Despite being the biggest city of Switzerland Zurich may seem rather small when compared to other major cities. Yet – or precisely for this reason – it is a metropolis worth visiting as it combines the buzz of the big city with the charm of a provincial town. Despite being the urban heart of Switzerland, nature is never far away in Zurich. This allows you to combine the “big city life” with relaxing trips to green spots during your stay.
Where to go and what to see
The Bahnhofstrasse (1) leads from the main station to the Paradeplatz and is lined with shops that sell expensive watches, designer clothes and other luxury goods. This is where the rich and the famous do their shopping. But don’t worry, you can also find your international high street brands and some department stores also.
Paradeplatz is a (2) square at the Bahnhofstrasse where the headquarters of the major Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse are located. If you have a sweet toth, you should try Confiserie Sprüngli, which is a famous Swiss chocolatier. Its hot chocolate is one of the best.
Ready for a stroll? The old town is situated along the lower part of the river “Limmat”. On the west side of the river you’ll find many small alleyways with beautiful houses and little shops of all sorts. Don’t miss the “Lindenhof” (3), a small hill where you have a great view over the city. The “Niederdörfli” (4) is located on the east side of the river. This is the part where you’ll encounter most of the tourists. Take some time to explore and head slightly off the beaten track. You’ll discover quaint houses in the midst of astonishingly green winding alleys.
Right in front of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) lies the Polyterrasse (5). It is a well-known viewpoint where you can get a view over the old town of Zurich. You can reach it easily with the cable car “Polybahn”. If you have time, take a peek inside the building also.
On the lake of Zurich many different kinds of boat cruises are offered (6). You can choose between short round trips of about 1,5 hours and a complete trip around the lake (4 hours). There are also Limmat river cruises on offer (7).
The Kunsthaus (1) accommodates one of the most important art collections in Switzerland. Munch, Picasso, Monet, Chagall and Van Gogh are a selection of the artists whose works are on display. You’ll also find works of many well-known Swiss artists like Alberto Giacometti, Giovanni Segantini or Ferdinand Hodler.
The National Museum (2) houses an exhibition about Swiss history from its origins to the present day. The collection is located in a big, impressive castle-like building right next to the main station.
The Museum Rietberg (3) is a museum for non-European cultures exhibiting an internationally renowned collection of art from Asia, Africa and Ancient America. It is located in the midst of a big park where you can enjoy a picnic after your visit.
Zurich has a big zoo (1) with animals from all around the globe. The newly built elephant house is especially impressive.
The Üetliberg (2) is Zurich’s landmark mountain (altitude: 870 meter). You can reach it easily by train and enjoy a wonderful view over Zurich. If you feel up to it, you can hike the way back to town. Just choose one of the many options on the signposts.
In the botanical garden (3) you’ll find a variety of plants, both open-air and in glasshouses. A beautiful place to relax and take a rest from the city’s hustle and bustle. The succulent plant collection (4) lies on the other side of the lake and houses an astonishing assemblage of cacti and other plants that thrive in arid conditions. gratis
Where to eat
Hiltl (1) is the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world. It serves a broad range of excellent vegetarian and vegan food. You can either choose a la carte dining or help yourself at the huge buffet. $$-$$$
Tibits (2) is associated with Hiltl and offers a self-service vegetarian/vegan buffet. $
Samses (3) is located in the Langstrasse and has the best vegan cheese burgers in Zurich on offer. On its menu you’ll find many vegetarian/vegan delicacies or you can arrange your own plate at the buffet. On weekends, you should book a table. $$
Maison Blunt (4) serves Morrocon food and is well known for its delicious mezze. Reservation recommended. $$
D-Vino (5) is actually a wine bar but they also have a few dishes on offer which you can combine with a big choice of wine from all over the world. $$
For a quick lunch try “Not guilty” (6). It offers a wide range of fresh salads and soups. Many of the ingredients are organic, therefore, rather fitting is its name. $
Where to have a drink
The Langstrasse (1) is where party folks meet. Just pick one of the many bars: for example Casablanca, Riff Raff or Bar 3000. Many bar are also to be found in the “Niederdörfli” (4).
The Urania (2) is an observatory and a bar at the same time. After enjoying a guided tour, you can sip your cocktail with a view over the roofs of Zurich.
The Clouds (3) is located in the largest skyscraper of Zurich. The view is spectacular, regardless of the time of day.
Public transport in Zurich is very well developed. Trams and buses will take you virtually everywhere. A ticket within the city area (zone 110) is valid for 1 hour and costs 4.30 CHF. If you use public transport several times a day, you should buy a day pass for 8.60 CHF which is valid for 24 hours. If you want to visit a few museums, consider buying the ZurichCARD for 24 (24 CHF) or 72 hours (48 CHF). It is not only valid for public transport but also gives you free entry to many museums in Zurich.
*All prices correct at the time of publishing.
Written by Nathalie Hutter