Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland, located on the shores of the sparkling lake of the same name. It is an influential financial center with the highest standard of living in the world. By train from Zurich’s main railway station, you can reach the mountain peaks in a matter of minutes and enjoy the fresh, clear air.
The Old Town (Altstadt) is home to Zurich’s main attractions, branded luxury shops and trendy nightclubs. Altstadt is the historic center of the city, which is divided in half by the Limmat River, which flows out of Lake Zurich.
The long, crescent-shaped lake stretches from the wooded peaks of the Pfannenstiel in the west to the Alpine chain in the east. There are many ways to get to know the lake better.
Lovers of leisurely walks will find it interesting to walk around the Seefeld quarter, which is located along the picturesque eastern coast. If you look towards Mount Uetliberg, you can watch hundreds of yachts and other boats sailing on the lake in summer.
The three-kilometer walk starts from Bellevue Street and ends in the Tiefenbrunnen area. This is just one of the many hiking trails built around the lake in the 1880s.
Address: Lake Zurich, Switzerland.
A unique art museum is located on Heimplatz next to the theater. It contains works of art from the 1200s to the 2000s. The museum is especially proud of the world’s largest collection of works by the outstanding Swiss artist of the 20th century, Albert Giacometti.
Here is a whole layer of Swiss art: paintings by the Symbolist artist Ferdinand Hodler, the novelist Heinrich Füssli (aka Henry Fuseli), as well as works by contemporary authors such as Pipilotti Rist and Peter Fischli.
The museum also displays works by artists from around the world. These include the largest collection of paintings by Edvard Munch outside of Scandinavia, selected works by Van Gogh, Monet, Marc Chagall, Picasso and Max Beckmann, as well as renowned artists such as Rembrandt and Domenichino.
Address: Kunsthaus Zürich, Heimplatz, Zurich, Switzerland.
Altstadt (Old Town)
The historic center of Zurich is located on both sides of the Limmat river and occupies the entire district number 1. The medieval and modern streets of Altstadt concentrate all the cultural and nightlife of the city, as well as shops and shopping centers.
This is one of those places where you want to wander the neighborhood forever, bumping into cafes, quaint shops and all kinds of historical sites, including four medieval churches and the 17th century town hall.
On the right bank of the Limmat River, along the embankment, there are beautiful guild houses built in the Middle Ages. They represented unions of carpenters, merchants, spice traders and many other professions.
In the western part of Altstadt there are grandiose defensive structures of the 17th century: bastions and military fortifications of the Schanzengraben canal.
Address: Star. city, Zurich, Switzerland.
On the left bank of the Limmat, in the center of the city, there is a hill on which a Roman fortress once stood. This hill, planted with linden trees, offers views of the dense streets of Zurich’s old quarters and architectural monuments such as the Town Hall, the Grossmünster Church, the University and the Limmat Quay.
Now Lindenhof is a quiet, peaceful place, but it was once the center of city life: in the 9th century, Charles the Great’s grandson, Louis II of Germany, built a palace on the site of a Roman fortress. And even later, in 1798, the inhabitants of Zurich took an oath of allegiance to the Swiss constitution here.
Address: Lindenhof, Zurich, Switzerland.
Zurich-West (West Zurich)
The old town undoubtedly attracts the most tourists, but if you want to see modern and quirky Zurich, you should definitely visit the former industrial area in the western part of the city.
District 5, located northwest of the train station, was the center of heavy industry until the end of the 20th century. About ten years ago it was a rather dark place, but now it has changed a lot.
The main attraction in western Zurich is the former railway viaduct, whose brick arches are now filled with trendy bars, restaurants and shops.
All factories and plants were demolished, and in their place parks were laid out, cinemas and other entertainment establishments were built. Behind the Hardbrücke road bridge is another symbol of Zurich West’s renaissance – the Prime Tower, the second tallest skyscraper in Switzerland.
Address: Industriequartier, Zurich, Switzerland.
Swiss National Museum
This building houses the largest collection of historical artifacts in Switzerland. The museum tells about Swiss culture and immerses visitors in the country’s past. The tour starts with prehistoric tools and utensils and ends with works by 20th century craftsmen.
Some historical eras are given special attention, among them the medieval period and its unsurpassed Gothic art. The Renaissance Hall displays an extensive collection of wooden icons, various altars and triptychs from churches and temples throughout the country.
In the gallery you can see various areas of art and get acquainted with information about the ancient weapons of Zurich. All of this is housed in a splendid Renaissance castle built in 1898.
Address: Swiss National Museum, Museumstrasse 2, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland.
Church of Grossmunster
This Romanesque cathedral with two towers is rightfully considered the most outstanding landmark in Zurich. Initially, Grossmünster was conceived as a monastery, and its construction lasted about a hundred years: from the beginning of the 12th to the 13th century. Anyone interested in medieval architecture will be impressed by the main entrance, with its grotesque stucco columns.
The oldest part of the church, the crypt, has been preserved in its original form to this day. The walls of the church are decorated with ancient faded frescoes by Hans Leu the Elder dating back to the 1400s.
In the 16th century, Grossmünster became the center of the reformation movement organized by Ulrich Zwingli, and in 1523 the cathedral separated from the papal authority. In Grossmünster there is a museum dedicated to these historical events. The stained glass windows of the church were created by contemporary artists. The stained glass windows in the cathedral’s choir were made by the Swiss painter Alberto Giacometti and the German postmodernist Sigmar Polke.
Address: Grossmünster, Grossmünsterplatz, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland.
Zurich Zoo adheres to the principles of ethical treatment of animals and meets the highest standards. Much attention is paid in it to the development of enclosures: they are entire ecosystems that provide animals with a lot of space for movement.
Indian elephants in Kaeng Krachan Park live in an area that is as close as possible to their natural habitat. The park has underwater viewing platforms where you can watch elephants swim.
In total, the zoo features 4,000 animals belonging to 340 species, from emperor penguins to pets in the children’s zoo.
Address: Zoo Zürich, Zurichbergstrasse, Zurich, Switzerland.
Uetliberg is a mountain southwest of Zurich. Since 1875, trains run to its top from the city center. The SZU train number S10 will take you from the main station to the top in just 25 minutes. From Uetliberg station to the very peak, you can easily walk on foot.
The top offers an amazing view of Zurich, the rivers and the lake against the backdrop of the snow-capped Alps. There is also a restaurant and hotel on the top of the mountain, and day trips are organized in the forested area.
In winter, Uetliberg Peak rises above the fog that envelops the entire city, leaving only the tops of the tallest buildings in sight.
If you still have strength, you can go down the mountainside on foot, or use the cable car that connects Felsenegg and Adliswil.
Address: Uetliberg, 8143 Zurich, Switzerland.
Near the Grossmünster, on the right bank of the Limmat River, lies the young and interesting Niederdorf, or Dörfli, as the locals call it. Its closely spaced cobblestone alleys are car-free, creating a unique and cozy atmosphere.
During the day, you can wander around the fashionable boutiques and brand shops, and in the dark you can heartily have fun in the nightclubs. As for food, it is recommended to definitely try the Swiss meat – pieces of veal in wine and white sauce.
Particularly noteworthy are the traditional Péclard café and pastry shop with its old-fashioned interior and the Cabaret Voltaire nightclub, which gave birth to the avant-garde dada movement.
Address: Niederdorfstrasse, 8001 Zurich, Switzerland.
Among the luxurious villas and modern buildings of the Rieterpark is the Rietberg Museum. It features exhibitions of art and archeology from around the world. The museum contains liturgical items from the South Seas, ancient Egyptian statues, Buddhist art from East Asia, sculpture of the peoples of Africa, as well as graceful figured masks from Switzerland itself.
The museum’s huge vault contains many materials for temporary and thematic exhibitions in other cities around the world. In summer, you can buy a basket of food in the museum’s café and have a snack in the Rieterpark.
Address: Museum Rietberg, Gablerstrasse, Zurich, Switzerland.
Bahnhofstrasse shopping street
Zurich’s main shopping street is one of the most expensive shopping spots in the world. It houses the glossy windows of most of the world’s luxury brands such as Prada, Chanel, Burberry, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. Bahnhofstrasse displays all the wealth of Zurich: the street looks especially luxurious in December, when it is decorated for Christmas.
There is no car traffic, only trams run occasionally. The most prestigious shops are located on the south side in the Paradeplatz area. On Paradeplatz, you can look into the legendary café-pastry shop Sprungli, where wealthy people have come to drink coffee and eat pastries since the 19th century.
Address: Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich, Switzerland.
Beyer Watch Museum
Beneath Bayer’s watch and jewelery shop on Bahnhofstrasse, there is a fascinating museum that tells the story of timekeeping and watchmaking. There is no sign on the street that the museum is located here, but this does not affect its popularity.
At the entrance they give out a tablet, which contains information about all the museum’s watch products. The oldest watch has a history of 3400 years. Navigation instruments, pendulum clocks, intricate movements from the 16th to 17th centuries, finely crafted pocket watches and a trial version of the first quartz watch from 1960 are on display here.
Address: Uhrenmuseum Beyer Zürich, Bahnhofstrasse 31, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland.
This church was founded by Louis II of Germany, grandson of Charlemagne, in the 9th century, while most of the historic buildings in the city were built between the 12th and 15th centuries. In 2016, 800s stone masonry was excavated in the church crypt, hidden from view for more than a hundred years.
The stained glass window for Fraumünster, as well as for Grossmünster, was made by Giacometti. It is installed in the north arm of the cathedral. In 1970, Marc Chagall was commissioned to create five stained glass windows for the choir. They are called Prophets, Jacob, Christ, Jerusalem, and the Law of God.
Address: Fraumünster, Münsterhof 2, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland.
FIFA World Football Museum
If you’re not sure what else to see in Zurich, head to the new modern FIFA Football Museum. It opened in 2016 and is located in the Enge quarter. This large-scale project with a unique layout is spread over three floors. No matter how you feel about the main football organization, if you love a beautiful game, be sure to check out this museum.
The museum exposition tells about the very beginning of the history of football and documents all the world championships since 1930. The museum halls contain interesting artifacts from each FIFA championship, including a real World Cup trophy. The museum is equipped with the latest technical equipment and interactive rooms.
Multimedia materials are central to the exhibition, with the museum’s collection of over 500 videos. In the meantime, adults are keen on studying the expositions, children can play on the machines with football games.
Address: FIFA World Football Museum, Seestrasse 27, 8002 Zürich, Switzerland.
St. Peter’s Church
Like other churches in the Old Town, St. Peter’s Basilica is an old building dating back to the 8th century. The structures of the modern building belong to the period of the XII-XVIII centuries, however, under the altar, part of the foundation, dated to the 9th century, has been preserved. Interestingly, St. Peter’s Tower belongs to the city, while the nave of the church is owned by the canton of Zurich.
One of the reasons for this division is that in the past, the tower was often used as an observation post for firing. On the tower there is a huge clock with a dial about 87 meters in diameter.
This is the largest clock in Europe and can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. On the wall of the tower there is a tombstone from the 14th century, informing that Rudolf Brun, the first independent mayor of Zurich, is buried in the church.
Адрес: Parish of St. Peter and Paul, Werdstrasse 63, 8004 Zurich.
Le Corbusier Center
This museum is the last work of Le Corbusier, an influential figure in 20th century architecture. The Le Corbusier Center is located on the eastern shore of Lake Zurich in Seefeld. The pavilion embodies the idea of a “gesamtkunstwerk” – a universal work of art, such as the Dali Theater Museum in Spain.
The pavilion was Le Corbusier’s last major project: its construction was completed in 1967, two years after the death of the author. The design of the museum differs from the traditional style of the architect. Instead of the usual concrete, there is steel and brightly colored panels.
Inside are Le Corbusier’s paintings, groundbreaking sketches, drawings, sculptures, written documentation and many of his unique pieces of furniture.
Address: Pavillon Le Corbusier, Höschgasse 8, 8008 Zürich, Switzerland.
Zurich Opera House
The magnificent neoclassical opera house was built in the 1890s by the Viennese architects Fellner and Helmer. The theater is located on Sechseläutenplatz, the largest square in Zurich.
On the facade of the theater are busts of famous cultural figures, including Mozart, Wagner, Schiller, Goethe, Shakespeare and Weber. The performances of the Zurich Opera House are a huge success with the audience.
In 2014, at the International Opera Award ceremony, the theater received an award in the category “Best Opera Company”. Tours are also regularly held here, where you can see the luxurious interior of the building, made in the neo-rococo style. But the only way to experience the magical world of theater is to see one of the 250 annual opera performances featuring world-renowned conductors and opera stars.
Address: Zürich Opera House, Falkenstrasse, Zurich, Switzerland.
Botanical Garden of the University of Zurich
It is common knowledge that Zurich is a very expensive city and the Seefeld Botanical Garden is one of the few places where you don’t have to pay to enter. More than 8000 plants are on display in exhibition halls and outdoors. The Botanical Gardens can be recognized by the three dome-shaped greenhouses built in the 1970s. Each of the greenhouses maintains its own unique microclimate.
The largest building contains tropical plants, while two smaller houses grow subtropical species and savannah plants. Outside, there is an arboretum, a Mediterranean garden and themed gardens with a historic twist, where plants for paints and medicinal purposes are grown.
If at the end of the walk you would like to have a snack or a coffee – the canteen of the university is open to everyone.
Address: Botanical Garden, Zollikerstrasse, Zurich, Switzerland.
In the western part of the Old Town there is an old canal – a former city moat. It began to be made in 1642 during the Thirty Years War, and was finished only in 1678. Now, on the banks of the canal, there are almost no signs that it was once intended for the defense of the city. But sailing along this long, zigzag waterway past the former bastions, you never get tired of being amazed at the grandeur of the structure.
In the 1880s, the Schanzengraben was converted for tourist walks. To get to the lake, you need to go down the stairs from the side of the canal, two meters below the city streets. In the place where the Katz Bastion used to stand, there is a small botanical garden with an area of two hectares, with flower beds and marked trees.
Address: Schanzengraben, Zurich, Switzerland.
The Zoological Museum is another city attraction with free admission, which is within walking distance of the city center. It contains exhibits from the University Museum of Paleontology, including skeletons and stuffed animals of thousands of different animals, both living and extinct.
Not so long ago, the museum improved the conditions for family recreation, and also added the effect of presence: now you can hear the voices of 280 birds and see the most bizarre parts of insects’ bodies through a microscope. Some stuffed animals can be touched to find out how the fur of a boar or deer feels to the touch. And to attract the attention of children, a variety of quizzes are held.
Address: Zoological Museum, Karl-Schmid-Strasse 4, 8006 Zürich, Switzerland.
At Romerhof station, east of the city center, you can take an unusual one-car train that runs to the recreational area with the hotel. This recreation area is located on the lower level of the Adlisberg mountain, one of the highest peaks in the vicinity of Zurich. The line has been open since 1895 and operated as a funicular before becoming a rack railway in the 1970s.
Driving along the Dolderbahn road is an unforgettable and exhilarating experience, as the maximum slope angle during the ascent reaches 20 degrees. The ride is included with the ZürichCARD and at the end station you will be rewarded with a breathtaking panorama of the city surrounded by the lake.
Address: Dolderbahn, Römerhofplatz, Zurich, Switzerland.
Bellerive’s extensive collection is mind-boggling and makes it the most important arts and crafts museum in Switzerland. A variety of art exhibitions are devoted to different themes and present works of art and design from different periods of history.
The Bellerive Museum houses some of the most significant works of art from the Art Nouveau era, including particularly valuable ceramics. Other works of art include garments, contemporary ceramics, and handmade dolls made by 20th century artists. The museum’s collection also contains 200 historical musical instruments.
Address: Museum Bellerive, Höschgasse 3, Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland.
The Sprungli House was opened in 1856, and today the café-pastry shop on Paradeplatz is a favorite vacation spot for both locals and tourists. One has only to look at the windows, and it becomes impossible to resist the temptation to go inside.
Here you will find delicious fresh truffles, sweets, cakes and their signature macarons called “Luxemburgerli”. A retail store is located on the ground floor, while a café is located on the second floor, where you can have breakfast, lunch or a sweet dessert in an elegant setting.
Address: Confiserie Sprüngli, Paradeplatz, Bahnhofstrasse 21, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland.
Botanical Garden Collection of succulents
Zurich is home to one of the largest succulent collections in the world: more than 4500 plants of 78 species. The succulent garden contains seven greenhouses, an outdoor rockery, and cacti, agaves, aloes and cinnamon sticks of a wide variety of shapes and sizes. You can see the amazing collection of succulents for free.
Адрес: Succulents Collection, Mythenquai 88, 8002 Zurich, Швейцария.
Focus Terra Museum
This is a general education and science museum that introduces visitors to the natural resources of the planet, explains why volcanoes erupt, where gems come from, and what fossils can tell about the origin of life. In addition to everything, the museum has an earthquake simulator.
Address: FocusTerra, Sonneggstrasse, Zurich, Switzerland.
This park in atmospheric western Zurich is shaded by tall chimneys and a railway viaduct. In the green spaces of this family park, there is a fountain where children can splash, and the Josefwiese food and drink kiosk is nearby.
Address: Josefswiese, Josefstrasse 197, 8005 Zürich, Switzerland.
The Schiffbau is a symbol of the renaissance of the industrial western Zurich. The building once housed a huge factory for the production of lake steamers and, until 1992, spare parts for gas turbine engines. Then this huge building was converted into a large theater with three stages. Schiffbau also houses a trendy restaurant, and upstairs is the Moods Bar and Jazz Club.
Address: Schauspielhaus Zürich: Schiffbau, Schiffbaustrasse, Zurich, Switzerland.
Zurich Chinese Garden
The garden was donated to Zurich by the Chinese sister city of Kunming in 1993. It is dedicated to three “winter friends”: pine, bamboo and winter cherry. The park takes pride of place next to Lake Zurich and is considered one of the best Chinese gardens outside of China itself.
Address: Chinagarten Zürich, Bellerivestrasse 138, 8008 Zürich, Switzerland.
Zurich is the center of Swiss banking and one of the most expensive cities. In 2017, it was the fourth richest in the world, so this is the most suitable place to study the history of the emergence of money. The Museum of Money also features private collections that contain many unique antique coins, one of a kind.
Address: Money Museum, Hadlaubstrasse, Zurich, Switzerland.