Most people know Zurich only as Europe’s banking and finance hub, but it’s also a lovely and welcoming tourist destination.
From quaint streets, beautiful architecture and a peaceful lake to quirky shops, delicious chocolates and football history, there’s something for everyone.
And because Zurich is a walkable city, simply strolling around from place to place will allow you to see most of the attractions.
The Grossmünster (“Great Minister”) church is a landmark of Zurich. Standing in an open terrace above the river, this principal church dominates the city skyline with its twin towers.
According to the legend, Charlemagne (Charles the Great, King of the Franks) discovered the graves of the city’s patron saints Felix and Regula. He had a church built as a monastery on the spot and it holds their crypts till this day.
For far-reaching city views, climb the southern tower, the Karlsturm. You can get knockout views of the whole city, the lake and the Alps beyond. From the nave, you have to climb 187 steps leading up to the viewing platform. The climb usually takes 30 minutes (up and down).
Visiting the church and the tower:
Visiting the church is free, but you have to pay CHF 5 per person to climb Karlsturm (with the student’s discount CHF 2). There is no need for pre-booking, unless you’re a group of 5 or more. Audio guides are available with church tour in German, English, French, Italian and Romanesque and are included in the tower entrance.
Summer opening times: March 1 – October 31
Monday to Saturday, from 10 am to 5:30 pm
Winter opening times: November 1 – February 28
Monday to Saturday 10 am – 4.30 pm
Sunday: from 12.30 pm
You can find more information about the church on their website here.
This is one of Zurich’s most beautiful historical narrow streets.
The highlight are the many carved and colourfully painted wooden bay windows. These served not only to provide light, but also were an old-school CCTV system! That is, they provided the possibility to see who was at the door. As they were never built directly above the entrance, but slightly offset, residents could spot unwanted guests from afar and avoid them in an elegant manner.
Known as the Women’s Church, it is considered one of Zurich’s most prominent landmarks.
Founded in 853 by King Louis the German for his daughter Hildegard, the church with its convent was inhabited by the female members of the aristocracy of Europe for 700 years.
It is renowned for its beautiful five 9-metre long stained-glass windows, designed by the Russian-Jewish master Marc Chagall in the 1970s.
From November 1st to February 29th – 10 am to 5 pm
From March 1st to October 31st – 10am until 6 pm
The admission fee costs CHF 5 per person and includes the access to the crypt museum and an audio guide OR an illustrated brochure (in one of eight languages). Free entry for children up to 16 years of age, students, and apprentices.
For more information you can visit Fraumünster Church official website.
The Lindenhof Hill is located in Zurich Altstadt (Old Town) in the Lindenhof quarter. It sits approximately 25 metres above the River Limmat and you can access it only on foot through the narrow streets.
This hilltop park planted with 90 lime trees (or linden trees – hence the name) and decorated with a fountain, provides glorious views of the city. From the terrace, you can admire the Old Town, Grossmünster Church, City Hall, the Limmat river and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.
It's also a meeting point for passionate chess players, the boules players and tourists enjoying a break.
St Peterskirche is the oldest parish church in Zurich, going back to the 9th century.
The most famous feature of the church is the clock face! It measures 8.7m in diameter, making it the largest in Europe.
The church is open for visits as follows:
Monday to Friday: 8 am to 6 pm / Saturday: 10 am to 4 pm / Sunday: After the service at around 11 am to 5 pm.
Tower tours are possible on request. Please visit the church’s website if you’re interested.
It is the focal point of Zurich and a favourite playground for both tourists and locals.
The entire shore is lined with promenades and parks, always busy with skaters, cyclists, swimmers and people just out for a stroll or a picnic. Along the promenade, you can admire great views from the Bürkliplatz, at the point where the Limmat River flows from the lake.
Starting from the Bellevue area, a boardwalk goes for about 3 kilometres along the water towards Tiefenbrunnen.
About 1.5 kilometres in you will find a beautiful Zürichhorn Park, built for the National Exhibition in 1939. Here you’ll also find a restaurant and a Chinese Garden.
Another lovely spot to admire the views from is a ferry dock Zürichhorn Casino, with a long deck.
Lake Zürich’s water is very clean and its temperature during summer reach well beyond 20 °C. Therefore swimming in the public baths and beaches is very popular.
A really good way to enjoy the lake is to take a cruise! You can find a large number of companies offering passenger tours or take a ferry to some of the other towns on the lake.
From the early mornings to the sunset sailings, musical or food-themed trips, there are all kinds of special excursions available. You can find out more on the ZSG’s website.
It contains more than 820,000 of unique pieces like a large collection of silversmiths, textiles, costumes and religious wooden liturgy carvings.
The permanent exhibition, “Simply Zurich”, on the first floor of the historical part of the museum is free of charge. It shows the diversity of the City and Canton of Zurich in a playful way. At the heart of the exhibition is a display case containing 60 objects, all of which tell a story of Zurich’s rich past.
Tuesday to Wednesday: 10.00am – 5.00pm
Thursday: 10.00 am – 7.00 pm
Friday to Sunday: 10.00am – 5.00pm
The entry to the Museum costs CHF 10 for adults and CHF 8 concession. Children under 16 get in for free.
For more information about the Museum and its exhibitions you can visit the Museum’s official website.
It is Zurich’s main shopping boulevard and one of the world’s most exclusive retail strips. Stretching for 1.4 kilometres from the main train station to Lake Zurich, the street is enlivened by fountains, public art, trees and prominent buildings. It is highly pedestrianized, except for trams.
Among the more than 90 shops, you’ll find famous designer names such as Tiffany & Co., Cartier, Mont Blanc and Prada. It’s said the further south you go on Bahnhofstrasse, the more exclusive the stores become.
You can also indulge in chocolate at famous chocolatier shops, visit galleries, florists or leather goods boutiques.
Bahnhofstrasse’s architecture is a sight as well. Many of the buildings are fine examples of 19th-century grandeur. For example, Das Haus zur Trülle at Bahnhofstrasse 69, has a gloriously elaborate roof. Also, the marble Rebekka-Brunnen Fountain, located close to Lake Zurich and the 1913 facade of the Peterhof building are worth the attention.
Paradeplatz, located at the heart of the Bahnhofstrasse, is the Swiss banking centre. The two biggest Swiss banks, UBS and the Credit Suisse Group, have their headquarters there.
The square is also the site of a perilous X-crossing for trams and the renowned chocolate shop and cafe, Confiserie Sprüngli, just on the corner.
Experiencing the Swiss cuisine is a must. It is highly inspired by German, Italian and French food culture, quite rich, diverse and features distinctive tastes. Since Switzerland is also famous for its meat and milk products, there are lots of delicious dishes to taste.
The most popular dish that you have to try is, of course, a cheese fondue. It originated in Switzerland and the first recipe was written here, in Zurich!
And the city‘s chefs are very creative when it comes to presenting fondue in its best light. You can get it an open-air restaurant, on a boat, in a streetcar, a cosy chalet or even in a tuk-tuk!
Here’s a list of a few places to get your fondue fix:
You can also try another version of melted cheese, Raclette, this time served with potatoes, cornichons or pickled onions. Visit Raclette Factory to see if it’s something you like.
Let’s not forget about famous Swiss chocolate! Zurich is crowned the country’s chocolate capital, so you can find some fine treats here.
The most popular place among tourists is the renowned Confiserie Sprüngli*,*making traditional chocolates since 1836. While there you can also taste the Luxemburgerli – colourful macaroons!
Spread over three floors and covering 3,500 square metres of exhibition space, the FIFA World Football Museum races you through the history of FIFA and the World Cup.
This interactive, multimedia world illustrates how the game stirs people’s emotions, influences and inspires them on a daily basis, across the globe.
A big highlight is the giant pinball machine, where you can test your ball skills. It’s guaranteed fun, even for non-skilled soccer fans!
Tuesday to Sunday 10 am to 6 pm. The Museum is closed on Mondays.
The ticket costs CHF 24 for an adult. There are also children, seniors and student discounts available. Children under 6 go in for free.
If you’d like to know more or buy the tickets, you can visit the Museum’s official website.
Of course, there are more than 10 things worth seeing and doing in Zurich, but these are my favourite must-dos!