Best things to do in Zurich
Find out more about those top places in Zurich
Set on the banks of a turquoise glacier fed River Limmat, Zurich combines sophisticated culture with a spectacular mountain setting. The city center revolves around the medieval district of Niederdorf, which is a myriad of cobbled lanes, Reformation-era cathedrals and baroque guildhalls. Beyond the charming medieval core, Zurich is one of Europe’s wealthiest cities with high-class restaurants, luxury shopping arcades and efficient public transport to rival city’s more than double its size. As Switzerland’s financial hub, the city has long been associated with dull bureaucracy but the up and coming district of Zuri-West is the city’s hidden gem with former industrial works transformed into hip art galleries and vibrant clubs giving Zurich some much-needed edge.
Set in the heart of historic Niederdorf, Zurich’s Fraumünster is one of Europe’s most celebrated churches. While it was erected in the 13th century, it rose to prominence in the late-20th century thanks to the addition of a series of dazzling stained-glass windows created by the Russian master Marc Chagall. Guided tours are available that help you explore the building’s beguiling blend of medieval and modern.
Zurich’s Kunsthaus is one of Europe’s preeminent art galleries housing works ranging from ecclesiastical medieval art to the mesmerizing sculptures of Auguste Rodin. For the best experience, tours and audio-guides are available that offer fascinating interpretations of the gallery’s most famous works.
One of Zurich’s most charming experiences is undoubtedly cruising the River Limmat. For the best experience, hop on a boat at Landesmuseum before cruising under medieval bridges and past the city’s historic core before reaching the shimmering Zurichsee.
A popular day trip from Zurich is the Rhine Falls, which are located in northern Switzerland near the town of Schaffhausen. The falls are Europe’s largest and were formed during the tectonic shifts that followed the Ice Age. Today, this natural wonder is best viewed from observation decks that protrude over the Rhine or the ramparts of the medieval Schloss Laufen.
For visitors looking for a whirlwind tour of Swiss history, there is no better place is stop than the Landesmuseum. Housed in a purpose-built castle, the museum houses artifacts ranging from Switzerland’s prehistory right through to the present day. Guided tours of the vast museum are available that offer a fascinating insight into the collection and the building itself.
The near-1000 meters tall mountain of Uetliberg sits right on Zurich’s doorstep and makes for one of the easiest and most rewarding day trips from the city. In the summer the hillsides are crisscrossed by various hiking trails and charming beer gardens provide ice-cold refreshments while in the winter it transforms into a snow-sports mecca. Atop the summit is Aussichtsturm, an observation tower with remarkable views across the city.
Towering over Zurich’s Altstadt is the Romanesque Grossmünster, one of the city’s most iconic attractions. Built between the 12th and 13th centuries the church sits atop another place of worship, which was allegedly used by the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne. To hear more about its fascinating history take one of the guided tours that are available throughout the day.