The largest city in Switzerland, Zurich is a financial powerhouse and cultural hub. Set by a shimmering lake and alpine mountains, where the great outdoors is steps away, it’s no wonder Zurich is also one of the most liveable cities in the world. For the traveler, there are many things to do in Zurich that are nothing short of fascinating and delightful. There are enough attractions to keep you occupied for at least a week! Not to mention, Zurich is a great jump off spot for other destinations in Switzerland. Without further ado, here are the best six things to do in Zurich!
1. Lake Zurich
The focal point of Zurich, its eponymous lake is a playground for the young and old, locals and visitors. The entire shore is lined with promenades and parks, where local residents visit to catch some sun, exercise, picnic, and swim in the lake. But the best way to experience Lake Zurich is by taking a boat tour. Most places around the shore have a regular boat service all year round, but the most unique ones are the two historic paddle-steamers. From the Gipfeli-Schiff (early morning sailings) to the Sonnenuntergangs-Schiff (sunset sailings), there are all kinds of special excursions available.
2. Zurich’s Old Town
Zurich’s historic heart beats on both banks of the Limmat river, and it’s one of those places where you’ll be happy to get lost in. Given its medieval background, one might be surprised to learn that today it has the highest concentration of clubs in Switzerland, as well as one of the most famous shopping miles (more on this later!) Those who want to delve more into Zurich’s history can join the guided Zurich Old Town Walking Tour. The two-hour walk uncovers the city’s past in its alleyways, picturesque squares and the Bahnhofstrasse. Find out what a ‘procession axis’ is, and visit a church with a minute-hand that jumps a record-breaking half meter every minute!
3. Zurich West
Once an industrial area, today Zurich West is one of the trendiest spots in the city. Factories have moved away, and the vast expanses of space are now reigned by creative minds. The main attraction here is the Viadukt, a stretch of boutiques and market halls beneath the railway arches running between Limmat river bank and Hardbrücke station. On the other side of the Hardbrücke, the Prime Tower stands as Switzerland’s second tallest skyscraper. Nearby, the Frau Gerolds Garten has quaint shops, a city garden and. open air restaurants. Savour cold beer and grilled sausages in summer, and enjoy piping hot fondues during winter!
4. Kunsthaus Zürich
Housing one of the most important art collections in Switzerland, the emphasis at Kunsthaus Zürich has always been on showing the highest quality works over the largest quantity. The collection spans from the Middle Ages to contemporary art, with an emphasis on Swiss art. It also houses the largest Munch collection outside of Norway, as well as the most important collection of Monet’s works outside of Paris. For any art enthusiast, the art museum should be at the top of things to do in Zurich!
For the best views over the city and Lake Zurich, head to Uetliberg. If you’re not big on hiking, you’ll be glad to know that you can catch the train from the city centre all the way up to a station on the mountain. From here, it’s just a short 10-minute walk to the summit. If you want to clock in some exercise on your holiday, there’s plenty to discover on well-marked hiking routes, a mountain bike route, and on the Planet Trail. This two-hour walk from Uetliberg to Felsenegg in Adliswil takes you on a fascinating tour through a model of our solar system. Zurich doesn’t normally get much snow, but in the winter you might be able to sledge down the Uetliberg if you’re lucky!
The 1.4km shopping street is one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world. Packed with designer brands, banks and restaurants, it’s hard to imagine that it was just city moats 150 years ago! Its lower half from the main station is lined with the usual high street brands, but the more you stroll towards the lake, the more exclusive the shops become. Bahnhofstrasse is popular with locals and visitors, and it’s always worth a visit even if you’re just window shopping. Zurich’s wealth is most evident here, and it becomes even richer when the Christmas lights and decorations are out in December.