Things to See and Do in Zurich, Switzerland
The first place I take a visitor from out of town is to Winterthur; a treasure trove of art, history and nature. The sixth-largest city in Switzerland, Zurich boasts internationally renowned art collections. Winterthur is a mixture of urban flair and small-town charm.
If you are interested in typical Zurich, Swiss cuisine, try Zürcher Geschnetzeltes.
I’ll bet you’ve never gone sunbathing at “Unterer Letten” river bath. This place has great atmosphere and is directly on the Limmat. Then go jump into Lake Zurich.
For complete quiet, visit Üetliberg. Zurich’s local “mountain” towers at 871 meters above sea level over the roofs of Zürich. The mountain offers an impressive panoramic view of Zurich, the lake and the Alps of Switzerland.
Did you know that Zuirch has a large zoo? Only a few centimeters / inches separate the typical Zürich climate from the tropical humidity of the Masoala rainforest. Approximately 4,000 animals from all over the world live on almost 69 acres in Switzerland’s Zoo Zürich.
If you dine at Restaurant Gnüsserei, order the Zürcher Geschnetzeltes. The restaurant is housed in a foundry. For a good cup of coffee or Swiss hot chocolate go to the Café Conditorei Schober – Péclard Zurich.
Contemporary Design in Zürich
Freitag, Fabric Frontline, En Soie, Alprausch, Amok, Beach Mountain, Christa de Carouge, Fidelio, Fidelio 2, Rabatt, Stefi Talman, Asphalt, Hausfink, Könix, Götte Optik, Neumarkt 17, Wohnbedarf, Saus & Braus, Littershark trash cans
Attractive Design From Past Eras
Aladin Antik, Bogen 33, Second-Hand Designer Store, Echo Artdeco, Hannibal Wohnladen, Timetunnel, Zürich Museum of Design, Bellerive Museum, Le Corbusier Center – Heidi Weber House, Haus Konstruktiv, Zürich Architectural Forum, Winterthur Museum of Commerce, Institute for History and Theory of Architecture at the Federal Institute of Technology Zürich
Design Bars & Restaurants
Angkor, Labor Bar, LaSalle, Kronenhalle Bar, Onyx Bar, Widder Bar, Ginger, Kafischnaps, Nine
Swiss Design Hotels
Al Porto, Du Théâtre, Greulich, Lady’s First, Plattenhof, Sorell Hotel Zürichberg, Wellenberg
Manor department store is the place for cheap food & drinks at the Manora Restaurant. You may also go to the Appunto Take Away.
For a huge splurge, I go to Widder Restaurant by Alexander Kroll. Awarded with 15 Gault Millau points, Alexander Kroll has been the executive chef de cuisine at Widder Restaurant, located in the heart of Zurich’s historic district since May 2009.
Kronenhalle is a legendary restaurant famed for its guests and its art collection. Diners go here to see and be seen. Zürcher Geschnetzeltes simply tastes twice as good sitting under a genuine Varlin or a Picasso! Chocolate lovers take note, this place serves the best chocolate mousse in Zürich.
In Zurich walk to the top of Grossmünster. According to legend, Charlemagne discovered the graves of the city’s martyrs Felix and Regula and had a church built as a choristers’ cloister on the spot. Construction work on the present building began around 1100.
The most random thing about Zürich is the Street Parade. The parade attracts hundreds of thousands of dance enthusiasts to the Zürich lake basin every year. The parade, in its 18th year, is a colorful mix of mobiles, live performances by top DJs, international stars and demonstrations. Today, the Street Parade is still a demonstration open to everyone who would like to enter into the Spirit of Street Parade, dancing to electronic music.
Every year, the guilds of Zürich and the general public celebrate their traditional spring festival: the Sechseläuten. The celebrations start on Sunday with a colorful children’s procession. This is followed by the main festival on Monday: People in historical guild costumes, 500 horses, 30 marching bands, together with 50 carriages and coaches, parade through the city centre to Sechseläuten-Platz on Lake Zürich. There, at 6 p.m. a pile of wood, on which the ‘Böögg’ – a symbolic snowman – sits enthroned, is set on fire. The quicker his head catches fire and explodes, the finer the summer should be.
In Zürich an active day outdoors involves walking or hiking on the beautiful walking roads.
My favorite walking route is the Zürichsee-Rundweg The landscape surrounding Lake Zurich is a site to behold.
The Planet Trail on the Uetliberg is a solar system trail from Uetliberg to Felsenegg with panoramic views over Zürich.
Zurich’s best museum is Swiss National Museum Zürich. This is a great museum for kids and adults. The Swiss National Museum was built by Gustav Gull in 1898, next to the Main Train Station. Here, culture and public transportation rub shoulders with each other: the National Museum houses Switzerland’s most comprehensive collection of artifacts pertaining to its cultural heritage, while the Main Train Station is the largest in the country. The over 100-year old museum building is reminiscent of a fairytale castle. Surrounded by towers, the courtyard is a unique venue for events such as Live on Ice in the winter and Live at Sunset in the summer.
While visitors outside enjoy the arts, the past comes to life indoors. How did earlier generations live, think and feel? Their material legacy – from handicrafts to ordinary everyday objects – provide us with answers, from the prehistoric age right through to the present day. The National Museum also stages special exhibitions on topics relevant to society, thus offering a temporary change in perspective.
Free admission with the ZürichCARD.
For a night of dancing, go to Mascotte. Zürich’s oldest nightclub has been reborn. The club above the Corso cinema offers views over the lake. Free admission with the ZürichCARD.
Take Away and Happy Beck are the spots for late night dining. Happy Beck is the only bakery in Zürich that is open 24/7 and located at Langstrasse.
To find out what’s going on a night or on weekends, read Züri Tipp or 20 Minuten.
Barfussbar in the Frauenbadi – or women’s swimming pool
Men are permitted to enter the Frauenbadi in the evening. In the Barfussbar, you can enjoy a cool drink in a special atmosphere. Please note: shoes must be handed in at the entrance. Barfussbar slippers are available to keep your feet warm. Only women swim here by day, but men are welcome once evening falls. The Barfuss Bar is a barefoot zone in the wooden facility complete with its own unique atmosphere of lights in the heart of the Old Town. On “Cultural Wednesday”, concerts, TheatersportsTM and readings are on the program.
Rimini-Bar (in der Männerbadi)
By day, the Flussbad Schanzengraben, by night the Riminibar. Here, guests chill out on oriental cushions and enjoy specialties grilled on the spit and cool drinks. Flirting is on the program while the atmospheric green light makes dappled reflections in the water. The Mon-day market takes place every Monday evening from May to August, attracting trendy visitors with a colorful mixture of stands selling second-hand and Zürich labels. Zürich’s young creative scene meets here. An evening visit to the open-air bar on the Schanzengraben and you will feel like you are on holiday. Grillades and salads available, you do the grilling. When it rains, Rimini is closed.
In the fall you should visit Kunstmuseum. International works of significance include many paintings by Edvard Munch, Van Gogh, Picasso and leading Expressionists. There is also a significant group of works by Claude Monet and Marc Chagall. Amongst modern artistic trends represented by Rothko, Merz, Twombly, Beuys, Bacon and Baselitz the visitors can discover a wide choice of Popart works. An audio guide gives background information on 200 «highlights» of the collection. Free admission with the ZürichCARD.
In the winter you should go to the magical Christmas Markets of Zürich. Be captivated by Zürich’s Christmas atmosphere. Come see the romantic side of the city on the River Limmat. Learn from locals how to experience 72 unforgettable hours, and present the highlights of Christmas in and around Zürich.
A hidden gem in Zurich is Fraumünster Church with the Chagall windows. Fraumünster Church was founded in 853 by King Louis the German, this church with its convent was inhabited by the female members of the aristocracy of southern Germany. It enjoyed the patronage of kings and the right to mint coins in Zürich until well into the 13th century. Ownership of the church and convent passed to the city of Zürich after the Reformation. Important architectural features include the Romanesque choir and the high vaulted transept. The nave was last renovated in 1911, following on from work to heighten the north tower and remove the south tower in the 18th century. In addition to the largest organ in the canton (5,793 pipes), its most stunning jewels are the stained glass windows: those in the north transept are by Alberto Giacometti’s cousin, Augusto (1945), the five-part cycle in the choir (1970) and the rosette in the southern transept (1978) are by Marc Chagall. There is a series of frescos by Paul Bodmer in the cloister to mark the founding of the Fraumünster.
Just outside of Zurich you can visit Baden. This lively town on the River Limmat, is synonymous with Switzerland’s mineral-rich thermal springs, as well as an extensive range of cultural activities, such as international festivals, theaters, museums and the Grand.
The best way to see Zurich is via Lindenhof. Beneath this elevated square in the city center are the ruins of a Roman customs post, and a late Roman fortress. The Lindenhof is an oasis of peace and tranquility at the heart of the city, and a meeting place for passionate chess players. This spot also offers magnificent views over the old town.
If you have kids, you won’t want to miss Franz Karl Weber’s Kids Town. This is Zürich’s biggest toy store on the Bahnhofstrasse.
What are your favorite things to do in Zurich, Switzerland?
Thanks to Zurich Tourism for assistance with this post. You may also become a Facebook Fan of Zurich. Photos courtesy of Zurich Tourism. Baden, Christmas Market and Street Parade, Martin Rutschi. Swiss National Museum , Barfussbar and Winter in Zurich, Caroline Minjolle.