parks and gardens, collectively known as the lake promenade, that make for a picturesque place to spend an afternoon. And in warm weather, the lake is peppered with boats, while the banks are filled with picnickers and sunbathers. If you're a jogger, the area is also one of Zurchers' favorite places to pound the ground.
For some of the best views of Zurich and the nearby Alps, travelers suggest taking a boat ride on the lake. One-and-a-half-hour boat tours are available throughout the year and are free for Zurich Card holders.
- #2View all Photos#2 in Zurich3.4 miles to city centerNatural Wonders, Free, Hiking, RecreationTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND3.4 miles to city centerNatural Wonders, Free, Hiking, RecreationTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Standing an impressive 2,858 feet above sea level, Uetliberg Mountain offers some of the best views of Zurich and the surrounding Alps. Once at the top, travelers will find multiple trails for hiking, biking and sledding. Paragliding at the mountain's peak is another popular pastime here.
Though traveling to and from this local attraction will set you back about an hour, visitors rave about Uetliberg Mountain's stunning views and superb hiking paths. For an educational twist on your average hike, take the mountain's Path of the Planets, which is designed to mimic the sizes of and distances between the solar system's planets. The trail stretches between Uetliberg and Felsenegg mountains and takes about two hours to complete.
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Zurich's Old Town is the historic part of town – and by historic, we mean medieval. Winding cobblestone alleys run alongside quintessential Zurich attractions like the Great Minster. You'll also find several acclaimed museums – such as the Swiss National Museum and the Museum of Art – and hotels in and around the district.
Though all of the neighborhood's buildings are worth admiring, when visiting Old Town, be sure to check out Muhlesteg Footbridge. This bridge, which is famous for its array of love locks, comes highly recommended by past travelers. But those traveling with kids should consider visiting during the day. Old Town boasts the highest concentration of nightclubs in Switzerland, which come alive once the sun goes down.
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One of Zurich's must-dos is a stroll along the sleek storefronts of Bahnhofstrasse. Stretching across Old Town from Hauptbahnhof station to Lake Zurich, Bahnhofstrasse features a variety of high-end shops, including Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Chanel and Giorgio Armani. Swiss shops like the dessert-focused Confiserie Sprungli and the jewelry-centric Gubelin AG can also be found here.
According to recent travelers, if it's budget shopping you're after, head to the Niederdorf and Langstrasse areas instead of Bahnhofstrasse. Though Bahnhofstrasse is free to visit, this shopping area is better suited for window shopping, unless you're prepared to drop some serious cash during your visit.
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With its assortment of works, some say the Museum of Art, or the Kunsthaus Zurich as it's called in German, is one of – if not the – best museums in the city. Among an interesting collection of Swiss artists, the museum also hangs works by Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Marc Chagall and Claude Monet.
While the entire museum is worth perusing, previous travelers said a visit to the top floors are a must. On the upper floors you'll find the museum's most iconic works, including Vincent van Gogh's "Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear" and Andy Warhol's "Big Torn Campbell's Soup Can." And before leaving, be sure to check out Auguste Rodin's The Gates of Hell bronze sculpture, which sits just outside the museum's entrance.
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Whether you want to play a game of chess, relax after exploring Bahnhofstrasse or take in some superb views of Old Town, the Great Minster and the Limmat River, odds are you'll appreciate Lindenhof. What was once the location of a fourth-century fort is now an elevated park with Linden trees, benches and giant chess sets.
To truly make the most of your time at Lindenhof, visitors recommend packing a picnic lunch to enjoy beneath the park's Linden trees. And remember to bring your camera since the park offers stunning city and water vistas. Keep in mind, though, that the park's elevated position means a short uphill climb is required. Once you get to the park, you'll find flat, wheelchair-friendly terrain.
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The Swiss National Museum resides within a historic, castle-like building in the northern tip of Kreis 1. The museum surveys Swiss art, history and culture from as far back as the fourth century B.C. Exhibits cover everything from medieval and religious frescoes to weapons and Swiss furniture. There are also several ornate rooms to explore during your visit.
According to many past visitors, the Swiss National Museum's architecture alone is worth seeing. However, should you decide to go inside, expect to find a comprehensive overview of Switzerland's history. To absorb all that this museum has to offer, previous travelers recommended downloading the free English audio guide from the Google or Apple app store since most of the exhibits' displays are in German.
- #8View all Photos#8 in Zurich0.7 miles to city centerFree, Churches/Religious SitesTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND0.7 miles to city centerFree, Churches/Religious SitesTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Located in Kreis 1 in the Old Town, the Great Minster church was the starting place of the Protestant Reformation in Zurich. Preacher Huldrych Zwingli initiated the movement from this austere church's pulpit. But the history of the Grossmunster goes back even further. According to local legend, Charlemagne is said to have founded this magnificent church, which is believed to sit atop the graves of the city's patron saints of Felix and Regula.
Former visitors insist that a visit to the Great Minster would not be complete without a trip to the top. You'll have to pay 4 Swiss francs (about $4) to climb the historic cathedral's stairs, but past travelers said the panoramic city views more than justify the fee. Others also recommended checking out the church's stained-glass windows and ornate bronze doors.
- #9View all Photos#9 in Zurich1.2 miles to city centerZoos and AquariumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND1.2 miles to city centerZoos and AquariumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Nestled within Kreis 7 is Zoo Zurich, where more than 380 animal species from all over the world reside. The zoo features several areas, including an elephant park, a petting zoo and a miniature rainforest.
According to past visitors, Zoo Zurich's grounds are immaculately kept and easy to navigate. Although some previous travelers bemoaned the zoo's high entrance fees, most said it's worth a visit. The zoo's international efforts to protect endangered species is another high point for animal lovers.
- #10View all Photos#10 in Zurich0.8 miles to city centerFree, Churches/Religious SitesTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND0.8 miles to city centerFree, Churches/Religious SitesTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Known to Zurchers as the Fraumunster, the Minster of Our Lady church is popular to visit thanks to its graceful spire (which tops Zurich's skyline) and its Marc Chagall stained-glass windows. The church was founded in the ninth century by Emperor Ludwig, Charlemagne's grandson, though the property's iconic spire wasn't added until 1732. And in 1970, Chagall's famous stained-glass windows were added.
Some previous visitors said the church's exterior isn't much to look at. However, most agree the interior's stained-glass windows are well worth a visit. In addition to the newer Chagall windows, some featuring designs by Augusto Giacometti, who is famously linked to the stained-glass windows at the Great Minster, are also located inside.
- View all Photos0.4 miles to city centerToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.4 miles to city centerToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
If you have a sweet tooth, then no visit to Zurich would be complete without sampling some world-renowned Swiss chocolate during a Sweet Zurich Tour. This MyKugelhopf excursion takes participants on a two-and-a-half-hour journey around the city to check out a variety of specialty shops. Some of the items you may try include chocolate-dipped hazelnuts, hot chocolate and, of course, truffles and chocolate bars.
According to past travelers, the Sweet Zurich Tour is a great way to get a taste of Zurich while learning about the city's history. Several previous visitors also praised their friendly guides, though one participant felt the tour price was too expensive.
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